The Scourge: We Knew That You Drank But We Were Ashamed To Tell You

I’m Maria, an alcoholic. I started using alcohol in my youth. I didn’t realize it was an illness. Working in sales, in the food industry, is a place where alcohol gets used. I always avoided parties, I avoided wedding feasts, I wouldn’t go because I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t know it was an illness. I’d always get drunk, I’d drink until I’d lose it. I could never control my drinking. I also got married to an alcoholic. After getting married, my ex-husband took me to rehab, I was about 24, 25 years old. There I got in the habit of taking pills and for 31 years I replaced alcohol with medicines. I was a possessed, cyclic drinker. When I’d fall into depression it was for a year, a year or so, I’d drink until I’d end up in the hospital. And I turned so deeply dependent on drugs that I couldn’t live without them. I had to have Diazepam, Metazepam, Nitrazepam, Oxazepam, all hallucinogens that I’d take to maintain a state of euphoria.
I’d take many: in the morning, noon, evening. The doctor at the psychiatric hospital prescribed them for me. I was out of it for many years. I wonder now how I managed my workplace, how I managed to hold onto my family, how I managed to raise my two children. Everything was, I don’t know, like a dream. Four years ago I met our group. I came to the group because I had drunk a lot and had no drugs. I ran out of my pills and I came hoping that I’d find someone here to give me a drug prescription, and for the first time Mrs. Nicoleta explained to me that pills were worse than drinking. Mrs. Nicoleta is the lady in the office, the psychologist. Our Nicoleta, who is now a blonde...
She asked how many years I’d been popping pills and she explained what alcoholism is, what drug addiction is. Immediately afterwards I was admitted to the hospital, I no longer had any pills, I had no money for drinks. In the hospital I thought very thoroughly about my life and I asked God to save me from drugs and alcohol. And so I started. I left my family, I ran away from home, I came to the group, I stopped first taking pills and then in a month I gave up alcohol.
This happened in 2004. 2004, yes. I entered the treatment program, and I felt exceptionally well without drugs. She also gave me another hospitalization and that time I refused medication, I said that I don’t want to be under medication. And Mrs. Doctor Răzvan said, "Extraordinary! You’ve changed!" I said, "And there is no alcohol consumption either, I go to the group and my mental state is extremely good because I don’t use any drugs or alcohol." About two years ago I had an alcohol relapse – but with pills I had none. When I went into withdrawal with drugs I’d enter a pharmacy - it rarely happened – I’d ask for pills, Nitrazepam, which they gave me. I’d say I was dependent on pills and I needed one desperately. And they’d give it me. I’m a miracle. My family doctor wonders how I’m still alive, based on my past bad prognosis/diagnostics that I don’t drink alcohol, and don’t use drugs.
I lost my family, I divorced my husband, who is an alcoholic, and I have two boys. One is an alcoholic and a drug addict. The other one is sick. I would like to help them. I cannot. They are mulishly stubborn so much like me, and I pray to God. I come to the group every day because here’s my place, I found peace here, peace in my soul, I found people who are all suffering from alcoholism like me and I thank God every day that He changed my life. Practically I’m another person, I think differently, with a clear mind each day. I had a cigarette addiction too. I dropped the cigarettes also here at the group. For nearly eleven months I gave up cigarettes. And I thank God. He gives us every day another day. In the morning I thank God that He still gives me another day and I beg Him to please keep me sober.
I'm older now, I’m sick, I can’t work anymore. I don’t know how I could function with drugs, alcohol. They gave me a tremendous power. Now I have no power. I’m weakened. My body/organism is weak.
We’re very many alcoholic women, but pride, of course, doesn’t allow anyone to say it in the ope. They come here, but then go back again to drinking. It's hard, it’s extremely hard. But I had a will, and I prayed to God to give me power all the time. I had no place to live, I lived where I could only to come to the program. So I made sacrifices. I’ve seen that it gives me a feeling of well being that I wished for for a long time but couldn’t attain.
I have many girl friends that I brought to the program but they returned to their old habit of consuming alcohol. And they don’t know how to escape. I go to them, call them to the group and they say they will come, but I’m still waiting for them to do so... What can I say? It is enormously hard. But you can’t explain to anyone how it feels to be sober. That it’s a good feeling, that it’s extraordinary, people will respect you, they love you for not being under the influence. And I was reconciled with my family, I have reconciled with my brothers, sisters, though my father still does not trust me, he says that probably I will go back again to it... That’s why I come here daily, because here is where I get my strength, as if I take a health pill. And I keep on coming here.
At the workplace I was appreciated very much. Being an alcoholic I had a shy nature, I knew that folks frown upon me when they saw that I touched alcohol. I had a few colleagues who begged me not to get my hands on. They wanted to help me, but I refused their help. I was stubborn, I could not get out of that way of life. We were two alcoholics: me and my ex-husband. We’d beat each other, we argued, we were like Gypsies actually. Thirty-one years I lived an extraordinarily difficult life. I suffered enormously because of alcohol. I blamed him, and he blamed me. Actually none of us was to blame, the alcohol was to blame.
I had a home, I lost it. I sold my house, we moved to the country. I thought things would change there, but it was worse, and I left him. Then when I had a relapse – I was not a day-in-day-out habitual drinker, only once in a year, a year or so, I consumed alcohol - but my relapses were very ugly. I’d drink, I could not stop at all, no matter what, no matter what, no matter what. I’d go on even for a week, two, three. Until my body weakened completely, that only the hospital could help me. I was physically paralyzed because of alcohol. Nobody thought I’d walk again, but God helped me and I recovered. I recovered and I said I'd never drink anymore but then I forgot again I’d lay hands on the glass... When I’d fall into depression I’d start drinking.
And it was really extraordinary. I have colleagues, girlfriends, who now look up at me and admire me very much. I tell them, "Look, I don’t drink alcohol anymore!" "Well," they say, "we knew that you drank but we were ashamed to tell you." I thought that only I knew, that nobody knows what's my life, that I am an addict and have a double dependence. What else should I tell you?
I have no expectations from life. When I have expectations from the program, from people, it’s causing me deep grief. So then, I have no expectations. And I let God work. He is the one that knows what to give me, He knows and I always trust God that He, He is the only one... I come to the program with love. I don’t come because they give me anything, they give me nothing. Absolutely nothing. I come for the peace and quiet in my soul. I know that here is where I can find it. It’s here I get filled with something positive from each one of the group and then I get quiet and I have no more problems. And I must come to the group because what I got for free I have to also give back free. There are new members in the group, they need me, and if I don’t come, neither this one, nor that one, there is no group anymore. I come for myself too, but I come for the new members of the group, they need us, the older, more experienced ones. I have a lot of friends in the group, waiting for me, seeking me, "If you don’t come, then I don’t come either!" and so I come. I come every day. I promised God, for I met God here in this place that I love and I come in love. Without any expectations. Before I had some probably. At first I’d come hoping that they’d gives us a cup of coffee, or whatnot, but I come now without coffee, or anything.

Fall 2008
  Cluj Napoca, Romania

Well, here you have it: If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, witnessing democracy, freedom of speech and faith, fighting against alcoholism and domestic violence, and engineering social change thru art being one of them, I’d be grateful.

New York
  May 21st, 2013

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