We March

by Amy on November 1, 2016

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She is in a dark room, there is music on the other side of the door, and voices. She is crying and afraid. She doesn’t like being in here in the dark, alone. But no one hears her crying. Then the door opens and a man looks in. She can see the outline of his body in the doorframe. He sees her there and closes the door again.

She is walking home from the movie theater with her little sister. No one came to pick them up. They went back in and watched another movie, but still no one came. So they walked. A police officer stopped them thinking they were truants. They tried to explain that the reason no one was answering was because he had ripped the phone out of the wall, again. The officer didn’t believe them. So they stayed overnight at the police department. They were twelve and eleven years old.

He turned to his dad and said, “Are we going to the liquor store daddy?”  He was barely verbal but he already knew the way.

She walked across the cemetery hand and hand with her Irish twin. It wasn’t that far from their house. They could see the Hollyhocks and Poppies as they approached. They knew she would be there waiting. Their parents were already down the hill at the bar. But they could always count on grandma, until the oldest one’s ninth birthday. She promised she wouldn’t go on her birthday. She passed away three days later.

She woke up, disoriented. She looked left then right. She could hear him crying. She had passed out and now it was the next morning. Her infant was sitting a few feet away. In a ditch.

She said she’d be alright. She didn’t want to call a cab and she didn’t want to explain to her husband that she needed a ride because she had had too much again. So she drove. Her three babies in the back seat. She felt uneasy as she drove over the bridge, one of many that crossed the Willamette. One swerve and all would be lost.

She sat in the hallway, peeking out from her bedroom. She knew they were finally home because she could hear the screaming. And then the crash. Glass, everywhere. The police. She could see all of them outside her bedroom window, red and blue flashes lighting up the night.

This is it.

Hear the drums.

See us marching.

We march. The generations ahead of us need not know what we did.

But still we march. In celebration.

Because we did it. We broke the cycle. We healed it.

I am in the kitchen. It is that frantic time of the day when I race the clock to make sure the three of them are ready in time for school. Plastic plates in colorful shades filled with scrambled eggs sit on the kitchen island. I am standing behind one awkwardly trying to maneuver her hair into ponytails. I call to another to look for his coat and shoes.

My husband walks in. He’s dressed and ready for the day.

“I’m off,” he says to us.

“Bye handsome,” I say.

“Bye beautiful,” he says back to me.

My six year old walks toward him as he stands in front of the door in all of her swagger, she looks up at him and says, “Goodbye snuggle bear.”

“I’m your snuggle bear?” he laughs.

“Yes,” she giggles as he swoops her into his arms.

I stand there in the kitchen watching him hold her in his arms, the two of them smiling.

The Sonos is playing a song from my playlist.

“Catch and Release,” it’s called.

“Everybody got their reason

Everybody got their way

We’re just catching and releasing

What builds up throughout the day

It gets into your body

And it flows right through your blood

We can tell each other secrets

And remember how to love”

And I remember…

The three little girls alone all night in the back of a car outside of the bar.

The phone ripped out of the wall, again.

A shattered glass table.

A little boy sitting asking “are we going to the liquor store daddy?”

My three babies, buckled up in the minivan as I drive over the bridge drunk.

Today I am three years sober.

I stand there in the hallway watching this scene feeling like am both a spectator and a participant. Then suddenly I am overwhelmed by the feeling that it isn’t just me watching them, I am sharing this moment with all the mothers. All of the mothers who came before me — Kathy, Marjorie, Ethel, Maud
— and the generations before that.

We did it. We broke it. It is what we were meant to do. It is what we are all meant to do. You are no different.

We remembered how to love. And now, we march together. For ourselves in celebration and for the generations to come.

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda November 3, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Amy, this post is beautiful. One of my core values is authenticity and so all I see in this is beauty. Onward ever, backward never my friend. xo

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Love it thank you so much Brenda!

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Barb November 3, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Thank you, Amy. I applaud your bravery and bless your heart. Thank you for the gift you are, and thank you for choosing sobriety.

Much love,
Barb

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LM November 3, 2016 at 9:11 pm

I just read in your email today you’re afraid of the sound of crickets, but yet you already have 16 posts. But isn’t that the way we think? Most alcoholics are intelligent, sensitive and creative, but not very confident, unfortunately. How can we be when we’re suffering from a disease that causes such self-blame?
The part that jumped out at me was where the policeman didn’t believe you about your home life. They never do. That’s not because they’ve never seen it before, it’s because they choose not to believe you. Most of them have alcoholism in their family also and sadly they aren’t brave enough to admit to the problem. But not many people are or even can. They’ll probably die that way. It’s a spiritual disease – not just a physical one. The only thing or person who’s kept me sober is not even myself, but God. However, many things can get me drunk. I was sober for 15 years, then I had a relapse where I drank 3- 4 times per week for a few months. I blamed the influence of my sister at first, then 15 years of sobriety started to peak its head out and remind me, I was the one who took the first drink! It would have been nice to be able to quit at that point, but by then my body had become re-addicted so it was difficult to stop. I’d avoid walking past the liquor store in order to gain my strength. I had several one night relapses over the next few years but now haven’t had a drink since January 2016.
I found that rejection (or perceived rejection) and loneliness are my triggers. There’s an acronym in AA called HALT which stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired. These feelings, if unchecked, are usually the precursors to an alcoholic’s drinking binge. If you’re hungry then eat. In fact, they say ice cream or candy is good in the case of an emergency since there’s been a link between low blood sugar and binge drinking. If you’re angry then pray or meditate. If you’re lonely – call a friend. If you’re tired then have a nap.
Those are just my two cents. I’m really grateful you wrote about your journey, Amy. Thank you. I needed to hear this today.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:15 pm

Thank you for sharing your story LM. I love HALT very helpful. Rejection or perceived rejection is definitely my trigger as well!

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:14 pm

Thank YOU for your loving support Barb!

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Jill Farmer November 3, 2016 at 3:49 pm

So beautiful. So powerful. The warrior Goddess changes the trajectory. One. Day. At. A. Time. Big love to you today and every day.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:16 pm

Thank you Jill. Here’s to the warrior Goddess.

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Colleen November 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm

What a beautiful and vulnerable share. Thank you! Cheering you on for choosing to be sober.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:17 pm

Thank you so much Colleen!

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:24 pm

Thank you Colleen! I so appreciate your kind words!

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Marya Miller November 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Very powerful story–and what a wonderful feeling that must be for you. Healing for those who have gone before and light for those who follow.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:24 pm

Yes that is EXACTLY the way it feels like Marya, healing for those who have gone before.

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Juliet November 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm

I just went to my first AA meeting last night. I cried the entire time. I have never crashed the family car nor ripped the phone off the wall. I have spent many Christmas mornings on the couch with the “flu”. I have ignored my older children and continued to drink on my back porch. I have made numerous mistakes while drinking and or drunk. I’ve just been lucky. But I’m sure my children, two who are adults, one who has a drinking problem, feel differently. I come from a long line of alcoholics, my parents were not, but I am. In a week I’ll be 90 days sober. I can’t let the guilt and the loss of years overwhelm me; I can only move forward.
Thank you for sharing. I loved it! Beautiful.

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LM November 3, 2016 at 9:31 pm

In my early days in aa someone said to me that it’s not enough to admit being an alcoholic, you must accept it. It took me years to accept it. I wasn’t one of those people who glided through aa for 20 years without a glitch. I had relapses. I didn’t know why it wasn’t working for me until I remembered what that person said about accepting being an alcoholic. Unfortunately, I had my family telling me nobody in our family is an alcoholic including me. Well, I guess they mean nobody is on skid row. However, I know my own father goes out drinking several nights a week with his buddies. My sister, also in denial, said he ended up in the hospital for ‘an ulcer’. Right. He just happened to be drinking the night before. They also found out he is diabetic. My sister (also a big drinker) told everyone ”all he has to do is rest and make some ‘small changes’ to his diet.’ I was flabbergasted at how they were fooling themselves he could still drink the way he does after being diagnosed with diabetes. Complete denial. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll make it past 75. There’s just no way he’ll survive the deadly disease of alcoholism.
I don’t want to die that way I want to live a healthy, full life. I pray every morning before my feet touch the floor, for God to keep me sober that day. So far, so good.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:23 pm

Thank you for sharing YOUR story Juliet. Keep it up. My heart is with you. Three years later I can honestly say it is SO worth it.

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Virginia Reeves November 3, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Once again I am so grateful that my parents and friends were not drinkers so I never took it up. The sadness, fear, and all the other emotions that must go along with it have to be hard to handle. Congratulations to you Amy and all the others who have beaten it. My heart is still with a niece who has been wandering for 6 years now – unable to kick it. I hope someday to see her again – healthy and happy.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:22 pm

I have a niece like that as well. Love to you and yours.

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Amanda November 3, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Amy! Being sober is soooo worth it and we can always benefit from living a life of love and pure clarity!! I just celebrated my 10 month sober anniversary on Tuesday 🙂

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:22 pm

So worth it! Congratulations to you Amanda!

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Mary Ellen November 3, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this.

Healing myself as a mother is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever done. I didn’t have a chemical addiction but did have behaviors that deeply affected my children. I’m blessed to have adult children that forgive me. It takes so much courage to look back and forgive ourselves, courage to face ourselves so we can heal, and more courage to look forward and thrive.

Healing, forgiving and loving ourselves is the greatest gift we can give our children, and I hope and believe, helps break the cycle of pain.

Mary Ellen

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you Mary Ellen! So grateful to be on this journey with people like you.

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Suzanne November 3, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Amy,
You are the bravest woman I know.
You are an inspiration to me every single day!!
Thank you! Love you!!!

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:21 pm

I love you Suzanne! Thank you for your words they mean the world!

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Randy November 3, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Amy, I don’t know what to say. Is it okay to be so proud of you even though we haven’t met? 🙂 You have shown great courage and strength. And by sharing your story, you give that strength to others. My early life was a hell hole because of addiction. On behalf of everyone in your life, thank you and God bless you.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:21 pm

Thank you thank you a million times thank you for your kind words Randy.

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Anne in Virginia-USA November 3, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Amy, you’re walking a healing path with such bravery and grace. Thank you for sharing from your heart, and congratulations on three years of sobriety.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:20 pm

That means a lot coming from you Anne. Big love and gratitude!

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Lisa November 3, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Amy,
I love you! That is all!

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:20 pm

I love YOU Lisa.

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Kaliopi November 3, 2016 at 6:00 pm

Wow Amy… you are incredible.
I know you mentioned you’re having a vulnerability hangover after posting this but there is nothing to be ashamed of… you should feel immense pride and wonder in your fathomless strength.
Breaking a cycle is not easy. Think how many before you could not do what you have done… and, you are not only breaking one cycle, but two. The cycle of addiction and the cycle of secrecy and stigma.
Personally, I am so touched by your story and by your ability to share it.
So grateful for souls such as yours in this world.
Keep being you. You’re nothing short of a scintillating star (no, make that a supernova star).

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Wow thank you so much Kaliopi. I am so moved by your words.

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Marcia November 3, 2016 at 7:47 pm

3 years for me on Dec. 26th.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:19 pm

Solidarity Marcia! Congratulations!

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Lynn November 3, 2016 at 10:29 pm

Amy, thank you for sharing 🙂 I hope you don’t mind me putting this here… I See You http://lynettedavis.com/2016/07/i-see-you/ ~Your fellow love self love biz warrior and an acoa.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:31 pm

Thank you for sharing Lynn!

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Terri November 3, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Congrats Amy, we have a tough job breaking the cycle don’t we. We knew when we came that we could do it. Blessings and much love to you and everyone who is saying NO MORE! and then healing and choosing to live their life and raise their children with love compassion patience and understanding. Thank you for sharing this and i hope it encourages others to do the same.

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Amy November 3, 2016 at 11:31 pm

“We knew when we came that we could do it.” Those words really resonate. Thanks Terri.

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Pierre November 4, 2016 at 12:14 am

You are brave Amy, congratulation for the three year of sobriety!! Keep up

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wendy November 4, 2016 at 1:27 am

“She realized that vulnerability was easier than vanity. So she stripped. Straight down to nothing. And set herself free” Cara Alwill Leyba

Congratulations on breaking the cycle and Happy Happy Birthday. if you look down the line, I am marching right along side you, cheering all the while.

Big love!

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Dorothy Biagioni November 4, 2016 at 1:39 am

Hi Amy
Thank You for having the soul, the spirit, the honesty to be 3 years sober, abd to share your story. It brought me to tears.
Bless you and all of yours.

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Jenni November 4, 2016 at 7:16 am

Good on you for your honesty, strength to break that cycle (not the least bit easy!!) and willingness to be so vulnerable! As others said, not everyone displays those qualities.
I love some wine at night and am not sure if that makes me an alcoholic, but when I was younger I definitely drove when I should not have. No children to consider however, so that was fortunate. Who can ever say what we might do in another person’s situation? There is really no reason for others to “pass judgement”, so I believe it is fantastic to be proud of yourself – shining so radiantly. Congratulations!

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Carmela November 4, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Just downloaded Catch & Release by Matt Simons. Thanks for sharing. And standing (clapping-on-my-chair) ovation for openly sharing your memories. So real. So raw. And so can relate.

Am pretty sure half of the Martha Beck community has coached me on my dad’s alcoholism.

OMFG, I spent so much time fighting him and wondering why he put the bottle to his head…

Recently in a workshop, I had to describe him in 3 ways and I described him as ‘generous, a story teller, & an ocean lover.’ To my surprise ‘alcoholic’ didn’t even cross my mind. I guess the other 3 are much stronger in my memory of him.

Catch and release the memories.
Doing the work on the bad ones, and hanging on (& passing on) the good ones, right?

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William Isley November 4, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Thank you Amy. This brought a tear to my eye.

I’m 24 years abstinent in Overeaters Anonymous. Thank you for stepping into your power and being willing to be weak enough to ask something bigger than your self for help.

One day at a time we stay on the path of upward progression.
One day at a time we move into what our parents wanted for themselves, a better life.
One day at a time we get to become more than we were yesterday.
One day at a time we simply get to live clear headed.
One day at a time we get to be who we are.
One day at a time we get to live life on life’s terms.
One day at a time we get to live.

Bless you for sharing your heart.
Bless you for being willing to be vulnerable.
Bless you for being you.

William B. Isley
Author of the forthcoming book Crystals: How I heal

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Monica Wehrman November 4, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Amy. I am sober 21 years now, hard to believe, my kids were young, too. Sobriety is the BEST gift for yourself and your children.. They watch everything we do. :)) You are a wonderful motherful and have a beautiful family. Congratulations!!!

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Amy February 3, 2017 at 1:36 am

You are an inspiration in so many ways Monica. I love you and am grateful to know you.

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Amberly November 6, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Amy, this post is beautiful and powerful. I have been thinking about it for a few days now, and each time I read it I get goosebumps. You are an inspiration in so many ways. Thank you! ~Amberly

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Amberly November 6, 2016 at 7:05 pm

And big congratulations on 3 years! <3

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Amy February 3, 2017 at 1:36 am

Thank you Amberly! That means the world.

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Sandy February 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Amy, I thought of you this morning and wanted to share my good news. I went to my email to find your address and found this post. This is the perfect place to share. It was just a little over a year ago you wrote “2years sober.” Through your authenticity I saw my story. In that moment I decided to get sober. I am happy to report I have made it through my first year of sobriety. Your post changed my life and I thank you. I too have broken the cycle and I March with you. Thank you for shining your light the way you do. I’m grateful to know you. God Bless

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Amy February 3, 2017 at 1:35 am

This! So happy. Congratulations!!!!

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