Jane D. , Philadelphia
(p. 319 in 4th edition.)
They Stopped in Time
I was born in September 1965 in Urbana, Illinois on the campus of the University of Illinois; both my parents were grad students there. After they graduated, we moved to the Philadelphia area for my dad’s new job with a large chemical company – he stayed with that company until he retired, so I never moved from, (and I still live in), the Philadelphia area. When I entered first grade my mother went to work in a cancer research laboratory for eleven years, then she taught high school chemistry for ten years before retiring early at age 55. My parents are still married; as of this writing in November 2007, they have been married for 45 years.
I have one younger sister who is very intelligent and is an Ivy League graduate. She opted for Library Science and is currently the director of the design library at a large state university. She shows absolutely no signs of alcoholism and neither do my parents. We were a stable, gentle household growing up and while we weren’t wealthy, there were never any financial problems or arguments. Come to think of it, there were very few arguments at all. My parents were very mature, intelligent people and just didn’t have time for nonsense or non-value added behavior.
At age fourteen I was assaulted in the woods behind my parent’s house by a stranger who followed me home from a summer camp I attended. I think this incident and my subsequent non-handling of it accelerated my drinking once I started to drink, which wasn’t until college and that’s where my Big Book story picks up. I believe I would have been an alcoholic either way, but the anger and humiliation that I buried and pretended did not exist were so much easier to keep buried with alcohol – oh what a relief it is!!! When I got sober, those emotions came exploding to the surface, but that’s another part of my story.
My Big Book story covers the eight years of my drinking, but I would like to mention that for grad school I too attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (where my parents met and I was born) and that the re-runs I used to love to watch while drinking were Columbo re-runs. Only today did I finally discard those videotapes. Mike, the Hawaiian sales rep who took me to my first three meetings, is still sober today and has a lovely wife and two adorable daughters.
After getting sober in December 1991, I still struggled a bit on the employment angle, but I always made enough money to live on my own and get by, and even save a little sometimes. Finally in 1995 I got a job with the employer whom, (as of this writing at least), I am still employed and my career has really taken off. I wrote my story in 1998 and, as I promised in my story, I did buy a house in 1999, and in 2001 I married the man I referenced in my story. In January 2007 my husband and I adopted a baby girl from China who has further rocked my world (and his!) into beyond my wildest dreams.
When I first learned that my story was selected for the 4th edition, I was so excited that I told the members of two of my meetings, but I didn’t go beyond that. Today I don’t usually publicize or tell anyone that I am the Student of Life, but some people have come up to me after I tell my story in a meeting because they figured it out, which always amazes me. It’s not a secret and it’s not something I hide, but it’s not something I just tell unless the conversation is going that direction (and it usually isn’t). I view having my story published as an amazing gift from my Higher Power, but it certainly doesn’t make me anyone special. On the contrary, the editors were looking to carry a message that would resonate with as many alcoholics as possible and therefore my story must be quite basic – a garden-variety drunk, that’s me. I just told it well, that’s all.
I still attend meetings and I am a member of an on-line women’s topic group. I do not have any sponsees right now, but I do have a sponsor whom I see usually once a week. I subscribe to and read the Grapevine and the Daily Reflections book. I have gained so much and come so far that I always keep my recovery in the forefront of my mind. The program taught me how to deal with the assault I suffered at 14 and other various ‘Life on Life’s terms’ situations and experiences and for that I am eternally grateful. For me, although there are plenty of distractions (good and bad), it’s always about a drink, and as long as I remember that, I’ll remember to not pick up that first one.
November 5, 2007