Reflections at One Year by Martha M. and DYSfunction, by Chloe D.


Our first feature today is Martha M.’s reflection on her one-year anniversary.  Our second feature is a poem by Chloe D., who is an Al-Anon member and subscriber to the website.  We are learning that more Al-Anon folks who appreciate our secular focus are following us.  Since these two pieces are sharing a comments section, please use their names in your comments.  In the near future we plan to add an Arts Section to the site, and will aim to have separate comments section for each piece featured.



Reflections at One Year

By Martha M.
As of today, I am one year sober. It’s not a constant struggle. I don’t think I’ve had to “white-knuckle” through a day yet. It’s still very fresh in my mind: things I remember messing up (I have a scar on my right thumb tip from one of my many drunken kitchen accidents); the things I remember being told I did after blacking out (swinging my daughter playfully around the kitchen when she was about three and coming dangerously close to hitting her head on a cabinet door); the things I can piece together that may or may not have only happened in my head, but are far too embarrassing and shameful to utter out loud.
I often feel reminders of my drinking. When I wake up after having a drinking dream and feel the wave of dread pass over me until I realize it wasn’t real. When I look for something in the back of a drawer or cabinet or closet, I’m afraid I’ll stumble across a forgotten empty or, worse yet, not empty. Anytime I act “off” or “too” anything, I’m afraid someone will think I’m drunk. And, when we’re in a store and my daughter (who makes jokes beyond her age level and sometimes cuts a little too deep because of it) says, “No more wine for you, Mommy,” I want to dissolve into the ground right there.

 don’t have a word that encompasses how grateful I am to be sober. I hated drinking. I hated *needing* to drink. I hated wanting to quit but not knowing how and being so terrified of quitting because I didn’t know if I’d still be me without alcohol. I hated sneaking and lying and hiding. I am beyond relieved that I don’t have those specific burdens anymore.

However, I’m also so angry I can barely think sometimes. I’m angry and self-pitying. Why? Why can’t I enjoy a nice glass of wine with supper; why can’t I have a beer after work; why can’t I sip some bourbon before bedtime? Why does my brain take something that is enjoyable and relaxing for some people and turn it into something that is toxic and destructive for me? Why do my friends feel the need to censor and edit themselves around me now so they don’t come off as insensitive? Why do I feel uncomfortable when other people are drunk around me even if they aren’t alcoholics? Why do I have to fear and dread the day my daughter is given the opportunity to drink because I’m terrified it will grab hold of her the way it did me and maybe she won’t be so lucky? Why can’t I be normal?

Mainly, I’m afraid. What happens when I forget? What happens when it’s not so fresh in my mind? What happens when the only memory of my drinking is the anger that I don’t get to be normal? Will I want to drink? Will I think enough time has passed to cure me? Will I convince myself that I’ve grown and matured to the point that I can handle my liquor now? What’s I there to stop me?

I wrote an inscription in the copy of Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska that I bought as soon as I returned a friend’s copy to her. It says, “This is exactly what it was like. Don’t ever think, ‘It wasn’t that bad.’ It was. Reread this if you ever get complacent. Remember how awful it was. Remember how scared, sick, sad, & tired you were. Keep finding new goals to set. Keep being alive in your life. April 24, 2017 (10 months, 14 days sober).” But what if that doesn’t work? The most terrifying thing for me is hearing people talk about having years of sobriety and then, all of a sudden, going back out. I don’t understand how they can do so well for so long and then lose it. To me, that is the scariest part of this disease.

So, I do my best to remember. I don’t hide my experiences. I talk about them and reference them and that time of my life. I even joke about it. It’s a part of who I am and I respect that and appreciate it for making me who I am now. Some days I hate that I have to do that. Some days I’m okay with it.

When I saved this document, the thumbnail on my computer screen only showed the first three words I had typed: “As of today…” I guess that’s the best I can hope for.

About the Author

Martha celebrated her first year of sobriety on June 10, 2017. Her home group is Many Paths in Urbana, IL. She lives with her partners, her daughter, and their various dogs & cats. She loves gardening, exercise, and her newfound LaCroix habit.



By Chloe D.


And I ran back to myself lovingly,

Knowing that I was the only one who could fill my cracks;

Knowing that I had done the absolute best that I could.


This is the story of returning to myself;

                           of coming home;

                           of becoming whole



I hugged her and kissed her all over,

Thanking her for surviving so that I could now truly live;

For fighting and adapting, sighing,

Knowing that I could safely rest in the one most beautiful place in the entire world.


It was when we reunited that I felt peace,

Knowing that, all along, this was what I was aching for.


Our perfect and whole spirit is siphoned through sick and hurting humanity.

We manipulate the world into puzzle pieces and force them into our newly formed scars,

Mourning the greatest loss.


But without this brokenness, we never know true wholeness,

Never allow ourselves to bloom and fill our throbbing and aching hearts.


So I thanked myself for protecting me when no one else would or could,

And then for figuring out how to fix my fixes.


Because I love myself— I have to.

Because if I don’t, nothing is ever enough, no one is ever enough.

Because without her, I wouldn’t be alive.


So I released the weight of wishing it had been different,

Of raging at the Universe for bringing me those people,

Of doubting my worth for all those years.


I did the very best I could—

            And so did they.


And so I hug and love myself,

Knowing that every breath brings us closer

Until we fill the cracks and become one again.  


About the Chloe D. 

As a young person in Alanon, I am usually a minority; that has never prevented me from feeling understood and embraced. I grew up in an alcoholic home and have suffered extreme depression, anxiety, complex PTSD and personality disorders. In my sophomore year of college, numbing became impossible and I wished for death nearly every second. In Alanon, I finally found hope– I hope to spread this hope to as many people as possible.   


Art assembled by Cope C. of Many Paths in Urbana, IL
Cartoons by Mark E. of Urbana, IL
Stone heart photo from the website of Tony Bologna
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Kelly T.
Kelly T.
4 years ago

Martha, Thank you for sharing all of your  “what ifs”.  I too have some of those same fears.  Yes, my daughter has sober parents, but I feel the mere fact that we are both alcoholic puts her at a disadvantage genetically.  We’ll do our best to make sure she’s well informed, and leave the rest up to her own choices for her Life’s journey. I try and remember to live in the moment I’m in, to not borrow trouble from past memories or made up worries and spoil my not yet here future.   Chloe, your poem reminded me of the… Read more »

4 years ago

Thanks, Chloe. I’m in ACA as well as AA. Your poem sounds like an ACA message to me, and I relate, and I relate to depression, PTSD, self-doubt, and I relate to hitting bottom young. I was twenty, the summer after the sophomore year, no longer able to numb out with either drugs or my own great thinking, just to black out, but the consequences of my black out drinking were unacceptable to me (and to other people 🙂 ) so suicide seemed like the only answer. Being “returned to myself” and becoming my own best friend have been the… Read more »

Joe C.
4 years ago

Thank you Cope C., Mark E., Tony B and the other puppeteers behind the curtain of AA Beyond Belief.    Chloe, Thanks. I was a child of an alcoholic. I was a regular in ACA for years – essential to my well-being. I still go to an Al-Anon meeting periodically (at least once a year). It’s not to sooth my adult-child wounds. I go to Al-Anon to remember what harm alcoholics (me, I) cause others. Laughter comes back quickly in AA. In Al-Anon, not so much.   Martha, Drunk Mom was a great book wasn’t it. I hope you keep writing. You are… Read more »

4 years ago

Martha, Thanks. It is nice to see a piece from someone recently sober. I think us oldtimers can learn from that. Many of us mosly concern ourselves with what the program is and could be and should be, and while we have been there, done that, in many cases it is so distant that without newly sober people’s input, it can easily get to be too academic. I have a few daily readers, and sometimes when we read them, I can see the newcomers puzzled – What the hell is he talking about? – while I have to admit the… Read more »

Sharon J.
Sharon J.
4 years ago

Thank you, Martha and Chloe! You each made my day with your beautiful writings!