My Drinking History

When I was 13, in exchange for covering a neighbor’s early morning paper route, a girlfriend and I were given a bottle of Red Ripple wine. I drank a few swallows, felt nothing, was unimpressed, and become an avowed teetotaler because “alcohol kills brain cells.”

At 24, I married and entered the adult world of social drinking on weekends at restaurants. When I was 41, that marriage ended. I occasionally bought a bottle of red wine and drank a glass or two with dinner by myself in my apartment. The wine frequently turned bad before I finished it.

On February 6, 2007, at the age of 48, I experienced school violence and my pushed-off-balance-self began to drink a glass of wine or two several nights per week.

I am a Virginia Tech alumna, a Hokie. On April 16, 2007, when a fellow Hokie shot fellow Hokies and their teachers and himself, I became a daily drinker of a glass of wine.

In September, 2007, with death by shooting offered to me by my own student, I became a daily drinker of two glasses of wine.

In 2008, I founded a company. Over the next 4 years at business networking events, I drank more wine than I had in the previous 50.

At the end of 2009, with wine, I read  Wally Lamb’s novel based on the school shootings at Columbine and had the out-of-body experience that he had written my autobiography.

On Election Day Tuesday in November, 2004, I adopted a little black cat. A childless woman, I gave her the name I had hoped to give a daughter. On November 20, 2010, I put my arm around my cat child and my face to her beloved face and said I love you I love you I love so she would know and not be alone while the vet put her down. That night, I drank a bottle of wine.

On August 27, 2011, when my mother died, I began to pre-pour my wine into a glass measuring cup to try to hold myself to two glasses per night.

I began to handle each day by thinking all day that when 5:00 PM came, I could begin to drink wine. I was exhausted from attempting to start companies as a means of supporting my post-teacher self. I sought the effects of wine to work in the same way I protected myself and my psyche: Please, separate me from my anguish. Please.

By the first of December, 2012, I was drinking three to four glasses of wine per night and a bottle of wine on Friday night and a bottle of wine on Saturday night. And sometimes a bottle on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday nights. And Sunday night.

On December 23, 2012, I decided to stop drinking while my husband was out of town visiting his family for the holidays. I had two glasses of wine that night.

On December 24 and 25, 2012, I had no glasses of wine.

On December 26, 2012, I found myself at Kroger buying two bottles of white wine. That night, I drank one bottle and part of the other.

On December 27, 2012, I attended a support group meeting. I went home and drank the rest of the white and my husband’s red, all the wine left in the house, about 3/4 of a bottle.

On December 28, 2012, at the age of 53, two days before my 54th birthday, I became abstinent from alcohol.

On June 28, 2014, at the age of 55, I was 18 months sober.

Self-care First
A Lot Happens


  1. Amen to that. Recovery and sobriety is a tough road to travel. Way to keep traveling down that road. Love you!

  2. Linda Gavel Webb says:

    Very brave.

  3. Congrats! Those ODAAT really do add up!

  4. Debbie Palombo says:

    I love you, Anne. ❤️

  5. Dan Smith says:


    Congratulations on reaching one of the most difficult plateaus in sobriety: 18 months. It is a dangerous period, but you’re handling it beautifully.