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.


  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.