On March 18, 2011 the need to quit drinking hit me with such force and certainty it could only have come from some power greater than I.  Two days later, I began changing my life.

Many times in previous years I had tried, unsuccessfully, to remove wine from my daily routine.  I had tried “only on weekends” and never made it past Tuesday.  “Never drink alone” never lasted.  “No more wine in bed” would be overwritten by programming schedules and tv availability in my household.  “No wine while cooking” (unless there’s wine in the recipe).  “Just one before bed” was an easy foil – I would repeatedly top up the glass before it was empty and count it as one.

I couldn’t find the balance yet I knew I had at least some control – I never drove drunk, would never drink before a performance, presentation, or at work.  If there were small children to be tended to then I would not even consider drinking.

I had some control but not enough to stop.

When minor surgery required me to avoid alcohol for 24 hours before and after, I failed to comply.  I knew better than to drink my usual 5 or so glasses of white but compromised with a single, oversized glass of red the night before and after.

My drinking was escalating to include an extra drink or two “pre-wine” each day.  I had discovered the most amazing pre-mixed margarita – a huge, heavy, house-brand bottle from a big box wholesaler. It was strong and golden – just how I liked it and the closest thing to the first (and best) one I’d ever had on the River Walk in San Antonio just a few years earlier.

My routine was to arrive home from work, empty the dishwasher, set the table and start supper.  It was often too early to have a wineglass out but somehow it seemed okay to tuck a little glass of this heavenly stuff discreetly by a cupboard and sip away while I worked.  Once my husband arrived home I’d make a production of opening wine for a pre-dinner drink but never mention I’d started an hour earlier.

This bothered me but I enjoyed it and heck, I deserved it.  I worked so hard, cared so much, and clearly everything was in order.  No problem.

Well, except for the guilt. And shame. The secret failure.

I was ping-ponging emotionally and mentally between wanting to quit and loving to drink. Back and forth, morning and afternoon.  When I was finally moved to change my life, it was the result of a powerful urge to save myself that seemed to erupt suddenly from within.

In fact, it was anything BUT sudden.  The compulsion toward change came as the result of many years of reaching for change, searching for answers, for incentive, for guidance.  Little by little I found these things and though individually each small answer or example did not create change, collectively they empowered me when the time came for change.

I began writing “UnPickled” as a lifeline to help myself through the dark days of change.  I continue writing as the process helps me grow and survive in my new life.  As well, it is now my most sincere hope and prayer that what I share here may be received to help others.  Perhaps on it’s own, “UnPickled” may never be enough to change a life, but I do hope that laying out my heart here will add one more bit of information and hope to those who are searching, as I was.