Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11 - When my drinking took off....

7 months sober!
I haven't been here in awhile...I read a lot of your blogs and I love them!  I sometimes even post a comment.  Well, I am here today, because 15 years ago today is when I became a daily drinker.  September 11, 2001.   My dad worked two blocks above the WTC and lived a few blocks below in Battery Park City. At the time, my youngest sister was living with him.  After the 2nd plane hit, my dad ran out of his office, past the WTC, to his apartment to get my sister.  As he entered his apt.. the first tower collapsed.  His building filled up with smoke and he and my sister ran down 23 flights of stairs with wash cloths covering their noses and mouths.  Then they were trapped in the lobby due to zero visibility.    A police officer entered and told them all to run because their bldg. was going to explode.  (It didn't).  They physically leapt on a police boat that had already left Battery Park City.  They had no fear..they just did it to save their lives.  Somehow, they got to my house.  To this day, they aren't sure how.

My husband worked downtown near the WTC.  He also had to evacuate as his bldg. filled with smoke.  In a strange sequence of events, my husband also got on a boat (this one hadn't yet departed) on a different river than my dad and sister...and there he got to NJ with another guy that was from our town!  Then the 2nd tower collapsed and the air filled black.  My husband got on that boat and then they found a taxi driver to take them to our home..which was about a 40 minute taxi ride.  After he got home he said he needed to hug our kids so we drove to their schools and picked them up.  I felt so badly for my kids as these two young boys could not understand why their father was crying.  He is not a man who cries!

That morning, I was going to play tennis and I rec'd a call from a far away friend telling me not to worry about my husband, he got in touch with him and he is fine.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  Of course all of the phone lines were jammed.  I eventually got in touch with my father, who told me that a plane hit one of the towers (which he could see from his office window).  It was an accident.  As I kept talking to my dad, I hear him screaming...Oh my God, Oh my God.  I kept saying.."what dad?  what?"  Finally, he said, another plane hit the other tower.  That is when he dropped the phone and ran to get to my sister.

I rushed home.  When I got there, there were about 15 people on my front lawn asking me if Mark was alright.  It was surreal.  Thank goodness my friend had gotten in touch with him and I knew he was ok.  But, I didn't know how or when he or my dad would get to me.  My kids were 2, 5 and 7 years old.  The older two were at school. phone rang.  It was my friend asking me to call everyone we know and start a prayer chain for her husband who was in Tower 1.  My friend was 9 months pregnant with her 2nd child.  And as miracles happen, my husband came into our house.  An in shock husband...but I had my husband.  I knew where he was.  I didn't know about my dad or sister yet.  I then had the opportunity to drive over to my friends house and she was outside her home with many people waiting for her husband to come home.  We all prayed the rosary as a group.  We kept watching TV searching for her husband.  We called hospitals, police stations, news outlets...anybody.  (Thank goodness she had a landline as the cells were still jammed).  Her husband never came home.  Her baby was born a week later.

I went home.  Still no dad or sister.  They eventually got to my house.  If I remember correctly was around 1:00ish.  We were all in a total shock.  But, especially the 3 of them who were witness to the most horrible act of terrorism that our country had ever seen.  The phone kept ringing and the news was bad...many many friends were missing.  We didn't know what to we opened wine.  Bottle after bottle.  I don't even think it had any effect on us because we were in such shock.  The days after that were also extremely hard.  The news just kept getting worse.  News of another friend lost.  News of another friend searching for her husband., The first responders who were at Ground Zero...

So, what did I do?  I drank and drank and first (except on that horrible day) I only had one or two.  But every day.  It took a few years, but obviously it escalated to way more than 2 glasses per day.  If I am honest, I feel like a really weak person.  My stories that I share with you are NOTHING compared to what others went through.  My friend who lost her husband and had a 2 year old and a newborn baby...did she turn to the bottle or drugs or another addictive substance?  NO! Many other people I know whose stories are way worse than mine...did they turn to the bottle?  NO! And yes, I am aware, that in the wake of a tragedy of ginormous proportions, there are people bound to turn to substance abuse.  Why was I one of them?  That day, I rec'd a husband, my father and my sister...all physically unharmed.

So while I remember 9/11 as the worst day of my life so far..I also remember it as the day I started drinking daily.  I can't believe it's been 15 years.  I now pick myself up and move's taken me a long time....but here I am..7 months free from alcohol.  This September 11, 2016, for the first time in 15 years, I can say that I am a non-drinker.  On this sad day, I am able to find a sliver of happiness in that.

Sober mom at 53


  1. Big hug, that was a powerful post. I understand that survivor guilt also is a reason for substance abuse. It must have been heart wrenching to have your family intact and watch what others went through. Your post was a great tribute to those we lost that day. Thank you for sharing. That must have felt awesome to be sober today, like giving terrorism the middle finger!

  2. Congratulations on 7 months sober! It's good to hear you're doing well. Your story was so powerful. It's good (for me) to be reminded that so many people are affected so many ways by world events, and for how long. It sounds like you were reliving an awful day, but it's so good to see that it was a turning point, and to know seven months ago was another turning point. I'm glad you have that sliver of happiness! xo

  3. Amazing post! Huge congrats on 7 months! Big hugs from over the pond xxx

  4. Amazing post. Thanks for sharing. I can't begin to imagine what you must have gone through. Sending you a hug. And congrats on 7 months. That is so awesome. A x

  5. What a terrible day it was, for you to be so close and know people there is just heartbreaking. I'm sure you were not the only one who started drinking (or changing a behaviour pattern) that day. Everyone deals with things differently. Congratulations on 7 months and I hope there are a lot of people who were deeply affected by this who are healing with you. PDTG

  6. Dear Sober Mom,
    Your story was very powerful, indeed.
    You and your family were so close, and deeply affected.
    I still can feel how I felt, as I was in my classroom, and the little kids were just coming in, and I had to shut off the tv, not knowing what was going on. Some of the kids already heard some things from when they were coming to school.
    Such a terrible time.
    I am so happy you are 7 months, now taking positive action of healing!
    Bug Hugs,

  7. What a personal insight into such an earth shattering day. My daughter always says 9/11 is her first real early memory, mommy sitting in a towel all day watching tv sitting on the edge of the bed. She was 3. You are 7 months sober now and that us fantastic, don't detract from it by wondering why you drank daily and others did not. You are clear from that now and you can be proud of yourself for getting to this day.

  8. Such a powerful story. Thank you for sharing. And so happy for your 7 months sober!

  9. So much to remember...fear, relief, pain of a terrible 'then'. And so much to be grateful for in the 'now' - your sobriety.

    I'm only now seeing this post -had about given up on you! Glad to know you are hanging in. Seven months - yay!

  10. Wow- your story is so touching. Thank you for sharing, for your honesty, your resolve. I have just celebrated 7 months and I believe you ought to be half way through 8 months now. Go you. Congratulations with much love.