Jun 18, 2009

Telling Stories Short Nonfiction Contest Winners

We are pleased to finally announce the four winners of the Telling Stories short nonfiction story contest. We will dedicate a blog post to each of the winners and share their stories and explaining what we liked about them.

Sometimes we have to tell our own stories to fully appreciate where we have been and where we are now. This mini autobiography from Dawn M Tucker gives a perspective on a lifetime of addiction – what causes it, what it begets and what it takes to overcome. Many thanks to Dawn for sharing her story.

Three Words


Dawn M Tucker

Why couldn’t I have someone else’s affliction? Grandma Tucker saves every issue of National Enquirer she buys, and Aunt Elsie’s old age insures she only makes hard right turns in the snow. Me? I am an alcoholic.

From the moment I was conceived I wasn’t wanted. Both of my parent’s were married…only… not to each other. I was adopted at nine days old by the man who would become my father. When I was 4 years old he married the woman who would become my mother. We moved into a huge house in Cleveland and I had one sister and three brothers. We were a ready made family, just add water…or alcohol.

I was hit, kicked, stabbed, punched, thrown down, jumped on and choked all by the time I was nine years old. When I was nine years old I got down on my knees and prayed to a God I believed in. I knew there was a God, I just thought he was angry with me. I prayed to him anyway, I prayed for courage.

The courage to kill another human being. I wanted to kill my stepmother, the reason for all of the violence and pain. I thought if I killed her, I would also kill the pain. It was a prayer that was never answered. When I was twelve years old I got back down on my knees to pray again. Only, this time I was praying to a God I was certain had forgotten me.

I prayed again for courage, the courage to kill myself.

It isn’t my lack of trying that has kept me alive. I slit my wrist 8-10 times. Overdosed on pills and even turned the gas on in my oven and blew out the pilot light, in an attempt to drift off to sleep forever. When I put the razor to my wrists, I don’t know that I wanted to die as much as I just wanted something to hurt worse than my heart.

The violence never got better in my home so I found my own way to deal with it. I took my first drink. It did for me what I couldn’t do for myself. It made me pretty, even though I quit taking care of myself. It made me smart, although I often slurred my words. The best part? It took away all of the pain.

I found another solution to all of the pain. I ran away. I hitchhiked across the United States and got in to cars and trucks with both men and women. Most of whom were willing to supply me with drugs and alcohol. Sometimes for a price, sometimes not, though I was willing to pay whatever price there was.

I married at eighteen years of age and proceeded to have children. I drank through all of my pregnancies. When my children were infants I put them to my breasts, and never put down the drink. I piped my poison into them. When they were toddlers they followed me into the bathroom and held up my hair as I puked. They said things like “It will be okay mommy,” and “You’ll be okay mommy. It was never okay, because I was it, and I was never okay.

I guess I never knew what my drinking was doing to those around me. My family avoided me, my children asked me “Why do grownups drink?” I wondered why I drank? I wondered when my children would pick up their first drink?

That was a moment of clarity that finally saved me.

I crawled into the bathroom on my hands and knees like an animal and pulled myself up by the sinks edge. Looking into the mirror I fully expected to see a stranger staring back at me. Instead I saw absolutely no one. I had ceased to exist. I dropped to my knees and said three words that would save my life; “God help me!”

I am a recovering alcoholic with a wonderful marriage, career and life. My children grew up around the 12 step program I attend, and seem to learn much faster than adults (myself included.) I think my life can't possibly get better, but it does.


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