Wednesday, 2 January 2008


bitterly cold, sunny, brilliant almost blinding day. Highs minus 15, but winds calm

It's January 2nd - for me a far more significant day than the 1st. This is my sobriety date. Today I'm celebrating 14 years without a drink! Not with a glass of champagne.

Don't normally talk about this - figure it's private. But recently some people in interviews have asked about a line in the acknowlegments for STILL LIFE, my first book. In it I talk about having gone through a time in my life when I thought I'd die from loneliness. When I wrote that I knew it was possible someone would ask about that time - and I knew if asked, I'd answer honestly.

And so I've recently talked about being an alcoholic. And what finally brought me to my knees - to the end of what I could stand - wasn't the booze, it wasn't embarrassment or shame or losing a job or a home. It was loneliness. I couldn't live with that ache, that howl, that hole another day.

And so I got help. 14 years ago today. This very minute, I was in my first 12 step meeting. And I still go. Who'd have thought I'd find myself (in every sense) in a stinky church basement. But I did. And I found a world of people just like me. And I found hope and relief, happiness, forgiveness, compassion and love. I found sobriety. And a belief in something larger than myself (hard to believe there's something larger than me!)

14 years ago I knew the best had been and it was downhill. And now? I have everything I could have dreamed of, and more. I came close to ending it all - I know how that feels. And I know how it feels to realize my life isn't ending, it's just beginning.

People sometimes laugh at the amount of gratitude I have - I think they suspect it's a bit much. A bit over-the-top. But the only difference between me and someone who didn't make it - from what I can see - is luck. How could I not be grateful? I'm not the brightest bulb in the box, I'm not the prettiest, the most deserving, the hardest working. I'm just damned fortunate.

Anyway - I wanted to share this with you. It's the most important part of my life - even more important than Michael, and he knows it. Because without sobriety there'd be no marriage, no Michael, no home, no friends, no books. No nuttin'.

Every Saturday I go to a 12 step meeting. I make coffee and set up the chairs and tables, and talk with people as they arrive. And I know I belong. How lucky is that?

This is a great day. Be well, be happy - and we'll talk tomorrow.


Hilary said...

Wow. You're amazing.
Bless you.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Hilary,

thank you. I was a little frightened to post that blog. Felt so exposed. You make me feel better. You're very kind.

Happy new year.


Nan - said...

I think it is great that you posted about this. Among your many fans, there may be one who reads it, and finds the strength to change his or her own life. I admire you tremendously. My dad was in AA my whole life, and when I was little, our New Year's Eves were spent playing Canasta after the AA meetings. ;<) I so enjoy your blog, and your books. My father was born in Lower Ireland, Inverness, and I love Quebec, though I haven't been in too long a time.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Nan,

I certainly hope you've made up for all those thrilling Canasta games! though in AA was say that New Years Eve is for amateurs. We pros went at it all year 'round.

Thank you for telling me about your father. I know how painful it can be to have an alcoholic in the family. Not nearly as much fun as it sounds. (har har)

thank you for your kindness.


Linda L. Richards said...

Louise: how amazingly brave of you to share this with us. Thank you. But it seems to me that courage is the subtext of your posting here. The courage to right wrongs. The courage to get on with your life. And Nan is right too, I think: your courage here may well translate into something beautiful -- something courageous -- for someone else.

Happy New Year, my dear. I tip my earl grey to you!

Kay said...

Louise, I feel honored that you shared this with us. Your philosophy is quite humbling and I wish you all good things. I agree with those who have commented above. You never know what small seed you will plant and what fruit will be born of it. Blessings to you!

frenchie said...

Hey, my favorite author. Kudos for your courage. Gutsy move.
Still amazes me that human bodies are so different from any other human bodies. What will be detrimental for one person (say: one drink) is nothing for another.
All of us have addictions of one or the other. Some people are addicted to food, others to buying
collectbells (?) others to shopping or any other you can think of. Someone is bound to be
addicted. I know someone who is addicted to playing Solitair on his
laptop. Sounds funny but it is not. Cannot think or talk or do anything else at this time.

Some people are addicted to sleep.
Yes. "sleep" You can get very ill from too much sleep. Wish you well always, waiting for March 2008
for the book. Anny

Louise Penny Author said...

Hello Anny and Kay and Linda,

Thank you, thank you, thank you. you are so kind and make me feel so much less exposed. And you're right, Anny, about addictions. and being aware of mine sure makes me more tolerant and compassionate of someone elses. Certainly more understanding. Wonderful how our frailties and failings can turn into our greatest strengths.

You're all so great! And - by the way - we're most honoured to be visited by Linda L Richards. Her fantastic book, 'Death was the Other Woman' launches next week by St Martin's Minotaur!!!! I hope she'll join me on the blog tomorrow.

Many, many thanks,