My friends – (Is it ok if I call you my friends? Because really, I have come to think of you as my friends)

I can’t begin to tell you what your words meant to me yesterday. Your support, your generosity, your reflection of my deepest, darkest moments back to me in the stories of your own – they meant everything.

I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating – when we dig to the farthest reaches and shine a light into the darkest places, then and only then do we find our truth. And when we do, when we find that truth, if we then share it – if we blast through the doors and say, “This. This is what I’ve found,” we free not just ourselves, but everyone else who recognizes their truth in ours. And when they say “Me too,” – whether they whisper it timidly from the corner or shout it boldly from the top of the mountains, when they say, “Me too,” the circle is complete. The circle of truth, the circle of support, the circle of understanding and compassion and You Are Not – will never again be – Alone.

There is something magical in that moment. That moment of affirmation, of community. That moment when the shame – the worthless, toxic, self-destructive shame rises to the clouds and floats off into the ether and together, we are free.

I invite you to read – no, I implore you to read – what follows. If the story is not yours, I ask only that you read it with care and without judgement. Because we all have a story. We all have deep, dark places and scary cob-webbed corners we all have shame.

If the story is yours, I ask you to take heart. You are not – and will never again be – alone in carrying its weight. And I ask you – no, I beg you – to get help.

This is Cheairs. She is a member of our community, a friend through e-mail, and she has something to say.


I Am An Autism Mom and I Am An Alcoholic

by Cheairs Graves, Redefining Typical

Copyright Cheairs Graves March 22, 2012 – used with express permission




So beautifully packaged.



Pouring you into a cup so that I can breathe.

Waiting for that five o’clock hour so that you can help me.

Shhhh….nobody can know.

It is our little secret.

I will only bring you forth from your bottle when nobody is looking.

When he is with the kids I will sneak to the kitchen and grab you.

I will pour.

Don’t worry I won’t leave you alone for long.

I need you.

You help me.

I deserve you.

My son has autism.

Six letters no mother should ever have to hear.

Six letters that leave me on the cold kitchen floor.


Holding my knees.

Clinching my fists.


My back hitting the wall.

And I am alone.

So very alone.

And my sweet boy rolls on the ground.

In a world that I do not know.

And my precious girl. She needs me. Oh, how she needs me.

And I stand.

I walk to your most sacred place where you are kept.

I take hold of you.

My heart begins to slow because you… most beautiful wine… will help me.

And I pour you.

I take a sip.

Because you my friend – you help me to stand.

And the one glass of wine to take off the edge….. turns to two.

Two turns to three.

Three to four.

One bottle of wine turns to two bottles of wine.

And I yell at my children.

And when my husband travels I drink more.

And when he is home I drink more.

Trips to the store to make sure I have enough of you.

Because I can’t do it.

I can’t do it without you.

My sweet, sweet friend.

My wine.

And then I pass out.

Leaving him.

Leaving them.

All alone.

I wake in the middle of the night.

Head pounding.

Face splotchy and red.

I can’t remember conversations with my husband.

My marriage-slipping away.

My daughter’s questions-“What are you drinking mommy?”

And more lies come from my lips as I laugh, “It is mommy juice.

The planning.

The scheming.

To make sure I have enough of my new best friend.

My beautiful-fun-wine.

But I am still there.

Curled up on the cold kitchen floor.

Hands around my knees.


And this best friend.

My wine.

This lovely liquid that I chose for my Oxygen Mask.

It is choking me.

It is killing me.

And I will die.

But I can’t give up my best friend.

I am scared to give her up.

I don’t know how…..

What will I do without her?


It has been two years and ten months since I have had any alcohol.

It was on bended knee that I started seeing an amazing therapist whose grace, gift, and loving hands have helped guide me on this road of recovery.

It was with great hope that I went to see my physician who started me on an antidepressant.

It was my husband who held me tight and whispered the words “I love you. We will get through this.” when I told him that I did not know how to stop drinking.

It is with encouragement of family, friends, and you that I began to share my journey through my blog. To cry the tears in the written word and let others hold them and wipe them away.

I had to let go of that friend.

I had to say good-bye to my most precious wine.

Oh, she still calls my name.

But I won’t go back.

I can’t


I can feel the pain.

I can feel the sad.

They won’t crush me.

I am not alone.

I have my husband.

My children.

My writing.

My therapist.

My exercise.

My friends.

My church.

They lift me when I can’t stand.

They hold me when I cry.

They rock with me when the pain feels like too much.

Yes, they are my oxygen mask.

My glorious and wonderful oxygen mask.

And they – yes they – help me to breathe.


Ed note – I am so grateful to Cheairs for sharing her story here. It’s not easy to do. I know. Please join me in offering her some of that magical love and support that you all share here every day – for me, for each other, for our kids. And if you recognize yourself in her story, please, PLEASE ask for help. For you, for your children, for all the people who love you. 

You can do it.

You are not alone. 

Alcoholics Anonymous

31 thoughts on “cheairs

  1. Very important post. I am incredibly proud of Cheairs for the bravery, wisdom and fortitude it took to save herself and now her generosity in trying to pay it forward. Congratulations and best wishes to Cheairs and her family.
    For those who see themselves in this post (whether the escape is alcohol, food or something else) please know this post is for you. It is an alarm and an extended hand just for you. Grab hold and follow a path out of the darkness. Love and hugs.

  2. To Cheairs, you are not alone. You are strong and brave and your children and husband are blessed to have you in their lives. Thanks for sharing your story.
    I love reading this blog. I thank you so much for sharing your story yesterday. It was all too familiar. “Me too” is so comforting to hear sometimes! God Bless!

  3. This post from Cheairs gets me every time. It is so raw, so real. Cheairs is an amazing woman…an amazing mom. We all have demons…and she dealt with this one with tremendous grace. What she does for her kids every day is inspiring.

  4. Cheairs, that was really beautiful! My favorite people ( hubby included) are those in recovery, because they are totally real, and very brave. Thanks for telling it honestly; may you continue to be blessed on your journey, and may your words help others to have courage too!

  5. Thank you, Cheairs, for sharing your journey and for having the courage to voice to what so many struggle with in silence. It is truly a gracious woman who can speak of the challenges she has faced and – with hands extended – offer hope and help and validation of a shared journey. Your words will touch someone and help them find the light.

    All the best for you and your family on this journey.

  6. I’ve been reading her blog for quite a while now. I first read this post…I don’t remember when, but it was also a while ago. It has as much emotion for me now as it did then. We all have a need to release, to forget. Some of us find healthy ways, some have no where to turn, and find solace in alcohol or drugs.
    There’s nothing harder than admitting you need help, then GETTING that help. She is brave, and truly a beautiful, smart woman and mother for not only doing that, but then sharing her story with the world.
    I’ve been on the other side of this. My ex husband (and Cymbie’s biological father) was/is a heroin addict.
    I begged him to get help.
    I stayed way past every one in my family telling me I should leave.
    I endured emotional and verbal abuse.
    I tried, and tried to support, to understand, until I couldn’t anymore.
    I got us out of there. It was before Cymbie was diagnosed. He is not in her life. He hasn’t seen her in a year. And God forgive me, but I hope he never comes back.
    She has a Daddy. My husband. And he is amazing with her.
    So this story can go a different way. Thank you Cheairs, for doing the right thing for yourself, and your family. For doing the hardest thing in the world…asking for help. And more, for sharing your story. You may have given some one else the courage to stand up and say “me too”…and get the help they need before they loose their family to addiction.

  7. Jess, both you and Cheairs are two of the most courageous, wise, and amazing moms that I “know”! Cheairs was one of the first to welcome me into this incredible community of blogging parents. Just knowing she is out there gives me strength! Though I don’t comment much these days, I never miss a post by you or Cheairs! You ladies are an inspiration to us all!!! ❤ Thank you so much for sharing a part of yourselves with us! ~ Chameleon

  8. Cheairs, I think I may have commented when I first saw this post earlier this year, but it bears repeating…your strength and resilience are remarkable. Even more so is your courage and compassion in sharing your story; in so doing, you are helping countless others. I wish you continued strength and peace. Thank you for being such an example for others and for our children.

  9. Cheairs, you are helping so many with this post. Hundreds – thousands – will see this and see themselves and get help. Your words are so brave, raw, honest. You are in my heart always.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this, Jessica. And Cheairs, thank you for this difficult, beautiful, brave, honest post that i know has touched so many. We hear you and are proud to be part of the autism parenting community that will help hold you up when you need to lean on someone. I am so glad you found your real and true oxygen mask. Hugs all around.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this! Cheairs–you speak for many. You are not alone-I have three children with autism, and have been sober 7 and a half years. I could not continue to do it without the love and support of my friends, family, and this community. It is not an easy thing, but through love we can make it one day at a time.

  12. That is the most courageous (and, for the record, beautifully written) thing I have read in a long time. Thank you Cheairs for sharing this with all of us.

  13. Cheairs, you are one of the bravest people in the world. You are not alone, we walk with you. Even in the darkness when you can not see us, we are there. Stay strong my friend.

  14. I can say I can totally relate, but not with alcohol… Food 😦 It has been my drug of choice since I was 5. Chocolate, sweets, chips… I went Vegan before I became pregnant and lost 30 pounds now I’m 20 weeks and I eat when I’m depressed, sad, angry, about my son who has autism. He has some medical issues that are showing up pretty bad right now. No one knows what to do. I think I need help, but just not sure where to go.

    • Daisy, you are not alone. It still astounds me that I can use food the way I do. Food Addicts is an organization designed for people like us. You can go to a meeting, or now even attend online or post on the message boards. I don’t want to go into more detail here, because this is a 12 step program, and is meant for you to seek it out. Good luck, and I completely understand. You’re not alone. At all. xoxo

  15. WoW…. All I can is WoW. And Amazing… And strength… And the Lord… Oh our precious Lord… how he helps us in our time of need by giving us our own personal oxygen mask in the form of blogs, and friends, and churches, and children, and spouses and sometimes total strangers…. Just WoW. Thank you for sharing. Blessings. 🙂

  16. Your words of kindness hold me. I thank you for the gift of letting me share this part of my life with all of you. Your comments fill my Oxygen Mask. You help me to turn away from the whisper when it calls my name. Please know if the alcohol whispers to you that you are not alone….there is help out there….and it can and will get better.

  17. I’m so glad to hear the update on Cheairs’ journey. Seeking help was incredibly brave in itself, and staying true to the path of sobriety requires daily strength. What an inspiration!

  18. My dear, dear friend, I love you to pieces…all the way across the cosmic world wide web by ether. It is so vital that your story, your journey, is heard in our community. I am so very proud of you and how you carry your soapbox across the miles to so many. xoxo

  19. Thank you for your words, Cheairs.

    Thank you for the wake up call; thank you for reminding me that our demons and crutches can be shed.

    Beautiful, impactful writing.

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