At two in the morning on the night of her sister's wedding, 13-year-old Susan Sherwood found herself wandering drunkenly around her family's barn in a bridesmaid dress and high heels. Later, her sister's new husband would find her there, sick to her stomach from all the alcohol she'd consumed. But the night, at least as Susan would remember it, rated as a success. She'd been witty and fun—quite unlike the shy teenager she normally was. The alcohol had removed her inhibitions.
Over time, a dependency developed. Initially, alcohol functioned as a crutch in social situations. After a few drinks, a reserved and tongue-tied Susan would transform into the animated life of the party her friends loved. But less than a decade later, alcohol's grip had tightened considerably, and by her early 20s, Susan was drinking regularly during her lunch hour at work, just so she could make it through the day.
It could have gone on like this indefinitely. And it nearly did. But then, almost 20 years after Susan had her first drink, three things happened that forced her to step back and take a good look at what was going on. The first was an argument with her husband that occurred while Susan was intoxicated. The second, a fight with her sister under the same circumstances. And the third, harsh words with her best friend after Susan had consumed one too many drinks. Though all three individuals forgave her, the incidents left Susan rattled, and she began to search for answers. Why was this happening? she wondered. What am I doing here? What's my purpose anyway?