Story by Kellie Gunderman
“Good morning, Sunshine, how are you?”
It was the first thing that Martha Carucci heard when she opened her eyes, still inebriated, in her New York City hotel room on Memorial Day of 2012. Despite being mortified and humiliated by the confession she had made the night before, Martha allowed her best friend to take her trembling hands in her own. This would become the first day of her new life—a life without alcohol.
Martha worked as a lobbyist in the telecom industry for years. She spent her workdays on The Hill—a respected professional in her field for her various legislative victories—but her evenings, and even lunches, were spent drinking.
“The world of DC is full of parties, fundraisers, happy hours, and dinners. I loved what I was doing on The Hill, but I was drinking a ton. I just thought it was normal,” Martha admits. It was around a year after her second child was born—at the peak of her career—that she began to feel as if she had become sub-standard in all aspects of her life.
“We had a great nanny, but I felt guilty for leaving the kids at home all day. Then I would feel guilty for leaving my colleagues at work to go home to my family. I was just wearing too many hats and something had to give.”
Eventually, Martha made the difficult decision to leave her job and become a full-time mom. Though her colleagues respected her for choosing her family over her pocketbook, it didn’t make the transition any easier.
“It killed me. I loved my job. I’d been able to build a great reputation on The Hill but I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
Martha’s sudden loss of identity resulted in her depending on alcohol more than she ever had. “My drinking got worse. I wouldn’t trade a day with my kids, but I was always around other moms at play dates or tailgating at lacrosse games and there was a great deal of drinking.”
At night, Martha couldn’t wait to begin cooking dinner because it was officially wine o’clock, and she felt like she deserved it, as a mother. One glass would turn into five, followed by a trip to the recycling bin to dispose of the empty bottle before her husband returned home from work—at which time, they’d uncork a second bottle to enjoy together.
“I have a broken ‘off’ switch. Some people know when to stop drinking to avoid a hangover or getting sick, but once I started, it was off to the races! The switch in my brain that says ‘stop’ doesn’t work. I would pass out before my kids went to bed, and I would wake up hungover and throwing up. I’d say, ‘I’m not drinking today,’ but by 4 PM, it was time for some hair-of-the-dog. It was a vicious cycle.”
“I knew for so long that I had a problem, but I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol.”
Fast-forward several months later; Martha is sitting on a street corner in New York City with three friends, making their way back to their hotel after a fun evening on Broadway. Martha had been invited on stage during the show…and almost vomited.
Earlier that day, she sat at a restaurant at lunch, hands trembling until her glass of wine was delivered to the table. During dinner that night, the group intimately discussed their friend Chris’ husband, who had recently lost his life to alcoholism—leaving the couple’s nine-year-old twins without a father.
Chris spoke of how her husband had a choice and that when he reached a vital crossroad, he chose wrongly. Martha—having always realized that she suffered from the same disease—began to empathize, arguing that it was not his choice; it was a disease. But Chris remained firm in her position, making it clear that he had the choice to get help.
That evening became Martha’s breaking point. As she sat on the sidewalk at 4 AM—next to her best friend—Martha had something to confess, and she was finally ready to say it out loud.
“I have a problem.”
Chris’ response shocked her: “I know.”
As they made their way back to the hotel, they talked about the progressive disease and how Martha’s admission that she was powerless over alcohol—and that her life had become unmanageable—meant that Chris was able to help.
“Good morning, Sunshine, how are you?”
They were simple words that opened Martha’s eyes to a brand new world. They are also the same words that have appeared on her phone screen every morning for the past 3,052 days and counting.
Chris has never missed a single day. “Her text messages remind me every morning that there is at least one person in this world who cares that I’m sober.”
Martha is not the only one who is benefitting from this beautiful, morning ritual. Chris tells us, "Martha doesn’t realize that I get as much from her as she gets from me. Every day that she answers me, I know she’s sober and continuing to fight.
Martha returned home from that girl’s trip to a supportive husband, three months of detoxing and amazing friends who stepped up to help her with her children and home while Martha focused on herself. It wasn’t long before Martha was happy, healthy and finding herself present in her own life for the first time.
“I know I’ve made mistakes, but I also know I can’t go back. All I can do is remain present, help others and be a good mother, wife and friend.”
It wasn’t long before Martha was telling her powerful story through an anonymous blog until, one day, her daughter supported her in coming out of the bottle by writing a book under her name.
“In 2013, people were not so forthcoming about their struggles with alcohol, so it was amazing that everyone was so supportive when the book was released.”
The book is “Sobrietease,” a collection of blog-like entries that will not only show those suffering from alcohol addiction how to face their demons, but provide insight to their friends and family members, who may not know how to help those who have yet to help themselves.
Martha tackles the tough topics with grace and a lot of humor. Her new book, “Sobrietease 2: Make It A Double,” will be released in the coming weeks, providing readers with another round of musings on life without booze.
Martha knows that she couldn’t have made it this far without the love and support of her family, friends, readers and community. But there is one person that Martha could not help but give a little special attention to. If you flip to the dedication page of her first book, you will find the following message:
For my family and for C.H. —
Thanks for being my ray of sunshine every day,
even in the darkest of times.
Order your copy of Sobritease and Martha's newest release Sobrietease: Make It A Double today!