JOWITA BYDLOWSKA: Thank you so much for having me.
MARTIN: How did you come to a decision to write this story?
BYDLOWSKA: Well, it started off as fiction. So, during the time when I was raising my son in the first year and during my relapse I had this idea to write a book about a mom who drinks, and that just shows you the power of the denial that I was in. So after I got sober I talked to my literary agent and I told him that it was actually a true story. So we talked about, you know, publishing as a memoir and we went from there.
MARTIN: How - forgive me - how do we know that you're telling the truth now?
MARTIN: The book. How do we know that that is the truth as you see it? Because one of the things that you make really clear in the book is how thorough-going are the lies that one tells to oneself and to people around them when one is in the throes of an addiction. How do we know?
BYDLOWSKA: That's a very good point. I think - how do you know - I don't think there are a lot of people who would want to come out publicly with this issue, you know, admitting to the fact that they were drinking while taking care of a baby. So, I don't know. I think that should be enough evidence because I am coming out and talking about it and I would love to continue talking about it because it is an issue so - yeah.
MARTIN: It is a pretty harrowing story. You write about wandering the streets sometimes in a snowstorm just so you could drink away from home. You write about blacking out. You write about your boyfriend sometimes coming home and finding the baby just screaming and not having been fed or changed. At the time when you were going through all this, did you think it was bad or did you think it was tolerable? What did you think.
BYDLOWSKA: I was quite aware of how horrible it was. I was relatively organized as an alcoholic and I tried to have sort of a backup plan, so I had my partner and my sister to pick up the slack where I wasn't able to. But, certainly, before relapsing - I was sober for three and a half years, I am an alcoholic - so I was quite aware, right away, of where my addiction could take me. And it was a, you know, crazy time feeling guilty and then drinking over it and then drinking to forget that I was feeling guilty and so on.
MARTIN: You write really vividly of the drinking life. And I think it's the kind of thing that's very helpful to people who don't drink or who have never had an addiction and they wonder why - gee, why would you live like that? I mean, one of the things that you write about is how at a certain point in your life it's kind of easy to hide, right? Because it's all new to everybody, like having a dependence. You talk about flitting - everybody in your twenties is flitting, right? But how did you realize that you had a problem - that you weren't just - you know, it wasn't just - well let me just...
BYDLOWSKA: A phase.
MARTIN: A phase. Here, let me just read a paragraph, if you don't mind. You write, (reading) I was the girl who danced barefoot on tables or sometimes fell asleep with her shoes on or sometimes lost a job or relationship. I was the type of tragic girl that boys would try to fix or try to drink with, although only until they'd had enough and there I would be, moving apartments yet again, only to move in with another boyfriend who claimed he'd be better at fixing me.
I always had three drinks to your one. I always prepared for a night out with a bottle of wine, always opened another beer at 4 AM after coming home after a night of partying. It's easy to hide your drinking in your twenties when many of your peers seem to be bent on oblivion too, when comparing hangovers is par for the course.
How did you start to realize, you know what, I'm not just a 20-year-old flitting, as you put it?
BYDLOWSKA: I think, you know, another way to put it is I was the last girl at the party. I mean there was - you know, it was harder to find people to drink with and I started drinking by myself. There were a couple of things that happened in my life around the same time, so, I went through a breakup, I lost a job and my roommates were talking about kicking me out. So, three out of three, I was pretty sure that the common denominator had something to do with my drinking - with my lifestyle. And that was enough of a lesson for me at that time to go and get some help - at 27.