Monday, April 13, 2015

Let's Talk About Audrey

While we're on the subject of hang-ups, let's talk about Audrey Kishline, or Audrey Conn, as she later preferred to be called.  I'm a little late to this discussion and there are all kinds of other opines out there about her life and death and what it all meant.

Here is mine.

I first "met" Audrey when she was doing the talk show rounds in the late 80's or early 90's, when Moderation Management was being formed.  I have this image of her imprinted on my mind (apt or not); short permed hair, high waist jeans, polo shirt, big glasses, pushing her toddler in a push toy of some sort down the sidewalk. "Geek mom". The kind of mom who I imagined had her kids' science fair projects planned out years in advance.

So unlike me, who was usually found to be screaming and pulling at my hair the night before every science fair.

"Whaddaya mean it's due tomorrow?"

I could not relate to that woman on the TV at all, but I liked what she had to say.

I could keep drinking.

I remember checking out the book at our local small town library, I remember thumbing through it. Reading the daily limits, the weekly limits, and then the 30 DAYS WITHOUT BOOZE.

And that's all I remember. I think it's probably one of the few books I actually managed to return to the library. Probably before it was even due.

For another twenty some years I stumbled down my thorny path, busily convincing myself there were roses somewhere in those brambles.

Then I decided I was tired of wondering around torn and bleeding. So I started this blog. And I started visiting the message boards.

And late one night, I remembered Moderation Management and decided to see what presence it had on the world wide web.  Bam! There it was.

That was in August of 2010. I'd heard all about Audrey's tragic turn of events and the accident that took the lives of two innocent people by then.  I found her story tragic and, maybe even a little despicable. But that didn't keep me from exploring MM.

When I joined, Audrey was not even a member.  But then about two years ago, maybe it was three, a new member showed up on the mmabsers mail list. I had done my one year stint of trying moderation by then and found that it was not the choice for me, and I was in the pink cloud stage of early abstinence.  I jumped on the big welcome wagon for this new member who seemed really upbeat and bouncy for someone new to the perm abs game.  I was a little more accustomed to the downtrodden and desperate. Like me.

I don't remember how long it took me to figure out that the new member was Audrey, but I can tell you when I did, I wasn't pleased.

And I let her know it.

How could she still be struggling with drinking, after what she did? How in the hell could she still be drinking?  I asked her. I said a few other things. Like, "I just don't know how I feel about this." (That was helpful, huh?)

I was chastised a little bit by the other members. Who was I to judge? That wasn't my job.  As for Audrey, she talked about her new hobby--juggling--her new website, her interviews with Sheryl, the woman whose husband and daughter she killed, the impact statements she and Sheryl participated in.

She dropped in on a few mmabsers chats. She was always upbeat, which infuriated me for some reason.  I kept mum and said nice things on the computer screen while I rolled my eyes and wondered when she was going to announce her new book, or show, or whatever....

Then she disappeared again.

Then I read about her suicide.

And felt sad and bewildered and disappointed and a little guilty. I could have been more supportive, but I'm not sure that Audrey was looking for support when she was at mmabsers.  She never seemed to reach out for it.  Maybe she was trying so damn hard to juggle all those balls, afraid if she let one drop, showed a little weakness, the whole world would come crashing down. Again.

So my feelings about Audrey are a bit ambiguous, to say the least.  She's not a hero in my eyes.  But I am so damn grateful she had the courage to buck the tide and start MM.  I might have found my way to recovery through other means, but, "Damn," I say with a tear in my eye and a catch in my throat, "I'm glad that in a round about way she introduced me to the people who people MM. I wouldn't have wanted to take this journey with anybody else."

So, again, my point?

Audrey had nothing whatsoever to do with my recovery.

MM had everything to do with it.

So don't get hung up on Audrey's story when you're looking for HELP.

If you're reading this and thinking, that maybe you're not ready to quit completely, or if you've tried to quit completely so many times, or if you just want to gain back some control, don't talk yourself out of trying MM because of one woman's tragic story.  MM has a whole lot of other members with a whole lot of different stories.

Mine is one of them.

P.S. I wanted to set one thing straight about Audrey's death, I owe her that much and more. Early reports stated that she was found with two empty bottles of Vodka and countless empty bottles of prescription pills and she hung herself.  According to family members, there were no booze or pill bottles found.

I also want to share a truth about Moderation Management:  It does not pressure its members to moderate. It provides tools and support for them.  If a person declares that they have chosen to permanently abs, as I did, they accept  and offer encouragement and support for your choice. I never once had someone try to talk me into trying moderation longer or harder and I've never had someone suggest that I try it again.


  1. As usual Kary May - you are right on point. Thanks to MM I can look in the mirror every morning (even on the week ends) without as much as a wince. Being in control is better than any sweet warm alcohol buzz I ever got.

  2. This is one of those things that I wondered a lot about when I first started reading your blog. How in the world you could talk about MMabsers so much? What good would an organization like Moderation Management do and, perhaps, wouldn't it only serve to do more harm than good.

    But because I adore you I did a little more research and because I'm also trying to be a kinder me I let myself research with open eyes AND an open heart.

    What I discovered was a wonderful organization that provides a different kind of help and support to it's members. An organization that is getting some bad press because of the plight of a poor, disturbed and broken soul who had so much pain that she had to relieve it the only way she new how.

    I find the entire situation just sad...beyond sad. So please, if you're out there looking for help, listen to what Kary says. There are a lot of ways to get and stay sober. Use whatever works.


  3. Hi, my name is Brian. I happened upon your blog and it intrigued me (especially the most recent post). Beautiful and tragic and honest and real. I'm in the beginning stages of writing a novel about God and I like reading blogs like yours because it gives me perspective and it's always good to see/read viewpoints of others. I appreciate your blog and I will continue to visit it. Thank you for being a voice in the void.

    PS - if you'd like, I'd appreciate a visit to my blog too.