Posts Tagged ‘drinking problem’

When I was still drinking alcohol and January rolled around, I’d get really depressed.  The holidays being over meant that people were going back to their normal lives, no more parties, no more days off, no more excuses to drink all day. Not that I needed an excuse to drink, but the fact that other people were letting loose over the Holidays was a great way for me to be ‘inebriated incognito’.

Though flying under the radar didn’t last long, soon people noticed that while they might have a few drinks at the office party or with the Holiday dinner, I often looked like a possessed baby calf, with bloodshot eyes and legs splayed awkwardly in opposite directions trying to find a foot hold. I’d spend the time stumbling around spouting funny one liners (or so I thought) only to be told the next day that I really should call so-and-so to apologize.

The truth is I know I’ve managed to ruin quite a few Holiday get-togethers.  Sometimes, not even making it to the party at all, deciding instead to have a drink while getting ready. Somewhere along the line, the bottle would end up in the bathroom with me and I’d pass out on the floor with my husband banging on the door.  Although being a no-show was often better than ruining the entire evening for people which is what happened one New Years. After renting a condo in the mountains and having friends drive all the way up from Denver to bring in the New Year, I managed to piss off  my closest friends to a point where they turned around and drove all the way back to Denver that same night. Of course, my response was what the hell was their problem?

In fact, the first time a friend actually said to me that they thought I had a drinking problem was after that New Year’s Eve. This was the first time someone had said this – to my face anyway – and I acted as though I was mortally wounded.  How dare she say such a thing? What a bitch she was! I’d have to get her out of my life, I certainly didn’t need that kind of negativity. So I avoided her and coincidentally people started avoiding me.  As my alcoholism progressed, it wasn’t long before I didn’t get invited out anymore, or I had no inclination to go out anyway. The husband left, the friends stopped calling and at the time that was just fine with me, they all got in the way of drinking anyway.

Unfortunately, it would be many more wasted years before I was able to admit to myself that I did have a drinking problem and I wanted to stop. And if you find yourself in a place where you want to stop drinking, this is as good a time as any to get sober. Sure, people who over indulged during the Holidays will make it their New Year resolution to cut down and if they are normal drinkers they will succeed. But if you are like me, and have tried every trick in the book to control your drinking, there is no going back.

And if you can’t go back, don’t stay stuck – try going forward. A good way to do that is to find a recovery meeting and get your ass there. And if you have ideas surrounding A.A. like I did, such as it’s full of fucked up people, who are full of fucked up ideas, it might help to keep in mind the New Year saying, “Out With The Old and In With The New’ – it just might change your life. Happy New Year.

In early recovery, I was angry, bitter, confused and stark raving mad but knowing that now didn’t help me much then.

Sometimes, a simple saying that I heard in a Twelve Step meeting might set me off, quotes like ‘stinkin thinkin’ for instance. Whenever I heard this I’d imagine myself as a cartoon character from Looney Tunes, Wile E. Coyote sticking dynamite in his ears and Road Runner lighting the fuse. I didn’t want to hear it! It really bugged the shit out of me – stinking thinking? I stink not!

Another thing I heard said often was this zinger: “It’s easy to stop drinking, it’s staying stopped that’s hard”, hearing that one sent the barometer in my brain shooting through the top of my head. The first thing that came to mind was,  “If it was so fucking easy to stop drinking why are all you nut jobs sitting in this room talking about it? Shouldn’t you be getting on with your perfect alcohol free lives and leaving us losers to it? In fact, hearing this made me think I was in the wrong place or at least the wrong meeting; all these folks obviously didn’t have a problem like mine, because it seemed that when they wanted to stop drinking, they just stopped!

I couldn’t relate at all because once I started drinking I couldn’t stop until I passed out. When I came to, either the next day or in a few hours, I’d start drinking again immediately to block out the guilt, dread and eventual withdrawal symptoms. In fact I’d only stop when my body physically rejected the alcohol. Whenever this happened – which was often – I’d take sips, throw up, take more sips, throw up until somewhere along the way I’d pass out in a pool of puke. That was how I stopped drinking; it wasn’t because it was easy, it was because I had lost control over my bodily functions.

Another saying I heard was, “Stick around for the miracle to happen” – Hmm, I’d hardly say any of the people I saw in those meetings qualified for the Vatican’s  ‘Call-in a miracle line”. Nope, I didn’t see any miracles going on there and definitely no images of religious icons in the tossed out coffee filters. Thankfully, I was desperate enough to want to know why these people stuck around, why did they quote all these useless sayings and why did some of them look so happy? At first I thought it was because they came to gloat, “Look at me, you poor bastards, I don’t have a drinking problem and you do”.

Turns out, I was more like Wile W. Coyote than I realized because no matter how much he got hurt, blown up or tossed into a bottomless canyon in his attempts to catch the Road Runner, he always tried again, trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That is exactly what I did with my drinking, I drank and drank, hoping that this time, I could just have one drink and stop, or this time I could control my drinking and drink like other people.

Thank God I stuck around and took the dynamite out of my ears and starting listening. I realized what these people were actually saying was that it wasn’t necessarily easy to stop  drinking,  it was just a little easier than staying stopped.  Because the truth is, most of us will swear off the booze time and time again only to pick it up a day, week, month or even a year later. I was one of these people, and the only thing that stopped this nightmare cycle for me was to commit to a program of recovery and in my case it was Alcoholics Anonymous.

After a few months in AA, the sayings didn’t bother me as much, if people got something out of them and they stayed off the sauce for another day, who was I to judge? Plus I began to see the miracles they were talking about, whether it was someone opening up and sharing for the first time or a milestone celebrated by someone who was clearly a different person than they were when they first walked into the rooms. And yet another saying I heard began to ring true whereas before when I heard it, I almost lost the plot completely. This I had heard many times,  “There’s good news and bad news, the good news is there is a solution to your problem, the bad news is, we are the solution”.

They were right about that one too.

elephant-in-room-jpgYears ago when I was unable to admit that I had a substance abuse problem, I needed proof that drinking was making my life unmanageable and I’d be better off without it. I remained in denial and therefore blind to the giant elephant in the room that was crapping all over my life.

I remember someone suggesting that I write a list of the pros and cons of using my drug of choice (alcohol) but obviously it could have been written about other addictive substance such as prescription drugs or cocaine. So I wrote the list, but it was vastly different to the one I’ll write today basically because I was unwilling to see the truth about my disease.  In fact, instead of pros and cons, this new list is about ‘Old Ideas’ and ‘Reality’.  My old ideas kept me out there using for many years, thankfully now I’m able to see the truth:

Drinking gave me confidenceReality – Booze dissolved any ‘filter’ that I may have had between my mind and my mouth.  I did and said what I wanted without concern for the consequences. I wasn’t confident, I was belligerent.

When I was drunk I felt more attractive… Reality – If puffy eyes, blotchy skin & slurred speech is attractive, I was your girl.

Drinking made me lose my inhibitionsReality – I had unsafe sex and put myself in dangerous situations, I’m lucky to be alive today, never mind sober.

Booze calmed my nerves… Reality – My nerves were shot from drinking, I had withdrawal symptoms and alcohol stopped the shakes.

A nightcap before bed helped me sleep… Reality – I couldn’t sleep and a bottle of vodka usually did the job.

My friends thought I was the life and soul of the party and I was hilarious when I drank… Reality – Sure, I thought I was hilarious, but most people thought I was a mess, they laughed at me not with me. My friends walked on eggshells, dreading the inevitable scene that I’d make and talked about my drinking problem behind my back.

Alcohol helped me get through the day... Reality – I used alcohol to numb my senses so that I wouldn’t have to deal with life. Alcohol didn’t help me get through the day, it helped me hide from it.

My friends at the bar ‘got me’ ...Reality – My fellow ‘barflies’ didn’t give a shit about me, booze was all we had in common. Put it this way, there’s no way we’d be hanging out together and talking about our troubles over coffee.

Everybody gets drunk... Reality – Some people may over indulge on occasion, but most people don’t make a habit of drinking until they pass out.

I’d lose all my friends if I stop drinking… Reality – My real friends wanted me to stop and get help.

My life would be boring and dull if I didn’t drinkReality – I didn’t have a life, alcohol was my life.

breakfast As we fast approach the morning after the biggest party night of the year, I was thinking about the  one thing that I will certainly not miss and that is the massive hangover, complete waste of a day  throwing up and the ultimate feeling of self-loathing that came from another night on the booze.  As I have said before, it didn’t matter if it was New Year’s Eve or any day of the week, it was just  another night on the booze for this drunk and it never ended well.  

This year I’ll be taking my son downtown to watch the fireworks, sip hot chocolate, eat a great meal, see a movie and then  go to bed probably listening to the sound of people still partying. That’s ok though because I’m looking forward to sipping my coffee in the morning with a clear head, a healthy appetite and digging into a plate of bacon with fried eggs (a little runny), toast and whatever else I can manage before I go to the park and throw the frisbee with my son. These are the days that I cherish and now I get to remember them too, no more blackouts and broken promises.

What a difference sobriety makes. I never thought I’d say this but I really don’t miss being out there, in the thick of it and I definitely don’t miss those hangovers one bit.

Happy New Year!