Ambivalent About Labels


Like most people who struggle with alcohol,  I take issue with the ALCOHOLIC label.  I know I have an issue with drinking too much and my ability to stop once I start.  I didn’t drink every day and went years not drinking without ever giving it a thought.  But,  something changed in my brain once I started drinking more often.  I found myself looking forward to the numb fuzzy feeling you get after those first drinks. In fact,  the only thing positive booze ever did for me was allowing me to forget stress which in turn helped greatly with a nasty disease that feeds on stress. I went two years without an episode but once I stopped drinking, I’ve had an episode every month like clockwork.  I have to remind myself daily how much worse off I was with 7-10 day hangovers that were more debilitating than this disease.

I prefer to think of my drinking as problematic. The rock bottom I experienced was nothing compared to others. My eyes were opened to the fact that what I was doing to myself couldn’t possibly continue. I was headed to becoming one of the stories  you hear about.  The one where the person drinks,  drives,  causes an accident,  goes to jail,  loses job, house, relationships and home.  I couldn’t see my life getting better with alcohol remaining as part of my life.  After a few months of debilitating alcohol induced anxiety, I made the decision to stop.  Not forever but at least until I thought I could handle drinking like a normal person. 686 days later and I don’t believe I could drink normally.  I’m not an alcoholic.  I have a “drinking problem”. It all boils down to Symantics.

678 Days

I need to let that ^ sink in a bit. I haven’t been here to read or write. I have recurring dreams that I’m drinking only to wake up terrified and then relieved.

Being sober lately has brought me to the realization that my not drinking is keeping other people away. I think it has something to do with them seeing me and not liking what they see about their own drinking. I don’t talk to anyone about not drinking. It makes them squirm. That’s never my intention. I’ve got my own issues to deal with.

I’m still in a nearly six year relationship with no real commitment other than saying we like being together. (It’s my decision not to marry or live together.) He is a bi polar alcoholic but I love him dearly. He claims that my sobriety has helped him drink less. He makes it about 28 days and it all comes crashing down. He finally admitted to me that he believes he may have a problem. You’d think that after 2 stints in rehab (many years ago) and a couple of DUI’s, you might realize you may have a problem.

He doesn’t drink around me which is good because he is my trigger to want to drink. We drank the first four years of our relationship away. He was my best drinking buddy. I rarely drank before him. I’m not blaming him. He was a gateway for me. I will say that when I did drink before him, it was almost always to excess but may have been once a year instead of every other weekend.

He’s spent the last 3 weekends choosing booze over me and that feels pretty shitty. The only time he shows positive attention is when he drinks. Part of me wants to enjoy that but the other part knows these are not his true feelings. He’s been drinking during the week (I should point out that we don’t live together because I can’t deal with this exact issue) and trying to hide it. I have to keep repeating, “Not my circus. Not my monkey.” He can’t get far enough into sobriety to see it’s benefits. I’ve been there. Wanting to break free but something always pulls you back.

I tell myself that maybe I’ll drink again someday but know I can never be a normal drinker. I’m thankful to still have a clear memory of the feelings of self loathing and the physical pain of hangovers. So for today, I’m not drinking. Lather, rinse, repeat.