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.
Sobriety has me struggling at the moment. Funny how you can be sailing along on calm waters and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of a storm. I’ll weather this one, come hell or high water.
Things are going well for me despite my absence here writing about it. I suppose I’m one of those sober bloggers who only writes when things are crappy or I’m feeling that little niggling in the back of my head. Most of the time I’m proud of the 495 days I have spent consecutively sober. But I assume we all have those moments where your brain is telling you that it’s ok to drink now. You’ve proved you can live without it so go ahead and get that first drink over with.
My dreams are filled with me drinking and not even realizing that I’m not supposed to until after the first few. I wake up confused and then relieved that it was not real.
Everything in my life is in order. I have two healthy smart daughters, food on the table, bills paid and only my mortgage as debt.
My weight has me struggling. I had lost over 200 pounds after weight loss surgery almost 9 years ago and have put back 70 of it. I’m still 130 pounds less than my highest so I’m thankful for that. I know I need to get back out and walk and ride my bike like I did before alcohol took over. It’s time to focus on the rest of my health.
My second job in agricultural safety is completely insane with a corporate audit coming up next month. I feel like someone took pieces of my job and threw them up in the air and I’m expected to grasp each piece and bring it back into the basket.
My biggest point of concern/contention is my relationship of 5+ years with my boyfriend. He’s basically said he’s waiting for me too drink again. That there’s no way I can stay sober forever. Then he’ll say he is glad that I’m not drinking. He’s spent more than his adult life drinking his time away. I will give him credit for slowing way down on his consumption. He can go a month or more and not drink but the booze calls him back. He becomes very hateful toward me when he drinks. He thinks I’m judging him. I cannot judge anyone because I’ve been right where he is.
These episodes remind me that I don’t deserve to feel unloved because alcohol runs his brain. It pushes me a little further away each time. I love him more than I’ve ever loved any man but I’m coming to the realization that I can’t fix him. I’m barely hanging onto my own sobriety. That’s where I need to put my focus.
Yesterday was a flurry of encouraging messages from sober bloggers about my one year sober anniversary. I mentioned it to my teen daughter who was visiting from the university. She said, “Wow, good job Mom.”, with a slight rise in her voice. My boyfriend of 5 years sent me a message that said that he didn’t know many people who could accomplish that. Those were my only real life reactions. Not exactly the parade and party I thought this feat deserved. It was like this giant thing in my life was just that, big only in my life. After thinking about it, I have really made not drinking no big deal to the people around me. I barely mentioned it to anyone and when I did, it was in passing and not dwelled upon.
I realize that my mind was trying to gear me up for failure. “Poor me. Nobody cares that I spent the last 365 days working diligently on making my life better. I’m not the center of the world’s attention.” I haven’t had the urge to drink but I can see that my twisted mind is setting up the scene.
In doing some sober blog reading, I noticed a pattern. I seemed to be focusing on the bloggers who had a recent relapse. What I took away from those blogs is that one drink is not worth a year of sobriety. I’ve also considered the possibility of attending my first AA meeting. I’ll have to think about that a bit more.
There never really was a rock bottom other than I knew that I couldn’t continue on with life the way I was living it. My last days drinking consisted of me being blatoed from Thursday until Saturday night. I spent most of Saturday in and out of the blackness, fighting with my boyfriend at his apartment as we watched football. Somewhere around 4 pm I decided that I had better sober up. This brought about more arguing with my boyfriend and I felt volatile toward the world and it showed. I spewed hate at the boyfriend deflecting my negative feelings for myself onto him. He quickly grew tired of my ranting and told me to leave. This infuriated me more because he knew how much I had been drinking and there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to drive the hour to my house. I angrily gathered my stuff yelling the entire time and slammed the door behind me.
I had a rental car because mine was being fixed so I was unfamiliar with the vehicle. I decided that I would sleep it off in the parking lot of the apartment complex. Great place to crash since the building is inhabited by former homeless veterans and is 95% male. Being that is was the beginning of the month, most had received their state assistance and they were partying it up. I ended up sleeping for 6 hours and made the decision that I had to go home because it was so cold outside and I was freezing.
I had left the boyfriend’s on several occasions before and all of them included excessive drinking. Normally when I left, I would drive a block to a factory parking lot and wait it out knowing he would call or text me that he was sorry and wanted me to come back. He never called or responded to my hate texts that night so I was destined to make the drive.
Driving at night is hard for me when I haven’t been drinking. I was thankful that I felt sober but looking back, I doubt that six hours of sleeping was enough to get the alcohol out of my system. I contemplated calling my mom and having her make the drive to get me but I really wasn’t up to her seeing what I’d become. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic and the cold air from the window helped keep me alert. I thank God every single day that I didn’t hit and kill someone that night. My guardian angel was watching over me for sure.
Once I got home, I crawled into bed and tried to get warm. I took a Xanax which a doctor had prescribed for me knowing that my anxiety was caused by alcohol. It was probably not the smartest thing to do but it was the only thing that I knew would help stop the shaking and anxiety after my binge. I made the decision amidst tossing and turning that I wasn’t going to drink for a long time.
The next morning brought a calm to me. I didn’t know how I was going to stay sober but I knew I would find a way. I couldn’t live my life binge drinking. I apologized profusely to my boyfriend and told him that I was done drinking. I’m sure he thought I meant for the next couple of weeks like my pattern had showed for the last couple of years.
Being sober was tough for the first 6 months. Not because I was an everyday drinker but because I realized how much I had looked forward to what binge drinking did for me. It allowed me to check out completely from life and ignore everything besides the booze. This was the pattern every other weekend for two years. I looked forward to spending time with my boyfriend but I realize now that I was really excited about being black out drunk with him. I knew he would take care of me and even get me more booze when I asked. I would be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes miss those days.
What I don’t miss is the terrifying anxiety that alcohol caused me for a week or more after I stopped drinking on those weekends. The headaches are gone and there has not been one morning in the last year that I didn’t wake up grateful for being sober.
Every morning after drinking, I’d wake up loathing myself and my life. Not once have I regretted not drinking this past year. Life is good!
Looks like it’s going to be the latter. I’ve mentioned that I once weighed almost 400 pounds and lost over 200 after gastric bypass surgery (8 years ago) and an exercise addiction. It would seem that I’m partial to transfer addictions. I went from food to exercise, to sex, to alcohol and I’m right back where I started with food.
I have everything to be happy about. I’m 11 months sober today. Tomorrow is the 5 year anniversary with my boyfriend. Both of my daughters are successful college students. Both of my jobs are very busy. All good things, eh?
For some reason I can’t stop stuffing my face. I feel horrendous physically. I’m bloated, puffy, tired and down right fat again. I’m losing the battle and I hate myself for it. I feel myself going into my shell. I look dumpy and frumpy. I know I need to exercise again and I’ve got every excuse in the book not to but my body is screaming at me to wake up before it’s too late. I’m an embarrassment to myself and my family. But I’m sober.
Several people have come to me via Facebook and WordPress asking for my help in getting sober. First off, I have no training in sobriety other than my own sometimes flailing attempts. It boggles my mind that anyone would think that I could be helpful to them.
My nature has always been to go above and beyond helping people to the extent of putting myself last. In the past, I would do just about anything for anyone in the hopes of gaining their acceptance. I suppose this came from years of overcompensating due to suffering from super morbid obesity. When you’re fat, you have to work extra hard at getting people to realize you are human. Letting others walk all over you becomes second nature. But, this is not where I was going with this. I felt I should explain that I’ve always enjoyed helping others despite their intentions as well as my own.
Disappointment creeps in as I watch so many people struggle with their own issues with alcohol. I’m disappointed because I want them to break free. I want them to see that they are capable of living a life free of alcohol and all of the problems that booze brings with it. At the same time, I feel like a hypocrite because I had more than my share of Day 1’s. I did not succeed in sobriety the first or fiftieth time I tried. I don’t want others with alcohol problems to think that I am looking down at them because I’ve chosen to get sober. I have no place in judging anyone. Human nature tells us to judge and I suppose we all do. There’s always that little voice that makes us shake our head as we listen to another story about how alcohol is negatively affecting someone’s life. I want to yell at them and tell them that the only cure is to stop drinking no matter what but I remember being afraid of life without booze. The only way for one to know that it’s going to be ok is to get far enough away from drinking to gain some of the benefits of sobriety.
My boyfriend of nearly 5 years is struggling. He strings together a few weeks of not drinking and claims that because he can quit so easily, he doesn’t have a problem. It’s so frustrating to watch his cycles. This brings on binges where he spends days texting me (we live an hour apart) derogatory things about what a horrible person I am. This cycle happens at least once a month if not more often and he claims that it is due to his bipolar disorder. I’ve pointed out that he never treats me like that when he’s not drinking. Drinking brings out his insecurities about himself and our relationship. He doesn’t realize how detrimental his behavior is to our relationship as well as his own well being.
I’ve painted a picture of him here that makes many people question why I would stay with him. I know I appear to be that sad abused person who justifies why she stays with someone who clearly doesn’t appear to have her best interests at heart. Nothing I can say here will convince anyone that he is good for me. We are great together when we aren’t drinking. I’ve read comments from this blog to him and he seemed to genuinely care about my feelings about alcohol. He claims that my sobriety has opened his eyes to living a life without booze and how much better my life is and his could be. But his battle is his to fight. I cannot control him or make him see that long term sobriety is the only way to live for someone with alcohol issues. He has to see that on his own as we all do.
The boyfriend told me last night that he was thinking about drinking but he knew he wasn’t going to. He sat with the feelings instead of acting on them and said that they had passed. It took a few hours, but the feelings went away. This was a break through for him. My best advise to anyone who is struggling to string more than a few days of not drinking together is “don’t drink right now”. If you have to, go minute by minute. Sit with your feelings of wanting to drink instead of acting on them. Scream and yell if you have to. Go for a walk or go to bed at 6 PM in order to carry you on to your next sober minute. I promise that the feelings of wanting a drink will pass and you will be relieved as well as a little proud of yourself.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the side effects of drinking and being sober. However, I’ve somehow gotten waylay-ed the last few days. I WANT TO DRINK!!! I want to be able guzzle down that first drink and feel the numbness as it takes over my entire body. I want to know that I can stop at 3 drinks. Here’s what I don’t want: I don’t want to fade away into the black out. I don’t want to wake up at 2 AM feeling guilt ridden, dehydrated and thirsty only to start the cycle again. I don’t want to forget what I’ve said the night before. I don’t want to lose 265 days of sobriety. This entire paragraph sounds like a childish rant. I guess that’s exactly what it is.
I’ve been spending a lot of time with my boyfriend. We get along famously until he drinks. He’s been great about not drinking when he’s at my place. Last weekend I went to his apartment, my former drinking place where I’ve spent countless weekends completely obliterated. I’ve stayed away from there because I knew that my “fuck it button” was easily pushed while I’m there. Anyway, I survived a night with him “having a few beers” as he says. In reality, he drank 4 tall boys (25 ounces each or 8 regular beers. Compared to our normal 15 each, it was a light night. Side note, what normal drinker has to count others’ drinks?). Every time he cracked one open, I was reminded that I’ve become the dull girl that I never wanted to be. I made it through the night and decided to leave the next morning when he cracked a beer at 9:30 AM. I give him credit because if it had been me drinking, I would’ve had one at 2:30 AM.
We were apart a night and he came to my place the next day. I don’t allow him to drink at my house and he hasn’t until he asked if he could tonight. I told him he needed to go home and drink, hoping with all my heart that he would choose to stay with me instead of leaving to drink. He chose alcohol. The part that is the most fucked up is that he has been trying to get me to drink knowing how much not drinking has helped me. He bought extra beer last weekend thinking he could entice me to drink. He said he still misses drinking with me and the fun times we had. Most of those times were fun only for him. I don’t remember much after the 3rd drink.
So, I’m pissy and irritated. I’ve read many blogs about how 9 months seems to be a tough time. I suppose it’s because your brain tells you that you don’t have a problem. You’ve gone this long and you’ve learned your lesson. Thankfully, I’m not listening to that voice because I know what would happen. The first night I would only have a few and convince myself that I’d been wrong and didn’t have a problem and I’d be so proud of myself. I’d get up at 2 AM and start drinking all over again beginning the binge drinking cycle that has plagued me for over 2 years.
I know I won’t drink tonight but I also know that I’m unhappy about it. Tomorrow will come and I’ll be so thankful that I didn’t give in and ruin the last 265 days of sobriety. Tomorrow can’t come fast enough.