Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Am Writing the Story That I've Wanted So Badly to Read

**submitted by Anonymous

I’ve been desperately searching for a story like mine because I’ve felt such a need to find other women with *my* drinking problem. It will be clear, within the first short paragraph of this story, that I am NOT a writer. Forgive me. I am close to my mid-forties and have been struggling with *my* drinking problem for well over fifteen years now.

I, like so many women, started drinking at a young age. One of the first times I drank, in 8th grade and at classmate’s party, I got very drunk. I remember being on the couch in this home with the hostess’ mother placing a washcloth on my head. I don’t remember anything before or after that.

Without boring you with too many details, the fact is I began to drink at too young of an age and learned to drink irresponsibly. Some will say genetics are the cause of this. My belief is that it is probably a combination of both nature and nurture, as they say.

Regardless, I became a “weekend-only binge drinker” and that pattern never stopped. Here is where I am different from many alcoholics/problem drinkers. I have never had any desire to drink daily.

My problem with alcohol is that I can never predict how much I will drink once I take that first sip. It must have been around my late twenties when I realized that having blackouts wasn’t “normal” and that not everyone had them. They certainly frightened me and, with my growing responsibilities and maturity, I realized these may not be a good thing to be having. Duh.

Shortly after that time I began a journey of self-awareness and a journey through the alcohol addiction recovery world. Throughout the years I tried a short stint in out-patient treatment, involvement in a variety of recovery groups, therapy, journaling, and reading, reading, and more reading.

I have had several periods, both long and short, of “sobriety,” but have always returned to drinking. Due to the ease I find in abstaining for periods of time, I always convince myself that my problem isn’t “that bad” and that, perhaps, I really have been overreacting after all. Memories of my horrific “morning-afters,” full of shame, guilt, anxiety, depression, etc., somehow begin to fade.

The amount and frequency of my drinking has never progressed, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual suffering I experience becomes more and more painful all the time. Because I’ve never been a daily drinker and the frequency of my drinking has never been the issue, I have never been physically addicted to alcohol.

However, I am, hopelessly it seems, psychologically addicted to alcohol. I love it and I hate it. I want it and I don’t want it. I’m drawn to it and I’m terrified of it. I have an extremely unhealthy relationship with alcohol and have, over the years, accepted the fact that I will never have a normal relationship with it. Other than the very real danger of having alcoholic blackouts due to unpredictable overindulging and the obvious dangers that come along with that level of intoxication, alcohol causes me emotional and spiritual suffering that I cannot even describe.

Becoming a non-drinker is my dream and has been for many years. Yet this is the one thing in my life I’ve been unable to accomplish. This time around, I haven’t had a drink for about a month. This to me, though, is no accomplishment as I’ve done this a million times. This part is not the hard part. Within the next few weeks or months, though, something will click in my head that gives me the permission to drink again. I will, more than likely, drink responsibly on that occasion. I may drink responsibly and safely on several more occasions. Even so, though, I will still suffer from depression, shame, guilt, and all those painful emotions.

Then, eventually and without predicting it, my “off-switch” (which is definitely faulty) will fail me and I will drink to ridiculous intoxication. I will, more than likely, make love to my husband and not remember it the next morning. My gosh... how many times has that happened? Too many to recall. Wouldn’t that tell most women they have a “real” or a “legitimate” problem that calls for abstaining forever?

As I mentioned before, I have tried so many ways to stay sober forever, but I have failed time and time again. When I stopped this most recent time, after a night of drinking that didn’t produce a blackout, but did produce that same familiar self-loathing the next day, I decided that the one thing I had not tried that maybe, just maybe, might help me this time, was being honest with those closest to me. Up to that point only my husband (who denies or minimizes my drinking problem) and one of my friends who also struggles with alcohol, actually knew of my struggles. My closest circle of family and friends have always been accustomed to my abstaining (for millions of reasons or “excuses”), but have never known the truth behind it.

I decided, on that Monday morning, to tell my five closest women friends, with whom I’d be most likely to share a drink, about my struggles. I had never even confided in my best friend of 33+ years. Admitting that I had a problem that I’d been living with for so long was scary and very embarrassing. What I found was support, love, and understanding.

It makes me sad that, deep down in my soul, I doubt that I can give up alcohol forever and become a true non-drinker. I find myself admitting to myself that I AM a drinker. That’s who I am and will always be. I’m the fun party girl. Who is that other woman? Will I every truly become her?

I sure hope so.

16 comments:

  1. I so appreciate this story just because I can't relate to it. I can count the number of times I've drunk to blackout on one hand. The number of days, weeks, months of a bottle a day? Can't even begin to count them. Different manifestations, I suppose, but just as lethal. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. You are not alone! I've met many women like you. I started out as the fun party girl, but then evolved to the drinking-in-my-closet girl. The self-loathing is horrible either way, and it's no way to live. I'm not surprised your friends were supportive when you told them. It was so hard for me to tell the people I'm close to, but I really haven't experienced a negative reaction from anyone (except my mom, who doesn't want to believe I'm an alcoholic). Thanks so much for sharing your struggle.

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  3. I was a blackout drinker... so I can really relate to that aspect. Plus, I didn't always drink daily, but when I did, I did it so alcoholically that it could have been textbook (if that makes sense!)
    You are not alone. And admitting it to someone close, as well as yourself, is the first HUGE step you can take. You've done that. I wish you peace and strength...

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  4. My husband could have written what you wrote, TO. THE. LETTER. He's a binge drinker, like you. You're not alone. It's been said that binge-drinkers are the most difficult to treat because of the abstinent periods- it just doesn't follow with the usual model. Also, binge drinking is typical and in fact expected/encouraged/celebrated in our culture (college, anyone?) It's just that some people keep it going long after, but still we don't think it's "that bad" because it's not "everyday". Keep going and keep talking. Awareness of alcoholism in ALL of its forms is so helpful. Thank you...

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  5. I started out as the fun party girl too. I have many horrible morning afters too, ack. I only recently got to daily territory and even then I thought I was "okay" because it was only for like 3 nights in a row or something. But even then it was sort of a binge every night. 5 drinks = binge? Shucks that's nothing. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  6. WOw- I, too, could have written this post. At the very end I was drinking daily, but most other parts are just like what you wrote.

    I have been sober 17 months and there have been times in the last few weeks where I have been tempted to think that 'maybe it wasn't that bad'. Thank you for reminding me of the shame and self loathing I used to feel and haven't felt in months!

    Hang in there-

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing. I totally relate to your description of suffering, even if our "patterns" are different. I'm also one month sober, and wrestling with sharing the news to close friends who didn't see me as having a problem. Thank you for giving me the courage, and good luck.

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  8. I admire your honesty, but I wonder why you don't mention AA. If you go to meetings and listen, you'll realize that "you" don't have to "struggle" with any of this. I could not control my drinking or win the struggle. The war is over and I lost. Once I accepted that, I could be free. My higher power keeps me sober one day at a time. It's not God as I learned as a child, it's a loving force that wants the best for me and IS the best in me. I am still the fun party girl, but now, I'm sober!

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  9. So without reading all the other comments....you got nothing but a kid u want to be a good mom for. No money, no family to count on.....what then????? How do i get there? AA was fun for a bit, but then...it got me again. So how do I get there? Sober? Healthy? HOME? How?????


    here's something for you all....i hope i don't sound arrogant, but it's the truth: I walked and talked before i was 1 yr old. My BELOVED father would come home and say: "get me a beer and make sure there's no head on it." so I'd crack the REAL Coors open, suck the foam off and give it to him. Then, we'd have parties in the house and I'd crack his can open and once in a while he'd let me take a swig. When ur a baby......I apologize for offending anyone, but what do you do? You fucking do as ur told rite???????? I was born and bred on both sides.....Please, someone tell me how to stop it. Cuz i got a kid.....and I don't know if I can. I want it....soooooo bad.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your story. It's very hard to think of longterm sobriety in terms of giving up alcohol "forever." That's a daunting concept - forever. I find it helpful to think to myself "Well, I'm not going to drink today. The alcohol will still be there tomorrow if I change my mind."
    Best of luck to you.

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  11. Wow ~ what a powerful story. I'm not sure that I ever would have identified myself as having a problem if I had been a binge drinker. I barely recognized my problem at first as a daily drinker who blacked out often. I would have happily justified it away as "what everyone does." I am so impressed by your honesty and your insight. You can do this! Like someone else said, this isn't forever for any of us. Just for today.

    For Anonymous at 10:15 am. You can do this, too. You can do this for you. You can do this for your child until you think you are worth doing it for. You can go back to AA. Get a sponsor. Work the steps. Pray to your higher power. You are not alone. Keep talking!

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  12. You are not the only one who drinks like that. And the fact that you're aware it's a problem is good. It's a step. Until few years before I stopped drinking, I drank like you; hell, I grew up binge drinking. AA can help. Just reaching out here, can help. Just allow it, and want it.

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  13. Excuse my language, but ***holy shit***!!!! You have **exactly** articulated what that secret voice inside of me is always whispering after one of my famous binges (stupid voice - I know it's right)!! I'm like you - I don't crave it, but can't stop once I start. I'm still trying to figure out next steps, but it is helpful to hear stories of people who are on the same journey. Thank you for sharing.

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  14. I could have written this word for word almost. I have gone years without a drink and then wham, 3 days of intoxication and blurred memories to shame and guilty to not drinking for a couple-six months. It's hard and everyone i've confided in completely minimize my drinking to party girl at the crawfish boil or the crazy, fun girl who sang karaoke all night...they don't see the rest of it. Thanks for sharing, i've yet to have the strength to post me story, i'm shamed and scared but have drawn so much from all you brave ladies.

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  15. I want to thank all of you who took the time to read "my story" and those who so kindly took the time to respond. It was very much appreciated and did, indeed, help me feel a bit less alone. Thank you again:)

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  16. I read your story and you are so me. I have struggled with binge drinking for the last 21 years. I blacked out the first time I drank at 19(1990). At that time we didnt have the massive communication forums we have now, so I had no idea it was a problem. I just thought I have never had a drink before I guess this is normal. I have not had a drink for 3 weeks Monday. I have finally admitted to myself and my husband that I have a problem. It was Whitney Houston's death back in Feb that hit home. When I heard of her death I kept saying to myself "she just couldnt get from under it". I currently live in Guam and we are 15 hours ahead of the states. When I learned of her death on Monday I just gotten drunk on the Saturday they found her body which would have been my Sunday. I felt that Spirit was reaching out to me. I however ignored it. The next time I got drunk and blacked out, the following Monday on "Oprah the Next Chapter" Oprah interviewed Whitney's family. I couldn't ignore it anymore. I was aware. I am not sure why her death impacted me, there have been others, but it did. Unless one has been there he/she doesn't understand the self loathing that comes with not remembering what was said or done, the crazy sexual encounters with both men and women, the feelings of shame and digust. I have gotten away with it for so long because I never felt as if I was harming anyone but me (how sad I felt that I was not worthy of not being harmed). I now have a daughter who will be 3 in Oct and before she even realizes it I want to be alcohol free. I have always beleived in God, was raised as a strict Baptist, but for the last 10 years have developed a personal realtionship with him through his son Jesus Christ. I have admitted to him that I have no idea what I am doing but I trust that he has all the answers. I pray to him and ask him to give me a strong enough desire and will to stop drinking and not give up. I am praying that same prayer for you.

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