**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.