Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Can I do it this time?

Submitted by Immy, a 37 year old working mother, who is married with two chldren, 15 and 8 years old. In other words, she's just like me, change a few details, and maybe you identify, too. -- Robin)

Outside, a picture perfect day of bright sunshine and nature blossoming; inside, clouds of anger and frustration piling up and the struggle in my head begins.

It has been five days since my last drink and since I woke up with yet another guilty conscience for having drunk so much that I didn‘t remember what I said or did. It was my big sister‘s birthday and our brother was arriving after a year of not seeing him. That particular morning I did remember that I‘d gotten angry for some reason and slammed the door as I went to bed, but I could not remember why, despite my attempts to lift the fog of my brain.

“I must stop doing this,“ I thought for the hundredth time. I felt lousy and embarrassed to face my family. I didn‘t ask them if I said anything or did anything hurtful and they didn‘t say. I still don‘t know.

That morning I told myself that this was the last time I did this to myself and to my family and friends.

I took a walk, sat by the sea and contemplated.

And it has been five days.

And the struggle has begun.

My sister is arriving this evening, with alcohol. A bottle of rum to make mojitos in the sun, and beer to enjoy. I fear that I will not be strong enough to say, “Thanks, but not for me this time.“ I fear the reaction and questions as to why, because I‘m still not ready to say out loud, “I‘ve stopped.“ I am trying to come up with a plausible reason for me not drinking.

Another struggle for next weekend, as the family is going to a family reunion, camping for two nights and the weather forecast screams for cold beer and white wine. I don‘t know how I will cope. I am so used to embracing every occasion available to pop a bottle and this is an occasion with a capital O.

I feel angry today because I am not in control.

I feel angry because I am thinking: It will be okay to have this drink with my sister and to enjoy the weekend with some wine. I will just stop drinking alone at home. I will only drink when there is an occasion to do so, at parties, with friends. It will be ok as long as I stop drinking on weekdays. Weekends only.

I feel sad that it has come to this and a part of me longs for the bottle. I feel a sense of loss when I think of an alcohol-free life. What about all those times I drank moderately, was able to stop and turn to water? I‘m not so bad, am I? I can do this now. Right?? ....

If my husband buys a sixpack of beer, I usually finish it.

If we buy a three-liter box of wine, I finish it within days.

In the recent year I have finished all the vodka, gin, and liquor in the house that we owned for years and most of the cognac my husband got for his 40th birthday. I have used all the popular excuses in the book, saying, “Ironing is so boring I just have to have one beer with it.“ or “Cooking is so much more fun with a glass or two before dinner.“

I am so scared that I will not be able to follow through this time, as I have failed before and always ended up convincing myself I do not have a problem, that I just have to cut down a little bit.... I am scared, frustrated and absent minded... all the time.


  1. Like Robin said at the top, your story sounds like mine and I relate so much!!! The hardest part in quitting for me was the "never" drink again concept. So final, so impossible to do. But it wasn't, and 5 days sober turned into 10, which turned in to 9 months. I am still a newbie, but you can do this, and I will pray for you and the strength you are looking for. Thanks for sharing your is so brave of you.

  2. praying for you. it's so hard, crazy hard to be where you are at right now.

  3. I too can relate! I'm on Day 15 and it is indeed "crazy hard." But, it actually gets a little easier every morning that I wake up and don't feel shame and guilt over wondering what I did/said/slammed/yelled the night before.

    You seem so insightful and honest -- you CAN indeed do this!

  4. Immy,
    I so feel your pain. When I first quit a lot of people didn't get it. They couldn't understand why I wasn't drinking. I found just being open and telling them up front made it easier for me. I didn't debate in my head anymore, whether I was going to drink this "one" time or not. I just told people it was getting out of hand and for right now I was choosing not to drink. That was 5 months ago.
    Good luck to you!

  5. In terms of telling people, I think you can go several directions. I initially told people I knew well that I had quit as a New Year's resolution for 6 months or so. A month in, I realized it needed to be forever, so I started telling people I had really quit. For people I don't know as well, I say I had started to get migraines, which is true but which really had nothing to do with my quitting, even though alcohol is a known trigger for migraines and I did get at least one migraine directly from champagne.

    You seem very on top of this. I will promise you that it gets easier, and life gets better, and both happen sooner than you think. I'm 5 months in and hardly think about drinking and don't feel ambushed by cravings. I wish I had quit earlier.

    You have a challenging weekend ahead, but just get through one hour at a time. I am never anything but happy to go to bed sober, and the mornings are so much better. For me, it is getting through that initial urge to drink that is the big challenge, but now I am more used to doing so.

    Good luck!

  6. That spot is awful... and the reasoning and rationalizing that goes on in your head is the worst part. You're doing great - five days is five more days than you had in the beginning :) You will get through it. Have faith. And believe in yourself. You're feeling it. Doing it. Making it happen.
    Thank you so much for your braveness. Sharing will surely help someone else!

  7. I can completely relate to where you are now. Because there have been times where I have drunk and no disaster has occurred, I can always manage to convince myself that it's o.k. That I just have to try harder to moderate.

    You know in your heart of hearts if that's not possible. All you can do is choose not to drink. There will always be difficult situations where alcohol is the focus, because that's the society we live in. My advice is to get all the support you can, tell people you're not drinking anymore, and just stop, although I know it's easier said than done.

    Sending you lots of virtual moral support. x

  8. It seems hard, impossible insurmountable now where you are at 5 days, but it will get easier.

    I like you have quit before and I would always give false excuses, but this time, I have said " I quit drinking because I am an alcoholic" It's freeing to tell the truth.


  9. I could have written this just this morning. I moderate, drink only on weekends and special occasions (in between when I drink daily). I finish whatever is in the house most nights. I need/want a beer to clean the house, water the garden or take the kids to the park. I function quite well hungover save for the self-loathing and quiet desperation. I have failed to stay sober many times and I'm still terrified of never getting to drink again. Hell, I'm terrified of this weekend but I haven't had a drink for four days and I am not going to drink today. I feel your pain, I swear I do but we can do this.

  10. Like everyone one else that commented, I have also lived your story.I have tried cutting back, only drink on weekends, I'll just drink on this special occasion,but it turns out there is always an occasion to drink and if there wasn't one, I'd make one. My attempts to cut back were short lived and I would always end up right back where I started,if not worse. I even had periods of long sobriety. I started off with such resolve, that it was kind of easy in the beginning. As time went on, the voices that said, "you're fine now" got louder and louder and then I just got so pissed off about being 'deprived' of my alcohol, that I drank again. It is so easy to forget that drinking is not fun for us anymore-the self loathing alone hurts so much. I am sober today, I know that I have taken my drinking to a place that disqualifies me from the group of fortunates that can 'cut back'. I am not afraid today, because I am clear that I am an alcoholic and I have a proven support system that I am actually willing to attend-because I can not rely on my own strength in this matter, it has failed me too many times. I pray you will find the support you need. You have made a huge step forward by reaching out to this community. Leslie

  11. I am still drinking & reciting the excuses, and scared every time I get those few days under my belt. What helps me along is "one day at a time". & several people have said you have to change some situations to be successful. I pray you can stay with it & God bless you for sharing your story.

  12. Thank you for your honest sharing - I have been there. Also have a 15 and a 10 yo - wish I had made changes sooner in their lives, but glad to be 6 mos sober today. It gets easier - things open up, and a "space of grace" becomes present when you live one day at a time (or one breath at a time).

  13. I'm a 39 year- old homeschooling mother to two kids, one of whom is autistic. I'm on day 15 today and have finally accepted that I am just a standard issue alcoholic. Not at the end of the road, maybe--I've never had a DUI, never missed work, etc. BUT I was dying inside every day, sneaking around, working so damn hard to pretend everything was OK. I read this last week and it was like a core Truth about me that I had never been able to articulate:
    "She found when she enjoyed her drinking she couldn't control it. And when she controlled her drinking she couldn't enjoy it".
    (from the Big Book of AA).

  14. From Immy:
    Thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers, I appreciate it so much and to actually see and feel that I am not alone in this struggle gives me renewed hope that I'm not hopeless.
    Tragically I did not have the courage to refuse the booze this weekend and although I managed to stay "in control" with my consumption and did not get wasted I am disappointed and sad. But your words really get through to me.
    I swear I got goosebumps and tears in my eyes after I read those comments this morning, especially those words from the Big Book of AA because that is *exactly* how I felt the whole weekend. I surely controlled it but didn't enjoy it for a second because I was concentrating so much.
    During the family reunion this weekend I witnessed a true family tragedy. A 40 year old woman, truly an amazing character, funny, intelligent and always bursting with energy, totally lost control. At the beginning of the evening I overheard a relative saying "I sure hope she watches out this time". The following morning I heard that during that night she totally lost it, fought with her husband and siblings both physically and verbally and screamed so loud that most of the campers overheard it. Her brother took her husband and 3 children and drove then into town, the kids crying and upset. It was so awful and such a reminder of how alchohol can turn a beautiful person into a raving monster.
    It scared me that this could have been me.
    I concider myself blessed that I went through this weekend without having made a scene but sad that I broke my intentions.
    But what is done is done and now I must look forward and start over.
    Day one: Today my husband and I celebrate our 7th marriage anniversary and from now on I take only one day at a time. I will cling on to your stories and blogs and mark this day as the new beginning.

  15. I can only tell you that for ME, nothing helped until I found AA. I was dry for 12 days I think before I went to a meeting, and those 12 days were just as miserable as before I quit. AA gave me hope, the fellowship gave me strength, and the last 11 months have given me some experience. I am praying for you :)