Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mine's a Lime and Soda

*** Submitted by Gappy. She's chosen today to share her story not only here but on her own blog, Single Parenthood: Tales from the Frontline. It's a brave and powerful thing to do; please let her know if you identify. (I sure do -- Robin)

Up until quite recently, it never occurred to me that I was an alcoholic. I still balk at the term now - not out of any sense of denial, I know full well that I cannot drink moderately or safely - but simply because to say it seems so dramatic. It makes me think of the people I see on the benches in town on my way to work sometimes, drinking Special Brew at 9.00 in the morning. I sometimes find myself fantasising idly about joining them, about throwing all of my many balls straight up in the air and not even bothering to try to catch them again. I am drawn to it like one is to the edge of a cliff or the bank of a deep river. It's terrifying yet strangely magnetic.

They say that alcoholism is progressive, and I don't doubt it, but I cannot remember a time when I drank normally. I cannot pinpoint where I might have 'crossed the line' because I have always drunk to excess. Even as a young teenager I would always be the one passing out in unsuitable places while my friends agonised over what to do with me. From that point on my alcoholism has gone through phases. There have been periods when I have been either drunk or hungover almost all the time. I have experienced black-outs, drunk spirits in the morning, and woken up shaking with the cold sweats. I also spent about six years trying desperately to moderate with varying degrees of torturous success. It was always going to be doomed to failure eventually. True moderate drinkers just are. They don't have to try with all their mental might. These days I make the only reasonable choice left to me, which is to be sober. See? Mine's a lime and soda.

Except when it's a gin and tonic.

You see, this was supposed to be a post all about my sobriety. About how sobriety was a righteous choice that I had made. About how I was done with self sabotage and self pity. It was going to be a post that said fuck the backstory, because whether to drink or not is a simple choice to be made forever in the here and now - that said how I was never again going to repeat another pathetic story from my childhood because I alone was responsible for my actions - not some demon from my distant past. It was going to be a post about how my sobriety was rooted in the fertile soil of my
own power, and about how - for me - there could be no higher power than that.

Except that last night I drank again. A group of us went out for a friend’s birthday and I could not resist the peer pressure to have a drink. I could not bring myself to spill when my friends asked me why I was not having a cocktail. I attempted a feeble, 'Oh you know, I'm not really drinking at the moment...' only to have it waved away by friends who wanted to see me have a great time. Friends who I have managed to hide so much of myself from. Friends who wanted to go to a club to get drunk and dance and flirt, and who wanted me to join in. So I broke a promise to myself and I did.

And nobody died. We drank cocktails and danced and flirted. It was fun. The only person in the whole world who knew what I was risking was me. But today I feel frightened and shocked. I feel turned inside out because I thought I had being sober pretty much sewn up. I had been completely teetotalling for six months. I thought I was learning to
trust myself, dammit. 'You takes your responsibility, you makes your choices' had become my personal motto, and I still wholeheartedly believe that. I did make a choice last night, but it was the choice to drink. The choice to jeopardise my good life - and by the same token, my children’s good lives. Today it is unthinkable.

So now what? The fact that the night passed without incident is precisely what makes this relapse so very dangerous. How easy it is now for the devil on my shoulder to whisper seductively:
"See? What's the problem? You're fine to have a few drinks every now and then. Real alcoholics drink until they pass out every time they pick up. You can control it now." I can't. I don't want to go into lurid details about my own personal rock bottoms but I know that I can't control my drinking - that I've never been able to control it. I know that I will always be an alcoholic and that the only way I can win is to not feed my body and brain with the substance to which they are addicted.

So this is what I'm going to do: I'm going to get up, dust myself off and keep going in the same sober direction. I'm going to formulate a comprehensive plan as to how I'm going to deal with the next situation in which there is social pressure to drink (if anyone's got any tips I would be most grateful) and I'm going to
takes my responsibility and makes my (better) choices. In the end what else is there?

Mine's a lime and soda.

13 comments:

  1. This post really, really resonates with me.

    I would love to think I can have a night out with my friends, have a drink or two, and everything would be okay.

    And it probably would be okay, for a little while. But it never ends up okay in the long run. Never.

    I am so grateful to read this today. Thank you.

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  2. I am so grateful to read this today, too. It is what I struggle with, and it really hit home. Please don't beat yourself up over it. You are so strong (I can tell!) and I totally support you moving on back to sobriety. You recognized what happened, learned from it, and you are still ok. I am impressed.

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  3. I'm impressed too. Thank you for telling this. I relate. I made it 9 weeks and now I've been drinking on and off for the last 4. I'm trying to find my footing again and remember why I need to stay 100% sober. Because it's still been on and off and I've been okay... yet I know "okay" can't last. I have to remember that. I suppose that's the fight for us all.

    Much strength and love to you.

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  4. Thank you so much for writing this. It's my biggest fear, and partly why I've shared my sobriety with everyone and the mail man. Because it's so easy to get back there, to say yes to the drink.
    Your honesty is so powerful :) Thank you.

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  5. I am a babe, a fetus, a zygote of sobriety. I have 22 days, but what's helped me is meetings. AA meetings are the cornerstone of my sobriety. I have also stopped going to places where I will be tempted to drink, but as I said I'm very, very new to this and who know if I can even get 6 months. You slipped, it's part of the disease. Good luck and maybe meetings would help.

    Maggie

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  6. I am right there with you, five plus months of not drinking, and then one day a drink seemed like a good thing. And nothing bad happened. I didn't even get drunk! I can moderate, yay! So I moderated my way along for two weeks and then one day I drank an entire bottle of vodka and half a bottle of wine and woke up feeling like crap. It's taken me two days to feel like I'm back to normal after that. What a moron.

    Back to day two, but at least I've stopped again. And I hope next time I'm tempted I remember this. Thanks for writing.

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  7. Thanks so much for your post. I woke up today to a cracking headache and "30" written in my calendar that was supposed to mark 30 days of not drinking. I was really committed. I simply decided to carry on my life as usual, except without drinking, and failed miserably. Enduring several social evenings of "why aren't you drinking? Just have one" etc etc was exhausting and last night I let the waiter fill my glass with everyone elses. I didn't even have that much and that little bit gave me a hangover (another problem, then I think I am fine and don't really have issues - WRONG! will be back to 1 full bottle a nite in no time). I feel like I need to go live in a cave where I can drink tea and go to bed at 9:30 every night. Unfortunately the world will not adapt to me and this is going to be a long road. Thanks for your words, they really help. Best of luck to you.

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  8. I am 3 years and 5 months sober. As far as the peer pressure goes....you are just going to have to be honest with people. It's hard. Sobriety is the hardest thing that I've ever done. It's essentially facing reality. I mean, I avoided my reality by drinking and using for years. I had to be brave and go through the humbling, difficult process of owning my reality. I highly recommend avoiding drinking buddies and drinking situations like the plague. I would say that I rarely left the house during my first year of sobriety (outside of work and family commitments). I kept myself surrounded by a safety net of people and had to say no to alot of social gatherings. It's just the way it goes. You can't be afraid of offending people. Your life, your sobriety, and your family are worth more than that.

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  9. I have been where you are too many times to remember and I think mostly because I wanted to believe that I could manage on my own because I want so deeply to be a sober woman. My therapist suggested that I surround myself with reminders that I deeply want to be a sober woman, because I can forget so damn easily. I started with this blog and shortly moved on to my first AA meeting. I have done AA before, but I really, really, really wanted to be sober on my own. Try as I might, even if I manage for a good long while, eventually, I think I am normal and I drink. In no time at all, I am right back where I started, only its harder than ever to start over. This time it has taken me three years to get 2 days. And I'm not taking any chances, I'm going to the meetings. Good luck, thanks for your honesty, it was just what I needed to read today.

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  10. I'm 360 days sober and I still don't go to bars or clubs or alcohol-domiated social events without at least one person who knows I am an alcoholic. I have not been 100% forthcoming about my disease or recovery with every single acquaintance in my life, but I do maintain accountability by having at least one person who knows what it would mean for me to pick up standing next to me.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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  11. Hi, it's Gappy here.

    Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my post and share their own experiences in the comments section. I'm so glad that many of you have found my post helpful to read. Your comments have also been helpful to me too. What a great space this is!

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  12. What a truly brave soul you are. Thank you for sharing your story. Relapse is a big fear of mine as I am coming up on 6 months in a few weeks. I understand getting to a point where you feel it could be controllable. The longer I am sober, the more clarity and insight I gain and the more I realize that I will never be able to drink normally. So I can't. That's it.

    My only advice would be to avoid those social situations. As painful as it might be, you might loose a few "friends" between here and there. It's worth it. For the long run, it's worth it. And in my opinion, sobriety is very hard to handle alone. Make yourself accountable to a few solid people in your life. It's not dramatic,it's liberating.

    I'm rooting for you.

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  13. Hi there. My name is Kathy and I am definately an alcoholic.

    I had 9 months sober and then decided to drink with my ex while on vacation one weekend. I figured I would just go back to meetings on Monday and start my time over.

    Fast forward 5 years. Nothing drastic happened. My kids still got to school. I maintained a home by myself as a single mother. I maintained employment except for the last few months of my drinking. I somehow escaped without a DWI.

    Except I was a red faced, bloated and very suicidal woman. I hated myself because my disease had taken me to that place where every bit of me did not want to drink, yet I couldn't NOT drink.

    I somehow found the strength to act on a moment of clarity that last morning because I knew if i didn't I was going to follow through with my suicide plan that day. Through a wonderful doctor I ended up in outpatient treatment and back in AA.

    This time though, I did all those things I wouldn't do the first time. If someone suggested something I didn't like I would tell them to F off, then do what was suggested. :)

    I've been sober now for 6 years. My life is not perfect. My journey has not been easy to say the least yet it beats where I was at the end of my relapse.

    Pick yourself up and lose the shame with your friends and tell them you are an alcoholic and now in recovery. Then get your butt busy doing all those things you haven't done, but have been suggested to you.

    I had to get to that point of desperation. You don't have to though, you can use mine.

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