Submitted by @hristine, whose blog can be found here.
Note to Self on Day 53 of Sobriety:
Tonight as you sat in your lounger, reading the Big Book there was a moment when your addiction asked you a question. The same question it has asked since it first began to weave its web in your delicate brain matter.
"If you're a "real alcoholic", how is it that you managed to keep a job, keep a family, never get a DWI, didn't even care about drinking until you were forty years old, and now you sit here in the sunset stone cold sober and don't have so much as a flickering thought about getting drunk?"
Hmmm. Good question, Addict In My Brain. Let's take a look at the "signs and symptoms" of alcoholism and we'll determine if I am a "real" alcoholic or not.
Tolerance. There was a time when a couple of glasses of wine got me quite loopy. Eventually wine did very little for me unless I drank it in vast quantities. When I switched to vodka, that hit harder and faster, but every month I could drink more and more to get the same effect. By the end I could easily consume a liter of vodka every 24 hours.
Withdrawal. I drank so much, so often, that when I didn't have alcohol in my system my hands shook, my heart beat too fast, I had horrific headaches and I could barely get through the day. My brain obsessed over getting the booze into my body every single hour of every single day.
Loss of control. I could not stop myself once I started. I would drink until I fell asleep, wake up and drink some more. I would fill my bottle in the parking lot at work and guzzle it down during the five minute drive home. I would fill it again in the bedroom and gulp that down before anyone could catch me. In the morning when I felt like shit and knew I had to face another long day at work, I'd fill the bottle again and slam that down as I drove in. Sometimes, if it was bad enough I resorted to spiking my coffee or tea right there at my desk when no one was looking.
Wanting to quit, but being unable to. There were so many days when I promised myself that I would not drink. That I would go home from work and enjoy my family and not drink. There were so many times when I sat in the parking lot of the liquor store and asked myself if I really wanted to go in there or not, knowing that I would because I simply couldn’t stop myself. There were countless mornings that I woke up and swore "never again", only to find myself completely drunk again that night.
Drinking even though you know it's damaging your body, your brain, and your life. I was very aware that I was sinking deeper and deeper into addiction. But I couldn't seem to muster up the energy to care. The bottle called to me and it was LOUD. It easily drowned out the voice of reason. I didn’t feel well and the easiest way to stave off those feelings was to drink them away. I could see the “drunk bloat” in my face and belly. I could feel the rapid heartbeats and the night sweats. But I could not stop myself from drinking.
Making drinking apriority over other activities and responsibilities. I spent a whole lot of time making sure I had enough booze hidden in a bunch of places so that I would never be caught without a supply. I spent a lot of energy getting rid of evidence. I spent months ignoring every other part of my life in favor of feeding my addiction. I cancelled plans with family and friends when it would interfere with my drinking. I purposely stayed away from my home at times so I could sit and drink.
I don't think I need to go on any further. The evidence is plain to see. Yes, I got up and went to work (except for two or three times when I elected to stay home and drink all day). Yes, I went to my daughter's events (but never without a solid buzz and usually with a spiked bottle of tea in my bag). No, I did not lose my home or my marriage or any friends. But that's only because A) I am very, very lucky to be loved by so many, and B) I had enough of a desire to change that I reached out for help, and C) help was there when I asked for it.
"Real" alcoholism doesn't have to begin when you're in your teens or twenties. It can begin at any time, to anyone. For me, it happened after the age of forty. The age is irrelevant.
So Self? The next time Addict In My Brain pipes up with all of those doubts and questions, you tell her, “I'm not falling for your tricks. I'm on to you and the way you work. Go ahead and ask me again when you think I might have forgotten what it was like to be your slave. I will remember.”