*** Submitted by Leslie
I decided to quit drinking 6 months ago. Actually, I decided to quit years ago, but I actually stopped 6 months ago. It is the holiday season and I must admit it is hard right now. When the darkness falls and the candles are softly glowing, fire snaps and crackles from the fireplace, white lights twinkling on the tree; what would be more perfect than the oaken scent of a golden chardonnay swimming in sparkling glass with a long delicate stem. OK, in reality, I would have found a reason to ‘celebrate’ well before the sun set. By evening, I would be on my third, lacking the motivation to fetch wood for the fireplace. I might switch over to a proper wine glass near dinner time, but a tumbler has been a more discreet option for the afternoon. Honestly, I don’t care if the wine is chilled or not, and I won’t stop at a glass. I will more likely nearly polish off a 1.5 liter before I fall asleep on the couch ‘watching’ SNL or some other show I won’t quite remember in the morning.
This drunkenness doesn’t suit me. This is not what I aspire to be as a wife, as a mom, as a daughter, as a friend, as me. I don’t feel authentic or whole and I haven’t for a long while. Truly, I am an imposter who pretends to be a social drinker, always lively and fun to be around. But when I wake to a foggy head, grateful that my tolerance has mitigated a full blown hangover, I am afraid. Who noticed how much I drank? Did I say anything stupid or offensive? Did I slur, did I stumble, did I fall? Is my husband annoyed or disappointed, even embarrassed? Am I the topic of conversation amongst my friends? And scariest of all, did my kids know I was drunk?
We are a beautiful family. How dare I continue to take the risk of delivering the damage of alcoholism. I have driven drunk, I have passed out on the couch at night, awoken by the warmth of my piss soaking through the cushions. I have crawled in with one of my boys for a quick good night snuggle, trying to avert the direct current of my wine stained breath, only to wake beside him in the morning, still in my clothes from the day before. I want to believe that they are young enough to not quite notice, to believe my explanations. I want to believe that all of the love and goodness of our family has outweighed any impact from my drinking.
And so I find myself here on a therapist’s couch, keenly aware that I am running out of time as an imposter. I am on the verge of being discovered by everyone around me, from me and within me. I know people are starting to talk and it pisses me off. As I sit here today, talking once again with my therapist about my intention to stop drinking, he asks the million dollar question. “What is it going to take for you to move from this place of contemplating sobriety to actually achieving sobriety?” I stop breathing and drop my face to my trembling hands. In that moment, I see my little boy’s face looking at me with confusion and sadness in his eyes. “Mommy, why do you drink so much wine?” he asks my panicked soul. With my breath I release my tears, my fears, my denial and all of my resistance. My time has run out, I will do whatever it takes to be stop drinking.
So I find myself here on this December eve, romanticizing the allure of golden, oaky chardonnay and I ask myself “who am I to flirt with such fantasy?” I remember with gratitude that I lost that privilege long ago.
Today, December 6th 2010, marks the anniversary of 6 months of sobriety.