Thursday, February 3, 2011

'Fessing Up

***Submitted by Kristin, who is a regular contributor to Crying Out Now

I'm having trouble telling people in my real life I quit drinking.

I haven't had a drink. I've poured out drinks handed to me.

I just can't find how to tell them.

Which is shady and gross. I don't really like that. It makes me feel like I'm ashamed. Or like I'm making sure they won't call me if I slide a little.

But I struggle with what's more productive. Telling them so I can't reason my way back into drinking or hearing them tell me I don't really need to quit.

Many of the people in my life don't know how dangerous I can get, what a thin line I'm dancing on. And I don't think that all of them need to know.

All of them have seen me have one drink and be fine. All of them have seen the brilliant smile on my face after three drinks. They like seeing me happy. They like the happiness I bring them when I drink.

That makes me worry that they won't believe me when I tell them it's bad. There will be plenty of people trying to convince me to drink again, that I don't have a problem and that makes me terrified of telling them. Terrified that they'll convince me they're right.

It's happened before.

These people are not all drunks. Some of them are. No one wants to see themeselves reflected when I acknowledge my disease. But many of them just don't understand. They argue with me that I could manage it, I could be ok. I no longer believe that they're right. But that doesn't mean after three or four of those conversations I couldn't be persuaded to talk about it over drinks.

So I'm worried and caught in the middle, not really knowing what's the best move.

I don't want to let myself be persuaded by someone else to drink. But I don't like hiding this realization either. It seems too cowardly. It seems weak. It seems like an easy out some dark day down the road.

Do I really need to live my life explaining to every single person why I stopped? Why must they argue with me? Why can't they just believe me that this is what's best for me? Why do other people want me to drink so badly?

I'm so intimately frustrated by those questions.

So for now, I wait.

I will explain.

But for now, I wait. Until I have some more time and under my belt.

Just not too much.

It's a balance.

I'm still dancing on a very thin wire, trying to decide which side is less dangerous to fall onto.


  1. Girl- I know just where you are. I didn't tell my family for 7 months. Then when I finally told my dad, he said 'On purpose?'

    Hang in there. I do think you need to tell somebody, a boy friend or husband or best friend, because you are right, if no one knows you've stopped, then no one will know when you start again. I did that once, too.....didn't drink for 2 one knew.....

    I am proud of you for realizing the precarious situation you are in and I will pray you find the wisdom you need.

    there IS hope~

  2. I've told people "I hate how I feel and who I am when I drink." How can they respond to that? "Have just one, then you'll only hate yourself a little bit." Don't think so. Of course, there will always be the "pushers", but once they get used to you not drinking, they'll get tired of trying and move on.

  3. I identify very, very strongly with this post. I still find it somewhat frustrating that many of my friends don't "get" it, don't realize how bad it really was, don't understand that alcohol is all or nothing for me. And these are not friends who drink! So it's not even about the mirroring, the reflection.

    I don't know why either. But you have to know that you ARE doing what is best for you. Maybe down the road, like I did the other day on my own blog, you can write or talk it out with some of them and explain it a little better. But for now, please just trust yourself. Know that you are on the right path for your own health and sanity.

    I wish you all the best. ♥

  4. I wish I had a helpful piece of advice to offer - but I don't. I hope and pray that you can surround yourself with people who support your decision to improve your life. A lack of understanding about alcoholism is everywhere. Hang in there.

  5. I blogged on this today. My situation was a bit different than yours but I've had the convos where people tell me they disagree with me, that I'm not an alcoholic. It isn't easy to digest.
    I applaud you for your awareness and we need only deal with the issues of this day. Just for today.
    It sounds like you are working your program well, that you're progressing.

  6. I have a friend struggling intensely with this right now. I absolutely know how you feel. I had friends who didn't understand, and they tried to convince me that I'd be okay with one or two. Some of those people couldn't remain in my life, others just gave up. But I had to know in MY heart that sobriety was the right thing for me. I also needed a network of people who knew how important sobriety is. When I have to enter a situation that could be tempting, I try to bring a friend who knows my situation.

    Also, Amy is absolutely right. When I tell people I don't drink because of how it makes me feel, they really can't argue that.

    Most of all, know that there is hope, and many (if not all) of us recovering have had to cross this very same bridge. Have faith. I'll be praying for your guidance.

  7. It may be a good thing to refrain from telling everybody you don't drink, especially if you feel you have to justify it to them. The happiness I brought people when I drank was that I made their own drinking acceptable. In Caroline Knapp's Drink A Love Story, she has a passage where she has in insight that when she drank with other people, it was a lie from the addictive voice that it brought her closer to them. The social event was just a framework to justify drinking and getting into her own buzz. Getting drunk with people shuts you off from true intimacy. The more I thought about it, that is true. The fun I had was really to feed my own addiction, not to enhance the experience in a positive way.
    One of the ways we need to take care of ourselves in early sobriety is to be careful with self disclosure out in the world. That's my opinion, and your struggles seem to make sense from that perspective.

  8. I felt this same way. I was sober for almost 4 months before I told my husband- and he doesn't drink. Life got easier after I did tell him because I told him that there would never be a time when it would be ok for me to drink again. It helped me become accountable to someone for my actions.
    But, I also struggle with telling people why I don't drink for exactly the same reasons you reported. I have cut off quite a few friendships for some of those reasons.
    Now when people ask me why I don't drink I just tell them that I am getting too old to keep poisoning myself and that 90 calories of alcohol slows your metabolism 73%. It's at least partially honest! Then I don't have to deal with those who think everyone should drink.

  9. I understand your situation and the place it puts you in, but keep in mind this is a progressive disease. Sadly by the time I got sober almost no one in my life questioned my decision. In fact I had fallen off so many bar stools that many had wondered quietly whether I would ever get my shit together. So when your friends argue that you are fine, you can thank them and let them know that you have seen where your drinking could take you and you aren't interested in going there.

  10. When I quit, I had no intention of telling ANYONE except my husband, who was quitting at the same time. But I soon found myself telling everyone, almost in spite of myself, and I have to say it was a great relief. I felt that eliminating the "out" (ie, to go back to drinking if I wanted to) was more beneficial than the risk of having people try to convince me to drink was dangerous (poorly worded, but you get the idea).

    I did spend a couple of months explaining it to everyone. But then people got used to it. Now it is totally normal that I am a nondrinker. If I meet someone new, I'm just a nondrinker from the moment they meet me. Did some people give me a hard time? Fewer than you'd think and, yes, it was mostly those who were worried at some level about their own drinking. The person who gave me the hardest time and continued to do so even after I'd been sober a year turned out to have the biggest problem of us all. Most people -- even my other drinking friends -- have been great.

    I don't know your friends, of course, and some people do lose some friends in this process. But I guess I come out on the side of telling people because it just makes you more likely to stay on the sober path. Good luck!

  11. When I told my coworker, who is a mental health professional, that I was an alcoholic she burst out "You are not!" Then she got extremely embarrassed and supportive. I think some people are just genuinely shocked, especially if like me, you are a highly functioning alcoholic, who doesn't drink in huge quantities. Then there are those who just want you to be a drinking buddy again. You sound strong in your resolve! Congratulations. It's 4 months sober for me on the 10th! YAY! I will be following your blog. Beautifully expressed truths.