Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Am A Weenie

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

I'm just gonna say it. I'm a weenie white bread* alcoholic. I didn't blackout for days, lose my job or my husband or my family. I didn't rage, hit people or things, dance on bars or even email drunk. I once Facebooked drunk, to an old friend from high school. After that, never again. See, I'm a control freak drunk, not stupid. I learn from my inebriated mistakes. The facade, always maintain the facade.

No one thought I had a problem. Not my mom, not my husband, not my kids. Not even my best friend. She regrets this, but when I finally confessed to her during a visit to California, drunk, that I was drinking too much (and she was there for my first sobriety: '92-'00) she said, "Stop trying so hard to be perfect." Which my mind took as "it's OK to get your drunk on", or something like that. Because she's my best friend I tried hard to not try so hard to be perfect. Which, actually, I don't try to do. The be perfect part, not the get your drunk on part.

Deep down I knew she didn't really know how bad it was, and I didn't confess it that night. I didn't tell her about the 8 little bottles of wine I'd stashed in my suitcase and guzzled down over the evenings I was there: when I went to get her present, when she put her son to bed, when I changed into comfy clothes, when I went to get my cloves out of my purse. In addition to the wine we were drinking, at least two bottles of it. Christ, I could put it away. I gave it a lot of thought too: I made sure I bought the plastic bottles not the glass ones, because the glass ones clink together. The glass bottle clink from your suitcase or from the plastic bag you hastily push into the trash at the gas station will clearly give you away as an alcoholic.

God, I was batshit crazy with the booze and the rituals to hide the booze, and get the booze, and figure out if it was time for the booze yet, and keep track of everyone else's booze consumption, and cover up the booze smell. Oh, and look for people who drank more that me. Always have to have one of those around to compare your insides to, both for yourself (I'm not THAT bad) and your husband (So and So has a problem).

But here's why I am a weenie alcoholic. I am a control freak about appearing drunk. I avoided hard liquor, if possible, because I couldn't control the buzz. I'd be having drinks: feeling fine, fine, fine, DRUNK. Stupid drunk.

So, no hard alcohol, unless there was nothing else to be had. Couldn't really drink beer either. My bladder sucks and it took too much liquid to catch the buzz I needed. Wine buzz I could control. I knew exactly how it would go. It would end in inexplicable bruises on my hips from running into things. Toenails falling off from dropping things (like a hammer) on them and not remembering. Wetting the bed while passed out. Yep-I had that wine buzz under complete control.

I'm also a weenie addiction person because I am an old fashioned alcoholic.

Again, control freak. I didn't want a high from any drug getting in the way of my buzz. Can't smoke pot, end up too paranoid. Tried just about all of the drugs one can without sticking a needle in my arm over the years, and talk about a hassle to get ahold of. I didn't need to get illegal about freezing out my feelings when I could walk into Costco and fix myself just fine with a swipe of my credit card. I wasn't looking to obliterate, just remove myself from the picture a bit, take the edge off, relax. And the only way I knew to do that quickly, without a lot of extra effort, was a drink. Because a significant hallmark of the weenie drunk is drinking alone, at home.  For safety's sake. No driving, no huge bar bills, no potential for inappropriate sex with strangers (back in the single days). No counting drinks, your own or others. Just you, the couch, a good supply of your drink of choice, and a nice bed to black-out in.

I've been thinking about this weenie thing a lot during this first year of sobriety post relapse.  I know a lot of women who are going to AA meetings for the first time. Where you see folks that had to lose more than you did to get sober. Have more amends to make. Are shaking more. Are twitching more. Are crying more. Are taking the bus to get to meetings.

It's hard not to look at those folks and feel like a white bread weenie. To imagine what they must think when they look at me. To not compare myself and wonder why it didn't have to get that bad. But it was that bad. I have the half grown back toenail to prove it. I may look like white bread on the outside, but I was a wino on the inside through and through.

* The Co in me that wants to control your feelings usually avoids the use of any term that may be politically incorrect. I get that white bread can have racial connotations, and I chose the term for several reasons, one which is that I am, well, caucasian. I'm not sure who could be offended by ME calling MYSELF white bread, but this is the WWW. So just for the record, I googled slang and "white bread". This is the first definition that comes up and is exactly what I mean by the term: white bread, adjective ( bland, uninspired, boring, or insipid. Especially used to describe "middle-American" mores, people, etc. Derogatory description of things that are naively wholesome, suburban, and middle class. Example, Donna Reed and Harriet Nelson were incredibly white bread women.


  1. this is so on the nail for me! i bought a wine box once to take to a b&b to avoid the clinking!

  2. You describe me perfectly. Always eyeing the bottle to see how much is left. Buying a cart full of stuff at the store so the wine is not so obvious and the worst, waiting till my husband is snoring before quietly opening a new bottle.

    I feel like I lost my only friend these days, the friend in the bottle.

  3. This describes me as well. I remember at my first couple of meetings, hearing from a few women who went down roads I never imagined, and though it doesn't change the fact that *I* know I was just as bad off, that I am just as much an alcoholic as they are, I think it still makes it much harder for my friends and family to understand. Maybe they never will, and that just has to be okay.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. I, also, feel like this describes my experience perfectly. I'm newly sober after many false starts, and I worry that b/c I, too, was a "white-bread alcoholic", my scary brain will at some point convince me I wasn't that bad. I also have lots of friends and family members trying to convince me I'm not an alcoholic...which just means I was an even sneakier bitch than I thought!!

  5. Wow! I certainly can identify with your post! I have been sober for 7 years and was a "controlled" drinker for many years. I surprised many when I became sober. I didn't lose much,not my husband, kids, house, etc., but the most important thing that I lost was Myself, this is something that only I know, who cares what the rest think!

  6. Powerful posts and comments. I used to use the fact that I hadn't lost my kids as the barometer/comparator with other women in recovery. Over time and reflection, I see how more clearly that when I was in active addiction, they had lost me. Completely. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I'm a weenie white bread too. So, Weenie White Bread, thanks for your post. And thanks to all of you above for your comments that also resonated...

    I also have had so many friends and family members telling me my drinking wasn't a big deal. A few recently (like today) encouraging me try moderation AGAIN. "Hmmm," I think...But I know better and I know deep inside I do not want ONE vodka gimlet, I want four.


  8. Another weenie here...I too dislike the amounts of people that insist that I didn't have a problem...but they never saw the guilt the next day and they were not in my head when I kept looking at the drinks at a party wondering if I could "get away" with one more, one more. So.

  9. Great post and comments - I can totally relate as well. I "quit" drinking 1/1/11 and have had a few, admittedly pointless, drinks since just to see how it felt. But now that its been about 6 months since I first decided to stop and I'm not interested in having a drink after my few experiments because in my head, I think.. whats the point of having one or two? Isn't the point of drinking to get drunk? lol.. so anyways, people are now asking me... "ssoooo are you really NEVER gonna drink again?" because no one really saw it as much of an issue in me but I KNOW that I totally lost myself and like the rest of you, it never got "that bad" for me but it was that bad for ME. As in, I KNEW I couldn't do it anymore.

  10. This post made me smile so. "If only" I could have read it years ago... I was on the same path for a decade and am now 62 days into recovery.

    I still feel a little sheepish using words like "recovery" and "sobriety" because I held it so together that I hardly feel "worthy" of calling myself an addict despite 10 years of daily drinking. I also had a chorus of friends and family saying, "Don't worry about it...." as they filled my glass. I had it so together and fooled everyone, including myself.

    Seeing all the "time bomb" drunks makes us "quietly pickled" drinkers seem benign.

  11. Thanks for your post. I too, am a White Bread Weenie drinker. I'm trying to stop. I went to AA meetings for a month and felt like a dork. They all had lost their kids, loves, licenses and etc. I had none of that. I couldn't relate, and I couldn't think about alcohol that much. I completely relate to your best friend's comment, as that was my husband's comment to me.

    My family drinks, talks about my homeless alcholic brother (see - that's a problem! that's what I'm talking about!) and just fills the glass. Need another bottle? Ah, it's right there.

    I'm trying again. Thanks for posting.