Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"I'm Not That Bad" Kept Me Drinking

***Submitted by Anonymous.  Today she is 60 days sober.

My story is not a tragic one. No DUI’s (although I deserved many of them), no arrests, no ultimatums, no embarrassing moments of being woken up by sprinklers in the front yard in nothing but a thong as children walk to school. My kids still loved me and so did my husband.

My father celebrates 19 years of sobriety this year. It’s a miracle and I’m so proud of him. Growing up I watched him drink beer after beer after beer every night. I never saw him drunk, never heard him yell. He was a loving and attentive father and a doting husband to my mother. When I was 18, my mother left him. As their only child, I then watched as our family crumbled. Soon after she left, my dad checked himself into treatment and told me he was an alcoholic.

“Alcoholic?” I thought. “But, we live in a gated community. My dad drives a Mercedes. He only drinks beer!” I scoffed at the notion that he was an alcoholic. “Your father is what is called a ‘functional alcoholic’” I was told by a counselor. I flatly told her she was wrong.

Little did I know then, what was in store for me.

I binge drank at parties and out at clubs with my friends and boyfriend through my 20’s, just like everyone I knew. I went in and out of an eating disorder as well, starving myself and purging with exercise to whittle my body down to what I thought would make me happy and others love me. I controlled every piece of food that went into my body and my worth depended on the number on the scale and the size of my jeans.

When I had my first child, I finally and thankfully put my eating disorder behind me. I was married to an amazing man and all my dreams were coming true. Looking back, I think my alcoholism was lying dormant, waiting for me to “need” it. Waiting for me to be vulnerable. Waiting for me to turn to it. I know now that when I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) cope with life by abusing my body with lack of food and too much exercise, I turned to alcohol. I can’t pinpoint when exactly my downhill spiral started, but it definitely picked up speed after the birth of my second child, 2 years after my first. I was bored being a stay-at-home-mom. I was overwhelmed, stressed and longing for something else. And yet I would sit on my couch with a glass of wine, watching “Intervention” and see other shows about alcoholics and think “Well, at least I’m not that bad.”

Last year after my children turned 3 and 1, I remember that December drinking an entire bottle of wine in one evening. I felt so ashamed and swore I would cut back. My husband is not a drinker, so mostly I was afraid he would see how much I was drinking and confront me. However, I was never drunk, I never yelled. I had it all under control. That was when I know I formally crossed the line and became a functional alcoholic. Drinking a bottle of wine a night became normal for me. Some nights I would only drink 2 glasses, but it was to prove that I could, not because I really didn’t want anymore. Other nights I would drink a whole bottle after drinking 2 afternoon beers.

Pretty quickly I started planning my daily activities around drinking. If it were date night with my husband, I would insist that we go out to dinner because if we went to the movies like he wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to drink freely. I would also plan ahead how much time I would need to get at least 2 drinks down before we went out. If it was mom’s night out, I was always a drink ahead of my girlfriends, and if they didn’t finish theirs, I gladly would.

At times I would promise myself I wasn’t going to drink for a couple days and I actually wouldn’t buy any at the grocery store. Come 4:00 that same day the anxiety was so severe, I would put the kids in the car and rush back to the store for a bottle or 2 of wine and something else that I “forgot”. I found myself justifying drinking earlier and earlier, and it got to the point where I would drink 2-3 glasses of wine before my husband even got home from work, which was usually around 4:30. I would put my glass in the dishwasher, and a half hour after he came home, I would pull out a new clean glass so he would think I was having my first one for the night. A couple times I found myself with the refrigerator door open, drinking strait from the bottle as he was pulling into the driveway. Just to get a few more ounces down. And once, towards the end, I poured wine into an empty soda can at 2:30 in the afternoon so I could play outside with my kids and no one would know I was drinking.

ALL of these things I just mentioned, I always had pretty long moments where the liar in me became paralyzed long enough to think, “Normal people don’t do this. I must have a problem.” And then I would do my best to push those thoughts away. Why? Because I could not imagine not drinking. I felt it was all I had left. And when I admitted that, I 100% knew I was an alcoholic. I was so sick and tired of obsessing. The constant stream of thoughts all pertaining to the alcohol, the drinking itself, or my feelings about it. It had become bigger than me. I could no longer ignore the voice inside me that was done whispering, it was now yelling for me to stop.

And so I did. Today I have 60 days of sobriety. I’m slowly getting my spirit back. The best part is that I’m lucky enough that my kids will not remember me drinking. They won’t remember me guzzling from the bottle or rushing back to the store for wine in a panic.

And if you’re reading this and thinking that you too “aren’t that bad”, well maybe you’re not. Neither was I. But, only you know when it’s bad enough. And what sticks with me is that true alcoholics don’t get any better. We just get worse.

I didn’t want to wait around to experiment with that.

19 comments:

  1. 60 days....congrats!!!!!! Every ounce of this story is just like mine, and I'm guessing like so many others out there. Thanks for sharing...you're providing hope for others! Best of luck to keep on getting more and more filled with spirit as the sober days continue on. I'm so proud of you.

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  2. Congratulations on 60 days! Good for you for what you've done for yourself and even more so for knowing that it only could have gotten worse. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Congrats on your 60 days. Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds pretty much as I used to do...only mine was the rum and coke. It gets better and better. Take it from someone celebrating 20 years this month, there is nothing like recovery.
    Mary

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  4. Sober sister, it is Nancy from BFB. I just had to read your post. Awesome. We are two peas in a pod. (and as we both know there are many peas with us)
    Hugs and kisses.
    Nancy Day 61

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  5. congratulations on your 60 days! your story is so like mine, except i waited until my son was 15 before stoppping and going to aa. but the progression was exactly the same. my husband still drinks, but not as much as before, when we were getting through a bottle of wine each as well as beers. seeing my neighbour hit a very hard rock bottom with seizures and all sorts made me sit up and take notice.

    i'm going to forward the link to your post to a friend of mine, who will love the 'pouring it into a can' thing. she used to put hers in a cup and blow on it so the nieghbours would think it was tea! thank heavens we have all stopped!

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  6. Hi, all! Thank you for your comments. It amazes me how many people have the same or very similar stories, but when we're deep in it, we feel so alone.
    I wanted to mention too, I'm so grateful my children will not have to tell the same story about me that I tell about my father. I'm so happy I can give them the gift of a sober mama.
    @Harry- I did a few times put wine into a cup and bring it outside, but when I would set it down on the curb, a neighbor might see the giveaway red wine, so I used a coke can.

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  7. I'm "not that bad" too......still struggling with not wanting to stop because I have it "under control".

    Thank you for sharing this.

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  8. So happy for your 60 days!!!! Your story rings true for so many of us. Keep it one day at a time, your little girls are so blessed to have a sober mommy!!

    Anonymous 2:08
    Your not alone, so many of us thought we had it "under control" We never know how, when or why we hit our bottom, only you know that, but the beautiful thing is once you get to your bottom the only way is up. Sometimes up may not seem so great either, but sobriety is worth it and so are you!!!

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  9. thank you for such an amazing post. I'm a pea in that pod too. Saw so much of my experience in yours. Like you, I never thought I could live a life without alcohol --

    Gawd -- I HATED the obsessing...I sort of forgot about that --- it was a prison...

    So -- thank you for your words today -- I needed the reminder of why I put my soda can in the trash.

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  10. Congratulations on your 60 days. I had my last drink when my girls were 6 and 2. Today they are 30 (yikes) and 26, and they know and appreciate that I live a program of recovery, but have absolutely no memory of seeing me drink/drunk, although they surely did.

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  11. Happy 60! Absolutely beautiful post. So much of my story was inter-woven as well. My oldest son was 2 1/2 when I got sober, but my daughter was 22. While my daughter and I are healing, I'm grateful that my now-almost-6-year old son and his 2 year old little brother never have to remember me drunk.

    Thank you for your courage and honesty. We are blessed.

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  12. Yay for 60 !~! You have done Great !~! Keep on doing one day after one day after one day and the years will stack up. Someday sobriety will just be the normal way you live; I promise. You are on the way today...

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  13. Well done sober mummy its a fab achievement - I'm the 'tea' drinker'. My 7 year old vaguely remembers when I drank but after 1 1/2 years we are building a new relationship, whereas my 4 year old has no recollection - thank god! I can't believe how many of us there are - I felt so alone and my fear and self-loathing stopped me from reaching out - I pray that more of those still suffering have the courage to find aa. Sometimes just wanting to feel others are like you are, is the biggest gift, especially when you are trying to bring up kids in the right way and possibly haven't felt you could admit how bad things were in case the best things in your life got taken away.......Keep coming back x

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  14. Are we twins separated at birth? I can relate to everything you wrote! Thanks for the inspiration. It is great to be regaining my self-respect and seeing life differently by admitting I am an alcoholic and taking the steps I need to address this. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  15. You are showing great courage in taking the steps you have. 60 days is a great accomplishment - congratulations! Thank you for sharing your personal story. It's certainly and inspiration and encouragement to many.

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  16. This is a great post, thanks for sharing. Is good to get it out there and see some feedback, no?

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  17. Your story is oh so similar to mine...especially the parts about hiding how much I was drinking from others. I'm at the very beginning of my sobriety and going through this site to remind myself that I am not alone and that other people share parts of my story. Thinking of you...Thank you so much for sharing.

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  18. AMAZING. This is almost identical to my story, which I will post here one day soon. I am only on day 6. :)

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  19. "Functional" is an important word here. The idea is good in that our public lives have not crumbled and we (at least believe) are living up to our parental responsibilities...but on balance the idea serves to distract us from the reality of our drinking problem. This July 6th posting, and the comments it attracted, has been an absolute delight for me. Libraries and the Web are replete with stories of "rock bottom" and unfortunates who are unable to do much beyond drinking. What a cross they bear. But I would find myself juxtaposing my life with theirs and would invariably minimize my own problem in comparison. Clearly there is a physiological and psychological model that many of us fit into which allows us to move along in life, often a succesful one, while all the while we stealthily imbibe more alcohol than most other members of mainstream society. I am expert at ignoring the quantities that I can put away. A full day of work under my belt and it would be off to the beer store (and another knotch in my belt to follow...)Last Spring I went 97 days without a drink. I am now a week into another effort. I find that reading on a daily basis about alcoholism seems to be keeping me from any cravings. I have to smile when I look in the mirror now and see a fellow who knows he went exactly 97 days without a beer. That fellow looking back can never again deny the fact that alcohol had assumed a preeminent role in his life. I sure can't tell you how long it's been since my last pizza!
    This blog has resonated like no other. Indeed there is comfort in numbers and I aplaud all of you and thank you for sharing your stories.

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