Monday, August 20, 2012

Knows She Is An Alcoholic. Wants To Stop. But Can't.


***Submitted by Justine

I am in a committed relationship and am fortunate enough to be the mother of an amazing little boy.  I am under no illusions about the fact I am an alcoholic.  We have a lot to be grateful for and still, I drink.  My partner is loving and generous and this is how I continue to behave.

I’ve always had a “problem” with alcohol.  The writing was on the wall before I had my first drink.  I grew up in an environment where binge drinking was accepted as the normal way to let your hair down and enjoy yourself.  I was raised as a Catholic in an Australian rural area with a lot of Irish heritage (including the alcoholic relatives, priests & family friends!).  As a child I remember most adults I knew drank to excess on Friday’s, Saturdays and whenever there was a social occasion.  Everyone apart from mum. 

My father used to be a big drinker.  At least once a week he’d have a few too many at the pub then, after driving home, take his frustrations out on us.  He would overreact to any perceived disobedience or annoyance and belt us with the strap (his belt).  I remember being hit so many times, including with the buckle that I wasn’t allowed to wear my summer school uniform because of the visible bruises.  I had to wear pants.  I remember mum crying begging him to stop hitting me.

Being raised Catholic didn’t resonate with me at all.  I saw so much hypocrisy and I rebelled against their rules (be a nice girl etc).  As soon as I left home I busied myself with partying.  I can’t remember when my drinking changed from weekend binges to drinking each evening, but I know it was in my early 20’s.  I’m now 40.  

I’ve been fortunate not to have ended up in serious trouble if you don’t count two divorces, one from an incredibly vicious, violent man, a DUI in my mid-20’s, lots of wasted money and several other failed relationships including a long running affair with a married man who had his own substance addiction problem.

During my second marriage, the stress of living with a jealous psychopath fuelled my drinking to unprecedented levels, even for me.  I used alcohol to cope with his behaviour and used it to numb my fear after I escaped his tyranny.  It was then I engaged in counselling for PTSD.  That counsellor was fabulous at the PTSD side of things but was not equipped to counsel my alcohol addiction.  She referred me to a psychiatrist, who was clearly an alcoholic himself.  I went twice but didn’t buy what he was selling.  You can’t bs a bs-er.

So I struggled on, always wanting to drink less, to be in control of my drinking without succeeding.  

Several years after leaving my 2nd husband, I had undergone a reasonable amount of healing and embarked on a relationship with my current partner.  The first night we were together, I had a blackout.  It was a combination of alcohol and PTSD because I went into a flashback then passed out.

That didn’t scare him off.  Soon after, he took me to a party to meet some of his friends.  Everyone was drinking, my partner was driving and he doesn’t usually get drunk.  It does not appeal to him.  I certainly got drunk and ended up saying nasty things to a girl I decided I didn’t like and completely embarrassed him.  He didn’t say anything about it the following day and, as far as I know, he hasn’t kept in touch with any of those people.  Another outburst occurred when I got drunk at his new company’s first Christmas party.  I became paranoid about him talking to a female business associate, and then apparently completely abused him in front of everyone at the party.  I can’t remember it but it must have been terrible because he didn’t come home that night and the next morning completely lost it with me and was set to leave.

I was humiliated and grovelled and apologized and somehow convinced him that I was worth staying with.  Since then he has virtually turned a blind eye to my alcohol abuse.  He’s hoping I’ll sort it out one day.  He mentions it occasionally.

I stopped drinking as soon as I found out I was pregnant and didn’t drink for the first six months of my son’s life, but then stress crept up on me and before I knew it, I had started abusing alcohol again.  Planning my days around my child but also factoring in enough time to buy wine and ensuring I had enough for the night. 

Given my history with alcohol it was always on the cards that I might not be able to stay sober or in control of my drinking after becoming a mother, especially given the stresses of new parenthood.

When my rational mind looks at the situation, I think “what an irresponsible mother, getting wasted every night after her son and partner go to bed”, but that doesn’t stop me.  I often think of the health consequences of my long term alcohol abuse.  I can’t imagine how my liver is fairing and I’m afraid of my elevated cancer risks, but as of yet, that hasn’t stopped me.

I know I want to stop.  I really do.  I want to wake up energized every morning instead of feeling like exhausted death warmed up.  My family deserve better and I deserve better.  I’ve been controlled and manipulated by alcohol for far too long.

I try to imagine the good things that will come from not drinking such as the body I could have.  I would lose some weight and have energy to exercise regularly.  I would stop loathing myself and feeling ashamed.  I might be able to make some close friends, instead of living in my foggy alcoholic bubble of confusion, remoteness and isolation.

Here’s hoping.

12 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your struggles and your history. I hope you get the help you need soon. You are obviously a strong woman, you can do this.

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  2. If nothing else, it is worth it to quit drinking to get the shame to disappear. Without alcohol and the daily guilt that comes with it, you are free to work on yourself and build yourself up again. You will see the inner strength that awaits you inside, the strength that the alcohol is covering up right now.

    I pray that you find the strength to ask for help and move forward with that help. It is such a big step that you have come here to share. You can do this.

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  3. You,ve had a rough life and I,am sorry you have to cope with it all. You said and realize the magic words, "I,ve been controlled and manipulated by alcohol for far to long. Take back the power!. You have the strength to do this, just take a day at a time and seek support. I,ll be praying for you. Hang in there. I and others on this site believe in you!
    Hugs

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  4. Hi Justine;
    I began my road to recovery at 40 as well.. And my consequences are the same as yours. .
    I have learned SO MUCH about my disease, in fact, I changed careers going back to school to get licensed as an addiction counselor. I have learned that while many of us are strong women,, our strength is not sufficient for healthy recovery. For me, and those I work with, recovery is a "we" thing, it is something done with one or more like-minded individuals. Added to this, we need to tap into our own individual spirituality and lean on our Higher Power. You are not unique in your struggles with the Catholic faith - I hear addicts speak of this often, to the point of saying, "I'm a recovering Catholic." It sad , really. I was raised Lutheran and let me tell you, we, families, the pastors etc, can drink with the best of them. Alcohol served at EVERY religious gathering. And, yes, hypocrisy. There are other ways to worship though. You may be interested in Celebrate Recovery - a non-denominational church opportunity with a recovery foundation.

    I hear you being "stuck" on that cyclic madness of wanting it , but not doing it. Desiring sobriety, but overcome at that witching hour when drink is SO appealing.

    And then, underlying, we have to determine what "stuff" still needs to be processed and worked through. Not drinking is easy, really, stopping is the easy part. Its living, learning how to live sober - THATS the tough part. But, it doesnt have to be a white knuckling experience. Not when you are willing to seek help. Support groups are really an integral part of solid recovery. So, I encourage you to seek one out and commit.

    Otherwise, you could find yourself at fifty and still spinning on that perverbial rat wheel.
    Jump off that insane cycle of taking three steps forward and two steps back. Make it happen NOW. Hop around some of these blog homes and 'ask for help.'
    So glad you took the time to share your story. Praying that you'll find helpful guidance,,

    One day at a time - it took you forty years to get here, you need to be patient with yourself as you work steadfastly through the process. And stay in this day,, no jumping ahead of yourself. Finally, begin the process of forgiving yourself for the yesterdays. They are what they are and will never be changed. Your tomorrows, however, can play out differently. Hope you do keep the faith

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  5. I'm exactly where you are, and have gone through everything you describe. Especially the parts about being sober through your pregnancy but unable to abtain in the last parts of it, and about wanting close friends but being unable to connect with people through the haze of substance abuse. We both need help. Best of luck to you.

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  6. I'm guessing a lot of this is a self-esteem thing. YOU are worth it - yes, stopping drinking with benefit your son and partner, but there are a million more reasons to stop because it will benefit YOU, and YOU DESERVE a good life. Your life history has probably gone to great lengths to stop you from seeing this, but we others can see it, yes, even if we don't know about all the 'terrible' things you have done! Hopefully you will start to see yourself as worth it too, and this will give you the impetus for sobriety. (Sorry if I sound like a L'Oreal commercial.) Good luck!

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  7. Thanks to each and every one of you for your generous and inpiring comments. I'm sitting at my desk with a strange feeling: like I've connected with people for the first time who truly understand me. It's like having a group of genuine people who are in my corner come up and put their hands on my back to support me through the difficult step of ditching alcohol. I'm grateful for this website and everyone who contributes xxx

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  8. Kim...struggling everyday to stay soberAugust 22, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    Hi Justine,
    I feel the same way as you do. Connecting with other women via this site has given me the courage to stop drinking and open up to 2 other fellow alcoholics who are friends of my family. They both said I hid it very well. I think that's why it took me so long to get The help that I needed.....9-10 years or be exact. Find the courage to 'ditch' the alcohol like so many before you have done and then keep reaching out for support through this site. That is what has helped me and I am now 26 days sober..... The longest time span I think I've had in the last 10 years. You can do it! You deserve a better life, one without alcohol and all the destruction that it brings you. We all deserve and need that.
    You will be in my prayers!
    Sincerely,
    Kim

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  9. Thank you for sharing your story. You have a beautiful way of writing and telling your story. I don't know if you are considering AA but I envision you getting sober and telling your story at a speaker meeting. Very moving. You have a lot to offer to the those getting or staying sober : D

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  10. Hi. I just read your post and sounds like part of me wrote it. I hear you in so many ways ...your pain...your guilt... Your resentments...your anger....

    I wish you luck in your soul searching for recovery and discovering your true self...sober and out of the fog.

    I still sit hear and wonder where I've been and what I've done for the last 25 years of my life. Once that fog lifts, things become so much clearer

    Search up blogs and find some people that could help you see clearly that you are not alone in this fight!

    Sobriety rocks once you get past all the bullshit!

    I promise you that it's worth it!
    Jen

    Hugs

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  11. ...and yes you can do it! You are empowered to put in your body what you choose to put in your body! You are empowered to make good or bad choices. You are empowered to live a happy healthy sober life if that's what you really want.
    We are given one body, one mind and one life.... That's it! If we destroy one of these three things, we have nothing left!

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  12. Hi Justine,
    I just read your story and I too feel like I could have been the author. I have struggled for a long time and it is wearing me down. One thing that helps me is knowing how many other women there are out there rationalizing the same crazy thoughts, weighing the pros & cons, feeling the insane tug of war between their heart & their mind while they are staring down a bottle of wine at the Target check out line. By myself I feel so week but knowing hundreds of us are out there all struggling gives me strength. Thanks for sharing your story and good luck on your journey. Love, Sharon

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