Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two Days Sober

Submitted by Imogen, who blogs over at

I don't drink.

Reading people's stories on forums yesterday made me think that perhaps my drinking habits are not that bad. The stories didn't shock me - although they did make me sad - but they did give me a moment's pause: I don't physically or mentally abuse people, I don't get violent, I don't lose jobs, marriages, yell at my kids, etc.

Then I began thinking: 

I don't have kids – they would have got in the way of my drinking career

I'm only recently married at age 43 – previous boyfriends didn't want to stick around to witness the sideshow that was my life

I couldn't lose friendships – my 'friends' were all heavy drinkers

I didn’t lose jobs – my career has gone nowhere because I was happy to 'get by' in roles with little responsibility because I was always too hungover to deal with anything more senior

I don't abuse my nearest and dearest – I essentially cut myself off from the positive and happy people in my life in order to drink.

Alcohol has been the most significant relationship in my life.

In my twenties, every social event was reviewed as to whether it was alcohol-friendly, e.g., if a friend invited me for coffee I would generally make excuses not to go. If they asked me to meet them at the pub, however, I was the first one there! Even going to the cinema was off limits because I couldn't take a bottle of wine in with me.

In my thirties, I still reviewed some activities by alcohol availability, but I was generally more willing to go out because I had a cunning solution! I would be sociable and happy at dinners with family and friends just having a glass of wine or two, then I would get home and the real, heavy drinking would begin. This is when the secrecy, and consequently the shame, really began to take hold. 

Now in my early forties, the pain of living with the shame is finally greater than the perceived pain of living without alcohol. It has been so draining on every level to maintain my excessive drinking and I don’t have the energy for it anymore. To be honest, I think it will be easier and will take less energy to not drink than it was to live with the constant daily struggle of self-loathing and fear.

I need to wake up not hating myself

I need to stop wondering what the hell I am punishing myself for

I need to be the person I’ve always wanted to be, but was too scared to let the world see

I need to treat myself as I treat someone I really care about.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hope for the Average Drunk

*** Submitted  by Karen, who blogs at A Life Less Scripted

No two rock bottoms are the same.

The point where we decide that we simply cannot keep hurting ourselves looks different for everyone. This is important because some of us struggle with our perception of what alcoholism looks like.

I’m going to admit something because I know if I felt it, others have felt it too.

When I first stopped drinking, I secretly wondered if I was alcoholic enough. There was no question that I needed to stop drinking but my rock bottom wasn’t as dramatic as other alcoholics I’ve known or known about. Part of me wanted my disease to look like everyone else’s to help me better blend in.

I’m a classic over-achieving under-achiever. I’ve never been excellent at anything and I’ve never seriously failed at anything. It’s been exhausting to stay perfectly in the middle, just under the radar and average. To complicate matters, I’m a perfectionist. That means I’ve had to live a very scripted life in order to maintain these boundaries. Drinking offered me a brief release from my chosen mediocrity.

Some of us think that alcoholism has to look like a scene from Intervention.

When I told Hubster that I thought I had a drinking problem, even he said, “What did you do?”

“I didn’t do anything,” I replied.

“So,” he said, not quite understanding, “you didn’t do anything?” I knew he meant did I cheat on him, hurt one of the kids or get a DUI. Something devastating.

“No,” I said. “I went to bed. I woke up. I can never drink again.”

I had what’s known as a “high” rock bottom. Through the grace of God, I was able to start recovering from my drinking problem before I seriously screwed up my life. It doesn’t make me any less of an alcoholic. It does make me very grateful.

So, even though I secretly feared that I would be judged for not being alcoholic enough, those fears were never realized. Not one person said I couldn’t join the club. In fact, the exact opposite was true. Every single alcoholic I encountered nodded their heads and said, “Yup. I can relate to that.”

The details of our drinking are different but our stories have the same theme. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

If you’re still drinking, here’s what I want you to know:
  • Your rock bottom can look nothing like a scene from Intervention and you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If you don’t cheat on your spouse, lose your kids or get a DUI, you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If you only drink on the weekend, you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If you don’t hide bottles of alcohol in the house, you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If no one would ever guess that you have a problem, you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If you can’t wrap your mind around a Higher Power, you can still get help.
If you’ve stopped drinking but still sometimes feel a little guilty for getting to miss out on a low bottom:
  • If you can get through an entire episode of Mad Men without wanting to go on a drinking binge (or smoking binge for that matter), you can still be an alcoholic.
  • If a friend comes over and puts a bottle of Jagermeister in your freezer and you’re not tempted to sneak sips, you can still be an alcoholic. Well, maybe not Jagermeister. That shit is vile. I only use that example because it happened to me last weekend. Let’s change it to a frosty bottle of Lemoncello.
  • If you somehow managed to lose weight after you stopped drinking, even after consuming huge amounts of chocolate and ice cream, you can still be an alcoholic.
Today marks the 8th month of my sobriety. I want to thank God, Hubster, my kids, my family and my friends for helping me live a life less scripted.

One day at a time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Going to My First AA Meeting. A Mother Speaks Her Truth

***Submitted by Anonymous (please note:  due to the delay between receiving posts and posting them, the "noon today" is not, in fact today. Hopefully Anonymous will send us an update on how she is doing.)

I am going to an AA meeting at noon today.  I am hung over.  I am at work.  I showed up on time like I always do.

My anger and hurt are a twisted tin can of worms.  I am still reeling from the events of last night and this morning. I am confused.  I am hurt.  I am not sure how to unravel my anger at my husband from my need to take ownership of my own addiction.  Why is it always jammed together like this?  Why does he twist it so much?

He came home last night at 2:00 am, slurring.  I was asleep, and had been for several hours.   Earlier in the night  I had a glass with the neighborhood moms (okay I had 2), and then finished off the rest of the bottle alone, watching American Idol and the Housewives of Orange County.  Because it's fun to drink alone (?), because I like drinking.  I like numbing out.  I deserve a break, right?

He came home at 2:00 am slurring.  He was agitated because I am not affectionate enough. Becasue he had cancer surgery.   Because I am not supportive enough. Becasue he does too much and I don't do enough.   I asked him to be quiet and let me sleep.  He kept at it.  What is he angry about?  I am still not sure.  I just know he is angry and he's drunk and this is never good.  It never ends well.   I asked him to leave me aone.  I reminded him that it is not okay to to this again.  To frighten me at 2:00 am with drunken diatribes.  He pressed on. "I guess this is it" he repeats several times.  "I didn't want it to come to this" he repeats several times.   He seems to want to tell me our marriage is over?  That this was my last chance to save it?  at 2:00 in the morning, when I have been sleeping?  This is the time I am supposed to do (exactly what is not clear) something to save our marriage?  And in not doing so, this is my fault?

I beg him to stop in my still somewhat drunk and sleepy stupor.  He.  Keeps.  At me.  I try to placate him.  I lay my hand on his chest to try to soothe him , though I am repulsed by him in the moment.  I don't want to touch him.  I want him away.  He keeps at me.

I take my pillow and once again slept in my 4 year olds sons room.  Like I did less than two weeks ago.

Not again.  We can't be here again.  Not in the new house.  Not since I implemented the "sage burning rule" in which our bedroom needs to be smudged with sage every time he does this.  This was 5 years ago.  We had grown, hadn't we?  How could we be here again.

He has cancer (or had it, as surgery 3 months ago was curative).  His mom has cancer (which is more traumatic somehow for him than it is for me - My mom has cancer as well - stage 4).  He is doing it again.

This morning when I told him I planned to follow through on my threat - That I no longer feel safe sharing a room with him- That I can't share a room with someone who disrupts, harasses me, scares me in that state in the middle of thie night in my own room - he unleashed on me.

"YOU NEED TO STOP DRINKING!'  He shouted in front of the kids.

"YOU NEED TO STOP DRINKING!"  My 7 year old can hear him.  my 4 year old can hear him.  They probably know what this means.  They see the wine glass in my hand almost every night.

"YOU NEED TO STOP DRINKING!"  He followed me through the house shouting at me repeatedly.

"YOU NEED TO STOP DRINKING!"   PLEASE STOP DRINKING!"  He yelled out the patio door as I fed the dogs.

"YOU NEED TO STOP DRINKING!"  He shouted at me as I put on my makeup.  Look at you !  Look at yourself!  Everyone can tell by looking at you!

"YOU NEED TO STOP DRINKING!"  He shouted as I fed the kids breakfast.  He's never done this in front of the kids before.  I think he's still drunk.  He has been a mean drunk, and becoming a meaner drunk by the day.  Doesn't matter if it's wo beers or 12.  He gets that in his system and it gives him permission to rage at me.

"Try not to get a DUI on your way to work today", I snark at him.  It's the one thing I say to lash out.  To hurt him.  He's a mean drunk, and when he drinks enough to have it in his system in the morning, he's meaern than a snake the next morning too.  "Want to see it on video?" he threatens.  He pulls out his iphone.  "I recorded it!" he shouts.  I am confused.  He talks about recording conversations as though this would prove that the problem is ME.  It never makes sense, and it doesn't now.  He finally leaves to go to work.  The house is quiet again.

I am shaken.  Our home is chaotic. This is not what I want our home tobe.  This is not what I want my family to be.  This is hurting out kids.   I need to do what I can to make it less chaotic.

I am scared because I need my numbing juice more than I want to admit.  I am scared because I know I drink too much, too often, by myself.  I don't think I can stop this alone.  I am scared because I am so incredibly lonely and embarrased.  I am embarrased and ashamed that my life is like this.  I am ashamed that this goes on and then come apologies, and then I carry on and pretend my marriage is normal and that my drinking is normal and that his drinking is normal. I am ashamed my husband acts like this.  I am ashamed I allow my life to be like this.   I am ashamed that I am a wine-breathed shadow of a mother.

I am going to an AA meeting at noon today.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Binge Drinker Tells Her Truth

***Submitted by Ariel

I’ve been a binge drinker for 20 years.  I have every reason in the world to quit drinking. A great husband, 3 kids that I love like crazy, my own business, friends, and I have the desire to quit – to be a sober person – but I can’t seem to accomplish this.

My husband is a normal drinker.  A couple of beers or a few glasses of wine and he’s good.  He doesn’t have regular blackouts and pass out on the couch, like I do. He’s the responsible one, the designated driver (for me, always).  He’s the one who will pick up our sons if they’re at friends’ houses at night, because God knows I can't drive.

I try to rationalize why I drink about two bottles of wine a night, 4 nights a week, sometimes 5, more if it’s a ‘holiday week’ or we’re away on vacation, or any other excuse. Am I bored and drinking to escape into a buzzed inner-euphoria? (yes).  Am I intentionally trying to set a bad example for my kids? (I’m not doing it because I want to, but yes, of course I am setting a bad example.  I am painfully aware of this, yet I continue to drink too much wine.)  Do I want cirrhosis of the liver?  Do I have a death wish? (no).

I believe that I drink a lot at home out of boredom and habit.  As early as 5pm or 6pm, the cork gets popped and mom’s got a tumbler of wine in her hand…one that will be refilled many times.

I believe that I drink a lot when I’m out with friends, or when my husband and I go out on a super rare occasion, because being drunk feels good and makes me feel like a more interesting,outgoing person to be around.   That is, except when the night devolves in to me being in a drunken stupor, falling off my chair, having someone pour me back into my house later that night.  Me, not remembering the second half of so many nights.

Having said all this, one would never know I have a problem.  I don’t drink during the day.  I *can* go for days without drinking (recently went for 6 straight days while visiting family in another state.  I didn’t even miss my wine. Why is that?) I’m highly functional.  I’m really into fitness (I know, the irony).  I work outdoing hard core cardio or weight training nearly every day and I eat right.  I’m in love with my kids and husband, have a nice house, I’m great at what I do according to my clients, yada yada.

So why the heck can’t I even cut down?  It’s just getting worse and worse.

I worry that I’m going to go the way of Whitney Houston.  I’m almost the age she was when she died earlier this year.  I hope I can muster the strength to go to a women’s meeting. I don’t have the strength yet to tell friends, family, or even straight-on tell my husband of my problem (but geez, he knows, right?).