Monday, September 24, 2012

In The Middle of a Relapse

***Submitted by Anonymous

So here I am, right in the middle of a relapse. 

I made it past the 29 day relapse, the 89 day relapse all the way to day 364 and then collapse.

I dont' like those big numbers. 

Seems like they are watching me, hounding me, big face looking down on me waiting to fail. 

When I hear that others relapsed I think what the hell happened? They were so focused. And better than me, stronger than me, helping me along on this path. 

And I am just a drink away. 

Just a small, cold, drink away. 

One would be OK. 

Well, maybe two but then I will pull it together. 

Just a little break. 

But the break is large. It goes for days, the poor sleep, the throwing up to have a break from the ills, the craving. 

Oh the crazy craving to at least make the throwing up useful.

I hear the words of the program, no problem that can't make a bad situation worse that adding alcohol. . 

The ones I love are the ones I am so sorry to have let down but they are the ones I want to save me, capture me, pick me up and get me back to where I know is so much better. 

I just cant let them down again, again. 

What a trap, and I just want out of the whirlpool.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Frank the Tank Is A Terrible Mother

***Submitted by Annika, who blogs at The Frustrated Mystic

I walk into a bar filled with high school friends on a weekend home for the holidays.

People are loud and jovial and just warming up. A high school buddy whom I love dearly comes up to me and says, with a wicked smile on his face, “Is Frank the Tank going to show up tonight?.” At this point in my life I have graduated from college and married my high school sweetheart and gone off to earn a Masters degree in a different city. From the outside I may appear to have my shit together but on the inside I am falling apart and my friend’s innocent comment hits a nerve. The problem drinking of high school and college days has followed me into my adult life. Frank the Tank is still alive and well. I laugh off the comment and order a drink.

For those unfamiliar, “Frank the Tank” is a reference to Will Ferrell’s character in the movie Old School. Frank shows up at a house party intent on not drinking and ends up hitting a beer bong which leads to Frank streaking through quad of the local college… alone. Here is the dialogue.

College Student: Anyway, come hit this right here. You need to hit this.

Frank:No, I appreciate it, but I told my wife I wouldn't drink tonight. 
Besides, I've got a big day tomorrow. But you guys have a great time.

College Student: A big day? Doing what?

Frank: Well, actually, pretty nice little Saturday.
We're going to Home Depot,
Buy some wallpaper,
maybe get some flooring.
Stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath
and Beyond, I don't know -
I don't know if we'll have enough time.

You know what? Give me that thing.
I'll do one.

Students in unison: He's gonna do one!
He's gonna do one! That's a talented man right there. 

Frank: That's what I'm talking about. Fill it up again!
God, that's good.
It's so good!
Once it hits your lips,
it's so good.

If you cannot tell from the dialogue, a middle-aged Frank is quickly swayed to change his plans and decides to have just one drink. Frank gets down on the ground to do a beer bong with a bunch of college kids. As soon as he finishes one, he stands up, claps his hands energetically and demands another. One sip of alcohol and it begins.

People who love me and desperately want me to be normal often ask, “why don’t you switch to water,” or “why not just have one or two and then stop.” Because I can’t. Believe me I have tried. I am Will Ferrell from Old School… except not as funny. Once alcohol touches my lips it isso good and everything else fades away. Everything authentically meaningful is gone and I’m in my own little world. I have no off switch. I just keep drinking until I “go to sleep” which is more accurately described as passing out. It’s hard to explain this to a non-alcoholic person.

My inability to stop drinking once I start coupled with complete emotional bankruptcy led me to stop drinking in 2006. I was sober for two years and they were two of the best years of my life. So good, in fact, that I was sure I wasn’t an alcoholic and could probably drink like normal people again. I was sure that Frank was long gone and in 2008 I tried controlled drinking. I found out very quickly that Frank was there the whole time, patiently waiting to return the minute I picked up a drink. It’s now 2011 and I am sober again.

In the three years I returned to drinking, I didn’t lose my job or house or husband or car. I didn’t try to kill myself or injure anyone else. Nothing really terrible happened externally but internally I was stuck. I was drowning in unhappiness and stagnation and becoming bitter about life and my relationships. The sick thing is that I was resigned to the fact that I would live a moderately dissatisfying life and keep alcohol as my constant companion. And then something happened.

I had a baby. Well, first I got pregnant. What a relief to not have to wrestle with drinking for 9 months. Then I had a baby and as soon as I started supplementing with formula at about 8 weeks postpartum, I was drinking with abandon. I was using my maternity leave to go on a bender. Waking up hungover. Waiting for her to go to sleep so I could get down to the business of drinking. Making sure my husband could carry her to bed or get up with her at night when I wanted to DRINK drink. The idea that the lubricant of alcohol makes life as a new Mom easier is a popular one. A glass of wine or beer with bath time and feeding and holding and playing and reading is nice. It takes the edge off. Five glasses of wine or ten beers… not so much.

I am so thankful that nothing happened to me or my baby when I was drinking on my maternity leave. I hit a bottom without anything really having to happen. I hit bottom when I realized I was opting for drinks instead of breastfeeding. I hit a bottom when I cringed at the sound of her crying in the morning because I was still hurting from the night before. I hit a bottom when I wanted to rush bedtime so I could pick up my drinking. After two months of somewhat heavy drinking, when I looked at her and hugged her and loved her, I felt like I couldn’t get close enough. Alcohol had created this wax paper film between us. I was doing all the things a mother does and I loved her absolutely but I was not present and I was not the mother she deserves. I am so grateful I am sober today.

I didn’t think Frank the Tank would follow me into the world of motherhood and parenting. But sure enough, there was Frank suggesting that a drink would be good at the end of a long day at home alone with an infant. That first drink was so good when it hit my lips and warmed up my body and relaxed my senses and made me playful with my baby girl. I didn’t allow myself to acknowledge that not only did alcohol numb my senses, alcohol numbed my experience of being a mother and my daughter’s experience of me. 

I will always have to live with the fact that for the first four months of my child’s life, Mommy was home but the lights were not on.

 Like I said, Frank the Tank is a terrible mother.

I’m sorry Frank, but this is a final farewell.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Exchange

***Submitted by Anonymous

Today marks 4 months sober. If you would have told me 6 months ago or a year ago, that I would quit drinking, I never ever would have believed you. In fact, I would have laughed at you and opened another beer. It was a part of me. Sometimes I thought it was my better half. But I had to exchange my better half for a better life. This exchange for a clean life was one that was long time coming. I knew a year earlier that I had a problem. But I talked myself out of it. I rationalized my drinking with the best of them. I had never had a DWI and was completely functioning at work, so there was no way I had a problem.

But there was a major problem. 

I had gone from drinking excessively on the weekends to drinking every night. One or two beers was never enough. 

Once I had that first taste, I needed at least 6 or 8 or 10. I used it as a way to handle my anxiety level which was through the roof. 

As a Mom of young children, a wife and a full time employee, I had a lot on my plate. And the alcohol made it all better. 

Or so I thought. 

Slowly but surely I was addicted. I needed it every night to manage the night time routine. I needed it on the weekends to make it through and the time to start drinking slowly got earlier and earlier in the day. I convinced myself it was ok for the short term but that I would quit eventually but I really didn’t want to quit. 

I started forgetting things that would happen including discussions with my husband. I was waking up every morning feeling incredibly sick. I couldn’t think or process anything very well. I was struggling to get the correct words out sometimes. I was not present in my kid’s lives. I was there alright but I couldn’t enjoy the moments laughing with them, reading a story or playing outside because I was thinking about that next beer. All because I had exchanged my health for alcohol. 

So I made the decision to exchange my crutch, alcohol, for health and happiness with my family. I knew if I kept drinking, something bad would happen and I was killing my body little by little with each drink. I wanted to be a mom and wife present in the family. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to find other ways to manage my anxiety. And I didn’t want to be the “drunk” to my family and friends.

Most people in life exchange a shirt, exchange a car for a new one, exchange one house for another and so on. I had to make an exchange that got me back my life and health. It would be life changing and huge.

I don’t know how I got the strength to stop drinking that Sunday in March. But I did. And I haven’t picked up alcohol since. 

And I’m a better wife, mom and human being for it. My mind is clear. I’m working out. I am present in the moments even if my anxiety level is at an all time high.

I can tell you it’s not easy. 

And many times I get angry that I can’t have one or two drinks with friends or go to happy hour and connect with everyone over a pitcher. I’m mad I ruined my relationship with alcohol so that at 34, I had to put it down for good.

I never thought I would be here but here I am. And It makes me angry. But I know I had to do it and my anger will be out weighed over time by an amazing life with my family.

And I did make one more exchange...I traded in alcohol for coffee. 

And now going to bed after a warm cup of coffee and knowing that I’ll wake up with a crystal clear mind is one of the best moments of my day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Twelve Days Sober - Seeking Advice

***Submitted by Searching Mom

I’m 12 days into not drinking and really could use some insights from those of you who have gone before me. 

I’m mid-50s, successful professional, wife of a teacher,  mom of a son and daughter. Have had scattered incidents of drinking too much for years, but really started using alcohol as a crutch in the past few years after a family trauma. 

In recent months--even though, with counseling, the trauma was receding and its fallout was becoming manageable--my drinking was becoming unmanageable.

Finally, on a recent family vacation where I tried to keep pace drinking with a 20-something and totally embarrassed myself, I have admitted that I am not able to control myself if I drink at all, and concluded that I must be a non-drinker from now on. 

I have talked to my wonderful (female) pastor about this, to the counselors my family still sees, and to some sober friends who are being wonderful guides.

I am asking friends about various AA meetings in my area to see if one sounds like a good fit, and in the meantime am doing reading on my own about recovery. 

I am feeling such relief that I have begun this, and I think I am not kidding myself that this will be easy every day – but so far, I have generally felt calm and well able to resist drinking. 

I am finding positive things to add to life now that alcohol has been subtracted – e.g., joined a gym where I can work out with a friend. 

A dear friend who is 3 years sober tells me I’m on “the pink cloud” and should be prepared for this not to last, and I THINK I understand that and am prepared, at least intellectually. 

But at this point, I’d really value hearing from others who have passed through some of these dynamics and can tell me what to expect and what has helped them persevere. 

Thanks and godspeed.