I follow a lot of blogs written by alcoholics in recovery. According to my therapist, and by my own assessment, I am not an alcoholic. I am an abuser of alcohol, however. No one has told me this; they don’t have to. I know.
I go through phases of drinking a glass or two of wine every night. I go through phases of not drinking during the week and limiting my intake to the weekend. Sometimes the weekend is Friday and Saturday. Sometimes it includes Sunday. And on occasion, when I’ve opened a new bottle of red and haven’t finished it on Sunday, it stretches into Monday. How can I toss this somewhat pricey bottle of wine? And if I wait until Friday, it will go bad. Usually, I don’t play that game and I don’t open a new bottle of red on Sunday. I have a glass of white, which will keep, or I have nothing. And many nights, I do have nothing. At times I do pour the last of the bottle out.
Then there are the times when I go weeks, months, or once, an entire year, without drinking. These periods generally are prompted by my desire to reduce my caloric intake. Rarely have I curtailed my drinking because I’m concerned about turning into a “real alcoholic.” A “real alcoholic”?, you ask. Yes, you know the type: the alcohol controls them; they do not control the alcohol. They drink every day, starting in the morning because they have the shakes. They need a little something to take the edge off. They drink on their lunch breaks, and eventually hide bottles in their desk drawers. They have trash bags of empty beer cans or bottles piled up in the garage. They don’t eat. They’re in poor health. They fall and hit their heads and nearly bleed out. They don’t care for their pets. They lose their wives, their jobs. But they don’t lose their homes because their mother and father enable them. Eventually, after several attempts at rehab, they die of cirrhosis. Or maybe, against all odds, they achieve sobriety.
Or they’re the type of alcoholic who binge drinks. They hold down jobs and provide for their families. They’re intelligent and charming and fun. But once they’ve had a few, they can’t stop. And when they don’t stop, they become mean. Violent. They abuse their children both physically and verbally. They break down doors. Their faces turn red and their veins bulge on their necks. You hide from them in the attic off your closet until the house gets quiet. The next day, they apologize. They give you gifts. They’re truly remorseful.
These are the kinds of alcoholics I’ve known.
Because of this, because alcoholism is in my blood, I monitor myself carefully. Sometimes I feel guilty when I drink. Why do I do it when it’s caused so much misery in my life and in the lives of those closest to me? Because I can. Because it’s easier in this culture to drink, than not.
But I read your bogs. I see how your lives change when you don’t drink. I see how different things are without the crutch. You go to social functions and you don’t rely on a drink or two to loosen up; to feel comfortable. You never have a hangover. You don’t turn to a glass of wine when you’ve had a hard day. You play with the dog. You run. You write. You create. You relate. You cope. You cope without the bottle.
You are you.
My therapist told me yesterday, when I confessed I’ve gotten back into the habit of having a glass of wine every night (and sometimes two, but I did not tell her this):
“Alcohol is a primitive way to fix the nervous system.”
She suggested I try a more modern approach: meditation. Ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening when I return home. Meditation instead of wine. No wine six days a week. A glass or two one day a week. (But what about the rest of the bottle? I might last a week, but it won’t!) The 6/1 meditation program.
Fine, I’ll try it. But I was going to meditate for 50 days in a row, anyway, culminating on my 5oth birthday. I suppose I could start early.
But here’s the deal: I’m currently on a plane to Tucson. It’s a lawyer continuing education boondoggle. How am I to begin not drinking (save one day a week) at a lawyer boondoggle weekend? Lawyers drink. Heavily. Especially whilst boondoggling. And how can I be the only sober boondoggler? I’ll be anxious. And boring. And bored.
Maybe I’ll start Sunday. Or even Saturday. But tonight? And Friday night? On a mother-loving boondoggle?
I’ll have to ponder this evolution thing. In the meantime, we’re about to begin our descent. So I shall wrap up and report back later.
- Am I an alcoholic? (unconfirmedbachelorette.com)