So I’ve set a date: September 4th. I’ve started this blog. I’ve signed up for the 90 day challenge on OYNB – for some reason (shame? the secrecy that so many drinkers are familiar with? feeling weird about the God stuff in AA?) I want to keep my quit relatively secret. I know that a lot of it has to do with being ashamed of publicly admitting I have a problem.
It’s strange: I quit smoking two months ago and so far it’s working. I used to think it was impossible. I have worked a LOT on myself in the last 3 or 4 years: therapy, meditation, emotional regulation, learning intimacy, to not hate myself, to be gentle, self-compassionate, etc. I also regularly publicly say that I drink too much, that my mother is a heavy alcoholic, that I must be careful with drinking. I don’t know if this makes sense, but despite this APPEARANCE of openness, I feel like I am still hiding my alcoholism. During the last few months, I have been dating someone who doesn’t drink (or hardly at all) and is very intent on working on himself. Though he still has a lot of work to do, he is doing a great job.
In the last few weeks, which I have spent mostly alone (and drinking, almost every day, 1-6 drinks, depending on the evening), I have had several realizations. I feel the need to drink daily, come 4 or 5 pm. This need is overwhelming if I am alone, and I almost ALWAYS give into it. I do most (95%) of my drinking alone. I have started to drink in secret, when my partner is not around. I plan the moments when I can drink. Thank god, when he is around and we spend evenings together, which in the last few months is about 1 night out of 2, I don’t drunk and don’t really think about it. So I am not going into delirium tremens in the morning… physically it is possible for me to not drink and feel fine. We even went on a 3 week vacation a month ago and spent those 3 weeks completely sober.
When I am alone however, I drink. My poison: fruity and citrusy IPAs. I dream of them. I look forwards to them. I am quite particular, if it isn’t the right taste, I get very little pleasure (but I still drink them). I use alcohol as a reward. As a crutch to get my work done if it is particularly distressing (I write for a living). To numb my anxiety. To quieten the loud, horrible craving which screams JUST ONE BEER. Which often whispers “fuck it, have another” one that one is finished. These days I gulp the first one down very quickly. I have also realized: my fears about quitting, and giving up a life of “fun connecting over drinks with people I love” is bullshit: as I said, I do the great majority of my drinking alone. My drinking life is quite boring, in fact. And then the next day I feel physical pain and moral suffering: guilt, shame at being “weak” and lying to my partner, at the secrecy and dysfunctional behaviors (hiding empty cans and bottles, getting rid of evidence, using mint essential oils on my breath to hide the smell, you name it). I get extremely defensive when my drinking is discussed by my partner – like my mother does when we ever tried to talk about her alcoholism.
My partner is the only one who knows – perhaps with my family- that drinking is a problem for me. My friends (most of them drink too, I suppose I chose them for those reasons) don’t care – and I have isolated myself from a lot of them since I moved abroad, started this relationship, and started meditating more. I will write about meditation another time – as my relation to it is problematic, especially these days, for reasons that have to do with my addictive tendencies and fear of getting sober. Weirdly, because my date is a month away, a part of me thinks I HAVE to drink for the whole time before quitting. But that’s insane! Why can’t I be sober today ?
Tonight my partner is in town, so I will probably not drink – the first time in 4 days. Last night I had 6 strong beers. It’s gone from 1 to 6. I don’t want it to keep escalating, and I want to be able to start my day without guilt and before noon. I can do this. Every minute of sobriety even before my quit date is good. And I still have the freedom to drink if I want to. I am going home for 2 weeks (abroad) – I will see my alcoholic family and friends – I will have a “good time”. Day 1 is the day I get back from my trip. I am scared, and excited. I have no idea who I am without alcohol. I am clinging very very strongly to being able to drink.