Tag Archives: compulsion

The urge left me–NOT

25 Jun

12:03 pm

There was this guy at meetings–older dude, and sort of the “king” of AA down here. The ringleader. NICE man, lovely man. However, he always shared along one of several themes, and one was how “the urge to drink simply left him–just vanished–when he stepped foot in the rooms.” UH HUH.

This post has nothing to do with AA, but everything to do with that URGE to drink, and how it doesn’t just vanish. I would say that that is neurologically impossible, but even I know that nothing is impossible. And, what do I know, which brings me quickly to a point:

Everyone’s drinking problem is unique. The one thing that I left AA certain about was this fact. Everyone has different reasons for drinking, and different patterns of craving. Everyone might drink alcoholically–that is to say, compulsively–but they might not “be alcoholics.” Whatever that means. And, everyone’s recovery process is different, takes different amounts of time, and can’t really be compared to another’s. As with drunken war stories, you can’t compare notes. There is, in fact, no one-size-fits-all.

After a year (more or less) of sobriety, I still have cravings. I still WANT TO DRINK, YES I DO! What is different now–finally–is that I don’t believe it’s going to be all that great, or that it’s what I really want. In fact, I’m almost too tired and too busy to think about it. I know the process will likely result in my downing of at LEAST two bottles of red wine in one sitting, and then doing or saying something idiotic (or irreparably stupid) in a blackout, so…NO, THANKS. Maybe later, wolfie, like, tomorrow. Better yet, let’s set a date for next week, mmm-kay? Hmm…I think maybe next month, actually–you’ll need some time to heal after I kick you in the face and put a large boot against your skull. What? What’s that? Were you trying to say something? FUCK YOU, WOLFIE!

What’s struck me lately is how I notice other people’s “drinking problem” and/or literal, drinking problems. For instance, I went over to a friend’s house yesterday, after a swim. He’s nice, but I don’t think his wife likes me. As conversation passes, I notice that he’s drunk (well, he did have a few beers, but I realize he must have had more before meeting my boyfriend and me at the beach) and his wife is…fidgety. Maybe she’s drunk? I know she drinks (“she can hang,” as it were)–we got drunk together once, and it did not end well, for me anyway.

Maybe she’s feeling that pull? OH, do I know that pull, I thought to myself. That irritation, that want want want to drink another right now, even though there are people in my house, I don’t care about them. That FOCUS on the wine. THE WINE. That anxious flurry of activity, of bodily movement in no particular direction because you’re either already tipsy or you just can’t sit still. And, you don’t really notice it. But, I do. Why? Because my body has finally relaxed into a position of attention, of self-awareness, of calm; I am not thinking about drinking, I am thinking about YOU, about this conversation, about what’s going on in this moment. My already sharp powers of perception (ONE good thing about being an introvert all these years) are even sharper now that I’m sober enough to embrace that calm. I wonder, do I have a calming effect on her, or is she too wrapped up in her head to notice? Am I pulling out my sober card? Does she see it? I don’t think so; I think I’m imagining this…but it sure does feel like I have some super-connection with people who are struggling, who want to quit, who know they drink too much. Maybe it’s that I made an ass of myself that one time we drank (I know I did later, with my boyfriend, but I was semi-blacked out when she and I hit our stride that day)? Ah, me. What DO I know?

And then there are the problems caused by drinking. I got an email last night from a friend who had a rough drunk episode last Saturday–three hours of blackout during an event in which, from what I could tell from the pictures on Facebook, she went a little bit crazier than usual. I mean, I had developed such a–how to put it?–hollow, steel-lined hole in my heart from my blackouts in the big city, and all that they entailed, that her story made me cringe. Jesus, so many avoidable problems come up when you drink too much (like those unnecessary flashbacks from the movie “Saw,” for instance)!? It made me appreciate my now-calm life: I’d so much rather be cooking lasagne with my boyfriend after a day at the beach than spending time making out in a stupor on the sidewalk before passing out in my own vomit; only to be driven home and pass out, lose my phone, and wake up in what’s now a murky stupor and wander over to a neighbor’s to make out with him. I can hear the echo of deep space in my heart–it’s a memory that seems to have seeped into my bone marrow, stained it a shade of ink–and it makes my soul ache. (And, I’ve done MUCH worse, so I’m just using her story as an example here, not as a lesson.)

Problems, indeed.

Me? I’ve got today, and I’ve got a calm, full heart. The urge may not have left (yet), or even the compulsive behavior–I know it probably won’t, for me. What has gone, though, is any romantic notion of how fun, or fulfilling, drinking actually is.

Am I an alcoholic? Wrong question

15 Apr

10:59 am

I recently had the “opportunity” (haha) to watch people who don’t care about drinking drink. In a word, it’s baffling.

I went boating yesterday and people brought booze. Of course, after going 60 days last summer, then 5 weeks last fall, then another NEAR-SIX MONTHS up until about a month ago sober, I had my Diet Coke at the ready. However, I was like a dog, turning its head at every “pfft” and “pop” as the bottles were extracted (in slow motion) from the coolers. Not necessarily because I was jones’ing for a drink, but mainly out of habit…and curiosity. How do non-alcoholics actually drink?

I shit you not: over the course of about 4 or 5 hours, I watched two people consume two bottles of prosecco and then, maybe a few more drinks each. WHAT. I would’ve downed the first bottle in less than an hour, and then kept going. Another girl “properly” drank oh, about 3 or 4 or 5 drinks (not THAT much, is what I’m saying–it was champagne and wine) over those same 4 or 5 or 6 hours. WHAT? I would have slurped down at LEAST that much by noon.

What I noticed the most was, these people seemed to have about as much disinterest as interest in drinking their booze. They seemed to really have been able to take it or leave it. There was no compulsion, no clutching, no fast-paced “more more more” that goes on for me. BIZARRE.

They are not alcoholics…because they do not drink alcoholically.

The tables turned in my sober journey when I stopped trying to answer the question that seemed to be on everyone’s lips: am I an alcoholic? In AA meetings, saying those words made me feel very uncomfortable. And, most importantly, they didn’t ring true. For me, anyway. While some may argue that semantics are meaningless, I would say the opposite: we learn to define our world in terms of words, the words that we hear, and say in our heads; the words we use to give form to our thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

I realized that whatever I may “be,” I DO drink *alcoholically.* I use wine, for instance, instead of drink it. That is not variable, open to discussion, or a question in my mind anymore. I drink alcoholically because, somehow (and that’s what’s going on now with me, figuring out where “somehow” began and how it’s going to end) I developed a compulsion–a need, a screaming wolfie-boy want–to drink. I care about drinking. I don’t care about eating, or smoking, or popping pills. I don’t care about tanning or pulling out my hairs or hoarding or growing my nails ten feet long. And so, when I see others drinking non-alcoholically, I’m like, BIZARRE.

Day 28, and counting. And, just because it’s so awesome, please check out Belle’s 100-day challenge! I’m right there with you. 🙂

Reality check

3 Apr

10:22 pm

I got a big gush of “whoa” tonight in my attempt to re-read some of the past year’s worth of journal entries. I’ve journaled my entire life, but over the past decade, a lot of it has consisted of miserable, self-hating rants about how horrible I feel to be hung over, what a shit I am to keep doing this to myself, and how lame I am, in general. However, this past year takes the cake: my journal entries were so rambunctious in just how GRUELING it is to get and keep sober, I had to stop reading somewhere around July! It was tiring and confusing and downright tedious going in and out of it all–I mean, the physical and mental stages of withdrawing, and craving, and fearing, and doubting, and wondering, Can I really do this?

For me, that analytical mess has passed, thank God(dess). Yet, I’m not that self-delusional (anymore) to note that, yes, while I’ve changed and somehow managed to outgrow (or, outrun?) all those thoughts, the bottom line is, I still have the tendency toward compulsion. I appreciate all your comments, but mostly, I appreciate the ones who’ve said, A slip IS a big deal because of what it allows you to think, which is, Oh, sure, I can drink! I’m healed!

That’s the voice of compulsion. It’s more like, I give up my autonomy for a prison of the mind. That prison is the need to drink, the compulsion, the wanting, the belief that it’ll work this time. And the door to that locked cell is booze itself.

Confession: I bought a bottle of red wine the other day. (Remember when I said I spent ahem, a “while” staring at the shelves and shelves of cheap, good red wine at a big box store? Well, yeah. I took down one of those bottles, then put it back. Then, took down another, with .5% less alcohol content, and bought it. I know, that .5% is really going to make me SO much less drunk.) It’s been a few days, and I’ve had it in my desk drawer. Well, I finally uncorked it this afternoon and poured it down the kitchen sink. Along with a half-bottle of Stoli and two mini-bottles of Jager (purchased in a near-blackout state; obviously, one almost NEEDS to be unconscious to want to drink Jager).

No, I hadn’t had any of the hard booze these past near-6 months, but…I never dumped it. I guess I never really committed to being sober. DING DONG. Reality check.

I have to say, I was shaking as I opened the bottle of red. I mean, I was nervous. What if my hand suddenly turned and started pouring it down my throat? What if I licked my fingers and just couldn’t help myself? As I watched it drain, I realized I still don’t have much control over my compulsion–it still affects me. Of course, I had no intention of drinking any of it, but I wasn’t 100 percent sure that somehow, it wouldn’t end up in my mouth.

I took a few sniffs of it as I poured, two or three really big whiffs. I thought it would give me the sensation of nausea, but it gave me what felt like my drinking life passing before my eyes in a series of images/memories, most really horrible but some good. And then, to my surprise, came the slightly panicked thoughts: Holy crap, what about all the good times? Am I really giving them up forever?

With the hard alcohol, I was like, Pfft, whatever, don’t let the door hit ya on the way out! Yet…as I proved to myself last year, I would SO totally drink that shit if I was already drunk on red wine. So Totally. And, I know it. DUN DUN. Reality check number two. (I NEVER did that prior to last year, ever ever ever. I wasn’t a hard booze person. Yet, I must admit, as my alcoholism got worse last spring, I WAS hitting the tumblers of vodka, often (depending on how drunk I felt) skipping the mixer entirely.)

What’s the lesson? I’m a bit scared. I thought I had this licked, but yet, I was shaking with an actual fear that I–my physical person–was not one of mind. That somehow, I might lose my head and in a flash, start gulping down wine! And, that this is a compulsion that I can’t seem to manage.

In all my journaling and thinking over the past few days, I can sum it up in a few sentences: I like living without a crutch, without having the option of running home to wine. Drinking is a prison; outside of this, I learn–mainly about myself, what makes me tick. And, it’s a given that, regardless of how I FEEL about not drinking, when I don’t drink, my life moves forward and when I do, it doesn’t.

So, September 14th, folks. My 180-day mark. I feel relieved. And, strong. Happy to be (back?) inside what appears to be a clear bubble, in which the entire world is reflected back at me. And…one last thing:

*glitter ball* times two, heading right at me!

(*glitter ball* means, my unicorn has spit one out of her horn, and it’s flying your way in a tiny flame-tail of explosion and firecracker and goodness)

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