I haven’t had a drink in 72 hours and tonight is tough. I’m still not even sure what I’m doing here, I don’t know if I’ve officially decided to stop drinking altogether or if I’m trying to limit it. I find myself going back and forth between abstaining or giving in and grabbing a glass of wine or mixing up an ice-cold martini with a twist, because why not? It’s what I do every night. It’s my habit, it’s what fills the time when I come home after a long, hectic day at work. A drink or three to wind me down. The problem is, those drinks also numb me. The other problem is, alcoholism runs in my family.
Alcoholism. I don’t know that this is what this is. This thing that I have with alcohol seems more like a bad habit that I want to break and just normalize. Yesterday afternoon was my weekly appointment with my therapist and I wasn’t sure that I was going to say anything to her about my drinking. You see, I had finally come clean a number of months ago and told her that I felt like I was imbibing with more frequency than I should. After confessing, I started doing it a little less frequently. She checked in on me from time to time and I assured her that I had officially taken a break. All was good. The truth is that my limiting it lasted only a couple of weeks. Before I knew it, I slid right into the familiar patterns – and sometimes it was worse. Near the tail end of our session yesterday I blurted out with tears in my eyes that I was back at it and had been for a while. I didn’t want her to know, but somewhere deep inside I needed her to know.
I told her about my new thought on the situation, about how this time I felt like I was doing a disservice to myself and my creativity, and that I don’t want to miss out on the richness of life. I don’t cry often, even when I should, but I did cry as I explained that all of our friends drink, that everything we do in our circle involves alcohol – and many times it involves massive amounts of it. What am I supposed to do about that? At the same time I also know how badly I want connection. Connection with other people who aren’t necessarily in a haze of booze. I want to have conversations and share common interests with someone who genuinely listens to me, someone who wants to share experiences without needing to include a drink as a part of the event. Don’t get me wrong, I get this and more from my husband, but I need this to be from others, too. Half of the time when I try to carry on a conversation while out with our friends, they are so easily distracted that they cut me off and seemingly ignore me. It’s been a point of frustration and hurt for me for so many years that I actually thought there must be something wrong with me. My voice must not be loud enough, or maybe I’m just dull. But now I think it has more to do with how much they’ve had to drink.
My therapist then asked if I’d considered maybe going to an AA meeting in order to find other like-minded people. Funny enough, that thought crossed my mind the day before and it kind of shocked me. But what on earth am I supposed to do – stand up in front of a room and say that I’m an alcoholic to a bunch of strangers when I’m not sure that is even what defines me? Or, am I just in the middle of a huge state of denial? I don’t know where I’ll go from here, I don’t know what decision I’ll make. There is a part of me that wants to claim February 5th as my Day One, but I think I’m too afraid to put that kind of finality on it. Do I instead set a goal for how long I’ll go? Do I give myself 21 or 30 days alcohol-free and see where it leads? I’ve done that, and I never quite make it – but I also never did it for the reasons that I have now.
I’m nervous and genuinely confused. I am someone who definitely prefers a clear and obvious path, but that isn’t what I see before me quite yet. For now, I’ll consider it enough to be on day three while I go make myself another cup of tea. One moment at a time, right?