I didn’t start out an alcoholic and I always believed I could manage it on my own, despite the multitude of family and friends that thought otherwise. I knew my drinking had progressed, but I still couldn’t bear to label myself an “alcoholic.” Somehow it was easier to consider myself a daily drinker.
It didn’t help that I was a blackout drinker. I awoke many mornings not remembering the night before, I had even lost my car several times, not remembering the walk home the night before. Somehow, even then, I was still able to hold down a job. I went into an office one day a month, and all my other work was from home, mostly on conference calls. I drank during these calls, and sometimes I’d black out. I’d come to, hours later, and have to reach out to my teammates over instant messenger, casually asking how they thought the call went, and wondering if I had any tasks that came out of the call. I rationalized that, if I could get away with drinking and blacking out on calls, then the issue was with my employer, relieving me of all responsibility. I didn’t have a problem. They did.
Despite being a train wreck, I still romanticized my drinking. I thought about what It required to be in the world, which was unbearable as a sober person. After a while and finally losing that job, I thought, maybe I do have a problem. I thought about quitting every single day. However, I still stopped by the same convenience store or walked down the same aisle every single day. I bought the same wine, only this time in single packs or a box, and somehow, it seemed better this way, as if when it was gone I’d finally be ready to give it up for good! In a way I lived an ambivalent life, not committed enough to change anything, wondering if I would die from my heavy drinking and fits of dry heaving.
The actual admission that I had a problem came about casually. Once again, my therapist mentioned that I might have a problem with alcohol, and instead of my usual denial I said, “Yes, I think you’re right.” It was that day, I finally surrendered and started my long-term relationship with 12-step programs. I made sober friends and did sober activities. I went to parties, dances, and performances, where the hardest thing on the menu was coca-cola.
After a while, I learned some helpful tools. For example, I learned how to breathe, have fun, have friends who didn’t drink and most of all, how to have a life! A life free from the mental obsession of alcohol! I’ve reconnected with feelings! Yes, feelings! Good and bad, but at least today I have them! No matter how angry or sad, anxious or happy I become, I’ve learned time will pass and I won’t feel that way. Or the feeling will become different, something more thoughtful and less desperate. Today, I have a future and I have hope! Denial was a tough pill to swallow but once I admitted I couldn’t do it on my own, I gained a life worth living and so can you!