This is not how my story will end.

As usual after a setback, I’ve procrastinated returning here to the blogging world to report another defeat. It’s hard not to feel like this story is getting old, the endless attempts I’ve made to stay sober only to disappear after a couple of weeks (sometimes not even making it that far!), then return and start over with the same, tired intentions. Part of me almost feels like it’s irresponsible to keep writing, to readers who are obviously so much better at staying sober than I am and who are apparently taking it more seriously. What could I possibly say that is helpful to anyone, when I keep failing?

That’s one way to feel. The other way to feel is that I have the power to say, “This is not how my story will end.” Yes, I have let myself down countless times since I started this journey back in November. I have changed my mind about a billion times about whether or not alcohol is a problem for me. (Which is pretty indicative of a problem, all this excruciating thinking.) Yes, after 11 days sober, I had two glasses of wine at dinner with my husband on the way to the airport to New York, and proceeded to drink every day for the past 11 days. But this doesn’t have to be the end. I can pick myself up and try again.

Every time this happens I’m learning about whether I have “a problem.” Every time I pick up drinking again, it’s because I become convinced that I’m simply being dramatic and that alcohol is not a problem for me. That I’m strong enough to prevent it from becoming a problem. That I just want to be normal and that I in fact AM normal, because most of my friends drink like I do. But every time, there are more and more hints that maybe that’s not true. When I’m not drinking, I have a front row seat to actually see people’s lack of drinking. That it’s not as big a deal as I make it out to be.

When I am drinking, I’ve started to notice how fast I drink compared to other people, and that I have to concentrate to get myself to slow down to their pace. I notice that I feel irritated when I have to pace myself in this way, and that I can’t believe how slow people drink and that sometimes their glass of wine just SITS there, untouched, for what feels like hours. I’ve noticed that each time I pick up drinking again, I drink more and more in secret. That the urge to drink secretly is more and more present and seems more and more acceptable in my own head. I’ve noticed that when I am drinking, more and more often I cannot totally remember the night and I have to piece it back together the next day. This morning, it took me about a half hour to remember what happened when we got home from dinner. When I did remember, my stomach turned a bit; I had called my mom and talked to her for at least a half an hour. I’m sure she couldn’t tell I was drunk… right?

One of the things that makes it the hardest for me to embrace that I have a problem is that no one else sees it. My husband will listen to me swear off alcohol, and he’ll promise to help me, but when I decide to have a drink he doesn’t try to stop me. He’ll ask me if I’m sure, and then let me decide. I don’t know what else I’d have him do. And this last time, it was great. We had an awesome date at a beautiful wine bar and enjoyed every minute of it. I am terrified of losing the ability to enjoy wine in that way. Especially when he doesn’t see the problem for me… but he doesn’t live inside my head and feel the inevitable pull towards the daily obsession that happens after even one casual light drinking evening. Once the “I’m drinking now” switch is flipped, it’s like I’m scared to take a day off because I’d be missing out on my drinking days that will have to come to an end again soon. How crazy is that?? So I drank each day, never too much or too crazy, but a little more each day. Until yesterday, when I was happy that my husband took the dog out for a walk around the block, so that I would have time to drink from an open wine bottle I had concealed in the wine cellar, under the guise of doing laundry downstairs. Even though we were going to dinner shortly where I could order wine, and I had already had two drinks at the pool a bit earlier.

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So yeah. I have a problem. But this is not how my story will end. So here I am again, on day one. Someday I will look back on this and think, “Remember how many times it took me of trying before I quit for good??” And someone out there will be having the same struggle. And I will understand. And I will say to them, “Your story is not over. I get you. Keep trying.”

xo

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20 thoughts on “This is not how my story will end.”

  1. Hi GOTL, I can really relate to this post. I, too, am stuck in the cycle and sometimes it just seems to be never-ending. I also feel it’s hard to come back to blogging after each lapse. Hell, it’s hard enough to face myself let alone all these people.
    I, like you, just keep trying. We are not all the same. Our experiences are all unique and our path to putting down the drink will be unique as well. That’s why it IS so valuable that you keep writing. To let others know that their struggle is valid, too. Thanks for sharing. I am rooting for you.

    1. Thanks! I agree, it always feels awful to face all the readers after another “failure.” But then again, who better to talk to? We all get it. That’s why this is so healing. Thanks for your kind words! I’m rooting for you, too!

  2. One of the best things about reading blogs for me is when someone articulates the same feelings I feel but can’t express. You do it well in this post. The mind games this disease/habit/problem play fool us every time! I’ve been sober several months but would you believe I saw an actress in a movie driving chardonnay and started telling myself “maybe I could drink again”? This time, however, I am aware this shit will always try to outsmart me. They always say one day at a time, but there was some relief for me when I came to the point where I could tell myself I can’t drink again. You turn yourself in, in a way, and free yourself from the chaos. Good luck and I’m proud of you that you have the resilience to keep working on yourself.

    1. I totally relate to the movie thing. Times when I’ve been going along fine, not even thinking about it, then I’ve seen someone on tv enjoying a sophisticated glass of pinot noir with dinner and my mind instantly goes: that’s you!! A normal, sophisticated drinker of fine wine! Etc… and I also agree, it’s a relief in a big way to just get to the place when you say you can’t drink again at all. The trick for me is maintaining that mindset. Thanks for your comments!

  3. I really feel for you on this. I go through the same things, and the same kind of thinking. I used to just keep on thinking that I should be able to will my way around the drinking problem (if it was really even a problem), but willing didn’t work on this one. Now it’s been nearly 5 months since I’ve quit–I’m pretty sure it’s for good–but I’ve been thinking my way through it all over again. Last time I went back to drinking, I was just like you say: pleased to find time alone so I could down some wine before the “social” drinking, and always straining to drink as slowly as other people. (I mean, glasses of wine that just SIT there sometimes, untouched.)

    Anyway, it took me a lot of tries, and most of that wasn’t anything to do with willpower. It was trying to accept that I don’t quite understand the why of addiction etc but it seems clear that drinking doesn’t work for me, for pretty similar reasons as those you describe. For what it’s worth, I think all that thinking is helping me now.

    Sorry, very long comment. Here’s the short version: yes, I think you’re right about how the story can go, and all this back and forth is part of the process, too. Take care of yourself, and good luck. xo

  4. Your story isn’t over yet. I get you. Keep trying. I can relate to every word and my process has also been a very on-off one. (A year of trying to reach 30 days, then several 30-day stints, 80 days, more struggling, 7-months, a brief slide back then off again etc etc) But I’ll tell you what I realised recently, all of that trying really, truly has added up to big change. I might not be quite where I’d like (with, say, a year or more happily, solidly sober) but I have come so far since when I started this story and it is getting much better and easier and, for me and I guess for you, it just took all that trying, experimenting, learning, struggling, getting up again, doing it differently, doing it better. To keep trying is not failure. Keep going. xx

    1. This is so very reassuring, thank you. It often seems like I hear a lot of stories of people’s decision to quit, and like that was it for them and now they have all this time under their belt. For me I think the final decision is taking lots of experimenting. But like you said, each time I’m learning more and more what I love about being sober, and each time the drinking is getting less and less appealing. That’s progress! Thanks for sharing your story with me. xo

  5. Yup – I don’t look at brussel sprouts or iced tea the way that you described us looking at others (and ourselves) when it comes to the booze…ha ha. That for me showed me that I was, um, a little *preoccupied* with alcohol in all its many forms and guises. I think you are wise to understand that it’s not what anyone else says about our drinking…we are the ones who know. You could have 2-3 glasses of wine a night, and know it’s a problem. Hubby might have the same and it’s not a problem. He may or may not finish a glass. He may not think of it the way you do. In the end, it’s us who know…and that little voice is usually right about stuff šŸ™‚

    Welcome back…keep blogging. It does good šŸ™‚

    Blessings,
    Paul

    1. Right, in a way it’s the thinking, the over-thinking and the obsession that’s the issue more than the quantity itself isn’t it? Thanks for the warm welcome back. So helpful to have this community rooting for me. šŸ™‚

  6. I commend you for continuing to tell your story as it unfolds. I did not document all of my attempts at sobriety. I wish I had because I’d have something to look back on to see if there was a pattern.

    Your story serves to help you and so many others. Thank you for your honesty and perseverance. šŸ™‚

    1. Knowing that anything I write might be helpful makes it worth the embarrassment of returning after a slide. Thanks for the reminder that we are all helping each other when we’re honest!

  7. You have articulated the questions going round in my head beautifully, as I head towards my 150th day they are becoming louder again. I am still questioning whether my 2 glasses a night and sometimes 3 or 4, is enough to constitute a “problem” but up till now I have been able to shut them up by staying focussed on my goal. Life is fine here but I don’t know for sure it is enough to keep me on this path. I don’t want to go back to the constant noise, I would like to enjoy a drink without having to put it under the microscope every time but I’m not sure that will ever happen again. I think I’ve sucked all the fun out of drinking for myself and eventually it will just not be worth it. Is it this that time? I don’t know yet but I think I will be ready at some point. Each time I stop I learn so much. But I also learn more each time I start again too. I guess we are lucky that a relapse is not life threatening and we can take the lessons learnt from it and keep moving forwards. Your journey is really helpful to those like me who don’t have a blog of our own> Sorry for the long comment.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment! Your perspective is helpful and it’s what i picture continuing to happen to me down the road, if I ever make it as far as you have! Congrats on 150 days! That’s truly an accomplishment and no matter what the ultimate answer is for any of us, like you said we learn invaluable lessons each time we stop and start.

  8. You are note alone as I’m sure you know. I could’ve writting this myself. I was on day one yesterday, and guess what? I’m on day one again today, but that’s okay. I too feel the frustration of continuously failing myself, I too am tiered of the ongoing dialogue in my head. It is absolutely frustrating. I have been reading the book The Sober Revolution and it has helped change my mindset. One thing I like so far, and I’ve just started reading it, is to look at alcohol like a old boyfriend/relationship. I thought back to an old boyfriend and really started trying to remember how I felt before, during and after the breakup. Chances are, like me, you knew when the realtionship was over and after it was over there was a grieving process. After a few days you start to question your decision, remember only the good times and miss the cuddles and the familiarity. Comparing the relationship I have with alcohol to that of an old boyfriend has helped me realize that the pangs of missing alcohol are not too different then missijng an old boyfriend. At first its hard and strange but as time goes on you forget and develop new and healthier relationships. Today, I feel like this perspective will help me get through the weekend, and right now, that’s good enough for me. Good luck

    1. I felt the same way when I read The Sober Revolution! In fact that’s the book that kicked me into starting this journey in the first place, back in November. I could totally relate to the bad boyfriend analogy, having suffered through many destructive relationships in the past. A pattern for me I suppose. Good luck to you!!

  9. The other day someone asked me why I didn’t drink. I though of launching into the whole “I have a drinking problem. bla bla bla.” but since they asked in a very casual way (i.e. not to pry, they were just curious) I said, “Well, alcohol has never done me any favors.” As it turns out, that’s about the truest reason I’ve given for quitting. Now that flippant response has become a mantra for me. Everytime I see a drink I say to myself, “That isn’t my friend. No thanks.” Oh, and don’t worry about the fits and starts, this isn’t a race. It’s about getting healthy. I’m pulling for you.

    1. Thank you. I like that response. One thing that gets very tiring is what a big deal I’ve made over it… both while drinking and while not drinking. I would like to simply not drink, with ease. That response fits quite nicely into that vision of mine. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Please don’t wait until a personal tragedy happens before getting professional help to achieve sobriety. I was addicted to liquor and all forms of alcohol from age 17 to 46. It took a DUI, jail sentence, lost 6-figure job, and Antabuse to get me into AA, then other advanced sobriety programs.
    Now I’ve been completely sober for over 10 years. It’s total liberation! I can’t even express how grateful I am to be free from addiction.
    I can’t tell anyone what or how to do it. I had to suffer loss in order to gain freedom. I don’t want any of you to require that experience. Please do whatever it takes to break free. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you for the rest of your life. Your life begins when addiction ends. I beg all of you to do whatever it takes to become free and face life without addiction. God bless you all. (Anonymous)

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