Here’s the problem – because I think it IS a problem – that scares the beejesus outta me… And I’m going to try to summarise all this in a manner that contradicts my entire being: concisely and to the point.
These are the facts as I know them:
- I am an alcoholic. This means that I cannot stop drinking if I start. There will never be a time when I can or will be able to regulate my drinking or control this, EVER. It’s not something that will ever go away or miraculously be cured. I will never be able to drink like a non-alcoholic. I am 100% a drunk and for that very simple reason I cannot drink. Not one, not once in a blue moon, not on Midsummer’s Eve and not ever again in my lifetime. This fact will never change and I accept that. I am an alcoholic, period.
- It’s quite worrying to be a writer yet not find the words, but I really can’t find the right ones to describe how happy I am that I quit drinking. I feel amazing – strong, sharp, balanced, at peace and content. There is no part of me that romanticises about Sauvignon Blanc or any other type of booze right now. (I felt I had to write “right now”, by the way). I don’t feel deprived or like life has lost its fun or any of those things, instead I feel like I’ve just come to life and firing on all cylinders to just embrace this crazy fucking journey that’s life now that I’m finally present and here to take it all in. I consider sobriety a gift and it’s precious to me. I feel quite stupid because I can’t now tell you why it took me so long to discover something so pathetically obvious: how life is so much richer in colour when I don’t drink. But there we are. Thank God I don’t have to drink anymore.
- As I write this, I cannot think of a single good thing that having a drink would mean. Not one. I know for a fact that a drink can’t make me feel happier as it’s a depressant so it’s just not possible, and I know a drink can’t make my day better in any way than it already is. It might loosen me up as it numbs my senses but that’s not a good thing, now is it? I think that’s the part we come to think of as the fun part of getting drunk when we start off boozing in our teens or whatever. That has no appeal. I don’t need to point out, do I, all the bad things that drinking would mean? Didn’t think so. But genuinely – let’s take what used to be my favourite drinking scenario: sitting on the wall by the river on a summer’s eve with my husband. I love the image. If I close my eyes I can hear the sounds, smell the scents and I almost instinctively furrow my brow to squint my eyes in the evening sunshine. Hubby is wearing his aviators and a short sleeve shirt and is sexy as fuck. I don’t want to drink on any of that anymore because it’d ruin every part of it. I think I used to drink because I thought it enhanced everything but it just plain doesn’t. A depressant, remember. OK, this became long, but in short what I wanted to say is that even in the ultimate large-glass-of-Sauv-with-soda setting there is no desire in me to drink whatsoever.
I realised quickly that short and concise is something I’ll probably never master so felt the need to highlight the main points for each point… ..sorry. I’ll try again some other time but for now you’ll just have to make do with the fact that I seem to lack the ability to use 500 words where 5,000 will do.
Now. At a glance the above seems like a pretty damn awesome result, right? Isn’t that a bit of a dream scenario to feel that great about not drinking if you decide to quit? And you are, like me, an alcoholic at that! Jeez, surely I’ve just found Nirvana? Isn’t what I’ve outlined above the ultimate goal for any drunk who wishes to get sober? To feel as good as I do and not feel any wish or urge to drink whatsoever? I swear on my son’s life, now that I’ve quit I genuinely wonder why I ever drank at all because those reasons (and come on, I must have had PLENTY because I drank like a sailor on leave, sometimes on a daily basis, for over a decade) are rapidly fading in my mind. I honestly cannot think of a single reason why I’d want to drink today. Or any day. So surely I’ve hit jackpot? What’s there to fear?
That’s the issue though. I think there is something to fear so although I’m enjoying all these feelings of joy and well being that sobriety has brought me, I also keenly keep my ear to the ground so I’ll hear even the faintest calls of the sirens that’ll pull me in and see me shipwrecked. It’s scary to think it’s my own mind I may have to fear though. Right in this moment I know I don’t want to drink. Right? And I also know that I’d want to reach out and seek help if the urge to drink suddenly came over me. Right NOW this is true. But what if it’s true what they say and suddenly I – despite everything I know and feel in this moment – start to think I’m cured and I can drink like a non-alcoholic? What then? Given how I feel now, this is almost impossible to imagine, I just can’t see how I’ll end up ever believing something opposite to what I know to be fact. How can I ever get to a point where I’ll think I can have Just One?
Would it be possible for my brain, unbeknownst to me, to suddenly start to tell me I am not an alcoholic? Grab any member of AA and they will tell you that this is precisely what happens and I’m not so conceited that I believe I am the Messiah of Sobriety who is The One to defy truths that have applied to every alcoholic always. I’m alright I suppose, but I ain’t all that and have a fair bit of wear and tear. These are all huge questions though and I don’t expect the answers are small or simple either. What it does tell me is that the physical part of addiction is easy to solve but the psychological side of it is quite possibly impossible. I suspect that’s the bit no one can cure because let’s face it, I’m only sober because I want to be – or rather, I don’t want to drink – and the moment I want to get drunk there would be very little to stop me. I doubt AA could stop me (or anyone) either. Fine, I’m sure lots of drunks like me get the urge, get frightened and call another drunk in AA for support, get to a meeting etc etc. But they only do that because they don’t want to give in to the urge. What I’m getting at is that moment you WANT to give in. That’s the moment you cork open a bottle and the LAST thing you’d do is call someone in AA. So I fully accept that whatever I do has to come from within me. I also accept that I’m very lucky to feel the way I do about drinking. Lastly I also accept that I may be much sicker than I think and that the fact that I feel this good is alcoholism’s way of making me think I’ve fixed the problem.
Who knows, but the fact remains that I don’t want to drink and so today I will not!