For anyone who’s ever popped in and read this blog, it won’t be news that I like to reflect on alcoholism, addiction and sobriety. My guess would be that this is quite common when you start your journey to recovery, and perhaps it’s very necessary to understand what brought us to where we found ourselves with our drinking before we have a fair chance of climbing the downward spiral in the opposite direction – up.
I love AA meetings even though I haven’t been going much lately. Or at all. Maybe I’ll find one this evening? You can never have too many smiles in your life. Yes, I enjoy sitting in a room with a bunch of fellow drunks where we share our stories of where our drinking took us and what life is like now that we’re sober. I’m sitting there with my own kind knowing they are my family of sorts, these awesome people who are fucked up in the exact same way as I am. I have a multitude of amazing people around me, most of whom aren’t drunks, but as much as e.g. hubby understands that I can’t drink alcohol and pays close attention when I try to explain what it’s like, he will never be able to FEEL what I feel. See, that’s where my fellow alkies are invaluable allies, because I don’t need to say much more than “I tried to switch to beer to get less drunk” and another drunk will immediately chuckle because they know precisely what I mean about the endless (and hopeless) ways in which us alkies try to control our drinking before we eventually discover we… …can not. That’s the best thing about AA – how you can share the most ridiculous, fucked-up stuff and yet everyone around you just gets it. It’s liberating.
Hubby and I watched a program where alcoholism came up and the alcoholic in question called her addiction “the beast”. Hubby squeezed my leg and turned to me, looked at me with interest and sincerity and said “that’s what you call it“. Not a question, just stating a fact. Beautiful man. For a non-alcoholic I reckon he gets it as much as is humanly possible. He will never be able to feel what I feel, but he has listened to me and most of all, he has HEARD me. He doesn’t know the beast but he knows it exists. He has asked and asked and asked, question after question after question for me to answer, answer again, answer differently and for me to explain, explain again and explain differently. He has done all of that because he loves me and wants to understand what this is. So he may not be able to tell you EXACTLY how it feels and what happens inside of me when I take that first drink, but he knows that something does and that I can’t control it. And it’s absolutely crucial for me to have this amazing friend who takes it seriously and who tells me I’m amazing even though I’m actually incapable of controlling something he manages without second thought. It’s like me telling someone who has learnt to say ‘hello’ in Swedish that they are my hero – just one small word in a language I speak fluently without effort. We all need kindness and encouragement. I’m just incredibly lucky to marry someone who gives it so freely. So there he is on the sofa next to me and when alcoholism comes up he has something to add, something he wants to point out. Moments like that he really does make my heart soar, when he shows such eagerness to be in my corner and to be with me in this.
Can I just point out here that I am in absolute awe at my husband (in case that didn’t come across!!!!) and how he hasn’t gone crazy with all the alcoholism and sobriety stuff – the man is a saint, I’ve never known anyone with such patience. ACTUALLY, let me rephrase, because I know you read this, oh long legged one….
Gorgeous husband with the perfect bottom,
I am so grateful for you and that I get to have a best friend as amazing as you are. Thank you for not only putting up with all the crap I caused when I was drinking, but also for being so utterly willing to understand what this illness means and being so supportive in my new and sober life. Thank you for all the hours you spend talking with me and listening to me in an effort to understand what alcoholism is and how it affects me. Thank you for coming to AA meetings and for living on the Pink Cloud with me – I hope you like it here as much as I do. Thank you for having more faith in me than I ever had in myself and for making what might feel so shameful and difficult seem like the most positive thing in the world and the lightest burden to bear.
Thank you for having such integrity and finding such perfect balance when I was still drinking – recognising that I had to come to the decision myself yet never letting me think it was OK to drink the way I did. I’m sure it was hard for you to wait for me to see the light and in some strange way I wonder if it might still be difficult now that I’m sober. Thank you for being so willing to negotiate unknown territory with me.
Thank you most of all for hearing me and seeing me when I felt so small, for receiving me openly and warmly without judgement despite how my illness must seem so very alien to you. Thank you for making this drunk feel like a queen. Not once have I been worried about baring my soul to you because you’ve made me feel like I have nothing to be ashamed of (even though I may disagree a little..). Because of your love and support I’ve come to truly believe I can do this and that I can slay any dragon that may cross my path.
There you are – just in case you decided to pop in here today. I love you. And I will say all these things to your lovely face before kissing you senseless.
For now, and for here, though – thank you.
Let’s move on to one of the tricky bits with alcoholism and addiction right here – co-dependency. I don’t know enough about co-dependency to comment on if anyone has been co-dependent during my drinking. They say co-dependency is when your focus is the person with the problem and you spend your time and energy on them. Here’s a definition I found via Google: “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one with an illness or addiction who requires support“. Phew, can’t say this applies to hubby but perhaps I’ll ask him. Anyway, seeing as I am now keeping on the straight and narrow the bit that worries me is actually if I am starting to become too dependent on hubby when it comes to my sobriety.
Allow me to explain.
Right, so I don’t want to drink and I’m not in any way finding sobriety a drag or particularly difficult – it just feels really, really good! But hubby is sort of my lighthouse, my rock and my compass. I worry that this isn’t good and that I need to feel secure in my sobriety on my own too. When it’s hubby I go home to every day I feel invincible but when he is away I suddenly get worried and start glancing over my shoulder. I need to get over that. Sweet Lord, I can’t let my sobriety depend on someone else. Imagine THAT burden! For hubby, obviously. Imagine feeling you can’t go away in case this messed-up little person hits the bottle? No way, José. On the one hand I think it’s healthy to be mindful of that wretched beast and be aware that it will for the rest of my days be ready to pounce, and on the other I get really pissed off that I feel more intimidated by it on my own. I shouldn’t! No one got me sober but ME. As much as I love hubby and my son and two bonus sons, no one and nothing in the world can make a drunk who still wants to drink stop guzzling. I did that myself, period. And so it follows that the only person who can make me stay sober is also… …..me. And it’s worked so far, no? It’s not just worked, it’s worked brilliantly! For God’s sake, I sit here almost every day waxing lyrical about how glorious it is to be sober.
Do I want to drink today? No. Actually, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! So why would I? I didn’t the last time hubby was away, the time before that or the time before that. I’ve not even come close those times he’s been away since The Big Day aka 23rd January 2018. The worry has made itself known, yes, but not the urge to drink. So perhaps it’s just a healthy dose of fear. See, I think fear is a good thing. Another one of Mother Nature’s ways of telling us to watch out. And that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? I’m an alcoholic and I will always be an alcoholic, so I have no choice but to remain vigilant and note the times and situations where I may be more vulnerable than usual. I also need to remember that night on the high street when I slayed dragons. All three of them, in fact: Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Tesco. That was no one but me and I need to remember that! Oh, and hubby was away that time, plus it was quite early on in my sobriety.
Nothing wrong with needing other people. I just need to remind myself that as much as I need my husband and our three boys, I can also hold my own without problems.
Today I’m not going to drink.