Denying my problem with alcohol

My therapist and I agree that I should quit drinking alcohol and I sincerely have a desire to do so. I know that my indulgence in a few glasses of wine at night keeps me from my goal of being “perfect.”

My choice to mix alcohol with a Klonopin was a big fucking mistake that I feel guilty and remorseful about. Falling down and getting bruised is embarrassing. I hate walking around in the aftermath of my self-loathing from being so stupid. As you can see, I haven’t been able to give myself a break and let it go, even though by now, the bruise has faded away. I am my toughest critic and it comes with the territory of being a survivor of sexual abuse. In childhood I developed a poor self-concept with low self-esteem. It’s my dirty little secret that I’m really no-good and not worthy. But, you wouldn’t know upon meeting me because I keep it to myself.

I like to live in such a way that if a spotlight was shown on me and you could see just my behavior and actions, you would get the impression I’m a person living just right. Happiness has nothing to do with it. I want to simply have a drearily boring life where no one could say I did anything wrong. That’s right; I must feel as though I do everything properly and conscientiously.

This is not a joke – I am being sincere right now.

I drive along in my minivan, with the kids buckled in and I feel secure knowing my license, registration, inspection and insurance are all up-to-date. My brake lights and blinkers are working properly. I have a fear of getting pulled over for breaking the law.

The above example is only one of many.

I’m secure knowing that if something in our house breaks, we have the means to fix it by calling the proper technician. There aren’t any nor have there ever been any big disasters just waiting around the corner because whenever an issue comes up with our house, it gets fixed.

The sense of calm knowing I’m a law-abiding citizen and my family is living uneventfully gives me a feeling of security that is indescribable.

Hold on! Am I living in a state of denial?

There’s a whole shit-load of crap that can occur without warning or reason.

These are the events you can’t plan for and no matter what I do, they will be tragic and traumatic. My brother molesting me at the age of 9. My father dying unexpectedly when I was 20 years old. My mother neglecting my emotional needs. The time our puppy got hit by a car and died. My kid in the hospital overnight. 7 long years of infertility. My husband, so focused on his work and hobbies, that I’m hardly noticed except to complain about something not done right.

These are the unknowns that I need respite from. Alcohol dulls the ache that I feel with the realization I can’t control/prepare/plan for everything.

Because, damn-it-all, I try. But, as the saying goes . I admittedly, do not get right up, wipe the shit off and keep going. I’m the person who wallows in their own painfully shitty situation for days before they can move on.

That’s why I try hard to not let shit happen. That’s why I drink.

The history of my drinking:

My parents had a cocktail every evening when my dad got home from work. My siblings and I learned from them and even now, at family gatherings, we continue the tradition of mingling with pre-dinner drinks and socializing. Cocktail hours are carefree, relaxing and quite therapeutic. This type of social time is not uncommon in many families. There are no memories of my parents drunk and as far back in generations as I can go no one has died of cirrhosis or other alcoholic related ailments. Alcoholism does not run in my family and is one reason I’m reluctant to take on that label.

I don’t drink due to a physical need; it’s an emotional need — wine settles my thoughts and relaxes my emotions. I use it to release the day’s anxieties.

I hear many of you calling out DENIAL.

No, I freely admit I drink more than I would like to. One reason is that after I drink too much, I’m not as motivated the next day. This means, it’s harder to keep up the image of a perfect life. And that brings us full circle, if I feel less than perfect I have no means to cope beyond waiting out the storm of emotions. As I wait for the shit to settle, a few glasses of wine help lessen the stress.

I don’t drink during the day. I never wake up and have a drink first thing in the morning.  I don’t drive drunk. I consciously plan my drinking for when I’m home in the evening. I didn’t drink at all through 2 pregnancies and breastfeeding. If my husband and I go out, he is the designated driver because he is bigger and doesn’t drink as much. I drink enough water daily to wash my system clear in the hopes of not harming any organs from alcohol. I have never blacked out. I don’t pass out in a chair when I drink – the night ends when I kiss everyone goodnight, go to bed, read my book, turn out the light and fall to sleep worry-free. I don’t yell at my husband and children when I drink. Quite the opposite, I relax and let-up on my need for them to live up to my unrealistic expectations.

Last night, I took a bottle of wine, a wine glass and a full cup of ice out to our pool. My kids were with friends and my husband was taking a nap after a hard day of work. I put on my bikini, which I only wear when I feel safe and no visitors are coming by, and I enjoyed the tranquility of my backyard paradise. Our pool is private and secluded, surrounded by hedges and my country garden, full of perennials and low-growing flowering shrubs. Last night, as I sipped my wine, keeping it cold and the glass full, I had the radio playing and I went for a dip in our warm pool. My dog was chasing rodents in my flower beds so I decided to put an end to that by giving her a bath. I got the dog shampoo and scrubbed her down. She enjoys the massage but not the rinsing with the hose. Once that was done and I released her she madly shook off the water and darted away as fast as she could. My children would be returning home soon, so I fired up the grill and cooked marinated steak tips out by my pool. Between the wine, my gardens, the background music, food for my family and a clean dog my life could not have felt more idyllic. Is that so wrong?

My point is to show the sense of calmness and serenity that befalls me when I combine my good life with alcohol. If I live my good life without the wine, I’ve got way too much pressure on myself to keep up with everything.

Life takes time to unfold and it is the same with making changes in our lives. I’m afraid to talk about the negative aspects of my drinking (high blood pressure, knowing I use it to cope) because than I will feel stupid that I’m doing something that I know is wrong and harmful. I don’t like to feel weak so it’s not easy. I am trying but I must give myself the room needed in order to be ready to change.

7 responses to “Denying my problem with alcohol

  1. I relate to a lot of what you’re saying. I thought that alcohol was the only thing keeping my anxiety and perfectionism at bay. It wasn’t until I got sober that I saw that alcohol was actually instigating the anxiety. I still can’t explain it except to say that my anxiety melted away when I stopped drinking. I struggled for years with scripting my life so that I could appear to have it all together. I know there’s no such thing as perfection but I figured it was ok to try. Getting that monkey off my back is the single best reason for me to stay sober. It’s more motivating than doing it for my kids. It’s life changing.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hate to think of myself as a perfectionist because even that makes me feel stupid for trying to attain something that’s impossible.

  2. I felt all relaxed reading about your experience by the pool!
    I wonder how your experience by the pool would have been without the wine? Maybe still just as relaxing because it was just you, in your comfort zone. When I first stopped smoking, I was scared I wouldn’t enjoy writing anymore- but I did, it took a few weeks to not associate the journal with cigarettes, but it did happen- so, perhaps the same will happen for you and wine/pool 🙂 Either way, good luck with what you decide to do. I have heard that one glass of one a day is not bad for our organs, and is good for stress- stress is bad for organs, too. It seems the key would be to find a point where YOU feel good about what you are doing, that’s the most important thing. Best of luck with whatever it is, and I just absolutely loved your description of what you did, sounds so peaceful!

  3. You said something so powerful…when you mix drinking with your good life, it takes the pressure off, but when you don’t drink, you feel the pressure of the expectation to maintain everything perfect. Yet everything isn’t perfect. Even when it’s going perfect, as you full well know. We all need support, even crutches sometimes. I think it’s a matter of healthy versus unhealthy support and crutches. Might that perhaps be where the unreligious, pure, true Lord comes in? (NOT what man’s religiosity is out there, but only the true, pure, real thing, a real fellowship.)

    You know, your greatest beauty is not in perfection, but when the light of grace and love shines through the imperfections, the stains, the disjunctedness. Just as it is with art…you are His beautiful work of art, and that beauty is solely defined by who you are, not what you’ve done, not what’s been done to you, and certainly not what others think.

    You said something else too that tugs at my heart. You willingly put alcohol aside for people that are most important to you…pregnancy and nursing, driving, other occasions. All these things primarily refer to other people, save perhaps the driving. But what about you? What if you took the time to realize how amazingly beautiful and priceless you are, and began to approach the idea that you might one day set it aside for yourself’s sake? Yes…that’s how worthy and worthwhile you are–to do that for yourself. I know far too well by personal experience it’s very hard to come to that place. Incidentally, the more you set it aside for yourself, the more you’ll realize you are also doing it for the ones who love you the most, so it’s still a selfless act in and of itself.

    Thank you for enduring the long comment. Ever here, supporting you and your family through your situation…though you all may never know me on this side of life…

    • Thank you for your heartfelt comment. You are very kind and sweet and I wish someone had been telling me all of that when I was growing up.

      My childhood was not bad but I developed some self-defeating ways of thinking that intellectually I know are not true. I’ve tried affirmations, meditation, yoga and religion plus, therapy and antidepressants. None of those things have erased the deeply rooted self-defeating thoughts. I like what you said and I want to learn to offer myself the same compassion and love that I give freely to others. I agree we are all special and unique and our worth is not based on anything but that we are here on this earth and as worthy as the next person. –Daylily

      • Hmm, I recognize that in my life, developing self-defeating thought and attitude patterns of my own, which played out in my behaviors and choices, especially as time went on, and especially in times of turmoil and hurt.

        I look forward to reading more, and feel free to comment on my posts or message me with your thoughts and questions, as well as suggestions with what I share.

        I’ll pray that you quickly reach that place of receiving love and grace (from yourself and others) in the way that you graciously offer it to others. Sister, there’s an amazing river that opens up and runs through your soul when you allow this to become you. I wish nothing less for you. 🙂

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