I have a drinking problem. In the past few months I've come to terms with
the scope of it, and I know in my gut that I need to change. I've been
effectively sober (I've had a beer with dinner on a couple of occasions)
for about two months now, but I'm at the point where I'm afraid of drinking
again and afraid not to.
I have never really understood the point of having one drink, and except
for rare occasions (eating with family, etc), I drink to get wasted. I
don't understand the point of it otherwise. Beer and wine are a waste of my
time, as well. I prefer mixed drinks, or shots, or liquor straight from the
bottle. These are all big fat warning signs. There have been more.
During my period of most intense drinking, I quit my job, because I knew it
was a matter of time before I got fired for failing to show up or showing
up too hung-over to function. I started having periods of insomnia and
stopped being able to really digest food. In a pinch, I would pay for
alcohol rather than food.
I woke up some mornings and would have to ask my roommate how I got there
and what all I did the night before. I woke up once in the wrong bed, and
realized that the previous evening I had cheated on my boyfriend with a
virtual stranger that I didn't even like.
My alcohol tolerance was through the roof during my heaviest drinking
period. It takes several shots (or beers, but as I said, I rarely bother
with beer) for me to even begin to feel the alcohol's effects. It takes
several more before I start slurring my speech. If I don't get the
opportunity to drink that much in a sitting, I get disappointed and
I know I am on a dangerous path, but it's extremely difficult to turn
around or to choose another path altogether. The above description makes it
sound like I'm one step away from being the stereotypical drunken bum, from
ruining my life and health. I left a few things out, though. I'm nineteen
years old and have several merit scholarships to a well established and
regarded liberal arts college. The time period in question was the fall
2000-2001 semester. My lowest final grade in any class was a C, and I got
A's in several other classes. I wrote for the school newsmagazine and was
somewhat active in several clubs.
I took the spring semester off, and only a very few people know why. I'm
ashamed to tell my parents that leaving was, in many ways, a life and death
decision. It's easier to have them believe that I flaked out and had to
"find myself" by travelling around the country and resting at home than to
have to tell them that if I'm not an alcoholic, I'm damn close. Both of my
parents' fathers were alcoholics, and both of them, especially my mother,
regard alcoholics with a mixture of contempt and pity. I don't want them to
think I'm stupid or that I can't handle myself. My best friend is much the
same as my mother in that respect, and it's a wedge between us. I hate
talking about drinking with any of them.
I'm going to have to talk about it soon though, in some meaningful way. My
sobriety is not going to hold if I keep feeling the way I do. I feel like
my problem wasn't bad enough for me to ask for help, though. On paper, that
looks ridiculous, but nobody wants to run to the ER for a paper cut. I feel
like I got off too easy. On the other hand, I don't want to ruin my life to
prove to myself that I'm ruining my life.
I hate the idea, though, that by my excessive behavior last semester I
somehow flipped a switch inside my head and that I will never be able to
"handle" alcohol again. I don't want to think about going through the rest
of my life sober, and in a way, that's been the deciding factor in my
deciding to dry out.
I'm going to AA this week. I had to convince a friend of mine to come along
for moral support. My hopes for it aren't that high, frankly, or rather, I
don't believe that sitting through a meeting or two will make me not want
to drink anymore. I'm also not sure that I will choose to abstain from all
alcohol for the rest of my life. If that's what it takes, though, it's what
I want to make it clear that although I'm feeling pretty lost and
frightened right now, I have hope. I'll get through this, and continue my
journey towards a healthy and compassionate lifestyle.
e x t e s s a y -
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by Jo Stepaniak All rights reserved.
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