When I would think about quitting drinking I didn’t have a list of “expectations”. I didn’t expect my life to become perfect. I wanted to stop waking every morning full of self-loathing. I wanted to feel good enough, clear enough to make rational decisions. I wanted to want to walk my dogs, make new friends, build a real life. It seemed like a short and do-able list.
The first few weeks of sobriety were full of the relief of waking up sober after years of waking up hungover and pissed off or still loaded and more pissed off. I was so proud of my sobriety and that warm fuzzy contentment kept any craving I felt to a minimum. The extra hours I’d gained each day from not drinking were filled with the brand new me. The mundane chores of life were getting done. I had visible results in my tidy house, stocked fridge and no laundry. I was sleeping all night, my skin was clearing, my head unfogging.
I didn’t start sobriety with any idea of what a sober life was supposed to look like. After passing the two-month mark, I started feeling dissatisfied with myself. Ok, so you’re sober. Alrighty then, time to take action. Lose weight, finish some of those projects, decide what you’re going to do about your job, blah, blah, blah.
Inner critic, the judge. Everybody has a name for the relentless voice bringing the message of Not Good Enough. This voice is my inner bitch. She is a mean little bitch and expects nothing less than perfection. Apparently she is alive and well.
So to get this bitch off my back, I started to do some housekeeping on my computer documents and email inbox. I found the following letter written to myself almost a year to the day before I quit drinking.
Reading it reminded me of my desperate desire for sobriety and the despair I felt when I couldn’t stop myself from drinking. I want to wrap my arms around the broken hearted me who wrote that letter.
My inner bitch has been told to take a seat in the audience and STFU.
I am sober. Day 73.
December 14, 2012
And so here I am at 4:23 am, awake because I drank an entire bottle of wine last night as well as one of those individual bottles. I’ve got that dizzy feeling in my head and I know if I bend over I’ll get a head rush. I’m short of breath and have the familiar tightness in my chest. Again. Fuck.
I resolved on December 1st after waking up still drunk that I’d do this 30-day challenge of not drinking. I went a few days with absolutely no alcohol. A few days with a glass or less. I even stopped in a bar on the way home and ordered a glass thinking it would be better to just have one glass instead of buying a bottle. When the waitress set the glass down on the table I took a tentative sip. It was a shitty wine. I took another sip. It was still a shitty wine. I sat there looking at the glass and became afraid. I got up, paid my bill and left. Major accomplishment to walk away from a glass of wine.
I was loving waking up sober. I started eating healthy and staying on my diet.
A few days ago I brought home four little individual bottles because I was going to make a Chicken Piccata. I drank two and cooked with one. Even those two little bottles hit me hard. I woke up pissed at myself. Again.
Last night I bought a full bottle. I think I was buying it to cook with and it was cheaper than buying more of those little bottles. I’m not sure what I was using to rationalize the purchase. I realize now that I go on auto-pilot when I’m going to the store to buy wine. I’ll say “never again” every morning yet after work that thought is long gone and so is my resolve. I’m already numb before I ever get into the store. I just uncork the damn bottle and waste another night. Drinking and sitting at the computer. Endlessly. Until I stumble off to bed to sleep fitfully and wake with that same old feeling of wasted time.
I’ve felt grief, depression, regret, anger and shame about my drinking. I’ve prayed. I’ve promised myself. I spend a few hours feeling like shit both mentally and physically and then a few hours later, I’m back in the wine aisle.
I become angry with myself for my weakness. My inability to refrain causes self-loathing. The things I forget or leave undone gang up on me and create shame. It’s a dark pit and I dug it myself.
I’ve never been good a delaying gratification with anything. The drinking is just more addictive. So, I am an alcoholic. Full blown. I write this because I’m hoping by putting it into real words rather than random self critical thoughts it will sink into my brain. I don’t want to do this any more. I really don’t.
I want to get through to the part of me that will act in my own best interest. I know it exists. I don’t want to die with this addiction. I need to feel good about myself. I desperately need to feel good IN myself. In the morning I feel the weight of the negative emotions I carry about drinking. They disappear when I heading out to buy the wine. Auto-pilot. It’s astounding the power the addictive impulse has to override my morning intentions. Astounding.
I spend hours in the night when I’m unable to sleep and in the early mornings feeling like an epic failure. Why can’t that feeling follow me into the wine aisle? Why?
I rarely resist the impulse to drink unless I’ve wakened still drunk and sick to my stomach or I’ve done something I’m horribly ashamed of. I’ve forgotten to feed the dogs dinner. I left [Dog #3] our one night too drunk to realize she hadn’t come back in. [My daughter] found her. I’ve driven home drunk and not remembered the drive. I’ve forgotten to give [Dog #1] her night-time meds. All of this brought me great shame at the time, the shame lingers and still I drink.
I do this alone. It’s not part of a social need to fit in at least not any more. I’m a hermit, a recluse. I don’t really enjoy other people’s company all that much. I like my solitude.
Will framing it in terms of what I want turn it into a gain rather than a loss? Will that penetrate?
- I want to wake up sober.
- I want to have motivation and pride.
- I want to spend time enjoying my home.
- I want to spend time with my precious animals.
- I want to really see the world around me.
- I want clarity.
- I want a peaceful heart.
- I love the internal calm that comes with sobriety.
Please, let me remember this tonight. Please. I want to go to bed sober tonight.