I was dead set that I wasn’t going to drink all week. I felt pretty sure of myself. I even started counting the days off on my calendar. I started re-watching the videos on the Live AE website. I began a new quit-lit book. I journaled my new “reasons” to abstain.
And I utterly failed today when I got a call from my daughter’s school.
Maybe the tide was turning even this morning. Waking up after two nights of NO drinking, I felt good. I got a decent amount of sleep. I didn’t have any stomach issues, any headaches, any heart palpitations. I didn’t feel ashamed. I didn’t feel hopeless. I felt pretty strong, pretty convinced that I could at least finish off the workweek without having a cocktail.
But then….it was raining. Again. It was dark and dreary out. I drove to work with the heater on in my car. I got to work and turned the heater on in our leasing office. I knew I wasn’t going to get a workout in over my lunch hour; I had my daughter’s graduation ceremony I needed to attend. I put it on the calendar for my lunch hour, realizing it was going to take WAY OVER the hour, and I silently stewed about how I was going to get away with taking close to two hours for the event, something I’ve been having do on a frequent basis lately. When the school nurse called and left a voicemail on my phone, I had my problem solved. She said that my daughter had been in her office for chest pains, and that she’d given her some Motrin at noon and sent her back to class. Since I knew that this really scares my daughter when it happens, I decided right then and there that I would go to her graduation and just take her home with me afterwards. That way I would get to have my afternoon at home. Which sounded so appealing while it rained outside my office window, and while I had NOTHING to do workwise the rest of the day. I was READY to go home.
But with home, the image popped in my head that I could also have a couple of drinks in the afternoon. I could enjoy the cold and dreary day, wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt, vedging out on my couch, watching a good movie, and sipping a whiskey and diet. I pictured doing some cleaning while I drank, pictured organizing drawers or cabinets, going through the kids’ clothes, dinkering in the basement, etc. All of this, of course, with my usual drink in hand.
I wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t fight this craving off. I came home and did exactly what I’d imagined. Yes, I have two bathrooms cleaned. Yes, I figured out the basement bedroom lamp issue. I’ve taken out the trash, I’ve put away laundry, I’ve stowed away school backpacks for the summer, fed the dogs, spruced up the kitchen, etc. BUT, I did all of this while having a cocktail. And then I sat down on the sofa and had another. And another. I’m on cocktail number four, where I’ll quit for the night b/c I don’t want to be sick during the early morning hours. But I’m disappointed in myself. I’m ashamed. I know that I’ve failed in a significant way. If my husband was in town, this would have never happened. Whether I know it or not, he DOES impact my drinking in some ways. His presence DOES make me think twice about it during the workweek.
So. What do I do? How do I cope with this mentally, emotionally, and what then becomes my game-plan moving forward?
I do what Annie Grace talked about. I use this as a “data point.” I examine the reasons WHY I caved and drank, I analyze how I felt while I did it, and whether I think that it was worth it; finally, what I would do differently next time. And then I let it go.
So, let’s dive in.
I would say a HUGE trigger for me to drink is to picture having the house to myself (i.e, without Rob home and without any evening obligations). Why is this a trigger? What is so special about it? It’s special because this rarely happens in my life. I’m always running to and from somewhere. We always have sports at night. When I do have free time, it’s like I don’t know what to do with myself. I get bored. And I must be scared of being bored. It must weigh on my thoughts. There’s a big part of me that can’t imagine being stuck at home with nothing to do other than house chores. And when I think of house chores, I think of drinking, because I’ve ALWAYS had something to drink while doing chores in the past. It makes them less mundane. I feel more energized. I feel like I have a little zing in my step, and then after I get these chores done, I can celebrate with another cocktail while enjoying a nice, relaxing bath or shower. In my head I’ve linked home life with drinking life. But maybe it goes even deeper than this. Maybe I’ve spent my “free time” doing home chores b/c I don’t have other options. I don’t have friends. I don’t go out to dinner with them. I don’t speak with them on the phone. I don’t invite them over to my house for coffee. I don’t volunteer. But then… I don’t have much time. It’s a double-edged sword. The few “extra” hours I get each week where I’m NOT at tennis after working a long day, I don’t want to spend it on the phone talking to people. I don’t want to go out. I just want to watch a good show on TV or a movie. I want to read my Nook. I want to take a long, hot bath. I want to hang out on the couch with my dogs and sip a cup of hot cocoa.
So, how do I stop this workweek drinking??????
I guess my only answer at this time is to stop coming home. Stop fantasizing at work about leaving early TO come home. I’m safest at my desk. I’m safest on the days when I can use my lunch hour to work out. I’m safest when Rob is in town. But. I do think to make this stick longer than a few days in a row, I do need a bit of community. I need some people around me who understand what it’s like. Because I recognize the tendency in me to become the alcoholic. I could see how this could happen. I could see how I would come to rely on alcohol to deal with my emotions, all the ones I keep bottled up inside, the questions, the concerns I keep buried. I drown these in booze so that I don’t have to think about them, so that they always stay beneath the surface of my waking thoughts. I drown the voice that just wants to scream and scream.
When am I going to learn that I need to do this for me? That this shouldn’t be about anybody else? Not my parents. Not my husband. Not even my kids. It HAS to be about saving ME. It has to be about making me a better person, a better Christian, about revealing ME. Who am I without the booze influencing my thoughts, my decisions every weekend? How long will it take to find her if I forgo the alcohol? What will happen to my parenting skills? To my marriage? To my ability to deal with stress? To my anxiety and depression levels? What passions would I discover at this age? What new things would I like to try? WHAT would I do with my free time on the Saturday and Sunday afternoons when I used to while away the hours with cocktails? Could I find my own “natural high” without the booze? Would I need to get high? Or would I find that my life is actually entertaining enough, wonderful enough, without seeking to “elevate” my mood? Because I don’t know that. I don’t know what my life in my forties looks like without booze. My weekends ever since I gave birth to my daughter have been saturated with it. Once I deemed I was done with the “head meds,” I started drinking. And I never stopped. It progressively got worse, year after year.
I want to know. I want to figure it out. But I’m scared b/c I know deep down that I’m hooked. I cannot imagine my life without alcohol. And if I’m truly honest, a big part of this is that I cannot imagine my marriage where I’m the one who is abstaining, and I’m still having to deal with a husband who drinks to excess every weekend. How do you do that? How do you “hide the booze” Monday through Thursday but then bring it out on a Friday and watch your husband get blitzed right in front of you, and still manage to abstain? How do you do that? How do you put yourself through the rings of fire, claw, CLAW, and fight your way out of the Pitcher Plant while your “beloved” happily keeps drinking beside you?
Rob will never give up booze for another thirty days again. He said that himself. This will ALWAYS be my own fight. But maybe it should be. Maybe this is what God wants. Maybe this is how my story is to go, how I am to leave my mark in this world. Maybe I will make it through this scary period of my life, and I will come out the other side of it, willing to write about all that has happened to me, and God will use this to set an example with other believers who are struggling with booze. Who am I to question where this will go? What His plans are?
I find I am nostalgic. So nostalgic lately. I look at pictures of myself as a little girl. I see myself playing outside with my sisters and neighbors, see myself out in the yard on a hot summer day, the smile on my face, my messy ponytail and tanned skin, the innocence of an eight-year-old girl just enjoying the sun, the beautiful day without a care in the world beyond what I’m going to order from Burger King for lunch,… and I want to go back there. I want to tell this little girl to never, ever feed into the lie that in order to be cool in high school or college you have to drink. I want to tell her that she will grow out of her shyness, her awkwardness at parties, to tell her not to use alcohol as a catalyst to get her to these parties. Don’t do shots at a frat house. Don’t buy beer in a gas station parking lot from some random guy. DON’T DRINK! Alcohol is an addictive substance! You will never get over it! You will only keep drinking more!
I want to stop. I want to stop so badly. But I don’t know how. I honestly don’t know how to live this life I’ve built around me without the cushion of alcohol. My husband will never stop drinking. The small group of friends that we have will NEVER stop drinking. My work culture, my extended family, the media and all of it’s advertisements, everything surrounding me at my age just screams alcohol…. there is not ONE person in my life that will help me fight this battle, will be on my side if I quit. So I’m struggling with, I’m constantly struggling with…. what’s the pint? Why give it up if it will only segregate me to an island where I live by myself?
But maybe that’s what I have to do? Maybe that’s what the Lord wants? Again, it gets back to not doing this for anyone else other than myself. I need to be my own champion, don’t I? I need to go the distance for myself.
I need to.