After years of daily drinking, early last year I finally began to take apart the causes and conditions my addiction, and I started this blog.
It’s been about 18 months since I’ve stopped the daily habit, and I’ve come a long way. I wrote a short memoir about this experience as I went through the process of recovery and moderation.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I could go on the moderate path, but I am doing it! I know many readers out there will not agree that moderation is a solution, but in my case it works. My relationship with alcohol no longer takes over my life.
Raised in a large family where alcohol was always present, and then living independently within a culture of drinking and excess, I took a few months to examine my past through mostly journal entries, both old and new. Along the way I began to understand the science of addiction as well as the environmental aspects that contributed to my habit.
Without AA or any other formal recovery program, I went from consuming one bottle of wine or more per day to less than a bottle per week. I continue to gain wisdom and strength from other memoirs written by women who have overcome alcohol addiction.
This is an ongoing journey. I have found the courage to examine and explore my creativity and sense of self-worth after years of denial and destructive behavior. I now try to live each day fully in the present, seizing opportunities and finding new paths toward a healthy life.
What stage are you in your journey to wellness and recovery? The single thing that has helped me the most is knowing I have kindreds out there – like you – who want to be better, do better. Don’t give up. And remember – you are not alone!
When I drank I used throw out sarcastic, cynical quips into the conversation whenever I could. My idea of humor was always on the dark side, not just a little dark, but often downright off the wall. To begin to understand where this comes from entails looking at the people I’ve hung out with and the places I’ve been. My family, too, have a big influence still – for the most part my siblings have negativity and cynicism in SPADES. When I drank the worst aspects of these influences came out. The saddest thing is that I thought I was being funny. Not so much.
I know a woman, “Joanie” who is fits the Pollyanna profile to a ‘T’. Even in the face of adversity, she responds with a cheerleader’s exuberance. Just lost your entire novel because your computer crashed? “Just start over!” Your kid just broke his leg skiing? “It will heal!” Your SO just got laid off? “There are plenty of other jobs out there!” Etc. etc. When I drank I had a hard time accepting that people like her could exude such positiveness in the face of life’s suckiest moments. I would wince, look on incredulously, and then likely throw in some sort of negative comment.
When I drank every day I tried to deny that I wanted to be happy like Joanie. In fact, I thought it was way cooler to be circumspect, questioning, skeptical, or cynical – in other words, miserable.
I will never pretend that things are great when they’re not, but now that I no longer block out my natural inclination for real happiness with drink, my days are better. My outlook is sunnier. Now, instead of opening a bottle of wine every night after work to try to erase the day, I make myself a pot of Japanese green tea and read something positive and inspirational. My early evening cravings diminish, along with my negativity.
Now that I am sober I understand that this is Joanie’s MO, her way of getting by, getting through life. The giant smiley-face sticker on the back of her Jeep tells people who she is, and how she wants you to be too.