I struggle with alcohol. I always have. Like a mathematician at a chalkboard losing her mind over an impossible equation, this is a problem I have been trying to solve for my entire adult life.
I’ve studied myself, watched my patterns, declared halfhearted decisions and followed them up with excuses. After fifteen years of failure here is what I have finally come to understand:
I can handle everything in my life going really well, like straight up life is amazing and I’m happy and taking excellent care of myself, for about six weeks, maybe two months, maximum. Then I start slipping into self sabotage. It’s subtle to the naked eye. It shows up as forgetting to meditate in the morning or eating junk food, skipping a workout. I’ll have a beer one night, then two beers the next. And, whatever right? It’s just a couple drinks to take the edge off and relax. I deserve it. If I get drunk every now and then what’s the big deal? Everybody does it.
But this is what I’m really doing: I’m using alcohol like a baseball bat to knock myself down a few pegs every time life gets too good for me to handle. Psychologically speaking that’s pretty dark, but I’m not going to sugar coat this because I need it done. I need alcohol gone forever because I’ve decided to be happy and, for me, the two cannot coexist.
Up to this point when I’ve considered never drinking again I’ve quickly found myself consumed by all of the horrible things that will happen if I actually stop drinking beer and wine. All the new microbrews I’ll never taste. All the unwinding on a deck with a glass of chardonnay I’ll never do. All the friends I’ll lose. All the people who won’t like me. [And yes I actually had a grown ass man in NYC tell me no one would like me if I quit drinking many years ago, and rather than toss that out the door for the bullshit that it was, I chose to internalize and believe it.]
And what about all the potential friends I’ll never meet? All the parties I won’t get invited to because I’m so boring and uptight. All the fun I’ll miss out on. All the stress relief I’ll deny myself.
What about the difficult moments in life when we just need a crutch to get us through? I am in fact dealing with something difficult right now. I was given a significant financial gift that I didn’t earn. Isn’t that awful? Couldn’t you just cry for me?
On the outside I’m handling it well. I’m investing most of it. I’m taking time off from full-time employment to edit my first book and I’m traveling. Because on the outside I understand that we only have one life to live and it is way too precious to spend it suffering and scared of what everyone else thinks.
But that knowledge is only skin deep. Right below the surface I am a mess because my subconscious mind believes that I don’t deserve anything I haven’t worked incredibly hard for. I don’t deserve gifts and freedom so I literally force myself to suffer when they are offered up. It’s so much easier to stay rooted in the comfort zone.
I tried to make it to the next level. I made a promise to myself that I would never be drunk again. And then I promptly got drunk again, twice. I let six weeks of feeling good pass then I got stressed out and sunk into old patterns until WHAM! I busted out the baseball bat and cracked my own noggin. I drank a bottle and a half of wine by myself, passed out and woke up miserable in every way.
The last time I did this was three hours after I wrote my most recent post, when I felt absa-fucking-fantastic. So yah… What’s that Jen, you feel like you’re on top of the world? THWACK! Right across the back of the head and I get to start the cycle again.
Everyone will always forgive me. Oh don’t worry it’s just a tiny slip backwards. You’ll stay strong next time.
It’s just like being in a bad relationship for years – everyone will understand and forgive me and no one will step up and say Get out! Stop the madness! It’s just like being 100’ from the top of Olomana and wanting to turn back because I was too scared – everyone would have forgiven me if I never made it to the top. EVERY SINGLE PERSON I KNOW would have forgiven me if I gave up on my forty day juice fast. And in a few weeks, everyone will forgive me if I don’t complete the Syracuse Half Iron Man 70.3.
Forgiveness is a vital piece of life. It is essential to happiness. And I don’t say these things to place blame on other people for not solving my problems. I don’t mean that at all. What I mean is, I’m lucky to be so loved, but if I really want to make changes in my life it’s completely up to me to make them happen no matter what anyone around me thinks. I can’t justify my behavior by the degree of forgiveness I receive from people who love me. Nor can I justify it when they say Oh gosh Jenny don’t be so dramatic. You don’t have to give anything up, just drink less for goodness sake!
I can love everyone for being kind and letting me off the hook. I can forgive myself for mistakes in the past. But I cannot forgive myself for drinking alcohol again. It never gives me anything positive. It never heightens my awareness of the good in life; it only heightens my awareness of all the horrible things. It gives me a reason to go back to hating myself.
When I say I deserve this drink I am also saying the following:
I deserve to feel like shit tomorrow.
I deserve to fall short of my goals.
I deserve to be at risk.
I deserve to live on a roller coaster.
I deserve to feel sick.
I deserve to suffer.
I deserve to be guilty of something awful.
I deserve to hate myself.
I deserve to be held back.
I deserve to be unhappy.
But here’s the thing, I have never once in my life woken up sober and thought, Gosh you know I really should have drank alcohol last night. Quite the opposite actually.
Alcohol is insidious. You can hide a problem from anyone, even yourself. It robs me of my happiness. It halts me in my tracks and I can no longer afford that because I have a lot of places to go and a lot of big things to accomplish.
Fifteen years is enough. It’s way too much actually but there’s not much we can do about how long it takes us to see things clearly. I know that I can do this but more importantly I now understand that I MUST. That is the key difference. I absolutely MUST do this. I don’t have another option.
So that’s it. Let’s call it official. Life is too beautiful and sweet to suffer therefore I no longer consume alcohol. So if I’m heading to your house for a barbecue you best have some root beer or a seltzer for me 🙂 ❤
SO MUCH LOVE ❤