Yeah, I’m up right now. Can’t sleep. Even though I took a Lunesta. While drinking. I woke up about fifteen minutes ago with a horrible taste in my mouth, with my head pounding, with a racing heartbeat, and an overall sense of dread and disappointment over the fact that I broke not one, but two of my “non-negotiables” tonight. Of course, a stream of self-hate dialogue started up in my mind. And then the worrying over my phone call to my mother-in-law, essentially making plans with her for our family to go to Iowa over a weekend in June, without running this by my husband. And worrying over the promise I made to a friend through texts to sign my daughter up for a summer Day Camp without thinking it more through and looking into Covid safety; all of this while drinking and on a buzz.
I’m right back where I was last June when I knew I needed to quit. Only I know the uphill battle I now face. I know all the reading that’s required, the listening of podcasts or online seminars, I know the inner dialogue I must have and retain, and…. I’m already fatigued. From everything that people post on the LAF Facebook group, they say it’s much harder to quit/abstain the second go-around, the third go-around, each time you fall off the wagon, it seems like the common consensus is that it’s harder to pull yourself back up.
But I know I’m there. Sure, I’m not back to drinking every day. I haven’t left work for a lunch hour to come home since last June. I haven’t put whiskey in my coffee on a Saturday or Sunday morning for that initial buzz to start my weekend day. But… I’m back again to drinking on the weekends. This past one I swore to myself that I would ONLY drink on Saturday. When Friday came, that went right out the window. My husband let me know we’d been invited over to friends’ to watch the NCAA basketball tournament, and for the first time in a while, I couldn’t handle the idea of going over there and being around all the adults drinking without drinking myself. I thought that I couldn’t or wouldn’t have very much fun, that I wouldn’t want to stay long, and that my husband would be disappointed in my lack of wanting to stay out and socialize with the group.
Saturday, since I’d already given myself permission for this day, I drank. I kept watching and willing the clock to hit 4:00 so that it wouldn’t seem so bad. I waited until 3:57, and then I couldn’t wait a minute more. I poured myself a vodka red bull. One of my sisters and my nephews came over to have dinner and watch basketball, and granted I only had two and a half drinks, but still, the thought process in my mind was that I wouldn’t have fun hanging out with everyone unless I, too, was drinking.
By Sunday, I’d drank two days in a row, and any hope I had of not drinking at all on this weekend day was smashed to pieces by the afternoon. I think I poured my first drink shortly after 1:00 and KEPT drinking until bedtime, at which time, I took a Lunesta so I wouldn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night, like I am right now, and hate myself for hours on end.
Tonight, I knew I was going to drink before I even left work. The idea popped in my mind right after the lunch hour, that I would have the house to myself while my husband was at my son’s tennis, that I could pour myself a strong whiskey before my daughter’s swimming and get home in time to pour another before my husband hit the door. It was all I could think about as I drove home from work. I was looking forward to it, just like I used to. I no sooner walked inside before I dropped my work bags and practically ran for the liquor cabinet in the basement. I didn’t watch my daughter’s lesson tonight at all. I sat out in the Walgreens parking lot, talking on the phone to my mother-in-law, making plans that I was lying that I’d run by my husband, and sipping on my whiskey and diet. When I got my daughter home, sure as shit, I topped off my drink before my husband and son arrived, and then right before bed I took a Lunesta so I wouldn’t be up like I am right now. Well, that obviously didn’t work. Here I sit. Here I hate. Here I am once again back at ground zero, wondering how in the hell I’m going to do this. We leave for a beach vacation in a little over a week, and the idea of abstaining from drinking those entire six days seems like climbing Mount Everest without so much as an icepick.
How, how, how did I get back to this place?
I think what I have such a horrible, horrible time with is separating fun from drinking. I have way too many memories ingrained in my brain of all the FUN times I’ve had while doing it. It’s associated with every vacation I’ve been on since the age of 17. Every weekend of my adult life, unless I’ve been sick or pregnant, I’ve at least had drinks one of the nights. Going to restaurants, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t order alcohol unless it was this period of abstinence since June. Every time we’ve gotten together with Mike and Rebecca, with William and Jaz, with my family, shit with work parties, all of my social outings have been so entwined with alcohol I cannot begin to know how to unwind them. And I know this is where my husband is. And I know since he hasn’t done any reading, hasn’t watched any videos or podcasts, he doesn’t think he’ll ever NOT drink again. His Dry January he just did, he has said, will probably be the ONLY Dry January he’ll ever do. And I think he means it, unless he gets a health diagnosis where he’s told he needs to quit drinking or else.
And I think that’s part of my problem, part of my depression, part of the reason I feel like I’m in a period of mourning right now, part of why it’s so, so fricking hard to keep hold of the desire or desperation, not to drink. I know that no matter what I accomplish with it, no matter how many days, weeks, or months I string together, I will always, always have to deal with watching my husband drink. And not just have a glass of wine at night with dinner. But drink, drink. Getting buzzed or shitfaced EVERY weekend until he gets that health diagnosis. I could be looking at my dad down the road, where alcohol has become such a problem but that he can’t see it as the culprit. My husband will never quit drinking like he does. On his own. People talk about this on the LAE FB group. They speak of how hard it is to abstain when their partner continues to drink “like normal” around them. The first year you try to give up booze, you almost have to white-knuckle it to make it through your weekends. They’re hard enough with all your memory triggers of past boozing weekends, and because you’re trying not to be a party pooper to the rest of your family, particularly to your husband, you go out and you do all your normal activities and grit your teeth and order a club soda with a lime just so you can pretend a semblance of normalcy. But you have to watch your spouse drink. And you have to watch your spouse get tipsy. And then you have to listen to your spouse after he gets drunk, how he speaks louder, repeats stories you’ve already heard, is stumbling around the bathroom getting ready for bed. Then the next morning, you’ve got to put up with the fact that he got crappy sleep, because of the booze, and he’s short with you and the kids, and doesn’t snap fully out of his exhaustion and mood until he pours himself his Monster & Vodka late afternoon. And you’ve got to repeat your night over again with him. And oh yeah, your next weekend day with him, only this time he’s even more tired and more impatient with everyone b/c he drank two nights in a row and has gotten shitty sleep two nights in a row. And you’re wondering if ALL of your weekends are going to look like this now, and did they always look like this to the kids when you were drinking like your husband? Is this why you never had a problem with his drinking before, because you were right there with him? And how do you make him want to stop? How do you make him see what you see?
How did I get back to this place? I think it has a lot to do with all I just wrote above. I think after I hit so many days sober, without having even just one drink, a couple of things happened to trigger me to think I should try and moderate again. For one thing, my brain has selective memory. I start to reminisce about all the fun times I had while drinking. I think of vacations like Hawaii, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colorado, etc. Or I think of “date nights” where my husband and I have the whole night to spend together and come back to a hotel room where we have racy sex. I picture laying out and sipping a vodka lemonade by the pool. I picture getting ready for a night out with a stiff drink on my bathroom counter. I remember the feel-good buzz….but I don’t remember the rest of the night when the buzz has worn off and I’m just tired and emotional and ashamed of how much I drank and worried over what I’d promised to people while I was drinking. I don’t remember the waking up in the middle of the night, hating myself. I don’t remember the next morning when I deal with a pounding head, a horrible taste in my mouth, a racing heartbeat, bad indigestion, a foggy memory, a lack of energy, a need to take a nap later in the day but being unable to shut off my mind, I don’t remember being short with the kids, getting into spats with my husband, feeling overall edgy and depressed.
The other thing that I think led me back to this place is that I just got tired of trying to fight my mind, my cravings. It was sooooo much easier to do when my husband was abstaining in January. So much easier. And knowing that two of our friends were also “dry” helped, too. But now, everyone is back to partying just like they used to, and I’m trying, and failing miserably, to go the sober route on my own. I have no sober friends. My husband’s and my social life revolves around people who drink like they were still in college. If not more so, because now they can afford costlier spirits.
I look at the uphill battle I face, I look at the long, LONELY, road in front of me… and it just depresses the shit out of me. Because I truly believe in what I’ve read in my quit lit books. I believe alcohol is a poison, it is a carcinogen. Drink enough of it and you’re guaranteeing a scary health diagnosis at some point. I don’t want to die young. I don’t want to burden my kids, my family with a cancer diagnosis. I don’t want to put my kids in danger by driving with even just two glasses of wine in my system, for I know that even those two glasses affect your coordination and reaction time. I don’t want my kids hitting high school, thinking they’ve got to drink to have fun, and they therefor make poor decisions, have loose sex, get behind the wheel of the car and die in some drunken accident, or kill some innocent bystander. I don’t want to hate myself in the middle of the night, like I do right now.
So, what do I do? Where do I go from here? I keep thinking about a coworker of mine named Amanda. Amanda, this really intelligent, personable, funny, down-to-earth girl… who just blew her head off in her apartment on Monday. I don’t know why she did it. I don’t know the myriad of struggles she was dealing with. Yeah, I know that her boyfriend was involved and that they’d had a fight shortly before she pulled the trigger. But I have to suspect that alcohol was most likely involved, too. Too many suicides happen when the person has been drinking and isn’t thinking clearly. Too many fights between loved ones happen when either one or both of the people are intoxicated. Here, this beautiful, smart, talented woman who had her whole life ahead of her decided in a heated, frantic moment to seek a permanent out. Would she have made the same decision if she’d been clear-minded, had all of her faculties working at the time? I think she would’ve never gone looking for that gun.
Alcohol destroys people. It destroys their bodies. It destroys their relationships. It destroys their futures. We all may not see it until it’s too late, but I’ve been given a chance to see it now. I WAS given a chance to see it last June. I fully believe that God was answering my prayers, that HE was leading me to that book, This Naked Mind, so that I could educate myself on all of the dangers of alcohol. Maybe this is another “wake up” call from him, me having “woken up” at 2:39 AM. He wants me to remember all my reasons for quitting last summer, realize that they are ALL still there. If I keep trying to moderate, I will slide further and further back to the place I was on June 25th, 2020. I need to heed the advice from all the quit lit writers out there, there is no such thing as moderation. If you permit yourself to drink, even on just certain occasions, you will eventually find yourself back in the “fly trap.” Alcohol is a drug; it chemically alters your mind; it’s a foreign substance that will eventually kill you in one way or another, if you keep drinking. And the only way to avoid this is by not drinking at all. I’ve got to implant this in my mind.
And I’ve got to try and get some sleep.