I went for a walk last night with my former drinking buddy, my 83 year old vibrant, gay uncle who has an opinion on everything. He's my mother, father, sister and best friend and I love him dearly. He's a bit disappointed that I don't join him for a crisp martini or a glass of red anymore.
When I told him how much better I was feeling mentally about quitting he said bitterly that my drinking problem was all in my head anyways. I agreed with him and then he further commented that it was all in my imagination. I, again agreed and told him that if someone believes they have a drinking problem, then they have a drinking problem. No one else really knows what others struggle with.
That's been the stumbling block for me in all my other attempts to stop drinking. Because most of my drinking took place at home and hubby and I were always alone, no one ever saw the drunk Debbie... and the drunk Debbie at home was quiet and numbed out so she did not make a great big impression so even hubby needed some convincing.
At social functions, I was the life of the party and everyone thought I was funny and cute. I never got falling down drunk or slurred noticeably. I got a lot of flack whenever I refused a drink because I was the entertainment. I had a few great jokes that I was asked to retell countless times. Seeing the look of disappointment on the faces of my boozy friends was usually all it took for me to take a breath and say "OK, just the one!"
What people didn't see was the torturous debate going on in my head for half of the waking hours of each and every day. They weren't there at three a.m. when I woke up or 'came to' with a sweaty brow, my heart skipping beats and my mind churning with self-loathing. They didn't see me in the mornings drinking coffee with booze oozing out of my pores, my head a little achy and my eyes sunken and sad. They weren't at my doctor's visits when he would have to leave the room to let me try to breathe my blood pressure down before he took his decisive reading to determine whether I was ready for medication.
No one was in Vancouver with me when my Mom was in the throes of alcohol withdrawal having seizures, kicking nurses and throwing anything within her reach at whoever stood between her and her need for booze and screaming incessantly for her Daddy who died when she was pregnant for me.
If my alcohol problem is in my mind, then so be it. Ever since I've stopped the madness long enough to reap the benefits, I have been amazed at the simplicity of sobriety. For me, being sober means being sane. It was insanity to continue to partake in an activity that caused my mind to reel with discomfort and my body to malfunction. Duh... if bananas caused that reaction, people would be withholding bananas from me for my own good whether I liked it or not. Because it's booze, somehow it's different.
So, to my favourite Uncle, my friends and family, you just don't understand and that's OK. It's not your job to comprehend or to even accept me and my decisions. I can't control your reaction to my sobriety. I accept that.
The loveliest gift I've ever given my soul is abstinence from imbibing ethanol. The premise is so simple yet so complicated. Our culture has trained it's people to vehemently defend their God given right to get plastered. As a drinking society, we are much stronger in greater numbers. When one of us drops out of the boozy battlefield, the group feels threatened, therefore, fights to reclaim it's mutinous member. It's pretty instinctive and I respect that.
I don't drink. I wish I could reprogram the people in my neck of the woods to see the light and be like me but that is just falling into the same cycle I'm trying to escape. ' Live and let live' is my motto. I plan on living fully, consciously and not missing another moment due to self-induced escape.
I feel fortunate that suffering from addiction is my only ailment. It's curable.