Archive | September, 2014

Extra! Extra! Drink All About It……

20 Sep

The news these days is nothing short of devastatingly depressing. The terror group ISIS is beheading innocent people and trying to instill fear and horror throughout the world. The deadly Ebola virus is spreading at an exponential rate. There is a terrible respiratory illness that is sending hundreds of children to emergency rooms nationwide. Nationally recognized and idolized sports figures are being exposed for brutally beating their partners and even their children. And, what hits closest to home, a local girl who is a sophomore at the University of Virginia has been missing for a week now and foul play is suspected. I cannot possibly begin to imagine what her family is going through and can only add my heartfelt prayers for her safe return.

So when we are bombarded from every direction with negativity, fear and sadness, what do we do? Everyone has their own way of dealing with difficult times — their own coping mechanisms. Some meditate, many pray, some repress it and continue on, some seek help, some shut down and, if you’re an alcoholic, chances are you drink. It’s usually the only coping mechanism you know. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, you may struggle to refrain from picking up a drink.

I can only speak about my own experiences and feelings as an alcoholic. Thank goodness I am an alcoholic in recovery who hasn’t had a drink in over 2 years (845 days to be exact). With each day that I am inundated with bad news, however, the brick wall that I have been building, one day at a time, to protect me and keep me away from the bottle, gets chipped away. It’s like a chisel is breaking out little holes through the wall that give me glimpses of past coping mechanisms in the form of liquid. There’s a tiny voice in the back of my head that tries to tell me that with all these horrible things that surround me, what the hell could be so bad about taking a drink? My brain still fights the many years of training that taught it that when things were tough, I could always pick up a drink and feel better. The insanity of the disease of alcoholism tries to tell me that a drink will wash all my cares away.

The reality, however, is quite harsh. A drink will not destroy ISIS, cure Ebola or deadly respiratory illnesses, stop domestic violence, or bring a missing girl home. A drink will do absolutely nothing to help make things better. Absolutely. Nothing. Not only will it do nothing to make things better, it will make things worse. Much worse.

I’ve had crappy days when I have wanted to have a drink. I’ve also had wonderful days, when all seems right with the world, or my little world anyway, when I have also wanted to pick up a drink. Good times, bad times, happy times, sad times, a drink seemed appropriate for all. But it was never “A” drink. It was a drink followed by another drink, and then another, and then another…..I like to explain my alcoholism to people as a broken switch in my brain wiring. I believe that “normal” people have a little light that comes on in their brain that tells them they have had enough to drink and need to stop. The little switch is flipped and they make the rational, prudent decision not to drink any more at that time. In my brain, the light, and the switch, are either broken or missing. As I approach too much to drink, instead of telling me to stop, my brain tells me to keep on going. More is better.

What scares the hell out of me now is that if I can crave a drink at times when things are going well, how in the world am I going to resist a drink when something really difficult happens? And not just out in the world, but to me, or in my immediate little world. An integral part of recovery is breaking down your ego and your self-centeredness. When I drank, it was all about me. First and foremost. Me, where my next drink was coming from, when I was getting my next drink, what was going to make ME happy, what I was dealing with in my life. Me.

But I’m not just me. I am a mother of three wonderful children. I am a wife. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a godmother, and a friend. People count on me. With a clear brain, not all clouded up with alcohol, I know now that my children deserve a mother who is there for them. My husband deserves a wife who is present. And friends who have cared for me deserve the same in return. They will have their times when they need support, just as I have. My children will hear the news and be afraid, curious, worried, and confused. I am the one who is supposed to comfort them and protect them. I can only try to take that confusion and fear and try to turn it into solace and hopefully life lessons that will help them. There will always be bad news. Thanks to a wonderful friend, I am learning to look for the silver linings.

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise—Victor Hugo

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