Misunderstanding Being Misunderstood–Part 2

24 Jun

Thanks for all the great feedback on my last post, and thank you for sharing your additional questions about alcoholism. As I said previously, I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I can only share what I have learned from my personal experience and my journey into sobriety and recovery so far. You’re always welcome to contact me at martha.carucci@gmail.com.

The most basic question I received was how did I know I had a problem? The simple answer is that I knew that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. Conveniently, this is Step 1. Drinking had gone from enjoyment to need. Bandaid to crutch. Occasionally to almost daily. White (wine) to black(outs). I drank to celebrate every occasion and to give myself liquid courage when I needed it. I drank when I was sad so I could wallow further in my depression. I drank when I was angry to try to make the anger go away. I drank when I was happy to take it to a higher level of joy. I drank when I was anxious, scared, lonely, proud, embarrassed…..you get the idea. Once I started, the concept of moderation flew out the window. My “off” switch was broken. I drank before I went out to an event, on my way there, and when I got home. I thought I would just have a glass of wine while I made dinner and it inevitably turned into a bottle or more. I knew it had taken over my life.

Another good question: how and when did I know I needed to stop drinking? I’ve shared before how ashamed I was when my daughter asked me why I didn’t remember something we talked about on a particular evening. And I remember how badly I felt when I was in bed, too hungover to do normal things with my kids. Then there was watching my hands shake until I got some wine in me at lunch in NYC. I think all of these things bubbled up inside and culminated in me coming clean to a friend who lost her husband to alcoholism. Even after I got sober, there were days when I had terrible cravings and told her I wanted a drink and she responded “go ahead, have a drink. The last time I touched my husband’s hand it was cold.” I don’t mean to be totally morbid here, but this disease is no joke. I need my kids and the people I care about to know and understand that alcohol kills. It destroys your body and carves out a path of destruction throughout your entire life.

More than one person has asked what they should do if they know someone who they think may be an alcoholic or have a drinking problem. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no matter how much you want to help someone, you can’t until they want it and are willing to help themselves. Getting sober is something no one can do for us, but also something that we cannot do alone. I have friends who knew I had a drinking problem long before I admitted it and either said they felt guilty about not doing anything to help or said that they knew if they tried to talk to me about it, our relationship would change and I might just try to hide my drinking from them. Until I was ready, no one could have done anything. Can you sit down with a family member or friend and tell them you are concerned? Absolutely. And that may be just what they need to push them to go get help.

Several people wanted to know if they are having a party, happy hour or event where there will be alcohol, is it better not to say anything to me because it would probably be hard for me to be there or if they should invite me anyway. Great question and I could see how people may not know what to do when they are trying to be sensitive. For me, I would definitely prefer to be invited and be given the chance to make the choice myself whether I attend or not. I have good days and bad days, just like everyone else, but on a bad day, being around alcohol may just be too tempting. On good days, I’m happy to go and be with friends. I may not be able to stay too long however, so please don’t take that personally.

Another thing that shouldn’t be taken personally is if I attend some events and not others. Again, it depends on how I’m feeling that particular day/night. And, what’s really important to understand here is that alcoholics are supposed to avoid triggers—-people, places and things that remind them of their drinking. It may not be too hard to handle one of those, but a perfect storm with a combo of all three can be both overwhelming and dangerous.

What do I do when I get a really bad craving and think that I just can’t do it any more? Well, other than think of my friend telling me about her husband’s cold hand, I adhere to some other good advice that was given to me—think the drink through. Think it all the way through. Not just how good that drink may taste, but what happens after that first sip? After that first drink? There would be many more. And how would I feel about throwing away three years of sobriety? How guilty would I feel? Would I be able to look my kids in the face? All these things help me when I think about picking up a drink.

I have to remember that while I am learning all this as I go, my family and many of my friends are as well. If it’s your first time dealing with someone who has a problem with addiction, you may have lots of questions. Very early on in my sobriety, I wrote a piece called “How To….” about how to be friends with an alcoholic. Interestingly enough, on this journey, I’m learning how to be a good friend to this alcoholic as well.

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” – Chinese proverb

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10 Responses to “Misunderstanding Being Misunderstood–Part 2”

  1. earth-school June 24, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    Super Martha!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Joan Vazakas June 24, 2015 at 8:21 am #

      Wonderful post, Martha. It certainly helps your Mom understand this complex problem much more. Much love.

  2. hollybertone June 24, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    Hi Martha – I love the way you explain this – and are so brave to keep putting it out there. So proud of you my friend! Hugs, Holly

  3. Susan June 24, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    This is wonderful. Learning so much from you and your brave journey. xo

  4. Gia Leigh June 24, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

    Reblogged this on the sirius dark room and commented:
    Truly amazing read. It’s so honest and real. I had to reblog to share. Love the proverb at the end. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    • sobermom July 12, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

      Thank you so much for your comments and for reblogging!

  5. Beth Hamilton June 25, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    Your writing is so candid and heartfelt. I enjoy every post!

  6. Christy June 25, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    Martha, you are amazing! What a gift you have of being vastly real and in tune with your disease of alcoholism. What a blessing you are to myself and others as you share your recovery journey and this piece is proof of that. I particularly like the explanation of “The Perfect Storm”. How brilliantly you explained just how tricky this disease is. This alcoholic takes this to heart. We must be ever vigilante in safe guarding our sobriety and doing whatever it takes to keep walking strongly on our path of recovery. Exceptional piece AG.

  7. Bailey Ende July 12, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    As the wife of an alcoholic your words have touched my heart……he too is 3 years sober and he still takes it one day at a time……so glad I found your blog….

    • sobermom July 12, 2015 at 8:53 am #

      Thank you so much for your comment. Means a lot to me. Congrats to your husband!!

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