What it feels like to be an Alcoholic

At first it takes away all your fear.  That drink just warms you all over and suddenly you have confidence and you are the girl you always wanted to be.  All your qualms about being with other people, with men, just vanish. Melt away.  You think you’ve found your golden ticket.  The answer to all your problems.  Your release valve.  Your savior.

You’ve found ways to incorporate drinking into every area of your life and you can justify it as if your life depended on it.  Because it actually does.

You found your sweet spot.  And it works.  Until it doesn’t.

This is when most people realize they might have a problem.  This is when most folks would say, hey I need to watch this and take it easy.  This is what most people are able to do and carry on with their lives.  They can drink responsibly.

Not an alcoholic.  

The flip is switched.  The obsession starts to take over.

Then it starts to make you nervous because you forget.

You can only think about the next drink and where it will come from and how to get it in your body immediately.  No joy is found in the drinking any longer, it is only a means to an end.

You don’t care what you drink or how terrible it makes you feel, because you have the sickness.

You keep chasing that feeling of how it was when you first started drinking. That’s the goal.  Not all this other stuff.  But that’s gone.  It’s never coming back.  What is left in it’s place is this monster that strips you of everything good.

You start to vanish and another person takes your place whenever you take a drink.

You start to have blackouts.

You start to doubt yourself and not trust those around you.

You lose your perspective and you lose your friends.

You stay with those who drink as much as you do.  Then even they don’t want you around.

You stop returning calls.  You stop seeing people you love.  You make every excuse and then you just disappear.

You stop taking care of yourself.  You stop any kind of proper hygiene.

You devalue yourself.

You dehumanize yourself.

You don’t give a shit about anything.

You find yourself doing things you would never do in your right mind.

Your mind leaves you.

You find yourself surrounded by terrible awful people doing terrible awful things because that’s all you are worth.

You cause enormous, seemingly irreparable harm and  pain to everyone who loves you just because you are choosing drinking over them.  It’s terrible to know that you really don’t have a choice anymore.  You are a beast.  You love – oh how you love them – 

It’s way too much to bear.

Every time you start to think about people you love, the people you hurt, you just want to drink more because it’s too painful to deal with that reality and so the cycle continues until you are ready.

Trust is lost.  Jobs are lost.  Homes are lost.  Pets are lost.  Relationships are lost.  You are lost.

You feel sick if you don’t drink.  You must keep drinking.  The obsession of the mind and the sickness of the body are in full control.  You are gone now.  You don’t exist.

You don’t matter, you don’t count, you don’t exist.

It doesn’t matter how far down you’ve fallen, what it looks like from the outside doesn’t even matter.   It’s all inside.  It’s really what happens to you on the inside when you drink.  You may have kept all outside appearances, and still you are lost.  You are gone.  You don’t exist.

 

Until one day, one moment you find grace.  Possibly in jail or possibly on your couch “with” your family.

Grace.  A moment of clarity.

There are these moments that you normally barrell through and just drink through the moment that could change your life, but for one second you think, I might be worthy of more.  You are given a moment of clarity, and you decide for once you will grab onto it and fight like hell.

You finally reach back for one of the hands that’s been reaching in to you for so long and you grab on.  You can raise that white flag and say, help me.  If you want it is there for you.  You hold on so tightly all the blood rushes to your head and you are terrified.

But it can’t be as bad as out there.  So you hang on.  It’s painful and you think it’s impossible and you cannot possibly do this, but with the help of other like minded folks, you can do this.  You can.

It’s the people.  It’s the community.  It’s the “we are all in this together” that keeps me going.

And that moment is the beginning of lifelong healing.

My name is Katy and I am a grateful alcoholic.  

Life doesn’t get easier, but you are able to handle it better once you get sober.  It takes a long time to come back to yourself.  And you won’t be the same.  You will be somebody different.  Somebody enlightened.  If you can find gratitude, you can start to heal.  One day years from now you can look back on the hell you lived through and be thankful for the experience.  You can start to make amends.  Life is never perfect and some relationships will be gone forever.  There is massive fallout in the alcoholics wake.  We are responsible.

I exist today.  Not only do I exist, but I value myself and my contributions to society.  I want to help other people.  I do my best to be kind and compassionate and not hurtful.  I am work in progress and perfection is nowhere in sight but I like myself today and that is something I never could have said before I started drinking.  I wasn’t a big fan of myself.  I am today.  And I am a big fan of yours.  I believe in you. If nobody else is telling you that, listen to me.  I believe in you.  Give yourself another chance.  I have hope. HOPE HOPE HOPE.

Nobody can tell you that you are an alcoholic.  But you know.  You know.

I will always be an alcoholic.  I am proud of it today.  Some of the finest, funniest, bravest folks I’ve ever known are alcoholics.  Yeah, there are definitely assholes in this group too.  FOR SURE.  But anytime somebody is trying to change for the better, I am their cheerleader.  Everybody is recovering from something.  

So what does it feel like to be an alcoholic?  A sober alcoholic?  It feels vulnerable and scary. It feels raw and touchy and pretty damn empowering and incredible.  I am finally comfortable in my own skin today after almost 14 years of sobriety, but I still get weird and uncomfortable in situations and around people.

I have a life beyond my wildest dreams BECAUSE I am an alcoholic.  I’m not rich, far from it.  I have no control over anybody but myself and sometimes that’s really difficult.  I have a family and a job and a home today.  I have self respect and I have love and I have joy.  I can FEEL real joy.  I can feel all the feelings.  I own my shit today.  I don’t blame others.  I never would have all I have today on the inside had I not gone through hell on earth.

I’ve seen people robbed of their entire lives.  Their family’s lives.  I’ve seen way too many people die.  The Walking Dead.

Please don’t give up.  PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP.

Gratitude is the key to everything good.  I’ve seen it happen.  I see the miracles happen.  Every day.  I believe.  Hope hope hope.

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Related:

Alcohol is a Liar and a Thief

So many posts about sobriety

 

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