I read other’s posts regarding their struggle with alcohol and drinking and my heart goes out to them. If there was ever a fight on this planet worth fighting over and over and over again until the fight has been won, it’s alcoholism. I have fallen – crawled – literally – during the throes of withdrawal that I can’t even count the number of times anymore. And it is my sincere wish and hope that no alcoholic ever has to fall as low as I did. It’s just not necessary.
That internal tug of war pull to drink and to simultaneously pull away from alcohol and drinking is simply epic. And sometimes it seems like neither side moves a hair. Do you face your opponent and pull backwards or do you face in the direction you intend to move and pull forward? Which gives you more power, more strength? Or what about this? Just drop the freakin’ rope already. What a novel idea, right?
Alright, I’ve been awake for approximately 42 minutes and I’m enjoying my first cup of coffee. Now, at this time 15 years ago I was gearing up for my first cup of wine out of about 22 for the day. Yes, those numbers are accurate. I can’t help but wonder how I managed to live through all that alcohol. It’s a freakin’ miracle. Or is it? Because some folks wouldn’t miss me, I get that. I can be a bit – much.
Drinking this early wasn’t easy. There were times the taste would make me gag. There were other times I’d have to pinch my nose to avoid the taste. But I forged on. I was a determined drinker. I was on a mission. I had one goal – to get drunk, thank you very much – now step aside and let me get on with it. That was my attitude.
Coffee is so much better. I don’t ever gag when I drink it or have to pinch my nose. And I’m able to do so many other thigs. Now, watching TV all day on my day off is a choice – not a necessity. And I’ve moved on from Little House in the Prairie. Now my binge show is Criminal Minds. Anyone? Yeah, it’s good stuff. I’d have made a great sleuth – if only. Instead, I turned into a sloth.
Oh, well. Can’t turn the clock back.
There’s nothing like that feeling of rebounding, which is what I’ve been doing for the last four and a half months. The sensation is similar to jumping really high on a trampoline. Now, if I can just avoid springing myself into a thorn bush, I should make it through the day just fine.
When going through withdrawal (Delirium Tremens or the DTs), which happened on a daily basis for me during my heaviest drinking period, I found it immensely helpful to have something to distract me from them. In my case that was Little House on the Prairie or just about anything on TV. I think it was a combination of the movement and the sounds on TV, perhaps the story line, that worked best as the distraction.
I find this odd, really, because I was extremely overwhelmed by real life noise and commotion. I could handle TV, but not reality. Go figure. I simply couldn’t endure much of anything if I hadn’t had a lot of alcohol. Real life activities like going to the grocery store grated on my psyche and nerves like a cement drill. Too much incoming. But once I had about a bottle and a half of wine in my tummy, I could muster the strength and nerve to get my business done, which was usually to go back to the store for more wine.
Another thing I found sort of curious about the DTs was that they didn’t ever hit me until I’d been awake for about an hour. This gave me time first thing in the morning to take care of necessities: shower, walk the dog, find my wine from the previous night, and return any calls I’d ignored the day before. The psychological relief of just seeing a couple of full double bottles of wine made me feel better. I’d tell myself that I’d open one just as soon as I showered and dressed, because Lord forbid I seize and die in my jammies with unkempt hair. I had to be put together every day and look like I gave half a shit about my appearance.
Today, I think I’m relieved that my memory doesn’t serve so well anymore. I remember plenty – enough to write another book – but I’m pretty sure the things I don’t remember are best off forgotten. The new memories I’m creating in my sobriety are going down in journals or right here where I can find them. I’m taking photos, talking with family, creating new relationships and taking care of this aging body of mine. Yeah – life’s a pretty amazing thing when my brain isn’t saturated with alcohol.
I was reading another Blogger’s post yesterday and he mentioned something about withdrawal and/or alcohol poisoning. It is my experience that withdrawal is a result of both long term alcohol abuse and alcohol poisoning. Excessive and severe drinkers build up a tolerance to alcohol over time. This means they can/do/need to drink more to achieve the same effects they used to get from light drinking ‘back in the day’, I became an acute alcoholic over a 15 year period and I’ve been to nine in-patient treatment centers. Nothing worked until I finally had enough. My body can’t stand it anymore and the psychological trauma of going through the DTs is just too brutal.
For me – back in the day – when I first realized that I could USE alcohol to my benefit, i.e.; to calm down, I’d be pretty drunk after two bottles of wine or approximately 8 drinks. As the years wore on, my dependence on alcohol developed and my drinking escalated from two bottles a day to around six bottles a day. In turn, my hangovers escalated into withdrawal, which worsened and became more drawn out over time until at the end – withdrawal would last for a week. I was leaning over my bed to throw up and had to crawl to the bathroom. I couldn’t stand up in the shower, I couldn’t keep water down and I couldn’t remember things. I blacked out.
For those of you who don’t know – blacking out is akin to fainting. The main difference is that someone in a blackout can wake up anywhere, anytime. It’s pretty scary stuff because they have NO idea where they’ve been, what they’ve said, who they’ve encountered, or what they’ve done.
If I were to offer any advice to the novice drinker who might wonder if s/he is developing a habit of drinking – monitor your SELF when you drink. Pay attention to how you’re feeling about alcohol. Some questions for you to think on:
Do you get pissed off when you can’t have more? (This was a big one for me)
2) Do you feel affronted when someone has the nerve to bring up your drinking?
3) Is drinking more important than other stuff like exercise? Eating? Sex? Time with kids/family/partner?
If you answered yes to any of these – you may try to see if you can moderate or quit for a substantial period of time. Maybe a month or more. If that idea alone causes you distress, it might be time for you to evaluate your relationship with alcohol and drinking. Because if you’ve got a relationship with alcohol, you’ve also got a problem.
When I drank, I used to replace my morning coffee with wine. I couldn’t stand coffee. My morning routine consisted of getting up at 7:00, taking my dog out to do his business, and being dressed and on the couch by 8:00 with my first cup of wine to watch Little House on the Prairie. That show got me through my early morning withdrawals. It ran until noon and that’s about how long my first double bottle of wine lasted.
Now – for the record, I still had another unopened double bottle, but I had this all figured out. So – at noon, I’d walk to the market up the street and buy three more double bottles. I couldn’t face the public without at least two bottles in me. My DTs were much too severe. I trembled like I was freezing and couldn’t sign my name to save myself. Once I returned home with my beverages, I’d park it right back in front of the TV for the rest of the day until my husband got home from work. He always knew to buy me a double bottle on his way back to the house.
Let’s do the math. That’s six (6) double bottles of wine in my possession in one day. I’d already learned the hard way to always make sure I’d have at least two double bottles waiting for me the next morning. By the time I was ready to hit the sack for the night, I’d consumed four of those bottles, and sometimes I’d gotten into the fifth.
There’s no such thing as a hangover when that much alcohol is consumed on a daily basis, which is how often and how much I drank – for years. What one experiences is withdrawal, which is the physical and psychological result of alcohol poisoning. It’s extremely gnarly and severely uncomfortable. The other thing to go out the window for me was my appetite. During my drinking days, I remember having to force a bite of food down and I never weighed more than 105lbs.
Drinking by that point had evolved into a necessity (this was about 15 years back). Believe it or not, withdrawals can get a lot worse than shaky hands, psychological distress and an uneven gait. They can get A LOT worse – but more on that later, because you guessed it! That’s exactly the road I went down.
I’m sipping coffee now – looking out my sliding glass doors at the leaves blowing in the wind. It’s already a beautiful day (9:56 a.m.) and I FEEL good. Physically. Emotionally. Psychologically. Even spiritually… It’s really cool. I love it and couldn’t be more thankful that I no longer need or crave alcohol. I nearly never say the word “hate” but I sure hate alcohol. Not one good thing ever came from me drinking any and at 50, I’ve had two lifetimes worth.
Well, those bottles of beer weren’t on any wall in my house. Nope. They were in my belly. All in the course of about five days. I haven’t been sober for long this time (last time was about 20 months), but I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’m plugging along this time with about 4 1/2 months under my shiny sparkly belt. How did I quit? I didn’t even have to try. My body just yelled “One more drink, BITCH – just one fucking more – and you’re toast.” Yeah, that did it. I heard it loud and clear.
Leaning over my bed to throw up water and having to crawl to the bathroom just didn’t appeal to me anymore. So I stopped. And now – instead of polishing off four double bottles of wine a day, every day, I hit the Elliptical for an hour, take at least one half hour walk around the neighborhood, I play with my two new kittens, I journal, I read and I fart around with my new boyfriend. And I do all this crap when I’m not working. Go figure…there’s actually plenty to keep a person occupied besides drinking himself or herself to death.
And that stuff I listed…? That’s not even the stuff I make room to do. I like to do other stuff too: color, ride my bike, go on adventures, watch Criminal Minds, go antiquing, climb trees and paint stuff…. Huh. Who’d of thunk?!