Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Drunkalogue, Part 2

Constant Reader, you have read of my sad and sorry youth.  Allow me to show you my equally sad and sorry thirties.

A Chance at a New Life, But I Blew It

I moved to Massachusetts and continued my drinking ways.  By this time I was getting plastered only three times a week or so instead of every single night, but it still wasn't good.  It wasn't so much that I had cut down as that I was no longer physically able to tolerate alcohol every night.

Sometimes I showed up to work with a hangover so bad that I could barely function.  Sometimes I didn't show up.  I wet the bed.  I kept a bucket and towel nearby when I drank, so that I could puke without having to leave the alcohol.

At around this time, I experienced a life-changing event:  I met a wonderful man, concealed the extent of my drinking from him, and knew love for the first time in my life.  True love fills a hole we don't even know we have until it's filled.

Even true love does not perform miracles.  The addiction was already ensconced.  I started practicing harm reduction, but imperfectly, and got a sixth DUI.

That's a lot of DUIs.

Again, they didn't look out-of-state and treated it as a first DUI.  I recommend that hardcore drunks move around a lot.  :(

The first-DUI stuff was quite familiar at that point, but I had to drive in an emergency situation, and I was caught.  Massachusetts is quite serious about not driving while a license is suspended for DUI.  I was sentenced to two months in prison.

My wonderful then-boyfriend stood by me through this.  He didn't realize the extent of my addiction.  He knew about one DUI in Albuquerque but thought that the Massachusetts one was my second rather than my sixth.  I did not disabuse him because I was too afraid of losing him.

I survived prison, and eventually moved in with my love.  I had a starry-eyed assumption that I could easily abstain when we lived together, since of course I would not want to put him through that or torpedo the relationship.  Both of those things were true, but unfortunately addiction does not work that way.

I tried  SMART, Down Your Drink, other stuff.  It didn't work.

[The Sinclair Method was well-established in other countries as a successful practice.]

Through some miracle, he did not leave me.  Perhaps he sensed how hard I struggled.  We eventually wed, but that did not provide a miracle cure.  I did, however, discover my own cure of sorts.

What the Heck Is This?

I got pregnant.

Suddenly, abstaining was no trouble at all.  There was no effort, no reminding myself about the fetus, no anything.  I didn't drink and didn't want to.  My brain had changed.

It stayed changed after my son's birth.  We had alcohol in the house, and I didn't want it or touch it.  I even had a drink once in a great while without resuming problem drinking.  My son was a difficult baby who grew into a problem child, but I did not drink.  I began having crippling panic attacks, but I did not drink.  This was no virtue on my part.  I didn't want to.


When my son was six or seven years old, I slid back into heavy drinking.  It's no coincidence that this is the same time that "mommy brain" wears off in other respects.

I struggled.  My husband supported me and tried to help me.  I practiced harm reduction rules with religious ferocity.  We tried to protect our son.  By dint of truly heroic effort on my part, things didn't get absolutely horrible until about a year before I sat down to write this.  At that point, the addiction won the struggle.

Drowning in Alcohol

The battle continued.  It got worse.  It got scarier.  I became desperate.  I knew that Stepping didn't help, knew that RR/SMART had not been useful before, and didn't know what else to try.  I tried LifeRing -- I liked the people, but it was no more useful than any of the other self-help programs and support groups.

Self-help programs and support groups just didn't work.    None of them broke the addiction which had me so thoroughly in thrall.

[In conventional terms,  I'd tried everything.  The most successful approaches are never even presented as options.]

My only shred of hope was that the addiction had vanished during my pregnancy and early motherhood.

You've Really Got a Hold on Me

I had to fix it.  My husband was understandably weary, my son was growing old enough that he wouldn't be oblivious much longer, and I wasn't doing so well myself.  Something had to be done.  I knew that controlled drinking was only a short-term option -- it merely excited the beast living inside me.  I had to quit.

Quitting was easy.  I did it lots of times.

Staying quit, on the other hand, proved insurmountably difficult.  I tried.  Lord, how I tried.  Just as examples, here are a couple of anecdotes:

On one occasion, I sat watching television.  Television generally requires very little concentration, but I still couldn't muster enough of it to follow whatever the show was.  Wanting alcohol consumed all my thoughts.  After some eternal-seeming time of trying to think of something else, I leapt from the couch and bolted for the kitchen, where I swallowed half a tab of valium to make my undrunken state temporarily tolerable.

On another occasion, my husband brought home a can of hard lemonade and drank it.  He left the empty can on the counter.  When I passed, I stared.  It drew me towards it.  I held it, gazed into it, inhaled the scent with deep, shuddering breaths.

I am fairly sure that these behaviors are not normal.

I had to quit, but I couldn't quit.  The hook was in too deeply.  I couldn't get it out by myself.

Don't miss the exciting conclusion of Unchained Mouse's cure!

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