Why does an alcoholic drink? I don’t know, why does a fish swim? Because booze is like water? Like air? After four years of sobriety, I mostly don’t think about drinking but the want resurfaces from time to time for reasons that are myriad and varied. Sometimes I’m anxious and want to relax. Sometimes I’m lonely and want to fit in. Sometimes I’m bored and want to be a little wild. Sometimes I want to drink for no reason at all.
During the pandemic, I’m finding all new reasons to want to drink. They aren’t the ones you might think. It’s not the other moms raising a glass at wine o’clock on Facebook or the New York Times reminding me in every goddamn morning briefing that good wine is my birthright, or something, that make me antsy. It’s not the promise of delivery to my door in an hour or less. I know what it’s like to get drunk at home by myself and it’s not pretty or fun.
The reasons, like a good drink, are more subtle, nuanced, and complex. The reasons, like a good drink, are strong enough to drag me under.
The world is so different now. I’m so different now. Can’t I just have a glass of wine? Can’t this one thing go back to normal? I know normal is an illusion. Normal was never on the list of words I’d use to describe my drinking. It’s never happened before, but I guess I’m wishing I could drink and get a different outcome.
At the same time, in this great unmooring from the way things were, I want the same outcome. I want to drink and I want it to end badly. I know what to do when I hit rock bottom. I know exactly where to go, and I know what I will find when I get there. Open arms. Healing. Answers. Quitting drinking, asking for help, it all made me feel so much better. Can’t I just do it all over again? Maybe do it better this time? Can’t I take a break from standing on my own two feet and lean on the group for awhile? Can’t I take a break from worrying about my family and the world and take care of myself? I guess I’m wishing I could fall off the wagon and climb right back on again.
I shouldn’t be writing this post. Talking about relapse makes people uneasy, the people I love, and the people in my program of recovery. It scares me too. When I think about the options–I take a drink and everything’s fine or a take a drink and everything goes to shit–I’m not sure what scares me more. If I’m cured, I lose a big piece of my identity. If everything’s not fine, and the relapse stories are to be believed, I might not be lucky enough to hit bottom on this side of the ground. I might lose it all.
The outcome that actually scares me the most is the one that lands somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios. I have three or four drinks and get pissy at my husband. I scroll too much on my phone, send a few sketchy texts. I go to bed and wake up sick with shame, with anxiety, with myself. I make myself a promise it’s done. And then I do it all over again and it’s Groundhog Day for the next ten years. This, of course, is the most likely result. This is the real nightmare.
2 thoughts on “Quarantine Diary Day 76: What If I Did Drink?”
This is SUCH a great post!? I understand so much of your conflict and frustration here–how to identify with who you have become, now that you are more “sober” than you are “getting sober.” Past few years, I have been struggling to define who I am now, about eight years out; I feel so far from my pink-cloud phase, so far from the “fire” and “wonder” of early sobriety. I wish I could somehow go back to those early days of sobriety. These days, life is pretty routine, full of responsibilities (that I know I can manage, but it’s hard and takes work!)–in early sobriety, it was nice to just lean on others for help for a while, wasn’t it? Thank you for sharing–
You get it!!! I know it’s possible to reclaim some of the early sobriety magic by reconnecting with the things I did in the beginning. For me, that’s 12-step, so going to a new meeting, reaching out to another alcoholic, taking on a service commitment. I’ve recommitted to those practices at various points in sobriety and it always helps. But I’m finding it hard to do those things now with the way AA has moved online and with the way my responsibilities have shifted under lockdown. It also helps to remember there is no guarantee that I will get a second shit at recovery. That shit was hard enough the first time and people say it’s even harder to come back. Anyway, thank you for commenting. It’s so good to connect!
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