Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I have tried NUMEROUS times to manage my relationship with alcohol. I tried to reel it in in 2008, when A. was in K-town and I was handling his absence…in an unproductive way. I tried again in 2013, after a significant time spent self-medicating my postpartum depression. And I tried again in 2015 after a summer spent partying it up with other ex-pats.
To an outsider, I suspect my problem with alcohol probably seems pretty minor, if non-existent. As it stands now, I rarely have more than two drinks in an evening, and I’m not a morning drinker, or a three martini luncher. I don’t have blackout periods, and I’m not into shooters or hard liquor. I have never woken up and not known where I was, and I no longer hide wine in my closet so I can drink without judgment. So I’m good, right?
Not so much.
Because like smoking and coffee, while I’m not a heavy user, I’m crazy dependent on alcohol. And it’s the dependency that’s key here. When I was a smoker, I never smoked a pack a day. But I had to smoke at least a couple EVERY DAY. I don’t drink five cups of coffee each day, but so help me if I don’t have one. You get the idea. And the problem, of course, with dependency that does not become excessive and overtly disruptive, is that it’s easy to think you’re fine. And it’s easy for others to think you’re fine. So there’s no incentive to change the behaviour.
But the thing is, I’m not fine. Because I want to drink all of the time. Because whenever I have one beverage, it has to be two. Because once I have two, I am incapable of not putting my foot in my mouth. Because my body has started to react even to two beverages by making me excessively grumpy the next day, and incapable of accomplishing any task before noon. Because I’ve had nights where I’ve needed to do school work, and I haven’t because I needed to drink, and then I was incapable of focusing. Because I’m a shitty parent after one beverage, alternating between nonchalant and ridiculously overprotective, and overreacting to everything the kids are doing. Because I use alcohol to numb pain and to manage anxiety.
Something has to change. I am, in fact, in the exact same mental spot that I was in when I finally quit smoking, and I’ve decided to approach alcohol the same way when it comes to stopping. I never said I was going to quit smoking when I did. All I said was: “I’m not going to smoke today.” And I kept doing that every day until before I knew it a year had gone by, then five, then ten.
So I’m not going to drink today.