My Name Is PD And I Have An Alcohol Problem

December 2, 2016 has to be the last day I drink any alcohol. It has to be. I am running out of evidence that it is ever a good idea for me to have a glass of anything with alcohol. 

Yesterday myself, Lu, and another girlfriend (let’s call her Becca) were going to an event downtown. Becca and I went to Becca’s apartment after work (we work together). We were chatting about how we are, and I was like “I’m good. Yea, I’m good.” And Becca looked me dead centre and went “it’s okay to be good, you know.” 

It doesn’t feel okay to be good. Stability is harder for me than chaos. It forces me to look deeper beyond the present moment. It forces hard looks at the past or if I choose not to deal with the past – I recently realized I had that choice by leaving Little PD with A – I get bored when life calms down. 

And when I drink, I’m good at creating chaos. I conjure it out of thin air like a fucking magician. So this morning I made a list of all the reasons alcohol is good and all the reasons I can’t have it anymore – here it is. 

Alcohol Pros

  1. It’s fun in the right setting. It’s relaxing, it breaks tension, it’s free a lot in my life (cause agency life). 
  2. It’s what my friends do. Out of the five girlfriends I have in this city – I can picture hanging out with Becca or Lu without alcohol but can’t remember the last time we chose to do that. 
  3. It can be delicious. I love wine. My favourite winery is near where I live and I would buy cases of it. 
  4. It helps me cope on a surface level. Or it feels like it does. Sometimes it’s a very real method of harm reduction – choosing alcohol over cutting, for example.

Alcohol Cons 
TW: self-harm, suicide

  1. Shenanigans – at some point (now, maybe) they stop being cute and funny and are simply pathetic. Ending up in my office (where I was just given the privelege of having keys to), fucking with people’s heads (as I tend to do when I lose my inhibition and let the guard on my brain down), ending up high (which my husband hates and frankly so do I), and wandering around downtown alone – these aren’t funny things. Neither is the time you accidentally end up making out with your boss (a few months ago but God that one feels good to confess). They may seem funny in the moment but they are actually kind of dangerous and pathetic. It turns memories of a good night into a night with awful memories or none at all. Because let’s admit that nobody enjoys drunk texts — it’s a “you again” not a “oh I’m so glad I’m hearing from PD at 10pm and it says ‘SjjLw r Alan dak.swkas r s a.amy'”(actual text from last night). For the record I’ve realized teen me is the one that loves these shenanigans and loves being a mess because it’s how she feels most in control. Which feels important.
  2. Health – My heart, my family history of liver disease, my own liver function, the medication I’m on. I was told explicitly by an ER DOCTOR not to drink. By an emergency room doctor. Where I was a week ago. Because my heart is fucked. And in two days I’ve managed to drink 3 bottles worth of wine – to myself. Not to mention poor sleep quality, weight gain, and the other normal problems. Not to mention the nights it makes me literally sick.
  3. Reputation – I am generally respected at work but I can feel that changing as I become more out of control. When people who love and care about you tell you straight up you need to slow down – hello, sign. We had poker night Thursday and I was the only one drinking. I drank a bottle and a quarter of wine. Which leads me to my next point.
  4. I can’t stop – once I start drinking, I drink until I can’t find any more alcohol. I have no control over it. The control ends when I take my first sip of wine. I become a wine hog and pour more for me than anyone else. I find ways to sneak back and get more. I will steal other people’s alcohol.
  5. Hangovers – because I can’t stop I wake up horribly thirsty and generally early and feeling like crap. I don’t want to do any of the stuff I have planned for that day. I start to let people down. 
  6. Relationship ruiner – I have no doubt that if I don’t get this under control my husband is going to leave me. Zero doubt. This is coupled by the fact that I come home 8 days ago plastered and he goes “I hate drunk PD. Hate her. I am not your babysitter but your husband. And I didn’t sign up to marry this woman.” So I’m not exaggerating here. I could lose my husband over this. I also am on a really good path to lose my friendship with my boss and today and probably the next week is going to be about damage control with him. I have lost friendships this way. And I am an awful friend when I’m drunk. Lu is the kindest and most understanding person in the world and I’m so thankful for that but my god I can be a horrible ass sometimes.
  7. Money – it’s expensive and $20 nights become $80 nights.
  8. I don’t want to be my mother  – my mom is 63 and drinks a bottle and a half a day. And thinks it is fine. She can’t stop shaking now in the mornings until she has a drink. She drowns her problems in booze as was modelled for her and as has now been modelled for me. Genetics are not on my side when it comes to alcoholism. This is why I’m in this after all – with A, battling against generational trauma. I cannot and will not watch my future children make the same choices and be bound by the issues that plagued the generations before them because I was too afraid to do the work. It’s may be too late for my mom but I cant control what she does regardless – but it isn’t too late for me and it definitely isn’t for my future children.
  9. It makes therapy harder – even if in some ways it makes it seem easier. Drunk shenanigans and wrecked relationships, health issues, lying, and manipulation give me some surface chaos to talk about. But it drowns out the voices that matter. It drowns out little me and teen me (who may delight in the chaos but simply wants to be heard). It prevents me from creating internal space to do the hard work. When the emotions rise I drown them in alcohol. And then they rise again, so I drown them again. It’s a cycle that doesn’t lead to growth.
  10. I want to stop – do you want to know what was open in my phone browser this morning and what has been open the last four times I’ve been blackout drunk? Tabs with the search “how to stop drinking” and “why can’t I quit drinking” and then more tabs with results from those searches. Drunk me hates that I silence my inner selves with alcohol. Drunk me hates being drunk.
  11. Suicidal tendencies – In my more desperate times (or stable times) I also find tabs open with the question “how do I kill myself” and a notepad list of the pros and cons of ending my life. This doesn’t happen every time I drink but it is a scary list to find in the morning. It’s a list I found this morning, along with a list of all the reasons I deserve to be dead. I can’t access any of those feelings right now – I feel stable again, in fact, minus the mess I have to clean up from last night. But there is something terrifying about the fact that these thoughts run through my intoxicated mind while I am blackout drunk. That they are thoughts a part of me has buried deep within my soul. That my blackout drunk brain is capable of actively planning my suicide and writing suicide notes (it hasn’t done that in over a year but I have previously woken up to a plan and suicide notes to my parents and my then fiance. Along with my own obituary that I wrote. I still have them.) That is not okay. This entire point is not okay. This, out of all of them, is the #1 reason I need to stop drinking if I cannot stop myself from getting blackout drunk because I don’t want to die – but a part of me clearly does. And that part occasionally takes real steps towards it. 

Its pretty clear which list wins. And if it’s not, you need a lesson in basic math. Plus I would probably weight the second list – especially 2, 6, and 11. But anyways, this isn’t about stats.

I am not proud of this list. But it felt important to write and share and I’ll be taking it to A next week as well. This isn’t the first time I’ve said I need to quit. It won’t be the first time I have tried either. I have told people I’m quitting before. And to quote my husband “how is it going to be different this time?” (Imagine that said in a very concerned supportive way and not as a condescending statement). And to tell you the truth I have no fucking clue. I know the cons outweigh the pros by a whole lot. I know I am slowly becoming a less fun person to be around for my friends. I know I am running straight into problems. I know a very hurt and very angry part of me that I can’t seem to access while sober wants to die.

I know that this decision has to be made. But I know that now safe at home with no booze in the house (like I said I’ve tried to quit before). Will I know this in a week at a party? Will I know this next Tuesday on games night? Will I know this when I find the gift card to the liquor store or get wine for a Christmas gift? The last time what worked was a reward system – with rewards spaced out every week for the first month and then bi-weekly to 100 days. This isn’t going to be easy but fuck it’s necessary.

My name is PD and I have a problem with alcohol and I need your support. If you’ve ever battled this yourself or have any ideas, I am all ears. It has to stick this time. 

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31 thoughts on “My Name Is PD And I Have An Alcohol Problem

  1. Proud of you. They say it takes an average of 7 times of quitting to actually make it to recovery. I guess for those who keep trying to quit, they learn from each time. I think you’ve put a lot of ground work into recovery and that will help immensely but like Rachel said, its still gritty work. So, so proud of you and that won’t change even if you do slip up.

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  2. Dear PD…..wow, so powerful and so vulnerable!!! I had to re-read this because of how deep you went and how honest you were. My goodness if that isn’t the first step I don’t know what is!!! You are so strong PD, you have support and desire and drive. You have been through the hardest shit in your life and continue to rise above. I am not a drinker but if I was I would use your list to guide me in stopping. How brave of you to share such a deep part of yourself here. You can do this. I am with you, holding you up in this space and praying for you to be strong and reach out for help when you need it. Ngerbie

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  3. Hey PD! I wish I had more to say, but I don’t have a lot of experience with alcohol addiction (I mean, people in my family are addicted, but no one has actually recovered, except my grandma – I know AA was helpful for her). BUT I want to say how incredibly brave and strong you are for posting this, and how I (and your other readers) support you no matter what, and are sending love. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t have a ton to add right now, but am finally online and wanting to send support. I don’t think quitting drinking (or any self-harm behavior) is a one-off process (unfortunately). At least for me, it has never been the case. Quitting alcohol for good took me about 10 years. I stopped, then once in awhile would do it again, remember why it isn’t good for me, and would stop. Then once a year or so, go back. Or go back for a few months during a really hard time or when dating someone who drank, then quit. etc. I know some people do stop all at once and never do it again. And some people decide to do it every once in awhile.
    I agree with Ellen, this isn’t about willpower. You already would have stopped if you could or were able to. Especially given how many times you’ve thought you wanted to (at least that I’ve read on here). It isn’t a simple “I want to stop so I will” kind of process. It just isn’t linear like that. This is about adding in skills and reserves and other strategies so the alcohol eventually is something you don’t do anymore. And, having compassion for the times you do return to it. And as much as possible, not giving up on yourself or the process. Realizing you learned this very honestly from your family, are doing the best you can, and realize you want to do better. And you are working at it, and you’ll get there. I really know you will, and you’re doing exactly what you need to do to get there. Building awareness and insight and skills.

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      • No prob. I think for people like you (and me), who have a lot of insight and can see where we are headed (i.e. you knowing at some point you will stop drinking in the manner you do now), it is hard to be “here.” It is hard to see what we have going on, and not be able to change it NOW. So we start to judge or shame or blame ourselves for not being able to stop immediately, when, these patterns developed from YEARS of trauma, and will take YEARS to heal. Which means, unfortunately, we have to be in the yuck for longer than we want. Knowing doesn’t translate into behavioral change overnight. I wish it did. I wish this was easier, and you could already be able to implement changes you want. I wish the process was quicker for us, I really do. But I see you being and doing exactly what you need, to get where I know you’ll be. You’re doing such inspiring and gritty work right now.

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      • Thank you – I appreciate the insight so much. I think this is the hardest time, being aware of the patterns and instability but also afraid of the stability and bored when things are calm. I also believe that being able to see the patterns and where they come from is a blessing as well as a curse because I know why I am doing things but I can’t seem to stop and it’s so frustrating. It is gritty work. I thought being vulnerable and open was the hardest part but it’s this – continuing and taking steps forward right now into more muck for longer, in the name of getting better. Actively choosing to hurt to heal.

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  5. Hugs. You should be proud of having this. Alcohol isn’t my coping method, but I’m behind you in this, and fully support you. I do believe you can do this. Sometimes, in order to succeed we have to get it wrong and screw it up first. How can we ever really learn anything without first getting it wrong?

    My problems are eating disorder and cutting related. Bea’s strategy to stop these things was to replace them with things that accomplished the same thing as those coping methods did. It’s called the CARES protocol. It stands for communicate alternatively, release endorphins, and self soothe. I have more info on it, that I’m happy to share if you think it will help. I’ve found it helpful some of the time— but I’ve also never reached a point where I’ve wanted to completely give up the ED and cutting.

    You can do this. Xx💟

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  6. This is where I can see the parallels in our lives PD. My mum used to drink, her parents drank but her dad was also eventually sober. My auntie describes their mother as someone who liked a good time and who was rather wild. It is learned behaviour. I have managed to avoid falling into that trap. Maybe my dad did one good thing in not letting me go out with my friends at 15/16. Given the sexual assault and your brother’s erratic behaviour, I can see why you have needed alcohol as a coping tool.
    My dad left when I was 20 and told me to look after my mum. This mostly involved picking her up off the floor at 3am at the weekend. She mostly just drank in the house during the week. She would cry about dad leaving and I would try to reassure her that everything would be okay. I think that was why he left or part of the reason. It was hard. Especially when I had to leave her on the floor because she was too paralytic to get into bed. She woke up in her own vomit. There were various other incidents.
    I didn’t say a lot to make you feel guilty or anything! But it is my experience. I have never been drunk. But when I was stressed at work during the week, all I could think was that I needed a drink. It is in me too.
    You recognise it and are working on it but I can see that you have a lot of trauma to process. I went to Al-Anon which helped me a lot. Perhaps suggest it to your husband. It may help him to bear with you. He may think that it is bullshit but he seems like an open man. He clearly doesn’t enable you which is good.
    I think that you will get there and should be proud that you made the list. You can break the cycle and raise happy, emotionally stable children when the time comes. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t worry – you didn’t make me feel guilty in any way. I’m so sorry you were tasked with taking care of your Mom. I’m proud of you for not falling into it and recognising it early.

      I am thankfully still relatively stable and calm, my drinking frustrates my husband but I’m still able to take care of myself. I’ve actually been to Al-Anon too and if my husband expresses interest I will surely support him.

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  7. What about AA? I think addiction is a problem that goes beyond just will power – if it was will power alone, you’d have kicked it by now. Don’t know if you are a group person – I’ve benefited from ACA myself, but I know not everyone is open to groups. Addiction is tricky, and AA can help with how to not be an addict, which goes beyond just not drinking. From your ‘my name is…’ comment, I’m guessing you have some experience with it?

    After the decision comes the struggle – you might need help with that part. My two cents.

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    • I agree wholeheartedly with it being as something that goes beyond willpower. I have previously looked at AA and been to a support group for family of those with personality disorders but the group setting is a little hard for me. I have had exposure to them but don’t really want to return right now. I am going to talk to A about it next week and see what she thinks.

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  8. I’ll take the hug. Thank you for applauding the list. I know A will too. Dave tried to tell me this morning it was fine and my voicemail was funny and I was like no – it’s not and I need you to stop telling me it is. So he got that something was up – and we will see. It’s a journey xx

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  9. You know me, I love the technical explanations. What I’ve found helpful is the “cycle of change” model (this one: http://tinyurl.com/jj3xtc9, except that the ‘pre-contemplation’ stage should really be outside the cycle like in this diagram: http://tinyurl.com/hv9z7xl). The specific aspects of this model I think are helpful are recognising that a lot of work goes into setting up the conditions for change (the preparation stage), and recognising that relapse/ slip-ups are an inevitable part of the cycle and that what you are trying to achieve is an upward spiral where you manage each time a bit better than the last.

    I’ve not struggled with alcohol myself, but I’ve worked in inpatient detox and have close family who have been sober for many years through AA. Not everyone is a fan of complete abstinence, but with that loss of control you’re describing it is the only way to go. I admire you for making this choice now, and not waiting until your life is completely destroyed.

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    • I do know you and I like the technical explanations. It is the only way to go. I’ve tried the middle ground and it’s clear it isn’t working. Thanks for your response and the links xx

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  10. Paper Doll,

    Before I say anything else, I want you to know that I hear you and want to offer support. It’s internet blogger support and not the type of direct, intimate support system which we all need, but I offer what I can.

    To be honest, I drink myself at times. I have no list. I do it to numb the pain, pure and simple. When I don’t feel excruciating pain, I don’t have the desire to drink. For me, it’s just that simple. What I’m striving for is to reduce the pain, to find some way to heal, to find some way to process things which I wasn’t able to as a child or young adult. In a way, I still haven’t been able to process all I’ve experienced…and that makes things very challenging. I refuse to quit, but such a defiant cry doesn’t make things any easier or the overwhelming experiences and pain any less.

    You’ve asked for comments and suggestions. If I overstep any boundaries, let me know. It’s not my intention to preach, tell you what to do or casually toss platitudes at you.

    If you want to stop. If you know you want to stop. Believe it or not, that’s huge. Some of the things you mentioned which really struck a chord with me were:

    “It doesn’t feel okay to be good.” – Just feeling okay is painful in of itself.

    “nobody enjoys drunk texts” – Oh yes, the internet cloud of my phone has plenty of these!

    “Relationship ruiner” – Before I met my wife, I was in a relationship with someone struggling with as much pain as me. Our mutual challenges completely destroyed our relationship and created even more experiences of pain (…and regret…) to process. My wife and I have been through a lot in other ways. But when I drink, I’m not the same person she fell in love with and married.

    “I cannot and will not watch my future children make the same choices” – This is my biggest reason to pursue healing and a sense of peace. I remember all too well what I experienced as a child. I absolutely refuse to do the same to my child. While I’m nothing like my parents, “not as bad” isn’t good enough. I want a life for my child which I didn’t have. For me, that is a powerful motivator. I may life out all my days in the darkness, but if I can still help my child grow up and live in the sunlight, I’d take all that darkness and twice the pain.

    “Want to stop and suicidal tendencies” – I can’t really speak to this, but from what you’ve written, it sounds terrifying. I suppose it’s one thing to consider it when sober, but it must truly be horrifying to come across that sort of stuff the next day.

    My son’s health has require the assistance of many social workers and I know a number of people who work in social services. One of the things which all of them have spoken of and commented on is that alcohol (and or) drug abuse is really all about the underlying pain. It’s about trauma and “numbing” out. Once the pain and trauma is resolved, the substance abuse issues are able to be addressed much more easily. Of course, this isn’t as easy or simplistic as it sounds. I’ve been at this for decades and I still struggle. However, what matters is the support system that you have, what the underlying and past issues are that you are struggling with and how much strength you are able to summon to confront the terror and horror you may have experienced. I worked with a therapist one time who told me about regrets she had about pushing too hard and to process too much at once. She was skilled and talented, but she realized that you can’t take everything on at once. Healing and processing the pain is slow, laborious work. The thing which makes it bearable is the support system you can create for yourself and your commitment to processing and healing in realistic increments. This isn’t easy. It’s not fair. It’s a huge pain in the ass. But, if your gentle and compassionate with yourself, it’s very likely possible.

    I find that the key for me isn’t instant peace and happiness, it’s about continued progress in healing. I was a mess at 18. Less so at 28, and 38 and so on. It’s all still there and I still struggle with it all, but I’d easily take my current struggles over what my situation was more than 30 years ago.

    Things don’t get perfect, but they can get better.

    I struggle in my relationship with my wife. I’ve done and said awful things which have hurt her deeply and which she doesn’t understand. Yet I’m totally committed to her as she is totally committed to me. (and we’re both completely devoted to our child) It’s also important to note that she’s the most “healthy” individual I’ve ever been involved with. That makes a huge difference. I can’t begin to describe how important that is.

    Don’t beat yourself up. Do the best you can, with what you have to work with, wherever you find yourself.

    While it’s only my opinion, know that it’s my belief is that there is a light within all which is worthy of life, peace, happiness and contentment. Believe it or not, you are a beautiful soul in this moment, as you are. That inner light is worthy of striving for and searching for. You are worthy of being contented and at peace. You deserve what you truly want to be happy.

    Such a long response! But I hope it does offer something of value to you.

    It sounds like you have people in your life who care and that you do have something of a support system. If you want a suggestion, explore the possibilities of what you think will help. Try any positive thing you can think of until you find something that works. If you would find it of value, talk to your friend, therapist and husband about your struggles. If you don’t know what you want to do or what’s “right,” start with striving to move away from the things you know you don’t want. Personally, I thought of my own parents as a starting point, and then tried to become less and less like them as much as I could.

    I’m profoundly sorry to hear of your struggles and your pain. I hope that you are able to find a sense of peace and a life lived in which you can find healing and contentment. I may not always respond, but know that I am reading your blog, thinking of you and wishing the best for you, your marriage and your family.

    I really hope that something of all this helped.

    Be Well,
    Theseus

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  11. I want to give you a hug. You may not be proud of the list, but I am proud of you for writing it out. It is so, so important, and I like that you did weigh out the important pieces. You of course have my support.
    I used to reward myself periodically when I was trying to stop cutting. Actually, it started as my best friend rewarding me with things like CDs or movies. She would literally celebrate with me when I’d reach certain marks. We’d go get lunch and ice cream when I’d hit 50 days, 100 days, etc.
    Granted, none of that stuck. That was the first time I tried to stop. Maybe it broke the addiction, because after that, it was mostly 1-time lapses, rather than weeks of cutting. What I learned most recently is that rewarding myself with things I really like worked best. Like my favorite is this denim jacket/hoodie thing I got myself a year and a half ago. And I got it for myself in a way that was compassionate and caring. It was more of a “you deserve this, you’re working so hard” kind of a thing, rather than “hooray you made X number of days”.
    My biggest advice is to do this from a compassionate state of mind. Don’t do it because you “need” to or because a certain person says you need to. You need to genuinely want it, and I believe you do.
    I’m in an addictions class right now, and I’m taking another one in the spring, so if you have questions, let me know xx

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