Gray Area Drinking... 1/15/21
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
Today I listened to a podcast on gray area drinking and I never realized how much that term depicts exactly what I experienced as a drinker. I hung out in between the two extremes of being a normal, controlled drinker and rock bottom. I was neither one. I lingered in the gray area for so long, and I was stuck on the drinking merry-go-round.
For so long, I would go through phases where I would try to moderate. I would stop drinking from Monday to Wednesday, but then go balls out on Wednesday, blacking out and completely getting obliterated by 7pm on Thursday in front of the kids. I couldn't control my intake when I would eventually allow myself to imbibe. Other times, I obsessed about what days of the week I would actually drink and whether I really needed to even take days off. For whatever reason, I would convince myself to have a glass or two on Monday and then it was a slippery slope right back into my old ways.
The constant back and forth in my head was exhausting. The nonstop guilt and self-shaming whenever I couldn't stick to my plan. I know that normal drinkers didn't experience this kind of frustrating internal dilemma and self-hate.
But when I did decided to quit drinking, the first thing out of everyone's mouth when I told them was, "Did something happen?" Everyone expected that I got a DUI, or that I fell down and cracked my head open or that Evan had given me some ultimatum, or something extreme had gone down. But it was quite the opposite, I didn't have a rock bottom. Yes, I got to the point, where my drinking had started to spiral and I was doing things I knew was just completely awful, but that wasn't the norm for me. That was only at the end of this long road of drinking.
As stated in the article, https://www.thetemper.com/gray-area-drinking/, "Alcohol is your reward at the end of the day. It’s how you have fun, relax, unwind, connect, have sex, and fall asleep at night. Everything in moderation, right? Yet, you’ve lost count how many times you’ve woken up the day after “living a little” and said, “Never again. I can’t keep drinking like this.”
This was my problem. I used it at the beginning to celebrate. Then to relax. Then to self medicate. Then to numb myself. And then it got to the point where I just hated myself, because I couldn't control it. And I also couldn't find the fun in these things anymore no matter how much I drank. I just wasn't enjoying myself in the end. I was eventually just so tired and sad.
I was a normal, functional gray area drinker for so long. How did I get to that point? If only I had known months, years ago that this was a thing and others felt this way, then maybe I could have stopped this sooner. If only I knew that there was such a thing as gray area drinking, and if I had known how to challenge it back then, maybe I would have been stronger. Maybe I would have considered making a change sooner, before things got so bad. Because I did worry. I regretted the things I did for a long time. But my addiction got worse and I slowly began to really lose control.
Thankfully, I realized that alcohol didn't have the answer. It couldn't give me what I need. Alcohol wasn't able to solve my problems when things got uncomfortable. I needed to nourish myself with different outlets. Both my body AND mind needed to sever the ties though, not just one or the other, in order to get off the merry go round.
Thankfully, I am no longer a gray area drinker.
Eventually, I should have stopped asking myself, do I have a problem? Is my drinking really that bad? Instead, I should have been focusing on the idea of is my life really that good right now? Am I happy? Like Laura McKowen said, "The normal question is, 'is this bad enough for me to change?' The question we should be asking is, 'is this good enough for me to stay the same?' And the real question underneath it all is, 'am I free?'"
Now, I finally feel free.