Updated: Sep 2, 2021
During my TLC newcomer meeting this morning, some of the ladies shared about the inner addict telling them they can drink again. Now that they have been sober for a while, maybe they don't really have a problem. Some of them have relapsed a few times in the month act I have known them. They come onto the meetings, red eyed from crying and admit to the three day bender they have just finished, and it breaks my heart. Because I know all too well that feelings of shame and disappointment in oneself. The need to attempt at moderation and convince ourselves that we won't slip back into our old ways is tempting. One member said this, "There are two types of people in this world. Those who know moderation won’t work. And those who will learn."
When asked over the past two months by others if I have tried to quit drinking before, I often say no. I usually say this is my first attempt at sobriety, but I have come to realize recently, that is not exactly true. I have forgotten about a huge chunk of time about a year ago, when I had a bad experience in December 2019 and slowed down my drinking so that I was trying to only have a glass or two of wine on a Saturday night. I was trying to gain control of this monster. Trying to moderate. I had myself convinced for about a month that I had basically gained control of the demons inside, and "I was driving this thing now."
How quickly did things change? When did things shift again? I don't remember. All I know is that within a few months I was right back to my old habits and eventually by the spring/summer, I was drinking everyday again, and things only got worse as 2020 went on. As another member said this morning, "that first drink is suicide."
So, did I try to 'stop' drinking? No, but similar to what Holly Whittaker who wrote "Quit Like A Woman," I played with moderation and altering my lifestyle and questioning my relationship with alcohol for a full two to three years before I finally decided to completely stop drinking altogether. Another time was springtime 2019, around Easter. Another time was fall 2018 after a girls weekend in Newport and I told my doctor that week after that I was worried about my drinking. She urged me to get help. This worried me more, and I then began lying to myself soon after about my habits. I tried to convince myself I could drink normally. Spring 2018 was the trip to Naples when I smashed my face and stopped drinking for a while, but fell right back into it within a month. These were all part of the process of coming to terms with what was really happening to me. I needed these attempts and setbacks to see the picture fully.
Alcohol use disorder is progressive. But so is recovery. This is a process and understanding my lived experiences and accepting what I have done and moving past these mistakes is part of it. It's just funny to me that I completely forgot about a 1-2 month period of time when I most recently attempted to control my drinking, and it was only a year ago. That just shows how truly uncommitted I was to the process. This time feels so different though. I know this is for real.