Anyone who knows me knows that I loved day drinking. There’s nothing like relieving the stress of actually having to get out of bed with an alcoholic beverage. I’m single, retired, and my child is an adult so day drinking seemed like a great way to pass the time. This little habit was fun and easy, so I picked it up without any difficulty. Once I established the habit of day drinking, I settled into a nice little routine. I went to the gym in the morning, followed by breakfast, after breakfast I would run my errands. By the time I finished my morning routine, it was time for day drinking to begin. It was harmless until it wasn’t.
My day drinking began as an occasional thing. I would only day drink when I was meeting up with my friends for lunch or when someone could get away from work. As time went by my day drinking got more frequent. Day drinking was something I enjoyed, a lot, so I usually found someone to go day drinking with. The positive side of sitting at a bar in a restaurant is that 1) I didn’t have to wait to be seated and B) I always met someone sitting at the bar. Day drinking got me fast food and fast friends. What’s not to love? Some people can go to lunch, have one drink and then proceed with their day. Other people can drink and be active while drinking. I do not fall into either of these categories. When I start drinking, I am useless. I’m done. I either go to sleep or continue to drink until midnight. There is no in-between for me. I didn’t want to go home and sleep, so I typically continued to drink all day. If I had gone day drinking, I was usually going out to different bars at night, but I was cool with that because I always knew someone at those bars too.
My day drinking that turned into night drinking went on for a couple of years. It was all fun and games until it wasn’t. The blurred vision I experienced from drinking was both a gift and a curse. I didn’t notice so many things. My house falling apart, the bills piling up, the boredom, the loneliness, the pain, the way I was wasting my life, the way I was allowing other people to treat me, or the way I was treating myself. Drinking made all that go away. I didn’t notice all the bad things. The bad doesn’t exist when I drink. I had been so focused on drinking and ignoring my real life that it all came crumbling down. I knew it was time to rein it in and get back to reality. So I started drinking at home.
I had to deal with the stress of real life and drinking was my only stress reliever. I am single, so I don’t have a partner to turn to, my family doesn’t live nearby, and the only friends I had were my drinking buddies. Drinking was the one thing that released me from daily life. If I was lonely, it comforted me. If I was sad, it cheered me up. If I was mad, it calmed me down. If I was insecure, it made me confident. If I was scared, it made me brave. If I was in pain, it numbed me. If I had something on my mind, it made me forget. I felt like alcohol was my soul mate.
I began to suspect that I had a problem. In my typical fashion, I made a joke about it and refused to face my feelings. When I would fail to do something, instead of thinking of a lie, I just admitted that I was a functioning alcoholic. I’m not 100% positive that I am any type of alcoholic (I’m not a therapist) but I felt like I was falling apart. I knew that I had lost control, but I didn’t want to stop drinking. I liked drinking. I liked the way drinking made me feel, and I liked how drinking made me forget to feel. I have been able to solve every other problem in my life, so there has got to be a solution to this that will allow me to continue drinking.
I began doing a little research. I read Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink-And How They Can Regain Control. This book highlights the way women have been abused when they sought treatment in AA, and it also gives some insight into the reasons that women may abuse alcohol. It was interesting, but it didn’t give me a detailed program on how to slow down my drinking. I kept searching for answers. According to the Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs, if you have both PTSD and drinking problems (which I do), you are likely to have other mental or physical health problems. They suggested finding a therapist (which I did).
When I finally slowed down my drinking, I felt so much shame. I felt shame for the way I had behaved when I had drunk too much, I felt shame for the things in my life I had let get out of control, and I felt shame for the way I had allowed people to treat me. There is also the stigma of being a woman who drinks too much. Drinking isn’t considered ladylike, so we have kept it hidden behind closed doors. Not to mention the stigma of being a woman who has already admitted to being a functioning alcoholic. Clare Poole wrote The Sober Diaries, a book about a woman who had quit drinking for a year before she told people she was sober. In the book, she writes, “If you drop any other bad habit, you get the support of friends and family – but when you stop drinking, one of the toughest things is the reaction of people. Nobody blames you for having been addicted to cigarettes; they blame the cigarettes. When you give up drinking, another addictive poison, people blame you for having the problem.” I am sure people blame me for having the problem because I blame myself.
Why do I blame myself? Am I a failure as a person because I let my alcohol consumption get out of control? I never had that rock-bottom moment that I’ve always heard about, I had many unspeakable moments that finally got me to the endpoint. It has been months since I have been out day drinking and I rarely go out at night anymore. It’s easier to avoid the crowd. I made a rule that I could only drink on Friday night. Drinking only on Friday night worked well until I went on vacation. Vacation doesn’t count, right? I am back on track now, and I haven’t had a drink in 17 days, not even on Friday nights. I don’t know if I’m an alcoholic, but I know that alcohol was preventing me from living my truth. Do you drink? If so, what are some of the reasons you reach for a drink? Do you ever let it go too far?
If you or someone you know needs treatment, a directory is here or call the national helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
A free guide to help you cut down on your drinking is here
A directory to find meetings worldwide for family members of problem drinkers is here
Photos by: Sherika Mathis Sims