"He who rides the tiger often ends up inside it."
I've tried to trace where this quote came from, but haven't succeeded. It does aptly describe what happens to those who become alcoholics. At first, liquor is a welcome friend, one that is always on standby. Had a bad day? Have a drink or two. Can't sleep? Have some wine. Get-together with friends, have a couple beers. And as long as it remains at that level, as it did with me for 5 years, there's no problem. However, eventually it became my sole companion, my only love, my friend, my solace to the exclusion of all people. My writing became non-existent in favor of this all-consuming obsession.
At the beginning of 2012, the liquor gained the upper hand; I became its slave instead of the other way round. Contrary to the ads for rehabs on TV, questioning whether you have a problem, I knew I had a horrid predicament. The more I tried to escape, the more complex the web became. I struggled to quit, went through terrorizing, life-threatening detox two times (once with sister, once alone)...and each time swore I would never go through that terror again. Yet every single time, I'd find myself headed to the liquor store, as if on automatic pilot. Truly, for one who has always been proud of my self-control (at one point lost down to 88 lbs!) I couldn't understand why this devil was riding my back relentlessly. I surrendered at some point, and as a result, I came very close to death. At last I reached out for help, knew it had to stop being a devious secret, bring it out into the light of day, and defeat it with others' assistance.
I'm going to begin the series of journal entries from mid-summer, when I was trying to quit drinking alone. The entire period spans August through October. I've been sober 2 months yesterday, attending AA as well as seeing a private therapist. With that said, knowing the fragile nature of recovery, I still want to begin sharing my struggle...
[Preface: I discovered a great online recovery group, and participated there while trying to go it alone in real life. The following journal entries are from that time. This starts during a short sober period.]
August 10, 2012
(A series of thought-provoking 4 questions regarding why one drinks....)
1. What do I enjoy about my addiction? What does it do for me?
First, a couple of drinks help quell anxiety & relieve stress. I've always been a very anxious worrier -- even on a peaceful, good day. Drinking took away anxiety when around people as well allowing my shyness to ease somewhat.
Without social contact though, drinking seemed to create a mellow glow, enhance mundane reality, make time spin, not drag.
At times, and with the right amount, it also gave me energy to do a lot of household chores. Also, helped relieve my back problems and knee pain.
2. What do I hate about my addiction? What bad things does it do to me and to others?
I loathe the act of buying, getting liquor -- I feel shame and guilt (probably because my father was an alcoholic & I hated it, swore I'd never do that).
I hate the hiding, the subterfuge, the sneaky way I drink. Mostly alone, but occasionally (toward the end) when others were here. And near the end also, I hated being unable to get out of bed, the overwhelming depression and suicidal ideas. Worse, I hated the detox suffering, something I never want to go through again. Worse than awful. I hate the way I neglected my pets occasionally, though never to the point of harm. My sisters only learned of the drinking problem a few weeks ago, because I kept it so well hid. They were shocked and disappointed in me when I told them. That was a difficult time too.