My Novels

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Riding the Tiger

"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.

More tomorrow.


Karen said...

Yay for you, Cara. I hope your journey forward brings you much satisfaction and peace.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cara;

Kudos to your courage and strength.

By the way,'like your new FB photo :).

fellow Widownetter;

Frank Neuhauser

Mike Firesmith said...

I knew I had a problem with smoking when I was lying to people about how much I smoked. I hid it from the people I could and there was this deep sense of self-loathing whenever I bought cigarettes. Buying a new pack made me feel happy, however, because I could lie to myself, and tell myself I was going to quit after this pack. That was only one of the happy feeling lies I told myself to keep the addiction tight like a glove.
I never thought about sitting down and writing it out like you have but I really wish I had now. I tried to quit for nearly two years before making myself a great big sandwich of cold turkey and just walking away from it.

Writers are more able to hide what they do because they are accustomed to living in another world anyway, Cara. It may shock someone or surprise someone, to discover who you are but at the same time, until the day we all die we are all works in progress of some sort, like an unfinished book.

Drinking is a bitch. It’s really hard to stop drinking when you live alone and even worse if you drink alone at home.

But if writing has always been, to me, a sort of pathway out of my life as well as into my mind.

I think you’re on the right track.

Take Care,