This subject has been on my mind the past few days, I think because I have been by myself more than usual. Surprisingly, it has been easier not to drink when I am with someone who is drinking than it has been when I am alone. Maybe, this is because I said I will not drink so feel I cannot drink.
Yesterday I wanted a beer. I still have “leftover” beer at my house from before I quit drinking that I refuse to throw out. I am rebellious about it, I guess. I live in a society in which I cannot avoid alcohol. I have already stated I don’t believe alcohol is inherently bad. I do believe it is poison. But many things we ingest are, on some level, poison (many FDA cleared drugs are, for instance). Enough of anything can kill you.
The reason I keep the beer is multi-faceted. 1. I am stubborn and refuse to believe I cannot be around it and not drink it. 2. I must learn live in a world with alcohol, but not partake in it. 3. I keep it around in the “beer fridge” outside in case someone comes over, I can offer them a drink. (Funny, I thought and almost wrote “offer them poison,” which is a funny thing to offer people you like, I suppose. But again, no preaching here. We are all on our own journey). I will keep that beer in my fridge until it “goes bad” or someone drinks it.
This weekend I wanted that someone to be me. I wanted a beer to complement my weekend-warrioring-outside-suburban-farming-bad-assery. I worked really hard outside this weekend and wanted to “reward myself” with a beer.
I live alone. I was doing chores Sunday alone. I had a great day working in the yard. I was sore and exhausted and accomplished almost 100% of my goal for the weekend. I most certainly couldn’t have done nearly as much (or any) if I were hungover. My weekend goals are usually lofty so getting to nearly 100% completion is an accomplishment! Surely, I could reward my hard work with a beer. Two, tops… Besides, no one would know. I could have ONE beer or maybe TWO and not be hungover tomorrow. It would satisfy that “itch” and then the craving would leave me alone for a while.
I don’t crave alcohol in the traditional sense. When I stopped drinking, I did not go into a physical withdraw. I did experience what I considered mini-withdraws after nights of heavy drinking (shaking, heart racing, hangover symptoms). My craving is more psychological than physical. But I think the craving is just as real, and may be more dangerous in some ways. Like many, my psychological craving triggers are reward, pain, stress, and the need to avoid/escape.
So, I had a decision to make. Do I drink the one or two beers that no one is counting but me? Do I let myself be “an adult, goddammit and have a beer if I want to”? Or do I allow myself the option to do the difficult thing? Stick to a commitment and see it through? Do I reward my hard day’s work with a beer or undo the last 16 days of hard work with that same beer?
I considered: What would happen after the two beers? Would there be two more? Would I then drink with friends again or just hide it at home, like a true, closeted drunk? I thought of this blog. Let me tell you, more than once I have thought “I could just delete the blog and no one would know it ever existed – not like I have a ton of followers or anyone is watching really.” But this blog isn’t for others (yet it is), it is for me. Like my relationship with alcohol, it’s complicated. I love this medium and getting my thoughts out in an organized fashion. I love the interaction with others and knowing that maybe I am helping someone that is watching my journey.
I decided to compromise. I did two things: I got in my car and drove to the grocery store. I bought a six pack of Beck’s N/A beer. I also told another friend about my sobriety and about this blog. She requested the URL, so I gave it to her (hey girl – if you’re reading this, thanks!!) I brought the Beck’s home, cracked one open. I drank one fake-beer and almost fell asleep on the couch before I finished it. This was a test. I wouldn’t say I nailed it. I still wanted that beer. But I did pass. Sometimes passing is good enough.
I am becoming more open about my sobriety to friends, and also sharing this blog. I am not a writer by trade, nor am I sober by habit. None of my friends or family know me as either – so sharing both of these things makes me feel vulnerable and nervous. Perhaps this is my next step. Coming out.