Before I begin this topic, I am going to preface it with the fact that I started it, deleted it, started it and deleted it again. And then I decided to say, “Fuck it, I’m writing it, because it’s part of my story!” So, here goes…
My wife (yes, we are on a hiatus from the divorce plans…it’s a complicated story that I don’t want to discuss right now) and I were having a conversation about drinking yesterday. And I was expressing that there are some days where I just want a drink. I just want one beer or one glass of wine. And what prompted the discussion was a drink I had ordered from Starbuck’s. It was a Cold Brew Nitro – ya know, the cold coffee drink that they infuse with nitrogen to give it a frothy top. Well, we were driving down the road and it gave me a memory – it reminded me of the coffee stouts I used to enjoy drinking. I’ve been a craft beer aficionado for quite some time and this particular drink reminded me of the beers I enjoyed.
I paused when taking a drink and my wife asked me what was wrong. I told her the thought that came to mind. You see, my wife is what is referred to as a “normie”. In other words, she can have a sip of wine or a small glass of beer and take a couple drinks and “feel it” and will be done. And then as we sit through dinner, it tortures me that she doesn’t finish it. I bring this up, because the conversation we had about drinking is a reminder that no one can really grasp this ailment quite the way an alcoholic does. When I expressed that sometimes I just want to have a beer, she said, “Well, maybe you can. Maybe you should just put all your will power to a plan and stick to it.”
My reply to her was, “Remember when we first got together it used to bother you that I would not drink at all – regardless of the situation.” She nodded and replied, “I thought it was because you hated my family.” It wasn’t the case, and I explained to her what I thought about my own relationship with alcohol. When she and I first got together, I would never drink. She would have a beer or a glass of wine at family gatherings and I would refuse drink anything. She always assumed I was holding myself to a higher standard than others because I was a cop at the time. It was not true; in fact, I was so focused on trying to be healthy, I just saw that alcohol was an inhibition to that. But I also explained to her that when I was a freshman in college, and went to parties, I always got drunk at parties. I would eventually just stop because I felt like I hated being hungover and I always prided myself on trying to live a healthy life and just figured this was not going to do it for me.
A year later, I began going through confirmation classes as a young catholic man, and I had some conversations with my priest where I felt like I drank too much. I hadn’t had any major consequences of drinking and I just assumed I was a dumb kid doing what dumb college kids do. It never felt like a problem back then – at least that’s what I told myself, since I was also telling a priest that I thought I liked drinking too much. And oddly enough, I stopped drinking except an occasional beer when I would have a bite to eat at a restaurant a littler later in my life. Of course, that was also a little lie I would tell myself, since anytime I had any major set-back in a relationship, I would go out and get drunk. I had told this to my wife and expressed that I felt like I had times when I was okay just having one drink and everything was okay.
Even as I’m writing this, I feel myself getting frustrated and pissed off at myself thinking things like, “You’re such a fucking pussy! You’re making a big deal out of nothing. It’s mind over matter.”
Back to the story:
My wife expressed again that it’s a mind over matter issue. And just like that, as soon as she said it, a flash of a memory returned. I had recalled a time, about 10 years ago, when she and I had gone out with a bunch of my old high school class mates and we were at a bar drinking. I got drunk. And when we got home, she had gone to bed and I kept drinking. Somehow I ended up with my pants around my ankles and passed out on our stairs. I had remembered using the bathroom and not much else after that.
The embarrassing part is one of my kids coming home with a date and finding me this way. I ended up going to the emergency room for that experience.
I hated myself for that.
It was embarrassing.
And today, I’m thankful for that flash of a memory. It reminded me why I need to stop drinking. It reminded me of something I heard when I had expressed that I had not had too many “yets” – I was told, “You’re Eligible Too”. Maybe it was my higher power speaking to me, telling me to pay attention to the path I’m headed. I’m not absolutely sure, but I’m going to accept it for what it was – a stark reminder.
I’m not going to reside in the past, but this was not the only time I had been in the hospital after drinking too much. Another time was when I was a lot younger and had found out about a girlfriend of mine cheating on me. So, I have had at least two major consequences as a result of drinking. I have been fooling myself thinking I could have just one.
I can’t. I can’t drink one drink. I might be able to do it today. I might be able to do it tomorrow. I might be able to do it in a year. But eventually, it’ll be a problem again.
Eventually, I’ll be caught with my pants around my ankles.
Today is day 22. I’m still sober.