I have several passages marked in this book, “Drinking: A Love Story“. I read it before I started this blog, it was the first “alcohol story” I encountered and I was shocked at some of the ways that I identified and connected to the author’s experience. My first connection was this:
“These are utterly typical examples: strong, smart, capable people who kept drinking – who put off looking at the dozens of intangible ways alcohol was affecting their lives – precisely because they were strong, smart, and capable. In retrospect, a lot of the alcoholics I know are amazed at how much they accomplished in spite of themselves, how effectively they constructed and then hid behind facades of good health and productivity. At the the time, they just got through. Just hunkered down and worked and got through the days.“
When I first read this, I had to stop for a moment because it was surreal to have someone else summarize my own experience. I thought about all the life that was happening around me and to me, in spite of all I was doing to not live it. From the moment I started reading this book I knew I had to at least try to stop drinking. I knew that was the only way I could find out how big the problem was. Reading this made me begin to reflect on how much time I’ve spent drinking and how much time and effort drinking takes up. And I wondered why life felt like such a struggle? I had never been able to take the problem of alcohol away from my self and begin to examine it in a more objective way. Reading about the experience of others has helped me to do that but it is also very scary to see myself reflected in these experiences. Sometimes I’m reminded of all the worry, guilt, anxiety, regret, inadequacy, avoidance and overall depression that I’ve experienced over the past 18 years and its hard to stomach those memories and feelings.
If I round the numbers, I began drinking when I was 16. We, or I thought it was “we” at the time, drank to get drunk. I drank like that through college and throughout my 20s. I began to drink daily, heavily and alone about 6 years ago. I’m 34 now. 34-16= 18. I feel sick. 18 years. 18 years of abusing alcohol and the bad experiences that have accompanied the drinking. Remember the movie, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”? They have their memories erased because they are too painful to deal with. Right now, I might have to seriously consider that option if it was presented to me as a little pill. Right now, I think that may be the hardest part of all this…how hard it is to move forward when the past is still so fresh. The past is only 13 days old for me today. I need it to be further away.