Thursday, August 8, 2013

Choices

Do you ever ask yourself if you're an alcoholic or have a problem with alcohol?  I do, and I've been asking myself this my entire adult life.  I have had periods, long ones, of not drinking at all, and not craving it.  So there.  I'm not an alcoholic.  Right? 

I took this quiz and it wasn't pretty.  I'm not someone who presents as an alcoholic.  I doubt anyone I know would know this about me.  I don't drink and drive, I'm perfectly respectable when intoxicated.  My biggest issue is that I often drink alone.  When I do that, I drink to excess.  I do it to 'mellow me out.'  That's a pretty standard reason for drinking.   My other issue is, that despite my desire not to drink at all, I still do.  That is the definition of having alcoholism.  If I drink to excess when alone, and I have remorse and don't end up getting things done the next day, I have a problem.  Houston: we have a problem.

I'm really good at seeing alcoholism in other people, and using my energy to get them to see it.  Then I don't have to look at my own.

My therapist said today, "If you don't need a drink, then you can have one.  If you need one, then you probably shouldn't have one."  Tricky mind shit.  My alcoholic thinking leads me to believe that I can moderate myself, and if I have one instance of doing so it proves I'm not an alcoholic.  So, Mr. Therapist, funny man that he is says, "It's like saying that just because I don't drink and drive and kill someone every time (Just some of the time), I'm not an alcoholic."  Mr. Smartypants.

So why, you may ask, am I so publicly lifting the curtain on this one?  Because I think a lot of people abuse alcohol, and when I'm secret about it, it means I can still get away with this behavior, even though I don't want to.  Because I'm going on a cruise next week and there will be wine and cocktails galore and I will be refraining.  This quote from Pema Chondron sums it up nicely, "Refraining comes about spontaneously when you see how your neurotic action works. You may say to yourself, “It would still feel good; it still looks like it would be fun,” but you refrain because you already know the chain reaction of misery that it sets off."

But hey, I'm the gal who likes a martini with my Oysters Rockefeller. 



I'm that wine tasting gal who enjoys a trip to Napa or Amador County to barrel taste.  I enjoy wine and food pairings.  I enjoy beer tasting.

But I don't enjoy the chain of misery this sets up for me and that's why I want to refrain.

That's why I need to understand that living the good life is possible without alcohol.  For me, it is possible and preferable.  In fact, my even wondering if 'the good life' is possible without alcohol is indicative of the problem. Plus, I take medications on a regular basis that do not mix well with alcohol, and in some cases completely negate the effects of the medication.  That there, boy howdy, is reason alone not to drink it.

So I'm going on this cruise and have already told my shipmates that I'm not drinking alcohol.  I've set myself up for success.  And I'm attending a Buddhist 12 step program every week.  Because I know I need help.  Because I need to learn to think differently about my drinking: it's not something that those people have a problem with.  It's something I have a problem with.  Sure, it's something I can continue to do.  Just because I'm not killing people in the streets by driving drunk doesn't mean my drinking hasn't caused problems in my life.  I may have minor outcomes compared to other alcoholics, so my alcoholic thinking tells me then that I don't have a problem.  But that's foolishness.  And I don't want to be a foolish person. 

There is a sign over a large bell at Tassajara Zen Center that reads something like, "Wake up!  Don't Waste Time!"  Exactly.

11 comments:

  1. Your strength and courage will make it so. Good luck on the cruise, T.

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    1. thank you, Laine, I appreciate your good wishes.

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  2. Sounds like an excellent and healthful plan. Sending you all kinds of positive vibes in support.

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    1. Thanks Robin, I am feeling those vibes!

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  3. Good luck with it. I think if you feel it's something that's not good for you, it probably is. Have fun on the cruise.

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  4. I have often wondered if getting drunk or high is just the pretty face grief wears when seeking freedom from pain. We hope you have a wonderful trip, have fun and enjoy an olive or two sans the liquid grief. :-) :-)

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    1. you put it so beautifully. it is the pretty face grief wears. or it can be. often it is. it's all in the intention. I did have a lovely trip!

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  5. I think the fact that you do not like who your are or how you feel after drinking is the issue. You know that something is wrong. Drinking alone is not bad unless you have more than 2 drinks is my feeling. You will be far healthier without those empty calories and I wish you much luck.

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  6. You can do this Tara!

    There are SO many people dealing with alcoholism (some not aware of it), I still cannot believe.

    It's a wonder I have not become one since I love wine, but apparently I am still into quality more than quantity.

    I drown my problems in chocolate instead, so I don't have lessons to give to anyone...

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    1. Thank you -- your cheer leading feels so affirming. I did end up having 2 drinks during that week -- a martini, and later in the week a glass of wine. I did fine with moderating my behavior and stopping at one, but I know it's a slippery slope. Nothing since then, partly because I have a terrible cold, but the cold has imposed a lovely abstenence on me.

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