So my last post was probably one of the best I have ever shared simply because it was honest. However, what is honest is often only part of the picture. First of all, I will let you all know that I didn’t check myself into rehab. With much thought and severe confusion, between myself, my therapist, and my partner we understand that while I am an alcoholic (no need to deny that further), I am not a “normal” alcoholic. As far as alcohol goes, I can honestly take it or leave it, however, when stressed, depressed, or unsure of myself, alcohol is the easiest to fall back on. I have a comfort with alcohol and quite simply that comfort comes from it being a part of my life in one way or another since forever.
My most recent episode with alcohol as a coping mechanism actually served to show the real reasons underlying my propensity to abuse substances. Rather than a restrictive rehab that won’t let me have shampoo for the fear that I will drink it is a little extreme for me at this point. I won’t drink shampoo. Or mouthwash. Or any other alcohol like substance. I don’t fiend for beer. I fiend for peace. The trick is learning to find that peace without alcohol. To learn new ways of coping with the world around me. Something I have never been taught appropriately (thanks Mom) and I feel once I learn more positive coping skills, the alcohol will be something that I simply don’t need anymore. Not to say that I will never drink anything ever again, but understanding myself is the key to this recovery thing. While rehab would have offered an opportunity to submerge myself in that process, I realized also, that I was using the idea of rehab in the same ways I justify drinking to begin with. The idea of rehab for me was some sort of band-aid with yoga classes. I pictured myself exiting rehab and doing yoga drunk. Hardly the outcome that would be expected.
So before I allow friends to fork over a ton of cash, I figure the real thing I need to do is to get serious about my therapy. To really allow my therapist to help me learn those coping skills and to assist me in learning about myself and why I do the things I do. So I came up with a list of things I love about alcohol. I also came up with a list of things I want to do with my life. Nothing on those two lists match up. So one of them has to go – and I am perfectly okay with letting go of alcohol, but I will be honest and say that I need something to replace that with. Be it a higher self esteem, learning tools to cope properly, activities to engage in that spark my creativity and passion without having to be drunk. The world has a lot to offer, and dampening my life with alcohol is no longer something I wish to engage in anymore.
I also have serious issues with AA programs. My therapist tells me I intellectualize everything too much – but you know; that is what I do. It is also part of why I get overwhelmed easily. Intellect is a double edged sword if you don’t weld it properly. I have “done” AA; as a young adult, the Army Substance Abuse Program I had to participate in after my accident in Italy, and the many times growing up where I watched my Mom go to meetings, only to come home, get drunk and be an asshole. She also liked to meet married men at meetings to have affairs with. I have been to meeting for children with alcoholic parents, and I have read and re-read the AA “Big Blue Book” several times. While I agree with the majority of the twelve steps and their purpose, I have found that when you really commit to giving up a substance, those steps happen on their own – not necessarily in the right order, but they do celebrate fundamental truths about how we cope with what our addictions have done not only to us, but those who love us. Some people need that regimented program with guidance to get them to see the various ways alcohol has ruined their lives – but I see that pretty clearly on my own. What I need help with most right now is learning to cope. The substance doesn’t matter to me. Alcohol is by far my favorite “ignore the world” substance – I am just as capable of using other tools to shut down just as effectively. So instead of rehab for alcohol, where they will expect me to embrace AA, and take my shampoo – I am going to stay sober on my own (which I know I am capable of) while immersing myself in the really hard work of therapy (which will make me want to drink) but learning about myself, just may be the best drug ever.
Over the past two years I have written several letters to people apologizing for how my alcohol use has had a negative impact on those around me. I am humbled, and embarrassed about some of the things I have done and how I have treated people. I am also taking the steps with my therapist to get into the nitty gritty of my life, and actually feel that pain and process it with a clear and open mind (something alcohol NEVER allows). So I am healing. I am recovering. As with any recovery there will be setbacks. The last 6 months of my life has been a setback. A relapse. A willing desire to NOT cope. A full embrace of chaos.
So anyway, rehab right now isn’t the answer. However, should I completely lose my mind and allow myself to go on another bender, I will be the first person to admit that I was wrong and I will then seek more help – rehab is not off the table, I am just going to allow myself to walk before I run.
So there is the rehab update. I also wanted to point out that the crazy and unexpected outpouring of support from my friends has truly humbled me. I have a hard time believing that I am loved. I have a hard time wondering why so many people are willing to love and support me no matter how hard I have tried to push people away. The kind words both public and private I have received opened my eyes to the fact that people really do care about me. It is one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had – and if you are one of those people I will apologize right now for not responding – I am simply speechless.
I don’t know what is going to happen in the future. At this point I don’t think I care as long as the future includes me making better choices that lead to a happier life. I don’t expect perfection, but I do expect from myself the gumption to make hard changes, learn about myself enough to understand why I make the choices I do, and to live honestly. Not too much more that I can ask of myself right now.
Again, for those of you I know and love and to those of you who just read my posts, your words of encouragement and hope really do make a difference.