My sober penpal Lilly asked me a good question about our crazy brains.
Her question was about amnesia, how we forget the feeling of being hungover. and why do we continue to drink (or to crave drinking) when we know it’s not good for us. It’s like we forget all the bad parts as time goes on.
first, i must give my standard disclaimer. I am not a counsellor 🙂 I know nothing about nothing. I am only 8.75 months sober. I know nothing. There are lot of people out there a lot smarter that I am, with a lot more experience.
but my first gut reflex is that drinking is like being in a toxic relationship (with a man, in my case, but you can insert your own appropriate gender!). Yes, there are good days when you’re dating a bad guy. there are promises of improvement that don’t materialize. there are moments when you realize with certain clarity that you have to leave. and then later, you believe his stories. because you want to believe. because you’re not ready to leave yet. Because you think you’re broken and he’s probably the best you can get. and he really does have his good points. He has such nice hair, and he can sing in tune (!).
we stay in toxic relationships because it’s not easy to see what needs to be done when you’re in it. Which is why the sober blogs are so damn helpful, as I can rely on the genius of others who’ve been there to see right through my lame rationalizations.
we stay in unhealthy relationships because we have low-self esteem on some level, probably not consciously, we don’t think we deserve better. clearly, if we deserved better, we’d be out there ensuring that ‘better’ happens to us. instead we hide. we pull the tent flaps down around us, and we say ridiculous things like “next time…” Next time I’ll make sure I eat something first. Next time I’ll have a glass of water every second drink. Next time I’ll stop when everyone else stops.
we stay in abusive relationships because our vision of reality becomes warped and we can’t really see what is right and what is wrong. we have moments of clarity, hungover desperate moments, and then once the sun is shining and he’s cleaned up for you, and he’s smiling that smile, you say “oh it wasn’t that bad.”
and while I got all jiggy on the blog earlier this week about me NOT being superhuman, one thing I think I DID do, that perhaps other people don’t do, is I decided to improve my situation BEFORE it got bad. I got sober early. I didn’t wait till the last minute, I didn’t try to find ten hundred different ways to continue drinking. I figured that getting out was probably worth trying, and once I was out, I realized how much better I felt, and how much stronger. yes, I do deserve more. yes, I was previously hiding in a tent (yes, someone who owns a company or two can still be hiding in a tent, not really facing all the glorious things the world has to offer). I decided that it was better to be ‘single’ (sober) than to be in a ‘bad relationship’ (spending every evening with a bottle of red wine).
and everything else we believe about booze, when we know better, are just excuses. because we don’t think we deserve more.
and really, really, you do. deserve more. tons and heaps more.
we may not even realize it, but in trying to quit, it’s like we’ve already raised our hands and said: “Me! Me! Hey, look at me! I want something else. I don’t even know what it is yet, but this thing I’ve been doing ain’t working. I know I need something better/different. I know that something better is out there for me. I’m going to go out and find it. I’m not going to wait in this shit hole any longer, thinking it’ll magically change. Holy I have no idea what I’m doing, at all. All of my usual coping strategies have been left behind. But I’m doing it anyway.”
Another thing, and i forgot to mention this, but i think the booze itself made me depressed. I don’t drink because I was depressed — the booze made me feel lethargic and like a bag of shit. The booze itself got into me and changed me. And then there’s wolfie …
Thanks to Lilly, cuz I really do love questions like this. They make me think hard. I was in a toxic boy relationship before I met my husband. we only dated for 6 months but it was like train wreck from start to finish. why was I there? I must have believed that it was the best I could do (I was 35ish). I believed his lies (and it was all lies, including his name). He (literally) had an AA tattoo on his shoulder and he told me it “wasn’t his.” hahahahahahahahaha … but oh, he was cute and could sing in tune. and said such nice things to me… Thankfully my husband, who can’t even tell white lies, is also cute and can sing. and isn’t a gigantic jackass.
What do you think?