In Defense of Sobriety
I found myself defending my sobriety. Convincing others that I am, in fact, an alcoholic.
That was the most surprising part about sobriety.
I have been consciously shifting my mindset from one of loss to one of gain. I have lost friends. I lost alcohol (seriously, this was my biggest concern when I stopped drinking – I didn’t think I would lose friends). But I gained my life.
I think my therapist would tell me that I am thriving.
I was a high-functioning alcoholic, and no one was the wiser. I hid it really well. I would have died if I hadn’t gotten help. If you have even the slightest thought that you or someone you love is a high-functioning alcoholic, please encourage them to seek professional help.
I recommend Online-Therapy.* Encouraging therapy is their first step in healing.
It may be a new life for me, but I also know I burned bridges and lost friends because of my drinking. And oddly, the same thing happened because of my sobriety too. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
I have memories of my old life, but they are grainy and blurred. Go figure, right? I was drunk often. No wonder it was grainy and blurred. I had great adventures with grainy films covering the memories because I was drunk for most of those.
I did not love being an alcoholic. On the contrary, I hated every day of the life I once lived. But alcohol, the insidious little fucker it is, told me lies about how much I loved being an alcoholic.
There is so much shame connected with the term “alcoholic.” I am unsure if adding the preamble “recovering” to “alcoholic” makes it easier.
Wait. What? Easier? Easier for whom? Right. Good question. For everyone involved, I suppose. But since I can only speak for myself, I am going for myself.
I drank to numb myself, I drank to make myself smaller, and mostly I drank because, for most of my life, it was the only coping strategy I knew.
The more challenging part is always getting to that point. The realization that I am an alcoholic. I knew I was when a friend when to rehab.
I watched her navigate that world many years ago. First, she had to stop hanging out with me because I was a trigger for her. Even then, deep into my alcoholism but not admitting it, I understood what she needed from me.
I didn’t take it personally. Why would I? It was about what she needed in her sobriety. I was a hot mess then but not enough of one to be an asshole to a friend who was trying to heal.
Not Everything Is About Me
Yeah, yeah, I know. Not everything is about me. But it is my sobriety, after all. Doesn’t that mean it should be about me? But it wasn’t about me. None of those moments were.
Those questions all concerned my friend and how my sobriety would affect her. Or if I am an alcoholic, maybe she is too? So I think it was a combination of both, but the last statement about losing her drinking buddy, I think, was at the core of her concern.
She was not concerned about my health, happiness, or any of that. Instead, she was selfish when I needed her the most. Unfortunately, and sadly, my experience is typical.
Defending My Sobriety
If only I had been as lucky. My best friend at the time denied my truth. It wasn’t just once. It was several times. It went like this:
“You aren’t an alcoholic.”
“You really think you have a problem? I don’t think you do.”
“Are you sure? You are never going to drink again?”
“I lost my drinking buddy!”
As I attempted to answer those questions, I always ended up defending my sobriety. Always. It felt less like coming from a place of curiosity and more about trying to get me to admit I was wrong.
Of Course, I Defended My Sobriety
I had honed a group of drinking buddies. It is what alcoholics do. We find the people who are going to drink with us. We will not pass judgment because we are all the same and blend into the world.
Nothing to see here, people. I am just drinking with my friends, happy hour, networking event, after-hours networking events, etc. So slap whatever label you want on that, and it all leads to one thing – me drinking.
But then I look back on that, and I think she wouldn’t support my sobriety. So, of course, I had to defend my sobriety. My group was all about drinking, and now I was exiting the group. It makes sense now when I look back at those times.
At the time, I felt lonely and hurt. And it bothered me that I was embarking on an arduous path that did not have a high success rate, and I felt so alone.