DPChallenge Fit to Write… A Double Life

A Double Life

I often wonder what my life would have been like had I been able to cope with it using something other than a substance.

I should have somehow learned to handle life’s challenges, disappointments, hardships and daily ups and downs like everyone else (well, not really everyone else by far, but you know what I mean).

I have been using alcohol for the majority of my adult life as my cure-all for just about everything.  It worked quite well for a long time.  Until one day I took a little 20-question test on-line – “Are you an alcoholic?”  I answered all but about 4 or 5 YES.  I was shocked.  Not shocked that I answered yes to most of the questions.  Not shocked that I was a drinker.  But shocked  that at the bottom of the quiz it stated that if you answered yes to THREE or more questions, you were PROBABLY an alcoholic.  I was an alcoholic.  I kept that little secret to myself for many years.  I am a pretty good secret-keeper.

It wasn’t always alcohol that I used for self-medication and comfort.  Food was my first real substance abuse.  First it was the lack of food, the control of food.  Not eating was my way of controlling something.  I had no control over what was going on with my parents, so I took control of my food.  I didn’t know this was what I was doing at the time.  It took me years to figure that one out.  But once I learned to purge, things changed and I began binge eating, then throwing up so I wouldn’t get fat.  This, we know now is anorexia/bulimia.  When I found alcohol at the age of 17, the bulimia slowly faded from my life.  Alcohol did what food did, but faster.

So alcohol has been a part of my life for 30 years.  Until the last 7  years of my life, it didn’t really even look to me as if there was a problem. Things went pretty smoothly.  Smoothly in that I mean I had no DUI’s, no jail time, no child services calls, etc.  None of the typical “my life is a disaster” issues.  Oh, there is that one time on my 18th birthday I got taken to jail for drunk in public, but that got wiped off my record so it doesn’t count.   In fact, even in the last 7 years I still have had no DUI’s, jail time or child services calls.  I have been gainfully employed, married, had children, divorced (wonder why?), and remarried all in the past 20 years without much incident.  I am very good at showing the world – the neighbors, my employer, my doctor, even my own mother how normal I am.  On the outside.  But behind closed doors, things are not quite so normal with me.  Only those that I have let in close, which are very few, have seen the real me, the total me.  I have been able to keep up a pretty nice facade for a long time.

I have a mortgage, I have two wonderful teenage boys, one of which just went off to the Army to serve our country, I have a decent, well-paying job.  I run with my dog just about every morning, hangover or no hangover.  This feat has gotten more difficult as the years have passed, but I am the only one who knows that (Well my husband has some idea.)  I even smoke when I drink (and when I don’t, sometimes), and I am pretty good at hiding that!  So most everyone who sees me in my circle of life, really wouldn’t ever suspect I am alcoholic.

But I am an alcoholic, and I struggle with it every day.  You see, even though I was lucky and didn’t kill someone or myself, or shatter my children’s lives by being so irresponsible that child services took them away, alcohol still caused a great deal of mental anguish and suffering.  It still does.

During the past 7 years, I have been to many, many AA meetings and 3 outpatient treatment programs three separate times.  I have had two different AA sponsors.  I have had psychiatric evaluations, which divulged both depression and Bipolar disorder.  I have been prescribed Paxil, Prozac, Depakote, Antabuse and Revia.  (Mostly antidepressants, one is a craving med).  I have had counseling weekly, and I have prayed, meditated and worked 4 of the 12 steps.

However, I have yet to maintain a steady stream of sobriety longer than 9 months.  Now, 9 months is pretty good.  Anything is pretty good, when you consider that the alternative could be disastrous.  Since that 9 months I have been sober 30 days, then drank, then 60 days, then drank, then 5 days, then drank, and on and on.  I do know what it is like to be sober.  But I have not found the “serenity” that is promised in AA.  I have not found a way to calm my screeching mind when it aches for a drink, or a pill, or something to calm it.  All the hours spent in group therapy and AA meetings and talking to sponsors and other alcoholics has not given me a reprieve.  I have not learned the lesson they are trying to teach me.

I am not happy drinking.  I am not happy not drinking.

I have come to a cross-roads in my life where I have decided that I will stop trying to “recover” and start trying to understand me and the way I operate.  Once I understand that, maybe “recovery” will be a reality.

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