Retro Recovery: I’m Not An Alcoholic
Recovery Retro features posts from my archives 2016-2017, my chronicles of recovery from alcoholism, mental health issues, and substance abuse. After 35 years of chaos, my life in several VA Treatment Programs was anything but boring. Join me as I share with you my most intimate posts about spirituality, living in the now, acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, and the lessons I learned that keep me sober to this day.
|Published 12/05/2016 at 6:44 p.m. – Day 58 of Treatment|
Hi, my name is Rob, and I am in recovery for alcoholism. I always hated saying “Hi, I’m Rob, I’m an alcoholic.” It doesn’t fit anymore. I don’t drink. I am in recovery. I am a recovering alcoholic, but I choose to remove the alcoholic in that phrase. Eventually, I will introduce myself as “Hi, I’m Rob. What’s your name?” Recovery may end up being lifelong, but the label won’t.
Most of my drinking “career” was binge drinking: when I drank, I drank until the liquor was gone and then went looking for more. I didn’t become a raging alcoholic until I met my ex. She was an alcoholic as well. Kaboom!
After our first 6 months I began to drink nightly. No need to get into all that. The point of my post is this: I began a death spiral to nothingness that lasted until just over 6 months ago. I drank mainly out of boredom, but it quickly escalated to mainly avoiding the situation I found myself in.
In the mind of this drinker I just wanted to get buzzed. All the time. I wanted to check out of my surroundings and I did that every night straight for 2.5 years! Some non-drinkers wonder what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic. They wonder:
- Why can’t he quit? Why doesn’t he quit
- What is it that I’m doing wrong?
- Why aren’t we important enough for him to want to quit?
- Why the relapses?
- Doesn’t he know what this is doing to him/us/me?
Here’s what was in the mind of my alcoholic me:
- I can quit, I just don’t want to. I don’t need to quit, everything is ok.
- You are not doing anything wrong: I want to drink, I have to drink. It’s my obsession.
- You are important enough, you and my drinking have nothing to do with one another
- Because try as I might, the urge to check out and to get high are too strong and I haven’t worked my issues out.
- I know exactly what I am doing to myself/you. I just don’t have the coping skills to change it.
Or something along those lines. I never gave sobriety a real shot. I think I quit once for about 3 months. I used the death of my mother as an excuse to start up again. This is my longest period of sobriety at 208 days.
I do not plan on relapsing. I can’t. I won’t. I am developing new patterns of thinking. I am learning new ways to cope with life on life’s terms. I am rigorous in my honesty as to what got me to this point in my life.
I’m going to do the following things that I have learned–and know–will keep me sober:
- Continue outpatient therapy when I leave my 3 month VA work program in March.
- Attend AA meetings, but keep that whole thing manageable and logical.
- Frequent the gym at least 4 times per week: Health is Wealth-physical and spiritual!
- Find new sober friends, sober hangouts, sober things to do.
- Write, interact with you wonderful community members, write, write, write.
- Rekindle my passion for swimming, hiking, jogging, fishing, bowling.
- Kill the TV set. Nothing good comes out of watching others live fantasy lives.
- Avoid isolating behaviors. If I isolate I will go within and live in my head, and I can’t have that.
- Avoid boredom. Boredom is the number 1 reason why I drank so often.
- Moderation in all things. I have to maintain balance in everything I do.
- Meditate. Meditation is the single most dramatic life changing event that I need to continue.
- Avoid people, places, things that might act as triggers. When triggers come, utilize a myriad of coping skills to deal.
- Read. Read literature that will help strengthen my resolve, help me evolve, help me reach newer heights.
This is my roadmap to staying sober. I happen to think it’s a damn good one. I know in my heart of hearts that as long as I adhere to as many of these things as possible, I will be a lifelong sober man.
I am very fortunate. I do not obsess over drinking. I do not crave alcohol. I am over “missing” my “dear” friend alcohol. I have faced a few situations where I should have, but did not, think about using. I am lucky because that would be a hindrance that would be very difficult to overcome.
I refuse to be like many of my fellow Veterans here: I will not have my name embroidered on one of these chairs. In other words, treatment is not a lifelong option for me. This is my one and done. Take it to the bank; ’cause that’s a check you can cash.