Retro Recovery: I’m Not An Alcoholic

Recovery Retro

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:

  1. Continue outpatient therapy when I leave my 3 month VA work program in March.
  2. Attend AA meetings, but keep that whole thing manageable and logical.
  3. Frequent the gym at least 4 times per week:  Health is Wealth-physical and spiritual!
  4. Find new sober friends, sober hangouts, sober things to do.
  5. Write, interact with you wonderful community members, write, write, write.
  6. Rekindle my passion for swimming, hiking, jogging, fishing, bowling.
  7. Kill the TV set.  Nothing good comes out of watching others live fantasy lives.
  8. Avoid isolating behaviors.  If I isolate I will go within and live in my head, and I can’t have that.
  9. Avoid boredom.  Boredom is the number 1 reason why I drank so often.
  10. Moderation in all things.  I have to maintain balance in everything I do.
  11. Meditate.  Meditation is the single most dramatic life changing event that I need to continue.
  12. Avoid people, places, things that might act as triggers.  When triggers come, utilize a myriad of coping skills to deal.
  13. 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.

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