Alcoholic – The loose term

The term Alcoholic and the definition of Alcoholic or Alcoholism is annoyingly loose.

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is, broadly, any drinking of alcohol that results in mental or physical health problems.

If you should ask any member of my family if the amount that I drink makes me an ‘Alcoholic’ you would receive a firm NO.

If you should ask my doctor if the amount I drink makes me an ‘Alcoholic’ you would receive a firm YES.

But for me it is no specific amount nor style or type that defines my Alcoholism but simply the way it makes me feel and the effect it had taken over my life and choices.

Knowing in myself that the cause of my demise was the very same thing I was using to ‘fix’ my problems. But feeling helpless and unsure/unable to stop myself.

So it was until 5 months ago when I finally started my sobriety – seriously this time.

There are multiple new factors in my life making this turn to sobriety serious. And 5 months into this journey I have been given a surprisingly helpful resource, or perhaps sense of closure is best to describe it..

Last week I walked out of my doctor’s office, with a document diagnosing my Anxiety and my Alcohol Dependency.

Now this may sound crazy but I felt like I had won an eternal battle. I finally could label that jar inside my head filled with guilt, shame, anger and confusion. I finally felt that my sneaky suspicions that I was out of control if not on the outside then certianly on the inside were justified and true.

Now I could call it something. Now I could understand it. Now I can separate myself from it. Now it is not part of me.

In saying this I still have a long way to go. I still look into the future and see myself enjoying a drink. I see myself sitting happily, laughing with friends, enjoying the atmosphere, getting my buzz. How I wish this was my reality. It’s an awful trick my mind does play. The reality of this image is a much more grim and stinky outcome with a spiteful slur and a half shut right eyelid.

One night two weeks ago I had the biggest struggle yet. My partner was out of town which in past times meant I could freely sit on my back varanda, chain smoke durries and skull as much damn beer as I wanted without anyone to judge or kill my buzz. I could freely get as fucked up as I always wanted to, resentment free (never the case but pre-binge always think it will be) So he was out, my baby was asleep and that night would be the first episode of a particularly trashy reality TV show I secretly love. In my mind, I thought it would be such a treat to sit there and sip wine in my jammies while enjoying the trashy frivolity on TV. I could do that, it is innocent enough. Of course I could sneak a few smokes in too, its my life after all! The physical ache for the feeling of cold beer bubbling down my throat was extremely overwhelming. The hot burn of sickly sweet menthol cigarettes burning my nostrils, gross but i loved it. I wanted it bad and new I could easily do it. Also I could do it and nobody would ever know.

Thank god I couldn’t bare facing my fiance afterward if I had. My own shame and guilt would have sent me to destruction however I knew there was no way I could keep that from him, and once he knew how upset he would be. For me, this would mean months of agonising anxiety and guilt, repeating it over and over and surely would severely and irrevocably damage our relationship. So. Not. Worth. It.

Luckily I choose to fight off this demon with a big ass bowl of pasta and a tub of ice cream. And I tell ya what – I was proud as punch sitting up on the lounge in a little nest I made for myself with my family tub of ice cream wrapped in a tea towel and a spoon. I felt like Queen of the world and damn proud of myself.

The real peach was after my show, I messaged my dear fiance and told him how close I came and he sweetly supported me and loved me more. The absolute best outcome of the choice I made.

I chose life, I chose him, I chose me.

Out of the frypan and into the oven.

Hello out there ever elusive world of mine!

Yesterday I clocked the big 3 months sober!! I must say it feels like so so much longer. Not because of the sense of struggle it is in fact due to the opposite.

In a very strange and unexpected turn of events, I really have been cruising through which is in total contrast to all other failed attempts. I think I was building up to a point and was finally really just sick of my own shit and my whole being was so exhausted of the fight.

The fight with myself trying to justify every additional unnecessary drink.

The fight with my fiance after I was a stinky obnoxious asshole.

The fight with my friends after inevitably trashing their event/home.

The fight with the black dog in the following days.

I was so sweetly simply over it.

I once heard someone say that you couldn’t quit smoking until you were completely grossed out by it.

Thats me, I was completely grossed out by me.

So here we are in a blissfully happy reflection at the past three months. I also feel that the universe really gave me a leg up. I have simply plodded along. It wasn’t even the social events that I was initially scared of, it was myself.

My mother has a term for this style of drinking. Now when she does it, she turns to you with a cheeky glint in her eye and tips her head in true cowgirl style and proudly states ‘Ima have me a Joey Harper Party’ referring to herself in her maiden name. I guess this is to pay tribute to her younger and more carefree self – it is basically a one woman party, usually in the dark by candle light matched with a bluesy album and menthol cigarettes. I gotta tell ya this is a romantic notion to me.

Whilst I endeavoured to replicate this self indulgent retreat, my version was more like a child whom found themselves with candy after it being withheld for some unfair punishment – all frenzy mixed with self righteousness and a splash of shame.

However it was a night I enjoyed frequently and thought would be sorely missed but as you see, it turns out not so much. This has been a welcome surprise.

So whats with the ominous heading you ask?

Well as other newly sober people may remember, when you drink heavily on a regular basis you form a sort of cycle within yourself. It kind of goes

1. Justification 2. Gratification 3. Defensivness 4. Shame 5. Guilt

I am sure if I looked it up there would be reference to this in many a self help book. I know it isn’t just me as I have read others reference to it or similar in one way or another.

Now I may be a glutton for punishment – or more than likely have deep rooted psychological issue regarding self hate or feelings of undeserving love, but I have noticed that I have transferred the abovemention cycle to my eating habits.

I genuinely have an 80/20 rule loosely meaning that weekdays I eat a very balanced diet of healthy whole foods and exercise at least half hour per day. Then come the weekend, I indulge in take away dinner, ice cream chocolate and don’t have to worry too much as I have been super healthy all week, also trying to practise a ‘be here now’ type of mantra and enjoying the food I like without feeling guilty.

However. What I have found I have been doing lately is having a complete blow out, sometimes midweek and going through a massive emotional struggle before, during and after consuming my meal/snack. It is that same inner critic that used to abuse me constantly when drinking. Telling me I am doing something awful by eating this food, that I will look and feel repulsive after, that the 5kms I just ran was all wasted. It repeats for hours, and its the last thing i think before I go to sleep and then it is there in the morning, remorse and guilt. Anxiety.

Additionally, when I ‘Blow Out’ I go through the 1. Justification process and convince myself that I need to let go, stop being such a slave driver. But then I force myself to eat the whole pizza? Well after I am full. Its like a fear of missing out – its FOMO.

Is it compulsive eating? I guess I am just a compulsive person. And the food isnt the problem at all. The problem is that I have this iron clad abusive slave driver living inside my head. I just can’t let myself be.

And I get so manic – I always have. So I am worried that this will start to become very unhealthy. An example is, I ate a delicious pizza one night, the next day I only allowed myself fruit until after I had exercised. Although yes for digestive purposes this isnt so bad, it is what goes on in my head that is the problem ‘you are a pig and ate that unhealthy pizza, you are only allowed watery fruit’

The silver lining here is that from my journey and previous relationship with alcohol I recognise this as a behaviour and as something I can change so yay me.

Now just finding out how………