Well, it has been a hectic week. I started back at college and it seems my feet haven’t touched the floor. I am at college for four days a week, one day of which is from 9am to 9pm and I am exhausted. Second year requires so much more work than I could ever have imagined. This is why I haven’t blogged as much.
I cannot believe that I have only been sober for two weeks. It feels like forever. Every morning I wake up and this ‘thing’ is with me. It feels so strange. It is like I am wearing something that doesn’t belong to me. When I am getting showered, it is with me, like a menacing ghost that aims to taunt me throughout the day; when I am getting showered, driving, talking to friends, negotiating my way through my day – taunting, taunting, taunting. I have an urge to tell everyone I meet. “Oh, did I mention I am an alcoholic?”, but it doesn’t seem right to say it. The words get stuck. I have mentioned that I have given up drinking. It irks me that people don’t seem surprised. Like the fact that I drank so heavily warranted me giving up drinking. Was it that so goddam obvious?
I telephoned my closest friend in Australia, to tell her that I needed to talk to her about something. She lives over an hour away and I didn’t want to talk about it over the phone. It took us a week to catch up. She looked at me nervously. “So, what’s up.” “I’ve realised that I’m an alcoholic,” I said, “I’ve been going to AA meetings.” (Just to add weight to my theory). She looked at me with an expression that said, “And?” “You’re not surprised.” I said, realising it hadn’t come as a shock to her. “You are my closest friend,” she said, “But you’ve always been my heavy drinking friend. I’ve always had to prepare my liver for when you come and visit.” The words shattered over me like broken glass, tiny shards piercing my body from every angle. I had no idea. Sensing my reaction, she went on to say how she had always looked forward to our ‘sessions’. That really didn’t help.
That is how this week has been. I had started to question the validity of me being an alcoholic and my membership in the AA fellowship. As if to drive the point home, life has sent me these messages, to mark the madness that had become my life. I simply had no idea that my drinking was so transparent. Of course, I have no idea why I am surprised. My friend asked me how much I drank during the week. 5-6 glasses a day I had replied (and seriously, this still does not sound that bad to me – madness, I know). This question got me thinking. I bought two 5 litre casks of wine, at least, a week. We generally socialised on the weekend, so we would always buy at least two, but somethimes three bottles of wine as well. At the very minimum we were drinking 12 litres of wine a week. I want to laugh, but I know this is no laughing matter.
In AA people who drink with the alcoholic, but who are not alcoholics themselves, are called buddy drinkers. My DH was a buddy drinker. They are not to blame for the alcoholic’s drinking or even encouraging it. Alcoholics have a way of making it okay, of convincing everyone around them, themselves included, that their drinking is not a problem and they usually do this by enlisting the active participation of someone else. For me, the manipulation of my DH into drinking with me wasn’t conscious, at least not in the beginning. We met, we shared an enjoyment of wine, we drank. However, towards the end, when he didn’t want to drink, or didn’t drink as many as I could down, I got annoyed, irritated and quite verbal. Often times I brow beat him into drinking with me. Whilst he enjoyed wine, I now know, he wasn’t enjoying how it was robbing us of a full life. He could see that it was robbing me of my soul, and he now admits that he hated that.
In fact, he put his foot down three weeks ago and said that he wanted more out of life, that he wanted to concentrate on his running and cycling and not feeling crap all the time, and as such, he was giving up drinking, at least for a month. I had said to myself that I was going to have a dry month in February (which is laughable now, I realise), so wasn’t going to give up with him as I still had a week. I was irritated that he wasn’t going to do the same, but he was adamant that there was no time like the present. The first evening came. I poured myself some wine, he had a cordial. God, I was so annoyed. I realise now that I needed him to drink with me, to make me feel okay about my own drinking. I lasted six days. On the seventh day, my first day of sobriety, I woke up, shaky inside, having had a couple of wine glasses of port, knowing that I could no longer go on like this. If I wanted ANY sense of self worth, any life, at all, I needed to change.
So, here I am two weeks on, about to attend my ninth meeting in 14 days, feeling like I have been in AA forever, but realising that I have so much to learn. I need to learn how to live life on life’s terms without the seductive anaesthesia that alcohol brought to my every day living. I totally underestimated how hard that would be. But, I have done it. I have managed, one day at a time, not to pick up that first drink for 14 days. Wow, I have not done that since 2004, when I had to stop drinking to starve myself to lose 30kgs for a holiday to Australia, from the UK. Of course, I celebrated by having a glass of champagne when I got to Australia, but that is by the by. As of today, I have been intentionally sober for 14 days and it feels good.