Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hi, I'm Eric...

I never really understood addiction. Even as a smoker, I felt like I could quit any time, I had done it, several times. I just couldn’t understand how someone could be powerless against a chemical, how they just couldn’t say I’m not going to do that anymore. Until recently.

As a kid, I hardly drank alcohol, I really only remember a couple of times in high school and a handful more times in college. It just wasn’t a priority, and it was always just for “special occasions.” In the army, I drank more, but still pretty much kept it to weekends. After I married, it was even more rare that I would have a drink. I don’t think that it was a conscious thing, it just wasn’t something that I did.

After Y left the kids and I, I still didn’t drink much. I was just too busy. When Z and I started dating, and later married, drinking became more common, socially and at home, but it still seemed under control. We’d go out for a few beers on payday, and on the weekends we’d share a six pack.

When she left, I didn’t even touch a drink for a month, I just didn’t want to get drunk and all that that might bring. It was probably almost a year before I really started drinking a lot, that summer was…stupid. I spent lots of nights sleeping at the café because I was too drunk to drive home. Sometimes, I drove anyway.

Now, I’ve quit a dozen times. The longest time was six weeks, the shortest a couple of days. The thing is, I don’t even want to quit. I like beer, I like to take a shot of tequila, I like to hang out with my friends at the bar. If I could just do that, have a drink or two and then stop, that would be fine, I wouldn’t even think about quitting. The problem is that when I start, I don’t stop until late in the night. On my worse days I start before noon, grabbing a beer from the walk-in at work, and will then drink all day long, and be pretty much sober the whole time. On the way home, I’ll stop and get a six pack to drink while watching TV or a movie. When that six pack is done, I’ll wish that I had gotten a twelve pack.

It’s easier to stop completely than it is to slow down, or to stop once I’ve started.

I quit smoking again a few years ago, but I still smoke one every once in a while, sometimes they taste and feel really good, and sometimes they don’t, but I never really feel like going to buy a pack and starting up again, so I don't beat myself up over it. I sure wish I could do that with alcohol.

I never really considered myself an alcoholic, I always preferred drunkard, until Sam pointed out that only alcoholics keep track of how many days they’ve gone without a drink.


John Gray said...

Next step get some professional help

Big BIG respect for you my friend today

and I mean that,

Maria said...

I think for me it was the numbness that I craved the most. That foray into not caring. Like you, I held a day job and it was one where I could have easily written a wrong prescription and killed someone, but I never drank during the day. Just at night. At first, I didn't drink alone and then I found that if I started thinking about what a failure at love I was or how many men/women I had hurt, it felt good to just drink those thoughts away if I was alone.

Then, one day I just decided to get pregnant. I was 38 and knew it would be tough but it was like inwardly I knew that there was someone crucial missing from my table (and it wasn't a partner), so I told myself that if I could stop drinking/smoking dope for one month, I would go to the sperm bank. It was incredibly hard, but I kept seeing this baby everywhere in my head. After a month, I went to the sperm bank and then went through in vitro for over a year, not drinking one drop. COULD NOT get pregnant. My eggs were just shot. So, I stopped and on the way home, I was going to stop and pick up some Gray Goose and I realized that the urge had just left me completely. It had been a year and several months since I had had anything to drink and I figured that I might as well fight those thought demons sober.

I did take a drink a few months later socially and was terrified that I wouldn't be able to stop, but I only had the one drink.

And then when I was forty, I went to a Halloween party given by a co-worker and met this 22 year old grad student who made me laugh and we talked ALL NIGHT about books and movies. He asked me if he could take me home, I said yes and he spent the night. The next day, he gave me his number and I smiled, kissed him and NEVER intended to call him again. Whatever attraction I had faded in the daylight. I put his number in this vase where I kept stray business cards and didn't call him (he never called me either) until five months later. I was THAT sure that I was probably going to miscarry.

I never went to AA, but I think that my story is the exception, not the rule. And the truth is that once Liv was born, I knew that I had to be this role model, so I didn't drink. Now, I have a partner and she practically reads me the riot act every single time that I drink, so I doubt that I'm in danger of going back to that...blissful fog. And frankly, that is exactly what it was for me. It was nice to not hurt. When I was drunk or stoned, I didn't hurt.

I think you have a shit load of pain in your life and Sam is right. But, the truth? And I may be ALL wrong. I think that if you told yourself that you needed to NOT get involved in a relationship until you've figured out the drinking thing? You might have some real incentive to stop. I think you are what I call a "relationship guy." I think you thrive in them and that you drink because you are lonely. Not in a pathetic, needful way...just because your soul aches without a woman.

This is a lot of writing that should be in an e-mail, sorry.

There is a LOT of truth to the one day at a time thing.

This is going to sound so cheesy but I honestly think that you won't find that woman until you're sober.

Whatever you decide, I'll always read. But, think about this, dude...I don't even know you and I find you to be very compelling. There are only a few blogs that do that to me.