A Letter to a Healthy Alcoholic
Dear Healthy Alcoholic,
I see you there, sipping your craft beer or bourbon. I see you smiling, enjoying your evening. Tonight perhaps that's your only drink. But tomorrow will come, or a long day, or a setback in life/business. Whenever the feelings begin you will reach for another, and another. Just enough to dampen those feelings, maybe more if you just want to sleep and feel nothing. The hard times call, and damn if there just doesn't always seem to be a hard time. Pour another. You're not addicted or anything. You go days without drinking. Hell, you went 9 months with each kiddo. And what's one or two beers? Sure they are pretty heavy, sure you are a lightweight, but really...what's one or two? That's moderation. You are totally in control. It's not like your weekend binge past times from undergrad and grad school. Football games, nights out, back to the grind and feeling like ass on Monday. No, you don't do that. You have run half-marathons, you have had babies, you are grown up now. Maybe you USED to drink a lot, USED to like being drunk, but not now. No, you are responsible. No one has time for a hangover, just a slight buzz, right?
I see you spend your mornings ramping up your anxiety by recovering with caffeine. From one drug to the next you swing. That one or two drinks just doesn't feel as good without some solid sleep, does it? No sleeping in for you, you are a mom now. I see your lack of emotionality beyond angry or sad. I see your inability to fully feel joy. To fully immerse yourself in any moment, good or bad. That sucks. You know you have this beautiful family and that's something to be happy about. I see your excuses. So many of them. It's always something or someone. But not alcohol. You are a runner, you exercise, you read, you are a good mother, a good person. Fuck, you are really healthy. You do NOT have a problem with alcohol. What's a drink or two? Every mom has a drink to take the edge off, right? It's 5 'o'clock somewhere, or noon. They all understand. Being a parent is fucking hard. It's just one beer, or two. Maybe three tonight. It's not a problem, it's just relaxing. It's your mommy-break. Just a little breather, right?
I see your excuses growing. No, you don't want to run this morning. You're tired. A little snippy at the spouse and kids, but it's just stress. You just need a break. So what if you have had trouble sleeping...you are SO stressed out. Business is hard. Life is hard. It's all so overwhelming and you have to DO IT ALL - RIGHT NOW. There is absolutely nothing to worry about. It's just one drink. Wait, where did half of that bottle of bourbon go? Did you drink it? We just got it yesterday. Weird. You're fine. Maybe just one more, or two. You promise you won't drink for the next few days. Balance, right?
I see you seek help. You are depressed. You have anxiety. It's your hormones. It is definitely not alcohol. You have your life together. Graduate school, mommy hood owning your own business now. Your husband says you are angry a lot, but come on, it's not easy running the show. Maybe you just don't know how to process emotionality so well, that's a learning thing, work on that in therapy. It's all good. You have all the psych background and psychologists supporting you on this. If only meds didn't suck so bad for you, maybe it would be easier. That's cool though. You have running, and a drink when you need it. Because sometimes you do NEED A DRINK, what's wrong with that? Just one, just taking the edge off a little, just surviving like everyone else. The rough days seem to be progressing, and maybe that was more nights drinking this week than not, but moderation is balance. Next week will be better, right?
I see you made a decision to quit drinking for purely health reasons, time to get those hormones back in control. Good for you! Way to be proactive.
Wait...what's wrong with you? Why are you crying? It's just alcohol.
Holy fuck what did you do? Why did we quit? We can't live like this. How will we relax? How will we socialize? How will we LIVE? No, change your mind, I insist. Take it back, you don't mean it. You LOVE beer. You LOVE bourbon. Come on, don't be silly. This is just temporary. You will totally be able to go back to moderation, you are in complete control. Ignore that nagging voice, you are nothing like an alcoholic or addict. NOTHING. Just one drink. Please. Just one. I swear you got this, I can help. We can moderate better together. You NEED this. It's so relaxing and delicious too. What about all that science about moderate drinking and positive health effects? The tears? That's just hormone shifts, not alcohol. None of this is about alcohol.
JUST ONE DRINK.
I see you clearly now. It wasn't depression, was it? Not just hormones? This is real, isn't it? You mean this. I see. I don't want to, but I do. You are an addict. You learned an unhealthy coping mechanism and it took over your entire life. I changed. I learned that this was the only way, but there is never only one way is there? This happened before, didn't it? No one knew. Maybe we didn't know then. Fortunate circumstances pulled us out, but it came right back in another form. A legal form, a socially acceptable form.
You are right, it is time. Ok, I concede. We will do this for real. Teetotalers.
This sucks, ya know. No more pumpkin beer or awesome bars of Athens, GA. Still not sure how we will have fun or socialize with others...maybe we can just fake it? One day at a time right? Those people in those meetings all seem to get it. They have stories like yours. They don't "look" like addicts, whatever that means. They seem completely normal.
Congrats, healthy alcoholic. You took that plunge into the unknown. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I guess we are in this together. I think I can be ok with this. But seriously, what's one drink? Yea yea, maybe sometimes I just want one. I get it, there is no half-assing. Terrible idea...
Still seeing you better than you think,
***79 days sober***
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