the exotic personal weather and promise i made to myself when i tearily high-fived a tree after a thunderstorm this summer related to the fact that i had very recently and suddenly decided to stop drinking; the promise was that i was really going to do it, that i was going to level up. and i have! or i have really done it, anyway. i don't drink now. i think i am probably an alcoholic.

the question of whether or not i am an alcoholic—or, more precisely, whether or not i tell anyone that i am an alcoholic—has felt weirdly important to me. it's shorthand for the fact that i have a problematic relationship with drinking, and dropping a few strategic a-bombs with people i love and respect felt like a way to force a decisive end to a war with myself. if i disclosed that and then any of those people ever saw me drink again, oh, i would be so ashamed. shame has always been a big motivator for me, which is ironic, given that several of what i consider the most shameful things i've ever done are things i did when i had been drinking.

i don't know whether or not it matters that i didn't have any big, dramatic bottoming-out moment. given that i work from home on my own schedule and don't have children, it's conceivable that my life could have tootled on in a nominally functional, undramatic way for quite some time, or forever. but i felt like the color was draining out of it, and i hated waking up with the panicky feeling that i might have said or done something foolish or hurtful; i worry about that all of the time anyway, and drinking, or being hung over, eroded whatever assurances or confidence i managed to cobble together. my friend sarah once joked that my memoir would be called i just don't want anyone to feel bad, and i believed everyone felt bad.

for a while, the only people who knew i'd come to this realization/decision were joe and a few friends who are sober; i didn't want a sponsor or anything (i don't think aa or meetings are for me?), but they had inspired me, and i wanted them to know that. (some of them check in with me even though i don't ask, which is both predictable and shockingly touching.) i didn't know what i would say to my parents, and i worried about it, even though i knew i wanted them to know. i have a mica-flaky memory of sitting at the dining table with my mother and sisters on my twelfth birthday and my father telling me over the phone that he was in recovery and couldn't be with me and that was a gift to me, or something. it turns out that it's pretty easy to talk to my mother about drinking and our family; we did it a lot in september when we hiked across hampstead heath and swam in the kenwood ladies' pond together. it seems that my dad doesn't want to talk about it, and i learned twenty years ago when he left my mother that learning too much about the dissolution of a relationship is one of the costliest experiences you can have, even if offering boundary-free adult friendship and support to the people who created you feels like the only way you could ever hope to repay them, so that's fine.

realizing that all of this is the course for me was/is something like watching a time lord regenerate on doctor who in that i'm mourning and excited all at once, and if i end up becoming david tennant i'll know for sure that i did the right thing. occasionally i wish the realization hadn't been so sudden, but i have always felt that it's best not to know when you're doing something for the last time.


LPC said...

I am very happy for you. Sending love.

Hannah Mae said...

HARD AGREE on that last sentence. I can give myself real mournful feels just by test-thinking "this is the last time I will ever stand at this bus stop [that is not at all associated with anything that I like nor anything that is important to me]."

I'm so glad for your self-understanding and resolve, and delighted that you were able to dodge the extra mournful feels! There are enough obligatory mournful feels in life.