Day 40: It’s Complicated

couples-break-up

I feel like I should change my Facebook status. I have just gone through a major break up and want people to know. I can’t believe I stayed with that asshole for so long.

Because drinking is like an abusive relationship.

It starts out with glorious promise, opening up a whole new world of possibilities. It solves every problem at once by becoming a sought after reward for the blah-ness of everyday living. Bored? Have a drink. Life will become fun, and friends will naturally gravitate to your newfound joie de vie.

But eventually, it becomes the focus of everything. Your job becomes something to do while it’s too early to drink and your friends are at work. Plus, you need money for your dates with alcohol. But it is so worth it! It eventually takes the place of all hobbies … unless the hobby can be done while drinking. Everything that can’t be — exercise, reading, learning — fades away because there is a new kid in town that promises instant fun and companionship. Nothing else quite measures up.

And neither do other people, except for drinking buddies, and they are only there while they’re drinking. It’s your common interest in alcohol that makes them friends. All other friends are shuffled to the side. They’re boring now. They don’t belong with the new, improved you. You are in demand among the “in” crowd. These other people just weigh you down. They don’t get it.

Eventually, drinking demands you give up more and more. You don’t even really notice it because you are so united at this point — you and drinking. You have the same goals, even if you don’t know what they are. Drinking wants to become your true love, a love that you will give up everything for. It’s too smart to ask this in the beginning because you are not yet captive. It waits with deadly patience for you to slowly come around to its way of thinking.

Step by step,  you follow its lead, leaving everything else behind. Finally, you come to believe that it is the spark of your existence. Without it, you have nothing. Relationships, even with those you love most, become afterthoughts. But you are now wearing blinders, and can get only a glimpse of what’s happening. There’s a vague notion that you are failing your children. A drink will solve that problem though. Just get them to bed early. Your job sucks. It’s killing you really. You can barely drag yourself out of bed in the morning and you are half-asleep while you’re there. People begin to wonder about you. They might even comment on your relationship with drinking. This makes you mad and you defend yourself — and it — because you want to continue. You have to continue.

This half-life can go on for as long as you live because time no longer has meaning. It’s just something to slog through until happy hour. Alcohol has won, as it always does. And it’s an abusive master. It chips away at your self-worth, your mind, your ability to think, and then presents itself as the answer. It’s the perfect narcissistic friend, telling you what other people say about you, turning you against them, showing itself to be your only friend. It’s the only one who is always there for you and never leaves. And after all, who else would stick by some one like you?

But then one day, it goes a step too far. As always, it begins by telling you that you are nothing without it, you need it, but as you look at yourself in the mirror, something clicks. You see what’s happened to you. Then you look at the drink in your hand, and you hurl it with everything you have. It breaks into a million pieces. “Fuck you,” you say.

You finally see it for what it is. Poison, packaged as a magic elixir. No different than any other addictive substance. Not prettier or cleaner or healthier. Not better because it’s more socially acceptable, not OK because of the billions of dollars invested in its success. It’s ethanol, flavored to disguise the reek of its chemical smell, and you are its willing victim.

And you finally put the blame where it belongs. Even if you listen to its voice again, even if you get back together, just to talk, just to hear what it has to say, things will never be the same. A part of you will always see it for what it is. The magic is gone.

And you have better things to do. You have to get your life back! You need to get in shape, buy some new clothes, and get a haircut. You are back on the market, and ready to start over … and you will never put up with that shit again.

 

24 thoughts on “Day 40: It’s Complicated

  1. Exactly! It’s like going through a divorce and then trying to rediscover who you are, what you like to do, who you are apart from the habit. You find yourself asking the person in the mirror “Do I like to sew, maybe we should give that a go.” “Do I like book clubs?” “What do I like?” It seems scary at first, but then the self discovery hits you like a ton of bricks and you realize everything you’ll now have because of the breakup and not everything you’ve lost. “I don’t ever have to subject myself to another hangover!!!” is a nice add to the pros column!

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    1. You are so right about rediscovering who you are. I am a bit of a loss right now because I live in a smallish town, so I can’t just sign up for a painting class. There are none! I like the positive spin you put on it. Unfortunately, I have found the power of sweets and I am now having to give that up. Wish me luck. ; )

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  2. Wow! That was such a GREAT analogy! So true!!! It makes me sad that I stayed in a relationship with it for so long!!!! This is such a good way to look at it! This post belongs in a magazine article!!! xo

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    1. I agree with Sobermomat53. This is a fantastic analogy and it hit me hard. When it comes to relationships, I’ve never been one to look back. When I’m done, I’m done. I say the same to my friends! “There’s a reason you broke up.” “Nothing has changed.” “Don’t get dragged back in to a bad relationship just because you’re lonely.” All I have to do is treat my relationship with alcohol the same. I have NEVER thought of it this way. This is a realization I hope to keep in the front of my mind. If I ever falter, please remind me!

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      1. Thank you! I have kept this idea in my mind for the last year. It seems to be the one thing that can keep me from going back — I don’t want to fall back into a really bad relationship, especially after being blind for so long. It makes me mad! And anger, in this case, has been beneficial. It’s coming from a position of strength. ; )

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    1. Thank you! I am trying to channel all of my negative feelings into the culprit. It keeps me from “romanticizing” the drink. If I think about how great it was, I will eventually drink again. Reminders help me out to sort out what really happened.

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  3. Ah! Exactly. I have thought this a lot lately, and I’m still battling the rollercoaster of emotions from cutting out that toxic relationship. It’s been almost 3 weeks for me now with no end in site, but I’m def taking it one day at a time bc if I get ahead of myself it becomes too much in my brain!

    ❤️ thanks for the good read

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    1. That rollercoaster does take some getting used to. Funny, I was just writing a blog comparing addiction to a rollercoaster. The emotions really can throw you out of whack. And I agree — after much experimenting, I have learned that the ONLY way to succeed at not drinking is to take it one day at a time. 💕

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  4. I LOVE this post. Especially this: “And you finally put the blame where it belongs. Even if you listen to its voice again, even if you get back together, just to talk, just to hear what it has to say, things will never be the same. A part of you will always see it for what it is. The magic is gone.”
    Ms Miracle I feel the exact same way. xxx

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    1. I’m praying right along with you. It’s so true that once you see it for what it is, the power is gone. For so long I treated it like a long lost love, overlooking all the bad parts. There is nothing loving about it — just the opposite. It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes: When we change, all else changes.

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  5. Drinking and drugging are relationships.
    They know how to feed our low self-esteem with what we want to hear.
    And like you said they are very patience.
    I started drinking and drugging at 12 but hit bottom around 38.
    Once I looked in the mirror and I didn’t know the person who was staring back at me, I asked God for help.
    Today I have a good relationship with them knowing they can’t do nothing to me unless I choose to pick them up.
    This post reminded me of my up hill journey to freedom I must never forget.
    Thanks

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    1. Wow, what a great comment, Vernon! Here’s my favorite: They know how to feed our low self-esteem with what we want to hear.
      It makes me think that we have buy-in to our own low self-esteem and that WE are the ones holding ourselves back. Great food for thought. ; )

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