My very own pit

Yes, I am in my very own pit, a pit of my own making. I think I try hard at sobriety – perhaps people don’t agree – but I feel as though for the past year, and many months before that, I have thought about and tried to get sober. Blogging, meetings, counselling…I give up for days, even weeks, and once even a couple of months, but still I can’t seem to do it. I’ve just spent the last hour reading other sober blogs, and I can see the sober euphoria, the joy…but I can’t reach it.

I am not going to check myself into a rehab – I’m sure that will be a suggestion – and perhaps it seems petulant of me to say that. But I have to cope with realistic options, and rehab or a treatment centre is not realistic for me.

So, I have to make it work some other way.  Is there another way?

This evening, I felt so low and rubbish, I decided to drink. Even though I had had several successful days when I was away, and was building up successful momentum, I drank. It began with yet another conversation with my long-suffering husband, in which I dangled the prospect of sobriety in front of him by saying I need to go to meetings but I’d like to drink this evening, and I don’t want to be a strange, non-drinking wife. And, bemused, he said that he likes drinking at weekends, but he’d like not to drink in the week, and how about that for a plan? At that very moment, I confess the plan sounded good, but a few hours later, the regret and shame are back, and I am internally shouting: why do you keep doing this to yourself?

And I realised that exactly a year ago, 31st August 2014, I started this blog.

Please help me, my friends.

20 thoughts on “My very own pit”

  1. Annie, seriously, were there a “softer easier way,” don’t you think you would have found it by now? You have been struggling with it and researching it in pretty much every moment your weren’t drinking for over a year. You’re not dumb.

    And you’re not being honest. First not with your husband. Were you as open with him as you are with us about how miserable and out of control you are around drinking, he would never suggest that maybe doing the thing that makes you that way, even just on weekends, is a good idea. And second, with yourself, at least I don’t think you are being honest about what it means that you are an alcoholic (if you are). I don’t know you except for this blog. You may not be an alcoholic, and in that case, maybe there is another way for you to get the benefits of sobriety without actually getting sober (long way of saying moderating).

    The first part of How It Works from the AA Big book says, in part:

    “If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps.
    At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.”

    I thought that you were having trouble because you still believed in the “easier, softer way.” Now I think it may be more that you haven’t yet fully “decided you want what we have and are willing to go any length to get it.” Your comment that you don’t want to be “the strange nondrinking wife” is telling. If that’s how you see sober life, well of course you don’t want it — I wouldn’t either. Certainly wouldn’t want to sacrifice for it.

    So, yeah, there’s no way to live a sober life without getting sober. And there’s no way to get sober without stopping drinking.On the benefits and strategies of moderation, you’ll have to talk to the nonalcoholics out there. I know there are some for whom it works great — but not me.

    You haven’t hit your bottom yet, I guess. I had hoped that maybe you were at a “soft bottom” (sounds naughty) — a place where you could see where you were headed and wanted to stop.

    I guess that’s my answer, or several answers, to your question, why do I keep doing this to myself: Either: (1) you are not an alcoholic, (2) you are an alcoholic but not at your bottom yet, (3) you are an alcoholic and at your bottom (or as low as you want to go) but you think sobriety is worse, (4) you are an alcoholic and at your bottom (or as low as you want to go) and you think sobriety is the answer, but you would like to find a way to get there without giving up drinking, or (5) you are an alcoholic and at your bottom (or as low as you want to go) and you think sobriety is the answer, AND you know there is no way to get there without giving up drinking BUT you are not being honest with yourself or others that all that is the case.

    Take care, dear girl. You are in a tough tough place, I think. Kate (aka a strange non drinking wife and mother).

  2. Annie, Post-holiday blues are a trigger for you. If it’s any consolation, I did exactly the same thing when I returned from holiday. Would it help to write down what your triggers are, so that you can anticipate them? I use the HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) acronym to decipher triggers. Don’t beat yourself up. Go to a meeting.

  3. So wish I could help you Annie! This is a marathon not a sprint, some of us have spent many years trying to stop; me included. When I look back at those years I wish I had given myself more credit for what I was attempting, it was the ground work. Be kind to yourself Annie.
    Mary 💕💕

  4. You need to help yourself now. You have love and support from me, and many others here, but wishing things were different won’t make them different.
    Action is required. As well as the willingness to follow through on those actions.

    You are clearly stuck in serious alcohol dependence. It is a hard and horrible place to be, and I wish I could say something to help you.

    Perhaps you think we are all strange sober people, who have no fun and whose lives suck? If so, that is your addiction thinking because I know my life is happy, free and awesome. And so are the lives of many sober people.

    You can continue to deny that rehab might help you. Perhaps it wouldn’t be your answer, but I personally don’t want to see you end up in jail or the hospital, so I must again encourage you to see an addictions specialist and discuss inpatient or outpatient treatment.

    Not drinking for a day, or even a week, is not sobriety. That is just deprivation. There is so much more once you get past that.

    It’s time to do something different Annie.

    1. I agree with you. I know you spoke the truth out of compassion. I needed to hear it too… Annie, I believe sometimes ” drastic situations calls for drastic measures”.

    2. Deprivation vs sobriety – that’s really got me thinking. I’ve contacted the counsellor again, and am setting up the sessions which I kept cancelling earlier this year. Annie x

  5. i think there are many ways to get to where you want to go, but you need to find YOUR way. you are trying hard already, now you need to try different…what you are doing doesn’t seem to be working for you. i think you need to get to a point where you want to NOT drink more than you want that first drink…and i think that is the (our) ticket to freedom : ) but how to get there? i don’t know…. has your husband read your blog? that might be something to try? he sounds like a great guy and might be more supportive if he knew more what was going on? just a thought—i’m definitely NOT an expert (far, faaaaar from expert here) i’m just another wanna be sober person, i really want to see you to beat this thing.

    1. My husband knows about the blog. I think he read it once or twice in the early days, but I don’t think he’s read it since. If he were writing a blog, I’d read it every day!! Annie x

  6. Very good advice above…you are still trying to find a way to drink like a “normie”…until you surrender and face that you aren’t one of those people, nothing will really change for you. I have shared before that I had nearly 3 years of sobriety and then one day decided I was “over” whatever issue I had with alcohol..took me 5 years of hell to get sober again. I must remind myself often that I cannot have “a” drink…no such thing..Everything that is worth something in life takes work…Annie your life and soul are worth everything to you and your family…admit it to yourself…you cannot drink…hugs to you!

  7. You’ve had a very hard year, Annie, and I can hear the despondency, along with the resistance and the ambivalence. Because you said the ‘tug-of-war’ analogy was helpful, you might stay with that for a while, just noticing the dividedness within the self that drinking creates in us and to some extent in those around us because very often our drinking is and isn’t a problem for them. They can distance from the problem and from us, can choose to notice or not notice the erratic behaviour and confusion. They might feel helpless and uncertain, not sure what to do. We can’t distance from ourselves as easily– we ignore or minimise the problem for weeks and then wake up at 3am and think,”I can’t go on like this.”

    I’m writing you a long post here and I’m sorry it is so long. We’re all different and each of us works out what we need to do to get sober. At the same time there is huge commonality and for me the breakthrough to sobriety was letting others in, sharing the problem and finding out how they got and stayed sober, doing what others before me had done.

    In own tug of war that went on for many years, I hardly ever won an inner battle with myself. I would manage to postpone another drinking bout or convince myself to do something, and a day later I would change my mind. Often my drinking had no apparent direct consequences for me (I wasn’t a parent either so that was a factor) and people were used to the me who drank and seemed volatile, a bit changeable, prone to depression. It was easier to keep drinking than to get sober. Nobody threatened to leave me, nobody confronted me and gave me ultimatums. Nobody minded if I went on drinking so long as it didn’t disrupt their lives.

    Which is why it took me many years to get sober. In addition, I had very poor impulse control, something I hadn’t realised until I finally got sober. Saying no to myself always felt like deprivation, as if alcohol was something I was entitled to have, a coping mechanism and way of comforting or cheering myself up, taking the edge off; and I was used to getting my own way, not just with drinking but in persuading others to see things as I did — my therapist spoke about a ‘delayed maturity’ and I could see that this immaturity and ‘petulance’ came out of years of secretly feeling I could get away with drinking and not have to be accountable to anyone, including myself. In the short term, I didn’t want to have to change my life and inconvenience myself or others, have to sit at meetings or go to therapy each week.

    One counsellor back during a bad drinking episode suggested I take Antabuse each morning or ask someone to give it to me at breakfast if I couldn’t trust myself. I was horrified and said spontaneously, “But that would mean I couldn’t drink anytime I wanted to!” Which was revealing of the part of myself that wanted to simply go on drinking, who could not imagine her life without the pleasures of alcohol. I felt nobody understood me, nobody knew how hard it was for me to live differently.

    This same counsellor said something to me that haunted me for years to come. She said, “Most people come into therapy determined not to change. They want the things that come from change but without having to change. Change is too painful and the benefits feel too far away.” That described so much about my life and it shocked me she knew I was drinking through therapy and just pretending to get better, not ‘feeling’ any of the emotional hard stuff that came up — I would go straight home from therapy and pour myself a drink, swallow all the feelings and numb out. Although I envied others who were able to get help and sober up, it shocked me how hard they worked at it and I felt as if I was the exception, hard-wired for failure. Alcoholism takes away self-respect: I couldn’t believe in myself, couldn’t see myself as worthy of a better life. The short-term expense and difficulty of getting professional help mattered more than the possibility of getting serious about stopping and involving others in helping me stick with the resolve.

    Annie, I read your comment about the fear of becoming the ‘strange non-drinking wife’ and I also want to comment on that. In one way I suspect it may be very accurate in that we do become a stranger to ourselves and others who have only known us as drunks. My first 18 months sober were hard for me in that I had to learn to cope without alcohol and I had very few coping skills. I didn’t know how to relax or be happy without getting drunk.

    At times, for sure, I felt really happy and proud of my sober self and relieved to have stopped for good, but those close to me often found me difficult and unsociable. I became a new kind of person, moody and troubled and reactive, unreasonable and strange to myself and to them. My eating habits altered, my health got better, but I lost my temper all the time and would cry for no reason. The adjustment to living sober was not easy and I needed therapy and the support of sober friends to keep going. I distanced from people who drank heavily as well as unsupportive family and friends who did not understand what was going on. My relationships went through turmoil. But I learned something really valuable in those first two years of seesawing moods and restructuring my life: this awkwardness and discomfort at having to live a sober ordinary life was the price I had to pay for all those years of obliviousness. If I started drinking again, it would just make that learning process harder and slower.

    And it got easier over time, Annie, that is why we choose to stay sober. It gets easier and we get our lives back. Thanks for taking the time to read this and do email me if I can be of any help.

  8. oh Annie. i thought you wanted this badly, but, alas, the booze has won over again. your children may follow this dappled path you know, do you want this for them?????? do you want to be this role model?
    would you please get some serious help. Rehab??????
    don’t you see this approach is just not working for you?
    give yourself a break, and get some professional respite.
    hugs to you

  9. I don’t think you know that you want to quit drinking. I don’t think you know that you need to quit drinking and it’s my belief, without those questions answered, even if you were to quit drinking today, you wouldn’t embrace sobriety because you’d always think that maybe you don’t need it. You do NOT have to hit a rock bottom, you can find out those answers without it. Once again, I’m going to suggest a program such as Moderation Management (it is not wrong to want to drink moderately if you can) so that you have some structure and support because all of this not drinking and hating it, than drinking and feeling like shit about it is no way to live. So to me, you have three choices, decide that you are not going to drink and get additional professional help as everyone else has suggested, try drinking again but this time with the help of a moderation organization, or just stay stuck where you are until the bottom falls out.

    You are more than welcome to email me if you need to talk.

    1. Thanks, KMH. I’m still going to try your first option, but thanks for the idea of Moderation Management. I’ve read a bit about that. Annie x

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