Once in a blue moon, I’ll get an email from someone who is thinking about giving up alcohol. Most times they just say “thank you for your blog,” but sometimes they actually ask for help or advice. I received one such email this weekend, and it came at a very interesting time.
See, I’ve had a “tough love” type of post in my drafts forever. Well, since last November, and a year is a pretty long time to be mulling over a blog post. When I say “tough love” I guess I mean it’s more of a rant; I’d seen a lot of people slip, and everyone was so sweet and lovey and nobody was asking the tough questions and denial was everywhere and it just made me angry. But then I felt bad about feeling angry. I felt like I must be a mean cruel-hearted bitch to even be having those feelings. So I sat on the post. For a year.
I finally resurrected that post last week in the midst of insomnia after a friend mentioned she felt “a responsibility to make sobriety look good.” My first thought was, why? Why on the earth would someone put that pressure on themselves? And in doing so, are they selling a false bill of goods? Because some days sobriety looks anything but good.
Then I started thinking about all the other things we may “say” and if those things are totally honest, and then I thought about the things we don’t say, and I wondered why we didn’t say them (like my feelings of anger . . . surely I’m not the only person who has ever felt that way? But no one ever writes about that side. Why not? Fear of coming across like a mean cruel-hearted bitch?)
The post itself turned into a long-winded ramble-fest on sobriety’s ugly truths, or at least my thoughts on them. I sent it to a couple of friends, and they both said, in essence, “say what you want to say, it’ll be fine.” Which I took as, they hate it. So back in the draft folder it went.
Until I got an email this weekend asking for advice. I was tired, cranky, and sick (probably from catching a bug on the plane ride back from my
mom’s dad’s). Since I figured she found me via my raw, f-bomb loaded, Bukowski-inspired “So You Want to Quit Drinking” piece, I didn’t hold much back in my response to her. I was excessively direct and honest. And I figured later that I probably scared her away.
But I didn’t.
Instead, she replied back. She was appreciative of my response, and she said that I was right. She said she was going to quit drinking.
And then I decided two things: 1) that I would again resurrect that blog post, and say what I wanted to say, even if it hurt some feelings. And that 2) with her permission, I would share the emails I sent my new friend, in hopes they may help someone else out there. She wholeheartedly agreed, saying that if they helped just one person out there, it would be worth it.
So here they are… her notes are paraphrased for the sake of privacy. My notes are mostly verbatim, as are any typos (again: insomnia, sick, and iPhone).
She and I both hope they help you.
Hi Christy, I found you as I searched the internet for help and advice; I feel I was meant to find you. I’ve been with my husband since high school, and we have three children together. My husband drinks nearly every day, and can be quite controlling. Me, I’m totally out of control when I drink. I drove drunk last night to buy a bottle of wine. I’m so unhappy in my marriage and I feel I have no one to talk to. It’s a living nightmare, I feel like my life is crumbling around me. Any advice, greatly appreciated. – Thanks, “Seeking” (name changed)
Hi S, sounds like things are pretty tough right now. So sorry. I know that nobody will quit drinking until they’re ready to quit. You can’t worry about your husband, you just have to worry about you. If you are driving drunk, you have got to cut that shit out right away. 1) you get caught, they take your license away and down the line they’ll take your kids too. 2) you could kill someone, someone else’s kid. Could you live with that?
Plus I mean your kids deserve their mom to be present and sober. Mine died 3 years ago and I miss her every day. You would probably kill for your kids…so kill your demons. When you drink, you feed them. You make them stronger. You give them control. So stop.
It’s not easy, I know. Especially if you are physically addicted to alcohol. If you are, you may need medical help because you will go through withdrawal. There are meds that will help make it easier to manage.
There are good resources out there–I have a blog roll. Belle at Tired of Thinking About Drinking helps a lot of newly sober. She can pair you up with a sober pen pal. And on my resources page, there’s a few phone numbers and links for help. I’d try an AA meeting. The face to face support is so important. Its a good place to start and they have them globally.
Don’t quit on yourself. Don’t quit on your kids. Don’t quit on your life.
You can do this.
Thank you so much for replying, what you said is so true. I feel sick to my stomach from what I did. Drinking has made me someone else I don’t recognize anymore. I want to be me again. I’m going to see if I can get a sober pen pal. This is the first day of me doing a u-turn and heading back down the right road. Thank you so much, S
You are so welcome. I know how hard it is. Alcohol saw me through a lot of difficulties in my life, it was my best friend for a while. But then it turned on me, and like you said, it turned me into someone I didn’t know or like. I too got very angry when I drank, like it was the only time it could come out.
But in time you learn better ways to manage anger. You get better at saying what you mean. You realize that life is so short, you may as well just be honest with others.
Belle does what she calls the 100 day challenge. Try that. Stop drinking for 100 days and decide then. I know I personally had to remove alcohol forever from my life, had to remove it as an option, but that forever word can be scary. So try 100 days to start. Go from there.
Maybe this week I’ll do a short post on the topic. Would you be okay if I mention your email? I would just generalize it and would not mention your name, but I would include my reply to you. Maybe it could help some others, maybe someone will offer suggestions. Figured I would ask if that was okay, again your privacy will not be violated.
I’m glad it feels different for you! I think when it’s time, we just know.
Starve your inner demons. Slay the dragon.
If you pray, try that. Or maybe just pretend and talk to the universe. It’s surprising how much that seems to help.
Wishing you all the best,
Stay in touch,
Hi Christy, Of course you can mention what ever you like. If it helps even just one person then it’s so worth it!
I hope this does help someone; thank you S for inspiring this post.
What advice or words of wisdom would you offer to someone who was thinking about quitting drinking? (You can share as an ex-drinker, a current drinker, or even as an affected family member; all are welcome.) Is there a program or a book or a blog that helped you? Anything you wish someone would have told you? Feel free to share, politely please. And meanwhile I’ll get to work on that other blog post. -christy