Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alcohol, the excuse or the problem? Am I a dimwit?

Anybeth left a comment which was substantial enough to be worth a post I think. Also, wise enough.

Anybeth, who writes, Swimming in Clear Waters (which is very good, you should read it), used to consider herself an alcoholic but has managed to get to a place where she can drink when and where she wants (please correct me if I'm getting this wrong Anybeth, and I'll change the post), and wrote:

Oi, you went through all that detox mess just to drink after a week?Honey! give it a month, two months. shit, give it six months and see how you feel.When I quit drinking (for total abstinence) I was in a dark place and needed 100% sobriety to deal with life, feelings, counseling, learning, stress, health, exercise. I needed that time to process my emotions and really get good with my head and heart.I'm not saying you are an alcoholic, only you can decide that. BUT I'm saying if you ever think you can drink again without bad effect on your emotion and life....you need a DOSE of sobriety that lasts a bit longer than a week or two. You need to deal with you, and that stuff in your head that you are self-medicating.
And, I very much see her point. So, am I being a bit of a dimwit - alcoholics after all spend a lot of time in Egypt's famous river (sorry) - and kidding myself?
I've been sober before - properly detoxed and in counselling sober - but the longest I've lasted was six months. To stop for a week might seem, well, a little weak. To be honest it was and it is but it was the best I could manage.
Being cast from counselling sort of opened up my eyes. I'm going to have to do a lot of this myself. I spoke to my counsellor about one view I have of my drinking (and I've got lots, believe you me, by the day, by the hour, by the minute - I'm a living Google newsfeed on my own drinking) which is that I use it as an excuse.
A reason to be able to say: I can't cope, I can't work, I can't do anything. Why's that Cardiff Drunk? Well, you see, I'm an alcoholic and I have to drink eight pints a day. And, I'm going to have to stop using excuses and I'm going to have to do a lot of the work myself and part of that is just developing a backbone and to mine own self being truer.
Part of that own self is one who likes drinking. Alcoholics are often said only to be able to start recovering when they hit the fabled 'rock bottom' - stealing your grandmother's pension to buy booze, pimping your dog out to the local whippet fanciers, that sort of stuff. At that point, they hate drink but you can bet your sweet I hate Eric Cantona T-shirt (you don't have one?!) that they flipping well started out loving it. (Sorry, is this all terribly obvious?)
I too have been in very dark places because of drink, and my other pharmaceutical pals, but now I'm saying no to them and, I'm currently also saying no to treatment, to counselling and anything other than that which I do myself.
However, I do very much see Anybeth's point. A week is a long time in politics (I'm Mr Cliche today, all day) but not in 'recovery' or addiction. There are dangers ahead, but I'm now finally sick of giving in to every fear. I'm also sick of counselling, of looking at myself - I'm far too far that way inclined as it is and need to start looking outward (although, you may have noted, I'm writing a blog entirely about myself: I'm also Mr Hypocrite today, all day) and using the inward stuff to my own advantage - in writing, in making music, in ignoring that dricking inner voice, telling it to shut up and sod off thank you very much.
I may well go longer periods of abstinence as I go along the road. I'm not going to set myself rules - because I know what I'm like - if I break them I will go 100% the other way (see the previous post on yoga) consider myself a failure and slink straight back into my, "I'm an alcoholic I can't do anything, you see I have to drink eight pints a day," persona.
It's a big change for me. I've been weak and I'm trying to learn how to be strong.
On Wednesday I'm due back at the Community Addictions Unit. My last appointment there was the first assessment, and this one is supposed to be about the discussion of treatment options (there appear to be two - inpatient or outpatient detox) and I'm not in a place where I currently need either of those.
However, I am absolutely determined to be completely honest with the doctor. I will tell him what I've done and I will show him a drink diary for the time I've been stopped. And, then, I'm tempted to be a teeny tiny bit dishonest with the doctor. I might tell him that my weekend's drinking was a slip up and that I'm abstinent now and can I go on Campral please.
I've taken Campral before after detox and I found it a help, I found that when I did relapse once I didn't go straight back into the eight pint ditch - that was a decision I made for myself when as a result of my relapse (it's a long story) my whole life imploded and into my drinker's persona I went - for safety. Now, I don't think he'll prescribe it if I'm drinking, but we shall see. We shall see.
I may well be fooling myself - but I still feel better today than I have for Bill Hicks knows how long - and I may well need to go back for help again in the future but at the moment helping myself seems the best way forward. And, as Anybeth says on her own blog - You can watch me succeed or watch me crash and burn.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Drunk in Cardiff

Somewhere in this post or in your kicked off counselling one, you mentioned a fear of failure.

Someone once said to me that a fear of failure is really a fear of success.

You are just more comfortable with the you that you know so well, and if you were to succeed, well, that would be very uncomfortable wouldn't it?

That would be a whole new you, and how would you handle that?

A fear of stepping outside your comfort zone as it were.

This may be profound, or it may be a load of bollocks, but it did make me stop and think for a bit.

The Drinker said...

I strikes me as more profound than bollocks Mr Anonymous - and, yes, I reckon there's a great deal of truth in what you say. I'm trying to change my whole self really.

Cheers for reading.

Enjoy yer alcohol responsibly. If you do. Or not really, however you prefer.

Anybeth said...

I hope you realize I DO NOT think you are a dimwit.
I know it's hard to quit. I had relapses as well. But I never had to physically detox, I never was a daily drinker and so did not have the physical problems associated with detox. It suprised me that you would work so hard to get clean, because it sounded very unpleasant, and then ditch it so quickly.

When you were sober for six months before, did you like it? is that a place you'd like to be again?

Shadow said...

hey! i'm all for one to go with what works. do that. i tried on my own. didn't work. i went to rehab. was great. haven't drunk anything for just over 2 years now. anybeth is fabulous the way she's made it work for her. problem for me is that alcohol and guilt go hand in hand, and i can't see myself drinking in moderation and feeling good. the guilt would propel me right back into a vicious cycle... good luck on your journey!

The Drinker said...

Hi All,

You're probably right Anybeth (yes, I know you weren't calling me a dimwit, I was calling myself that potentially).

When I was sober for six months I became a workaholic, a dope fiend and a porn freak - my brain went all over the shop and I split up from Mrs Cardiff Drunk.

But, I really am taking it one day at a time at the moment. I'm due at the community addictions unit today so I'll ask 'em what they reckon.

All the best,

Cardiff Drunk.

Anybeth said...

In response to meditation:
I only became familiar with meditation through yoga practice. It's not so much a buddhist practice or anything like that for me. It's just centering and sitting still.
Sometimes I'll stretch a little, move my neck around. Keep my eyes closed and do deep breathing.
I can't sit totally still for very long but if I try I can at least just sit with my own thoughts for half an hour and feel much calmer and at ease when I'm done.
it's just a way to get comfortable in my own skin when I feel like i'm losing focus.

doctor excuse said...

well this is indeed an excuse for sure.