Breaking a Lifelong Pattern

by Jane D.

[Jan had posted: Sorry couldn’t take it any longer. Had to drink, poor judgment but felt good (actually bad). How can I stop, I can’t talk to you guys immediately and I was waiting for some inspirational mail and that didn’t come.]

Wow! I’ve been feeling just like that for the last week. Couldn’t take it any longer. Major confrontations with mistakes I’ve made in the past. And even some I’m just about sure I’ll make in the future. Felt it would be a relief to drink (even though I knew it would also make me feel bad). I couldn’t wait for inspirational email either — had no access. I felt hurt, and lonely and abused. I felt there was no way out of old patterns — they hurt just a bit too badly.

Made a conscious effort to remember the sobriety priority. Don’t drink, no matter what. Sounded so simplistic, so trivial, so remote — how does this alleviate or even explain the pain? How does it heal gnawing guilt? How is this going to make me a whole person? What’s the point?

Slapped myself in the head. I know I am better sober than drunk. Ok, that’s a start.

When I think about all the stupid risks I’ve made in my life, the `risk’ of trying to live it sober seems so small. Drunk is life-threatening. Sober opens possibilities.

At my family’s house, my sister asked me what I wanted to drink with dinner. I said, water. When she put a glass of wine (my drug of choice, more, the one-time love of my life) by my place setting, I asked her for WATER. When my mother asked me why I wasn’t drinking the wine, I, for the first time to my family, said, I am an alcoholic and I can’t drink. She said abruptly and unkindly, `you’re NOT an alcoholic, one glass won’t hurt you.’ The half-hour conversation that followed was one of the longest of my life. But, long enough for me to finally perceive that they were more uncomfortable with it than I (long discussion about alcoholism in my family).

And, it was liberating cause I saw myself breaking a lifelong pattern. Part of it was, for me, trying to live in the moment (not worrying about coulda, shoulda, woulda), and part of it was not to betray the newly forming trust my children are building in me.

Think I must have read `Drinking At’ a dozen times a day. Stupid me finally figured out, after all that reading, that I really didn’t WANT to drink, I just wanted all of them to stop being at me. Drinking doesn’t stop it. So, I didn’t drink.

I’m learning, (all the time lately, thank the goddess!!) that I don’t have to react. And the world isn’t all about me, but it’s not about them either.


Posted 17 Jul 1998