I Recognize My Mind Games

By Steve C.

I was about 9 months sober, in June of 1998, when my Dad moved in with my family because of his Lou Gehrig’s disease progression. He drinks nothing without alcohol in it, which means I keep it around the house now. He can’t move his hands, can’t walk, and is beginning to have trouble standing up and swallowing, but he can still suck liquor through a straw. I didn’t choose to have a confrontation over it with him because it’s the last thing he enjoys that he can still do. Plus, from my own experience, you can’t force anyone into sobriety. Prior to this, I had a 1/4 bottle of gin in the freezer for about 3 weeks after I got sober. Eventually, I poured it down the drain because I found myself thinking about it quite a bit.

Anyway, when dad first got here, his thing was warm beer and brandy which wasn’t too bad, since I hate warm beer, and I never cared too much for brandy unless it was in egg nog. But now, since he has trouble swallowing thin liquids, he’s changed to rum and coke, screwdrivers, and greyhounds. All drinks I used to enjoy. I have full liters of brandy, vodka, and rum sitting on my kitchen counter right now. If he gets peppermint schnapps, or switches to gin and tonic, I might really be in trouble. I find myself thinking about just a small sip now and then when I’m carrying his drink over to him, but I know better then to follow through.

But what is scary, is how frightfully easy it could be, just one little mental slip, just one little irrational thought, just one little raise of my arm, and bingo, I’ll probably wake up in the hospital or in jail. I find it interesting, since I really hadn’t craved it too much over the last three months, but for some reason, its creeping back into my consciousness. I find it is getting really hard to mix his drinks, put a straw in it, and then carry it over to him without triggering the little mind game of “just a little sip”, or “just a taste.” Actually, I think maybe the smell of the stuff is what is triggering it. Maybe I should just get a nose plug.

So, what I have been doing is just forcing the smarter part of my conscious to take over, and trying to ignore what Trimpey calls “the beast.” I know that for me, alcohol is extremely dangerous, and when I’m around it, I’m on dangerous ground. I also think the craving must have something to do with the smell of the alcohol, which must trigger something in my body. I’m really beginning to believe that alcoholism is really a disease triggered by a physical craving which causes the so called “mental obsession” (AA stuff) because I don’t know how else to explain it.

Anyway, my wife has been extremely worried about the situation for the last four months, and I have kept telling her “don’t worry” nobody is going to pour it down my throat, but me. But, recently, with the different liquors being brought into the house, it has gotten to be a little bit more worrisome for me due to the mental games that are going on again. I let her know this, and she is going to mix his drinks a little more often for me until I get over this weirdness.

So I guess what I’m saying, is we all have to deal with alcohol in our lives at some point or another, but it’s our minds that may betray us. For me, I think it would be better to just get rid of all the stuff in the house, but I can’t or won’t do that unless I put my dad in a home or something. Plus, I know that deep down, the stuff isn’t going to magically come out of the bottle and land in my throat. I’m at least happy that I can recognize my mind games for what they are.

Oct. 10, 1998