I stopped drinking exactly 3 months ago.
To be fair, I've had a drink or two in that time. But, also to be fair, I've been sober for 3 months...meaning, I have NOT been drunk.
After 30 days of not even a sip...I allowed myself a glass. I found myself wanting to prove to myself that I wasn't an alcoholic. I would have a glass of alcohol to be sure just one glass wouldn't send me into a bender. I would be very pleased when I resisted the almost insurmountable urge to have another.
I would google and then google again the symptoms of alcoholism. Even though I'd check YES to just about every box on the list of signs you might have a problem, I would be so pleased with myself when I realized that one or two boxes weren't checked.
You know, I wasn't waking up with the shakes or anything. You know, I still have a job and haven't had a DUI on my record, I would tell myself.
I quickly realized that there was a real problem with the 'A' word.
Even my co-workers wouldn't say it. My family DEFINITELY wouldn't utter the word and I didn't want to believe it.
Even those in passing who had read my previous blog about limiting my drinking, would make sure to say words like 'drinking problem' or 'binge drinking' when referring to their relatives who suffered from the same thing.
Then, I got an email. It was from a woman (she knows who she is) who just came out and said it.
"Laura, your blog was very honest and I thank you for that. I, too, am a recovering alcoholic. 35 years sober and counting..."
I was blown away. Why would she think that we had anything in common? I am NOT an alcoholic.
So, I wondered, why was I so afraid of the 'A' word. Is it because it makes it so much more real? Is it because if you're an alcoholic, you assume you have to end up in rehab or you're never allowed to have another sip of alcohol?
Thinking of never having another sip makes me feel so sad. It's almost too much to even consider.
I believe that I was definitely on my way to alcoholism and had I not made some serious lifestyle changes, I would have been an alcoholic in no time.
Or, maybe my co-worker was right. Maybe alcoholism, like any other 'ism' is a sliding scale. A spectrum.
Why does it have to be so black and white? Can't there be an extreme case and a very mild case and everything in between?
Either way, I know that since making the change to stop numbing my emotions with alcohol, I've grown light years spiritually. I'm closer with my precious children and husband. I'm more productive and creative at work. I'm motivated to stay eating clean and feeling healthy. And I'm pretty sure I've begun to tackle the feelings that keep bubbling up. I let myself feel them, validate them and then practice gratitude. I'm doing what every therapist I've ever had has told me to do...for once.
It's been a winning combination for now. And I've made rules. No more than 2 drinks at any one time...EVER again.
Find what works for you.
Something I'm starting to realize is that labels are great to relate to, just don't let them define you.