I think I saw a movie about Bill W and AA years ago. I *know* I saw Days of Wine and Roses in which AA figures heavily in the second half. Days of Wine and Roses scared the shit out of me. Probably contributed to my fear of quitting lest I end up in a straight jacket on the wrong end of electroshock therapy. When I did decide to let my brain dry out, like so many other things in my life that I had worked up into certain disaster that would leave a smoking crater of destruction behind, nothing bad happened. I didn’t shake and drop my spoon like poor ol’Smokey in Fried Green Tomatoes and I didn’t hallucinate little green men like Jack Lemmon in Days of Wine and Roses. The only thing that happened was I wasn’t drunk.
I guess that’s not the only thing that happened. The anxiety that stalked me and prompted some of that drinking in the first place has dissipated. The wild panic attacks that left me wanting to be unconscious as my only form of self-defense seem to have retreated as well. I wasn’t a morning person when I was 9 and I will never be a bright eyed bushy tailed little morning squirrel so nothing new to report there. But when I wake up, I’m not afraid. I don’t have to constantly keep ETOH in the house. I don’t have to arrange the recycling so that the glass is on the bottom. I don’t wonder if anyone suspects how often I drink. I don’t see all the pain and disappointment in the past through a big boozy warped magnifying glass. I don’t accidentally end up with my head in the toilet crying “I didn’t mean to drink so very much!!” between dry retches.
Quite frankly, I’ve had some bad boyfriends but alcohol was the worst. It seduced me by acting normal and comforting and fun and then it turned on me, made me feel like shit, caused me trouble and then told me it could fix my troubles, told me I couldn’t get along without it. Liar. It never took me four years to ditch a man who baited and switched like that. What I have discovered is that it is drinking that makes me drink. It’s drinking that causes or magnifies the anxiety, insecurity and despair that asks for another drink. As long as we’re speaking honestly…fuck that. I don’t want it anymore. I needed a few days…3 it turns out…to be sober enough to seeeeeee through the bullshit just enough to decide it was as good a time as any to take a break.
So here I am, 30 days is in sight. No meetings, no sponsor, I’ve barely mentioned this experiment to anyone. I go to the gym when I would usually be curling up with a glass of poison and Netflix. There is a bottle of vodka in my freezer that has about 4 shots left in it and the new bottle that was meant to replace it sitting on my dining room table. They’ve been there untouched for 25 days. This is not the compulsive disease over which nobody has any power that I heard about long before I ever took a drink. Once things started getting sketchy, that AA model was lurking in my consciousness telling me that there was no way out except through admitting powerlessness. But I needed my power BACK. I needed it back in so many aspects of my life. Giving up my power got me in this mess in the first place. I don’t want to be a victim and I don’t want to be a survivor. I just want to be a woman who chose something else.
I can’t say I’ve quit drinking because that is permanent and a bit cocky. I can say that we are on a break. I can say that I’m letting my brain have a nice, long dry out. I can say that I am nowhere near ready to revisit the idea of whether alcohol and I can see each other socially. I’m not sure that I ever want us to be friends because I’m not sure that I will ever trust it again. It was a pretty bad friend to me actually.
I can say that Bill W is not going to be my rebound guy. I honestly don’t believe that “alcoholic” is a label that fits me. I don’t think I ever had a physical dependence. I had a mental and emotional crutch that became a rock around my neck. If you lose control of something but then get it back, how are you powerless? I’m not afraid of that bottle on my dining room table. I *am* afraid of tumors because cancer is a freakin disease. ALS…also terrifying. Alzheimer’s…I really don’t want that one. Necrotizing fasciitis…that will take your limbs if it doesn’t get your life. There are plenty of diseases to be afraid of. For once in my life I’m not going to invent something to fear. Sorry, Bill, but that bottle is going to sit right there.