dimanche 1 mars 2020

One year sober, then what?

March first 2020 means one year plus one day without any alcohol intake for me (leap year), except for 1 mL for vanilla extract in hot milk. This year-long journey started with a desire of going “dry” for whole March. Why March, when everyone goes for the shortest month, February? Because in January, I was not ready to jump in, and in February, I started thinking about it. That’s it.

Why a dry month so? Am I alcoholic? Do I have a problem? Great question. The answer is not just yes or no, though.

What is alcoholism? According to this website (https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcohol/), not at all, cause they describe alcoholism in a pretty harsh way. In fact, I don’t think this definition applies to much people I would consider having a serious issue with alcohol. According to this other site, I can list some points that totally apply to me regarding a drinking problem. 

Here is the list : 

  • Feel guilty or ashamed about your drinking. Yup, I have felt like crap more than I would have liked.
  • Lie to others or hide your drinking habits. Nope. Not a liar.
  • Need to drink to relax or feel better. Totally. I’ll talk about it in more details.
  • Black out or forget… Nope. 
  • Regularly drink more than intended to. Yup. And especially more often.

Well, that being said, many many many people drink more and more frequently than what I used to, and so consider I don’t have a problem of any sort. Good for you. I am not comparing to others, but with my own standards (the social need to encourage others to drink in order to minimize our own guilt is another subject to check).

So, I have worked in jobs that were not good fits for me the past years and when the weekend came, I was very eager to drown this depressing feeling of emptiness with a beer or two, or three or four. Or a bottle of wine. Or both. Never been a heavy drinker. I honestly don’t handle alcohol much. With meds, it’s even worse. I drank earlier on Fridays when I did not have the kids, and until Sunday, and sometimes Monday, when I had had a shitty day. It took me a while to put my discomfort in words, then to express it to others, then to just quit, for “a month” on March first 2019.

I had to embellish the reasons I did it, because I did not know myself as well as I do now at that moment, and I was not comfortable saying the ugly truth. People in general don’t understand the whys, especially when it may put emphasis on their own issues. Anyways, I pretended I stopped because it impacted my medication, which is true. And I also said it provoked anxiety crisis during the night after drinking, which is also true. But, I never mentioned the real reason I did it. I hate myself when I drink. That’s it. Even sober, I overanalanyse every single thing that comes out of my mouth, conversationally speaking. When I was drunk, or even just a little bit “cocktail”, it was 100 times worse, and it could last for days, my brain on turbo mode to find more guilt than possible. I hated the image of myself I was giving, the one of a super accessible friendly touchy party girl (I’m overdoing it a bit) when, in fact, I am terrified of crowds, events with too many people, being in the middle of an open space, being outside of my cocoon, being touched, and I don’t like people in general that much.

So I stopped. Like that. Like for sugar. And cosmetics. And my marriage. And my engineering carreer. Then a new life begun. Sounds amazing, right?

On day one, I had a music show, where my lover was performing with his band. And I got super disorganized and angry and panicked because things were not as expected, and I was alone for a while, lost. We had a huge fight later that weekend and I found explanations of my behavior, and life went on. 

I stopped being able to go out, to meet with people. Worse than that, my interest in getting out, or in spending time with people just disappeared. Except for few close friends, I stopped having fun with people. It generated even more questions than answers in fact. Later that year, after working harder to find what was wrong with me, I found out I was autistic. Honestly, things started making sense at that moment. 

I had been hiding behind alcohol to fit in socially, to get to people, to be able to chat without being weird. No alcohol, no fun. How pathetic is that? Well, I should probably get back to it seeing how alone this made me, right? Nope. I started hating alcohol, the publicity, the social fame, the “chic” of it, and I started avoiding it too. As harsh as it may look, I still go out sometimes and survived every event I went too. I just never enjoy myself much, unless there is a song I totally love and sing or something about animals and environment to keep me interested. 

Another very interesting thing that I learned from that year sober? Drinking party people hate to be surrounded by sober people. They just don’t get it. I wonder if it’s the emphasis that is put on their incapacity to be in a festive event without alcohol, or if they are scared of what sober people could see in them. If you know, please tell me. 

The future is bright for me. 2019 has been a year of exploration, and discoveries. Many of them were very hurtful. But I honestly think that I really don’t need, or want alcohol in my life anymore. People come over and still drink. I see them turn. That’s how alcohol work. But I tolerate the drunker version of most of the people I love. I cannot kiss my lover anymore when he does because the smell makes me nauseous, but I will never ask him not to. I wish that I will never talk to anyone with an alcohol smell anymore. Cheers to this sober future!