My relationship with alcohol did not follow the path that I expected when I took my first casual drink. I once thought that alcohol was my confidant, my comfort, my power. But alcohol turned out to be a narcissist, a bully, my kryptonite. My relationship with alcohol was like a love turned sour and I think one thing I had on my side when I decided to quit drinking, was the fact that I had already left one abusive lover. I had left my son’s dad 5 years prior to quitting alcohol. Ours was a love that turned toxic and emotionally abusive, and when I wanted that relationship to end I felt alone and unsure. I was afraid that I would not be able to function as a single parent. When I eventually also decided that it was time to cut alcohol out of my life, I was afraid that I’d be unable to cope with life’s ups and downs sober. It took me a long time to realise that both relationships weren’t right and never would be. In my relationship with alcohol and my relationship with my son’s father, I was always the victim, clinging to hope and terrified of change. I had become dependent on my abusers.
After our son was born, his father demanded I google what damage not having sex did to relationships. I ended up coming across a whole big blog post about emotionally abusive parters and narcissism. For the first time, I saw my relationship for what it was. I had been so confused being tossed and turned around all the time, unsure if it was me, if it was my fault, or if I was losing my mind. Once I read that article about narcissistic lovers and saw my situation spelled out in front of me, I couldn’t unknow it. I had the same reaction when I read this blog post, Survival Guide to Your First Days Sober, about how it felt to stop drinking. It was undeniable: I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with my partner just as I had been in an abusive relationship with alcohol.
I think you have a choice about how you view stopping drinking. You can view your life without booze as a lesser life or you can view it as something that will bring new untainted highs, open up new opportunities and inspire you to learn new things. If you’re feeling scared that’s natural as you have relied on drink for a long time.
It was the fear of the massive change. Fear of the fallout. It was fear of putting myself and my needs first. Fear of being wrong. Fear of life as a single parent. Of having no identity. Fear of living sober and being labeled an alcoholic. I was scared of facing failure. I couldn’t believe that was me. I felt like an idiot for getting myself into that position in the first place. With my alcohol abuse, as with my marriage, I was tied to my abuser by fear.
My relationship with, and departure from alcohol, mirrors almost completely the experience with my ex. Drinking was hurting me. I couldn’t imagine life without alcohol in it. I tried so long to make it work. I tried many many, many times to leave it behind but the manipulative nature of alcohol abuse left me repeatedly returning to the bottle. I felt ashamed. I had failed at moderating and being normal. I couldn’t imagine life without it. I clung to the hope of one day being able to drink like normal people. I was scared of how sobriety would change everything. I went through a phase of accepting that I was an alcoholic and was doomed, so I might as well give in. I’d justify this behavior by saying, “Of course I’m going to drink alcohol tonight– I have a drinking problem!” I felt awful about it but felt I had no other option. Going to AA felt an inevitability that I was just putting off facing. I was literally waiting for the car to crash. I knew no other way to live than within the cycle of drinking.
The sick thing about this abuser (alcohol) is that not only does it abuse our bodies with its carcinogenic properties, our neural pathways, our dopamine receptors, our lives, it gets us to abuse ourselves!! We literally ask for it. We buy it. We drink it. We say bad stuff to ourselves. We cut ourselves off from or mess things up with others. We are puppets and we make ourselves victims. The abuser can’t actually do it by itself. How does one leave that twisted kind of relationship with alcohol? I assure you that it is possible.
If you have recently stopped drinking, are at the start of your journey, and running toward freedom, no matter where or what your starting position, know what you want and what you need. You are undoubtedly someone who no longer wants to be in an abusive relationship with alcohol. You are essentially attempting to leave a toxic and controlling relationship. Because you know as well as everyone else, that you deserve better. No one deserves to be the victim. Your opponent may have a lot of power–it knows your weaknesses, how to lure you in, what to say to keep you weak. But as every sober person proves–it can be beaten. And the bonus is that you get to be the winner every day forever after. You get to save yourself.
I found an online community through that blog post, Boom Rethink the Drink, and immediately recognized I wasn’t alone. It was so freeing to talk about what I needed to talk about the way I needed to talk about it. And I slowly started understanding how my addiction worked. And eventually, I felt determined to refuse to be a victim. Or the casualty. I wanted so badly to not be under the master anymore.
We all have a different backstory and each an individual journey to getting sober. But we are not different from each other. It wasn’t easy for any of us to leave our respective relationships with alcohol abuse. When I first joined that online community, I literally felt that the longtime, happy sober people were just a different breed of person! Not the case, though. They’d just done what I hadn’t done yet.
But because we can learn and because we have support here, we can take our power back. We don’t have to be victims of our own stories caught in the emotional turbulence of drinking more than we want. We can leave that abusive relationship with alcohol behind. We get to chose if we want to untangle ourselves from our abusers, and with the right help and support, we can create new partnerships with ourselves and community.
Boom has the life belt out for us 24/7. We have to push off, grab that life belt, hold onto it for dear life and keep kicking for the shore. And most importantly have faith that we will get to safety and the battle will end with us victorious. more reading – How to Stop Drinking Away the Pain
If you are drinking too much too often don’t feel like you need to wait for a rock bottom to stop. Come talk to us and we’ll help you start thinking it through. Before it’s too late.
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