A major way that the blogosphere helped me as I was inching my way toward quitting alcohol was in people’s descriptions of their excuses. I started seeing my excuses popping up all over the place. I would have thought I was a little original. But you guys helped me see through the flimsy rationales I was using to stay stuck.
I started this blog out of a concern about relapse, and I’ll list some of my excuses here in case I need to read it in some future moment of distress/temptation. In no particular order…
- I don’t drink that much compared to other people. Comparisons are a) meaningless, and b) carefully designed by my inner addict to make me look good.
- No one is questioning my drinking. When you take scrupulous care to hide the extent of your drinking, you can’t exactly blame your friends for not questioning the extent of your drinking. I can so relate to other bloggers’ stories of sipping vodka from a roommate’s bottle and carefully replacing it when the declining quantity could become noticeable, careful management of the recycling bin to make the number of wine bottles seem normal, and careful management of the level of wine in the glass while cooking dinner. The attention given to these small, secretive acts is so familiar to me.
- I don’t have dependents who could have an emergency while I’m drinking. This is true.
- I’m not endangering others by driving drunk. You want a prize for that?
- I don’t smoke. There’s such a thing as “health-damage capital” that I get to spend? Yow.
- It’s not interfering with my work. Depends how you define “interfere.” I held down a job just fine and now run a thriving freelance business. So it’s true that I’m not jobless. But I would have been more effective and calmer and more content in my work without the headaches, exhaustion, and preoccupation with the after-work beers.
- It’s not interfering with my relationships. Yes, it is. Again, true, it hasn’t wrecked my home. But my relationships would also be better without the headaches, exhaustion, and preoccupation with the near-daily beers. And my relationship with my partner would have been better without the frazzle in me that came from alcohol. It also would have been better without my scream sessions on phone calls in the past. Thankfully, there were only a few, but I shudder to think back on those. I’ve left comments on Facebook that would have been better left unsaid. I’ve sent emails with the wrong tone to close relatives/in-laws who probably still haven’t forgiven me. I think we get to call this “interference.”
- Other people don’t drink, and their lives aren’t noticeably fantastic. I’d look at people who didn’t drink much or at all and figure I’d simply land where they were if I quit. Boring lives. Lives on auto-pilot. No adventure or creativity. These people were proof that there were no great benefits to quitting alcohol.
- Most of the warning signs in those “do I drink too much?” quizzes didn’t apply to me. Well, many of them didn’t. Never mind that the instructions say that you should be concerned if you answered “yes” to at least a whopping two. Instead, my eye was drawn to the long list of the problems I didn’t have. (Plus, the list is clearly not designed for high-functioning, secretive drinkers, which I plan to ramble on about in a future post.)
These excuses by my inner addict kept me drinking for several years after I knew I had issues. Thank you to each and every one of you out there in cyberspace who named you excuses and gave me a chance to see the cardboard they’re made of. All that wet cardboard. Thank you.