It’s been about two months since we called it quits. Might have been a bit longer than that; I can’t remember the exact date of my last drink. So I calculate it from the Boskone convention in mid-February.
My counselor describes it as a relationship. Me and alcohol. We’ve been together for a long time. We’ve had our ups and downs, but mostly it was fun. We had a lot of friends in common. We’d all get together and party. We had some bad times, too. Alcohol sometimes did me wrong. But we made up and kept going. Because I could always turn to it in a crisis. It was always there to comfort me when I felt miserable. But it wasn’t a healthy relationship. Alcohol would commiserate while I felt sorry for myself. But it never actually helped me to solve my problems. In some ways, it made my problems worse.
Finally I had to accept the fact that it was a toxic relationship. It was holding me back, keeping me from dealing with my problems, preventing me from growing and realizing my full potential. I was too dependent, relying on alcohol instead of myself. And yet I couldn’t imagine a life without it. I was scared to face life alone. All the friends we had in common – would they reject me if I broke up with alcohol? How would I cope without alcohol’s support? We’d been together so long, shared so many good times. Wasn’t there some way to work it out, so alcohol and I could still be together?
It was hard accepting the fact that it was over. I had to let go. Alcohol and I had to go our separate ways.
Now, here I am, two months later. My friends are still my friends. I am able to function just fine without it. I feel better, more clear-headed, less depressed, less afraid, more self-confident than I can ever remember feeling before. I am glad I made the decision and I’m determined to stick with it, in spite of the difficulties.
Because sometimes I miss it terribly. I think of all the fun we had. I see other folks enjoying its pleasant company, and I feel left out. In some ways it was such a good relationship. It was part of who I was, and I’ve left that part of me behind.
But with distance has come perspective. I see what alcohol does to people, how they act when they’ve had too much. I see how their judgement goes, how their behavior changes, and it can get very ugly. When I was there too, just as intoxicated, I didn’t see it. Now I do. Dear god, was that what I was like? How embarrassing. It isn’t funny at all. It’s pathetic.
And yet I haven’t lost my love of a good party. I’ll be going to one in a couple of weeks, and I know alcohol is going to be there, too. I feel both anxious and eager. When drinking just gets people loose and laughing, it’s definitely a good thing. That’s the fun part, and I can share in it without drinking myself. Silly and crazy? Deal me in.
I just don’t want to be around when the ugly comes out. I know the abusive relationship one can get into with alcohol. I know how it can gaslight you, twist your thinking, make you paranoid and depressed. How it can release the demons, bring out the worst, turn an intelligent, friendly person into a slurring, staggering, swearing, angry golem. Or a gibbering, sobbing, helpless idiot.
A casual relationship with alcohol is harmless. But don’t let it become too intimate. Don’t let it charm you into marriage. It can eat your life. And you might not even realize it, because superficially, everything seems okay. You think you are coping fine. I did. I was sure my marriage was happy. It wasn’t until the crisis hit that I realized how dysfunctional it really was, and divorce was the only answer.
No hard feelings, alcohol, but I’m better off without you.