Okay look, I realize my blog is becoming one big 12 step meeting. I see it, and yet I feel helpless to stop it. Before you know it I’m going to be ass deep in slogans telling all my readers “one day at a time” and “easy does it” and “turn that frown upside down!” well not that last one or you have my permission to kick me in the liver, dig a big hole in the ground and throw my blog in it. The thing is, I get a lot of emails from women asking me specific questions about quitting drinking and I haven’t been able to answer each and every one (although I will -Do*ce take a memo). Parting with alcohol was simple and complicated. Simple because I knew without a doubt it had to be done. Complicated because I had no idea what it entailed. Now that I know a lot of work goes into it, would I do it again? Yes.
A lot of the letters I get from people tell me that they think they might have a drinking problem, they see themselves in my story but they don’t think they can quit. I understand. Really I do. And the problem is there’s no easy answer I can give. There isn’t something quick and simple or a substitute that works as well or as quickly (at least in the short run) as wine. If there were, no one would turn into a big old drunk right? Why would I possibly drink enough to give myself a hangover if a cup of cocoa could make me feel all was right with the world?
If you are drinking a glass of wine or two a night and you don’t want to give it up, you won’t hear me tell you to. Why should you? Are you crazy? Are you just trying to be perfect? If I could drink a glass of wine or two a night I’d be right there with you offering a virtual toast. I can’t.
If you’re drinking a lot more than that but think you have the rest of your life together and it’s not hurting anyone then maybe you’re right. Or maybe you’re rationalizing. I don’t know but I do know that you probably aren’t in the right mind frame to stop. I can say that, especially for women, it usually gets worse.
But maybe you’re in a place where alcohol has begun to have a mind of its own, telling you it’s okay to drink today when you clearly told yourself something completely different this very morning. Maybe you know that somewhere along the line you crossed over from happy, social drinker to lonely, unsocial drunk. Maybe you’re forgetting things you said the night before even though you only had a couple of glasses. Possibly you believe you’re stressed out and unhappy and drinking has become your hope. Your only salvation.
If you’re reading this because you saw me on Dr. Oz and you think I understand you, I do. I get it. We’re on the same page, amigo. You and me – we’re simpatico. Remember what you saw up there on stage? Yeah, normal right? Not a bad person, not a falling down drunk. Not homeless (although I have been known to go more than five days without showering), able to meet deadlines and read stories to my kids. Able to be a loving wife and a school volunteer. I just didn’t want to wait for my problem to get worse and you don’t have to either.
Here’s what I can offer you in advice: Ask for help. It’s really tough to do this shit on your own -I’m not saying it can’t be done but it’s much harder. And chances are great that you’ve already tried on your own anyway. The thing about other people who fell down this rabbit hole is we are dying to help each other. It’s what we thrive on. It’s what keeps us sober. I can promise you that the people you will meet if you just reach out, are more often than not, normal, funny, happy people. Quitting will be tough at first because you’re not used to it, sort of like breaking in a new pair of shoes. You will probably feel anxious and nervous and not quite like yourself. But, with help and support, you will start becoming more honest about how you feel, more honest about your need for support and you will realize that you’re not alone. That will make all the difference.
Go online or call someone you know who doesn’t drink and ask them how they did it. Or tell your OB/GYN or your husband or your best friend or even your damn manicurist. Okay, maybe not your manicurist -chances are they only speak Vietnamese anyway.
Or you can just wait until I write you back. But, seriously, there’s no time like the present.