My name is Lance, I don’t drink but I used to. I don’t drink because I am an alcoholic.
I did not start drinking early, only a handful of non-eventful times in high school. I really discovered the benefits of the magic elixir in college. The feeling of freedom from moving away from a strict USMC Drill Instructor father was my E-ticket to the ethanol ride and I jumped on without a second thought. That ride was fun, a whole lot of fun. I was accepted, funny, sexy, mostly stayed out of trouble, and people wanted to hang out with me. But something was always wrong, I didn’t see it at the time but I do now. I never drank solely to achieve those results. The drink was never enough, and those results were never enough – I always wanted MORE. More acceptance, more funny, more sexy, and more alcohol. There was a dark side too. There is a pool of anger in me that I still struggle with today. Sometimes my quest for more would tap into that pool. Fights, and not just with assholes in bars or parties, fights with friends, punching college buddies in a drunken rage, anytime I felt wronged, sometimes even when sober. Despite my bad behavior at times, I was still never aware of any consequences.
I graduated and started a successful career. I feel now like my life was running on two different threads. There was the responsible Lance who did everything he needed to do, and the party Lance who sought out fun and drinking. It was not a problem, “this is what people do, everybody does it.” I didn’t know that I was different. This went on for years, I thought with no ill returns. Had I been able to see “The Picture of Dorian Gray” that was my soul, eroding in the background, I would have known differently.
I believe the tempest began somewhere in my mid to late 30’s, but I would not address it for almost a decade. Things had always seemed very easy to me and for the first time I think I started to struggle with life – unprepared with any tools or emotional control to deal with things. I wasn’t always the young golden boy whiz kid at work anymore. I struggled with marriage and children, I believe mostly because these beings had come into my life that I could not control. I always needed to control. I turned to that other part of my life for relief, and the two threads began to mix. It was a slow and insidious mixing. Drinking more alone at home, creating parties with neighbors so I could drink, starting to hide things, but still avoiding any serious consequences. This cancer slowly spread through me for the better part of a decade. I spent tremendous amounts of mental and emotional energy being a chameleon – keeping up the facade of responsible Lance, trying to keep a separation of those two threads of my life while they slowly merged into one. Energy I could have well used elsewhere.
As they say it will, it got worse – much worse, and it happened fast. One day, the slow cancerous spread stopped and I dropped off a cliff. Beer turned to vodka, night turned to day, parties turned to a dark corner of the garage, glasses turned to bottles, and bars turned to cars. I still didn’t have a problem, but I can remember very brief times of clarity where it was like I left my body and would look down on that guy holding the Budweiser and say “Lance, are you going to do this fucking forever?” – but then it was gone.
I don’t really know what happened. Still no major consequences (I thought), sure there were troubles at home, but that was nothing new – nothing I couldn’t forget with a few drinks. I have no doubt those consequences were guaranteed to come had I not gotten off the ride. Something did happen, and I cannot really explain it. One day I discovered that picture of my soul in the basement, it had fully bore the burden of my behavior and there was absolutely nothing left. I sought help.
Sobriety is tough, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is well worth it, I have discovered that I can change, even some of my personality traits – which I never thought possible. I don’t believe you just stop drinking and all is well. It was a struggle to stop the drink in the beginning, and after that it is even harder to seek “emotional sobriety”, which is the thing that really takes me from “not drinking” to “not feeling like I have to drink.” I view my sobriety the same as trying to become a top athlete. I must practice – every single day. I practice my sobriety with a 12 Step program, and finding other people like me – participating in things like the Booze Free Brigade.
If you want off the ride, you can get off, there is nothing stopping you. You are worth it.
Practice starts today.
To join the Yahoo group the Booze Free Brigade go here.