Gifts I Give

I am a firm believer that it’s not about what you drink or how much but about how often you THINK about drinking that could unveil signs of alcoholism or problem drinking.  Even before I was drinking every night I was thinking obsessively about how and when I’d be able to drink again.  I had my “rules” which meant I couldn’t drink at home or at family functions but that didn’t stop me from getting my drink on.  Let’s just say that the hubs and I ate out A LOT before the kids were born.  All at fine restaurants that served really good wine.

I’m reminded of this because I’ve been thinking about two people from a former life that I’ve heard from/about in the last couple of weeks.  Neither of these individuals had been to rehab.  One went to AA on a regular basis, the other did not.  One was a beer drinker, one a wine drinker.  Neither had any DUI’s, jail time or lost jobs.  Neither had lost family or been on the street.  Both called themselves alcoholics.

In other words, they were just like me.

Both are moderately drinking now.

Both say they are able to moderate with success by keeping a close eye on how much and how often they drink.  They have friends and family who keep an eye on how much they are drinking and alert them if they’re going over their limit of frequency or amount.  They stay hyper vigilant and are always aware.

In no universe is this how I want to live.

I will fully admit to missing my Chardonnay.  I will also admit to occasionally throwing the random hissy fit, pity party and pouting marathon because I can’t have a class of that cool yellow nectar.  But there are no days on the planet that I would trade my sweet and beautiful peace of mind for all the wine in California and France put together.

The quiet that goes on in my head is worth everything to me.  Not to have my every waking moment tangled all up in when, how much, and with whom I will drink is a fucking miracle.  To not have to worry about the money I’m spending or will spend or what it’s doing to my body or my kids is a blessing.  To not have to panic when it snows or over a three-day weekend is liberating.  It’s a gift I’ve given myself and it’s worth everything.

Then if that’s not enough, to have lifted that burden from my family is the satin bow that completes the wrapping of this gift.  To relieve them of having to police me, worry about me, keep an eye on me and the wine bottles, make sure I’m moderating or making it to bed when I slip is a beautiful thing.

That’s the gift I’ve given to them.  Anything less robs them of their own piece of mind and I couldn’t live with myself if I did that to them again.  Alcoholism isn’t a singular disease (condition…whatever) that only impacts the alcoholic (no matter how much we tell ourselves that it is); it’s a cancer that spreads and infects everyone around the alcoholic in some way.  To somehow make my family responsible for MY alcoholism by asking them to help me moderate is, in my opinion, a goddamn sin.

One I am not willing to commit.

Everyone walks their own path.  Everyone’s journey through this darkness is different.  I can’t speak for anyone else but myself and I won’t speak for anyone else.  I did not share any of this with them nor will I but because, quite frankly, what they do is none of my damn business.

But since this is my blog, I get to share it here and that…is therapy.



26 thoughts on “Gifts I Give

  1. Hear hear, Sherry. I feel a little panicky when I hear about people who took a long time off drinking and then decided they could moderate. I don’t know if I’m afraid it will plant some seed in my head that I should/will do that too? It makes me uncomfortable. And then I’m like oh yeah, I don’t want to drink again. I don’t miss all the suffering and trouble I found. I don’t miss the obsession, that constant struggle trying to control something that controlled me. Quite the opposite of missing it, I’ve gained freedom and joy simply by eliminating it. Pretty amazing realizations. Besides, I was a sneaky drinker so I have no idea how putting the burden on others to watch over would even help. No thank you very much. Thanks for writing about this today. I needed to read it.

    1. I think I’m just really concerned for them right now…mainly because their spouses have reached out to me about it. I just can’t think of a single reason why I would go back…it’s just not worth the price I’d have to pay.


  2. Great post.

    For a long time whilst drinking I just wanted to “drink normally”. When I sobered up I started to claw back through my drinking to decide when it was that I “crossed the line” and started to drink like an alcoholic. At first I pointed to 9/11 (some in my family still believe my presence in NYC on that day was the trigger… how little they really know…) Then I realised that I drank out of “the norm” before that. I went back to other events – job changes, etc. etc. etc.. I went back further… until I realised that even when as an underaged teenager getting into the pub on Friday and Saturday nights I wasn’t like the others … I threw up more often, I was always first there and stayed to the end, I never had a soft drink, often arranged things totally around pubs and drinking… etc etc. So I actually have no idea what a normal relationship with drink was about!

    When I did finally get into recovery… 9 months! 9 months at least it was in my head every day knocking on asking me to drink, telling me it’d be ok etc. etc. Total obsession – so yes I know that it was how I thought about drink not about the drinking itself.

    10 years sober… why would I risk that for a “social drink”? I don’t need it, it may well propel me down that horrible craving cycle again where before I know it I’m falling off the end of a bar with a skinfull inside me an mountain of recovery to start climbing again.

    As the big book of AA says – “If you can start to drink like a Gentlemen we take our hats off to you” (paraphrased)… For me? I won’t risk it. Also the trust I’ve spent years rebuilding with my wife and kids would be destroyed and I can’t see if ever being rebuilt esp if I said to them – “Hey can you count for me tonight?” I know their response would be “NO! Also if you have to count, of worse have someone else count for you then you have a bloody problem don’t you?”….

    I’ll be with you on this one Sherry.

    1. I know for a fact that one drink would take me places I never want to go again. Plus, I don’t think I could stand the look in my son’s eyes if he ever saw me with another glass of wine.

      No thank you very much.


  3. Addiction is a very powerful and cunning adversary….you may think you have it under control, and that is the fatal flaw for the rehab drinker (alcoholic)….you be justa kiddin’ yosef if you be athinkin’ that you can beat the monster….put that monster to sleep and never, ever, ever, bang on the cage with that stick of confidence…he will take it away from ya and beat ya over the head with it in nothin’ flat….keep Hannabal Lecter behind the plexi-glass for the rest of time…I love you baby, because you get it….Elmo

  4. You have described my husband in this post. He quits drinking, then goes back to “moderate” drinking, but it’s always up to me to watch and worry and eventually complain when it is obvious that he really can’t self-regulate and then he quits again, for a while… ugh it’s just a cycle that’s gone on too long and I’m feeling done with it. But it’s hard, because I grew up in a teetotal house with parents who abstained because it was “sinful” and I never wanted to live like that. I like to drink moderately, and I can self-regulate. Yet I feel like the only way my husband is going to quit for good is if I give it up also. It’s complicated.

    1. It IS very complicated. It’s different for everyone because the addiction morphs into whatever we make it. I can honestly say that if my husband drank right now it wouldn’t bother me a bit…but in the beginning? I’m not sure I could have made it unless he abstained as well…at least for the first year.

      I wish you peace and I hope you two are able to find it on this journey.


  5. At this point I no longer see any advantages to drinking. What would one glass of wine add to my day? Did I ever really drink for the taste? I’m not sure I ever did, although I definitely pretended to.

    I like the ease of just saying no. I am holding onto that.

    The hard thing about other people’s experiences is that you just don’t know what they are thinking. My personal history of self loathing that followed drinking was something I don’t wish to bring back! But only I know how bad it was.

    Thanks for sharing. I do think some people find a path of moderation.. How or how long it works is debatable. In treatment my hubby’s therapist told him she hoped she ruined drinking for him….he agrees. It is hard to turn of self awareness.


    1. Moderation may very well work for some but for me? No way. To this day whenever I think of drinking it’s NEVER just one glass, it’s always more, more, more. I can’t go back to that obsessive chatter in my head ever again.

      Thanks for being here Anne.


  6. I’m one of those alcoholics who can self-moderate. I can have a glass of wine every now and then without slipping back down the slope. Most times when it’s an option, I don’t drink because I don’t WANT it. Not even a little. I don’t like the way it makes me feel anymore.

    1. I agree. While I would never call myself the A-word, I did have a period of a few years in my life where I drank too much too often. Now I’ll do the occasional wine or beer tasting at work, rinse my mouth out to get rid of the aftertaste, and not think about it the rest of the day.

  7. love this post.
    i think we are lucky when we get to the point where we can honestly look at our drinking and make a calm and clear decision about it. For me i wanted to kill all the feelings, and when it worked it was awesome. when it stopped i found i couldn’t stop….until i did. that freedom from the obsession to drink is something i am not willing to lose by having even one drink. but for a while, even in sobriety, there was a thought in my head that maybe one day….
    there just can never be enough of a reason for me to have that drink. never.
    i love how you wrote about it being a family disease and not being willing to have your family watch out for you. I live alone, what a mess i could make! god…i just cannot imagine having someone else count my drinks, tell me i was getting out of hand…i’d probably kill them and certainly begin that sneak drinking thing.

    i’m so glad i am sober. so grateful

  8. Our thought patterns, even before our behavior, is our first clue that something isn’t right (whether it’s drinking, eating, gambling, whatever). I can drink but if I a time ever comes when I find myself obsessing or trying to revolve my life around drinking, or even thinking “I need a drink”, I’ll know I need to look deeper. I know I’m in the minority. I can tell you that when I decided to stop drinking I had to stop altogether because I needed total and complete sobriety to learn how to feel and to heal. Any amount of alcohol would’ve messed that up for me. No one could’ve talked me out of doing what I needed to do. The biggest gift you’ve given yourself and your loved ones is doing what you need to do to be all you can be. It’s a beautiful thing, Sherry.

  9. I think the fact that their spouses have reached out to you suggests that your friends are not moderating quite as successfully as they think! And I can imagine nothing worse than making family members responsible for keeping one sober. That just introduces a whole other set of problems – in addition to the problems caused by drinking!

  10. I tried moderating after 2.5 years abstinent. It didn’t work. At all. And all the things you list as reasons not to try moderation, they happened. NO, none, not any booze is so, soo much easier. And better. Your post is beautifully written and spot on. Thank you!!



  11. Self-moderating alchoholic is NOT in my vocabulary. I used to think I was okay, because sometimes I could have “just one”. That just one involved a shitload of screaming from the inside however, as the intense physical craving set in. My whole body would scream for more! I used to think I could self-moderate. That lead to me almost dying and losing pretty much everything. Thank God I know better! My name is Kristina and I am powerless over alcohol. Surrender is good. 🙂

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