Sometimes I Forget

Respect Yourself

Sometimes I forget about things that happened when I was drinking. I’m not talking about blackouts; I’m talking about memories I choose to forget. Once in a while, I will hear something or see something that takes me back to that time – that crazy time that I eventually walked away from.

I was recently listening to The Bubble Hour, a radio podcast about real stories and recovery. The topic was the signs and symptoms of alcoholism and as I listened I was catapulted back to that place in my mind; a place I try to avoid but need to remember for my own sobriety.

As with many, my alcoholism progressed quickly. Of course, I denied my alcoholic tendencies until the day I finally admitted I needed help. Even then, I’m not sure if I REALLY believed I was alcoholic.  But, looking back, all the signs and symptoms were there. These are just some of them (see the Mayo Clinic for a full description):

  • Be unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink – I could never “just have one.”
  • Feel a strong need or compulsion to drink – Even on days I said I wouldn’t drink, I would find myself holding a glass of wine by that afternoon because I truly felt like I needed it to relax and unwind.
  • Develop tolerance to alcohol so that you need more to feel its effects – Over time I “needed” more and more to achieve that “perfect buzz.” Towards the end of my drinking, the alcohol stopped working and there were many times I couldn’t get buzzed no matter how much I drank.
  • Drink alone or hide your drinking – I loved to party with friends, but most of my drinking took place alone. I would start drinking before my husband got home from work and then continue while I cooked dinner. I would fill my glass when he wasn’t looking or hide wine bottles in the back of the fridge, hoping he wouldn’t discover how much I was drinking. And, I always drank at home before going to social events.
  • Experience physical withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating and shaking — when you don’t drink – Besides the compulsion to drink daily, I would often experience physical symptoms especially after a long night of partying. I specifically remember one time towards the end of my drinking where I got out of bed one morning and began to have almost seizure-like symptoms. I was standing by my dresser, when I started shaking violently and fell to the floor hitting the dresser as I fell. I was scared, but unwilling to accept the truth.
  • Not remember conversations or commitments, sometimes referred to as a “black out” – This was very common for me, especially after a night of binge drinking.
  • Make a ritual of having drinks at certain times and become annoyed when this ritual is disturbed or questioned – Most days I started drinking between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. If I was unable to drink, I would get irritated. I remember helping with my daughter’s preschool party one afternoon and all I could think about was getting home and having a glass of wine. My husband questioned my drinking more than once, but I would brush him off and get angry.
  • Gulp drinks, order doubles or become drunk intentionally to feel good, or drink to feel “normal” – Many alcoholics will say they didn’t have a “stop” button. This was true for me. I drank to feel good. I never understood the point of wine tasting; I didn’t want to taste it, I wanted to drink it or better yet gulp it. My main goal in drinking was reaching that perfect feel good place.
  • Lose interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring you pleasure – Eventually, I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything that didn’t involve drinking. I didn’t read or write anymore – how could I when I was smashed every night and unable to focus? If I did try to read a book, I never remembered it the next day.  I didn’t enjoy cooking anymore because by the time dinner came around I was already three drinks in and only cared about putting together something easy for my family. I didn’t want to participate in non-alcohol related activities, because, really, what was the point?

Towards the end of my drinking, I started having chronic stomach problems. Of course, I was never honest with my doctor when she asked how much I drank. And, even when she ordered an ultrasound on my stomach, I never admitted that it could possibly be linked to my daily drinking. Around that time, I decided it must be the wine that was causing my stomach problems, so I switched to beer. Of course, I didn’t think once that maybe, just maybe if I stopped drinking altogether my stomach problems would go away. No, because this is the thinking pattern of an alcoholic.

As difficult as it is, it’s important that I remember what my life used to be. I don’t dwell on it, but I keep the memories tucked away; always ready and available when I start doubting whether or not I was REALLY that bad. Because, at some point, the doubting and questioning will enter our minds.

I must always remember the life I walked away from in order to truly appreciate the life I now live.

12 responses

  1. I had to make sure that it wasn’t me who wrote this blog. Oops no…but I might as well have. It’s astonishing how similar we all are in our habits and our thought patterns when it comes to our alcoholism. We thing we are unique, but once we share our stories, we find that common thread amongst us. The hobbies thing is one that I still have yet to get back to – for some reason finding interest in other things really hasn’t returned. I think I am begin prepared for something else…who knows. My writing certainly came back, and for that I am thankful. And yes…the hiding of drinks. Oh dear, I thought I was clever in that, but really…not at all. Hard to remember where your secret stash is when you are in blackout when you hid it!

    Thanks for this post…that was wonderful.


    • Thanks, Paul. Yes, no matter our story, we all have that common thread among us. Same story, different chapters! I love that we can share and support each other. What a blessing! Have a great day!

  2. Wow, what a powerful post! Yes, yes, yes and yes…

    A sponsor once said to me, “treat the past like a rear view mirror–glance, but don’t stare.” I thought that was some of the best advice I ever received.

    Loved the post!

    • Thanks! I’ve heard that phrase before too and I love it! I wouldn’t erase my past because it’s what got me to where I am today, however, like I said, I don’t dwell on it. The best is yet to be!

      • ive never heard that runningonsober and i love it. i can’t stare for too long because i will get caught up in it all…all the fun. i’m that way too with beer commercials… i gotta look away. and lifecorked i love the bubble hour! ellie is amazing and does so much for us sober folks.

      • Hey Regina! Yes, I’m also a huge fan of Ellie’s and The Bubble Hour. You’re right, she does some pretty great things for the sober community and for that I’m truly grateful! I love the fact that we’re all in this together!

  3. Great post! I can totally identify with the last point: Lose interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring you pleasure. I don’t know why, but I’ve been having a REALLY hard time–I’m almost at 6 months, but if I hadn’t slipped in September, it’ll be a YEAR in June–taking interest in hobbies, other people, socializing. I just don’t want to, and I still ask myself, what’s the point without booze? It’s so unappealing to me, and I fear that I might forever be stuck in this isolating phase. Anyway, thank you for your post! xx

    • Thanks for your comment! Don’t be too hard on yourself. I truly believe God has a plan for all of us. For me, it really helped just getting out of myself. Whether it was cooking for my family, making something for someone or volunteering my time, I had to get out of my own head or I would go crazy! I also found it really helpful to get together socially with other women in recovery, who could relate to my story. Hang in there and know you always have this community to connect with!

  4. Sometimes I forget too, so it does really help to read your post and see so many similarities. Like the part about starting in the afternoon and then sneaking drinks and losing all interest in things like cooking dinner and reading. Thank you so much for this post.

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