It’s taken me a long time to be able to admit that I’m an alcoholic. I’ve shied away from that label for more than 10 years because I didn’t want to believe I was “that person.” After many failed attempts to stop drinking, I’ve had to admit that it’s not something I can fix alone.
I’ve been working with a therapist for the past several months to help me become more comfortable in my sober skin. It’s not easy to retrain my brain after nearly 20 years of using alcohol to avoid any unpleasant feelings.
I’ve also been going to AA meetings. While I’m not 100% sure yet if 12 step programs are for me, I’m open to anything that’s different than what I’ve tried in the past to get sober. I’ve had many ups and downs in trying to get sober and I have to admit that I’ll never be able to do it alone, in silence. Until a few months ago, that was the only way I thought I could do it, because I didn’t want to “bother” anyone with my problems.
I’m telling you this about myself, not to cause worry or pain, but to finally be open and honest about something that has contributed to making me a closed person. I hope that this makes you feel comfortable talking to me about things we don’t normally talk about.
I’ve been “hiding” my drinking for the past 5 years. I had myself convinced I was hiding the drinking to protect them from me.
I spent today golfing with my Mom. It was fabulous in every way: the weather was perfect, we both golfed well (which keeps frustration at bay) and it was an opportunity for us to talk about things we don’t normally do. My family rarely talks about unpleasant personal things. As a homework assignment from my therapist, I wrote the letter above.
I didn’t give my Mom the letter, but I shared the gist of it: I am an alcoholic and can’t stay sober without help. I felt so relieved once I got the words out. She reacted exactly as I thought she would: supportive and relieved that I was getting help.
The truth is that I kept her (and everyone else) in the dark because I knew that if I told my secret, it’d be harder to keep drinking. I was protecting the addiction. Letting my Mom in on the secret is just one more way that I’m making it harder for myself to relapse. It’s one more tent pole!