When I stopped drinking 14 months ago, the last thing I wanted to do was to tell people I was an alcoholic and had to stop drinking because I could not control the amount I drank. This was partly due to feeling it unnecessary to use the 'A' word about myself (I was not alone, on the streets, begging for alcohol) and I did not want labelled as such, but also because I think I didn't really want to admit it, even to myself. I had no self-belief that I could give up alcohol forever in the beginning and I did not want to feel under pressure nor conspicuous by way of a grand announcement of a new life.
So I said gave lots of other reasons to explain why I was not drinking.
I was on a health kick
I was working the next day
I had a hangover from the night before
I was having a break from it
I was trying to lose weight
I had to bring the car
anything except the truth.
I was good at this and everyone believed that each time I wasn't drinking it was just a one off. Gradually as time passed I began to tell people more details, edging ever closer to the truth. To date I have never said that when I start I cannot stop and have kept the high stakes of my sobriety secret.
Or so I thought.
It came from an unlikely source. Last weekend at the retirement party I mentioned in my last post, I spent time chatting to a man I used to work closely with on a regular basis. I hadn't seen him for 2 years, since he retired. We knew each other well and through conversation I knew he enjoyed lots of nice red wine and considered himself a lousy drunk, always becoming depressed. He knew I liked to drink a lot of white wine, and by contrast, considered myself an excellent drunk, becoming the heart and soul of the party.
Last weekend he was buying me a drink from the bar. At my request for Diet Coke, he asked if I was driving. I said, as I often do, 'Yes, but I don't drink anymore anyway.'
He looked at me, eyebrows raised, as said seriously 'All getting a bit too much, was it?'
I was caught off guard, at a loss for words. Yes, it was. Way too much and I had been powerless to moderate my intake. That was indeed why I had to stop drinking.
I felt awkward but obliged to respond.
'Errr yeah,' I acknowledged, 'I think it was. It became too much to cope with'.
He had known all along I drank too much, yet had never mentioned it in any negative way.
I continued to feel awkward and starting rabbiting on,
'Oh around 18 months ago', I said, vaguely, as if it was so insignificant I couldn't quite remember, 'And I don't even miss it', I added to convey a sense that it could not have really been such a big deal after all then, could it?
He didn't reply so I ended the conversation with another stock phrase 'I won't go back to it now, everything's is just so much easier without it.'
The conversation moved on.
Why did I continue to feel admonished? He was in the same boat I had been. I observed him have 5 pints of lager at the party, there may have been more. Was it his own defence? Was it my overly sensitive nature?
Who knows, but one thing is for sure, the truth is out and I'm not entirely comfortable with it.