I drink more than I want to, more often than I’d like to, against my better judgment, to forget the pain I cause myself and others when I drink. It’s a complicated cycle, but also really simple. I love drinking, too much. I just don’t love drinking too much.
Regardless of all the harm I knew I was causing, I never stopped loving alcohol
At some point in my short, but glorious drinking career, I crossed some invisible line and could no longer, with any certainty, predict what might happen when I drank. It wasn’t always terrible, but when it was, it was really terrible. I have said and done absurd and sometimes hateful and perilous things while intoxicated. I have hurt people — people I love — repeatedly.

Regardless of all the harm I knew I was causing, I never stopped loving alcohol. I continued to chase the illusion of “okay,” even after I had (with my own bare hands) smashed it to pieces. 
It wasn’t a lack of awareness regarding the risk or trouble my drinking was causing that kept me drinking longer than I wanted to. It was because of it. I felt powerless over the pain and destruction, and I believed alcohol was providing me the only outlet for relief under those circumstances.
I love drinking, too much. I just don’t love drinking too much.
I didn’t know I could change my life or feelings, because I was stuck in a vicious cycle-like vacuum. When I did experience sobriety, however briefly, the voices in my head got louder and the feelings I was exhausting so much energy to protect myself from fell out.
I didn’t know what to do with any of it. My only saving grace was the ability to scoop it all up and shovel it back down, in hopes of one more day of “okay.” Because that’s what it’s like to live with trauma. I heard, “pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional,”and thought maybe I could avoid it entirely.

I’d get together with friends to have a few, relax, unwind (or forget) and some nights it would work. Other nights would start exactly the same way, but at some point I would find myself crying or fighting or running from some inevitable drama or chaos. The more of these nights I experienced, the worse my life and relationships got, and the more I needed a drink to feel “okay.”

Survivors of trauma carry very special tool kits.

Having a drinking problem doesn’t make sense to those who haven’t personally experienced it, but also to some of us who have. It’s not a logical thing.

If you had asked me why I was drinking – even after whatever had happened while I was drinking – I wouldn’t have been able to tell you; because I didn’t know.

I just couldn’t handle not drinking for long periods of time without a nagging desire for relief

Every day started to feel like survival — like it was all just too much. I was so hyper-focused on the waves crashing over me, I couldn’t see that I was swimming right into them. All I knew was that everything was really hard — all the time

Survivors of trauma carry very special tool kits. It has taken much willingness and self-searching, hours of trauma focused therapy, and a shit-ton of pain and discomfort to slowly work my way through the tools in my survival kit. It has taken time, patience, and support from other people to weed through and determine which tools from my past are helpful and which no longer serve me.

For years after I stopped drinking, I sought relief in unhealthy people and things. It took a lot of mandatory pain to motivate my willingness to surrender and change some of my old ideas. My experience proves it is 100% possible to struggle within recovery.

Recovery doesn’t have magical powers to make everything better. It is not a simple process, a book you can read, or class you can take. It does not have an end point or graduation day. It has various layers, levels, and degrees, and it comes in many shapes and sizes. It is not a cure-all, and just because someone is recovering from one thing, doesn’t mean they’re not suffering with fifty-five other things. 

Life is tricky. Apparently that’s its job or something. Very few truly important things are ever easy, or as black and white as we’d like them to be.
It took me years to even toy with the idea that the woman I used to be might be worthy of compassion and forgiveness. It took me even longer to fully concede to the fact that I have always done the best I could with the tools I’ve had.

Recovery has provided me with the tools necessary to combat the noise that once consumed my mind and convinced me alcohol was the solution to my problems. 

I found the strength to stop drinking because someone who understood my pain sat with me in it. That someone offered me temporary reprieve from feeling like the worst person in the entire universe long enough to realize I’m not — and accept forgiveness.

Other people pretending to know more about or judging me and/or my survival skills has never help me. I didn’t need anyone’s assistance feeling guilty for not being ready to process my past and live up to Society’s expectations of who, what, and where I was “supposed” to be. I needed help learning how to respect and love myself so that my choices could match up with my own expectations.

Supporting someone with a drinking problem or addiction is never easy, especially when they won’t just do what we we think is best for them.

Everyone deserves the space to find their own peace in their own way. 

Sometimes all we can do for someone who is struggling is just sit with them until they are ready to take the necessary actions to change or improve their situation. We don’t have to push. We don’t get to judge.

If we truly wish to help them, we can sit with them in their pain. We can offer them temporary reprieve from feeling like the worst person in the universe, long enough for them to realize they’re not — and maybe even accept forgiveness. 


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2 years ago

Thank you for sharing your hard-won insights! You have a gift for articulating the essence of messy & complicated struggles, untangling all the noise, and delivering an exquisite gift-the gift of understanding. Thank you.

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