Many of you have asked how you can best support me in my recovery…so I decided to write you (not anyone in particular) this open letter to hopefully shed some light on what I’m currently going through when it comes to coping with my alcoholism. Some of the internal thoughts that happen and the struggle I face on a daily basis. I don’t expect many of you to understand or even empathize or sympathize if you’ve never been through this yourself.
What I hope is that you can at least understand and become more aware of what it’s like to walk in my shoes…
It is not your fault that I am struggling while you cooly sip your glasses of wine and I sit and brood over the fact that I cannot. I DO NOT think that you are all secretly alcoholics nor would I wish this disease on anyone, even if I do quietly envy you and your ability to enjoy the thing I can no longer have.
I’m jealous. I’m so jealous that it sometimes gets the best of me. It’s like watching the person you love fall in love with someone else in front of your eyes. But instead of a one-time incident while you run off and cry in the bathroom, it’s happening all around me all of the time. Constant reminders day in and day out of something I can never have ever again.
If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be an alcoholic, if feels like loving someone who doesn’t love you back. It feels like being really good at a sport and finding out that you can no longer play that sport anymore (but everyone you know still gets to play and plays it in front of you while you watch). It feels like having the flu and everyone else is taking the medicine it would take to make you better, but you can’t have any. It feels like being poor while others around you are rich and happy.
It’s just plain fucking exhausting even trying to figure out a way to explain the way you feel to someone who has never had this disease….
But how I feel is not your fault! Our culture is immersed in drinking. We drink for fun, we drink when we are sad, we drink when we are bored, we drink to make friends, we drink to bond, we drink on dates, we drink to feel brave, we drink to keep our friendships, we drink at weddings and we even drink when there is no reason to drink at all. Drinking is done everywhere for so many reasons….it is hard to escape.
I would never ask you to stop or to not drink in front of me. My plight is this…
In the 80 days that I have been sober, I have participated in activities with drinkers like you because I don’t want to shut you out. I still love you and want to be in your life. I don’t want to stop going to bars, events and being social because of my disease. Because it is MY disease, not yours and I have to be responsible for myself and my actions.
I’m not mad at you because you drink.
Every day there has been alcohol surrounding me, even more so here in Europe. There is alcohol in the place that I am staying. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners all include drinking. People are drinking in the streets. There are signs for alcohol everywhere and liquor stores on every corner. There is alcohol on the trains, airplanes and even boats. It is literally everywhere so avoiding it is next to impossible.
But, my dear drinkers, what you need to know particularly about me (and maybe other alcoholics as well) is that…
In small doses, your drinking doesn’t bother me at all. But I will avoid you and events that include or may include heavy drinking. It’s nothing personal against you (although it might be if you’re an excessive drinker/user). My recovery is too important to me to jeopardize it for a few hours of social interaction sometimes, so I will make those choices for myself when they are presented to me.
Drinking (especially excessively) in front of me for a longer period of time or getting upset that I can’t be around it sometimes is hurtful to me.
Realize that when you drink in front of me, I’m sitting there watching you have the thing that my body craves. I can smell it on your breath and see it in your glossed over eyes and hear it in your voice when you start to slur. I feel more and more left out with every drink brought to the table because I cannot participate in this activity I used to love so much. It’s fomo (fear of missing out) – but ten fold!
Don’t apologize to me for YOUR drinking. Especially don’t apologize while intoxicated. Seriously, just don’t. You don’t owe me an apology because I’m sober and you’re drinking. It’s fine, lets move past that.
Excessive drinking in my presensce feels very inconsiderate to me in situations where drinking takes priority over our time together or the experience we are having.
It is for this reason that after watching you consume multiple drinks in front of me, I will reach a breaking point and excuse myself. Or else I will sit there and become bitter and angry with each new drink that hits the table. I despise the glass sitting in front of you, the liquid it contains and I even hate you momentarily for having to sit there and watch you consume the thing that I cannot have repeatedly in front of my face as though none of it matters. It’s too much for me to bare this early in my recovery and I don’t want to put either of us through this process.
It’s not your fault…..but I become consumed with jealousy. I will stop talking, stop engaging and I will eventually leave the situation because confronting you or continuing to beat a dead horse on a subject that has to do with MY disease doesn’t really involve you anyway. These feelings are mine and you are not responsible for my negativity toward alcohol and situations where it might be over-consumed and lead to me feeling upset.
It’s not your fault I feel this way and in time I hope to stop feeling this jealous about drinking. But for now, drinkers, this is MY truth and this is how I feel.
80 Day Sober Alcoholic Still Struggling to Navigate Her World Without Alcohol