Day 6: The Hardest Day So Far.

I’ll start by saying that I didn’t drink today. While I know this is a victory it certainly doesn’t feel like one. Today, for the first time since I stopped drinking, I had a such a strong urge to drink that I had to physically flee. My company was having its monthly open bar party and the temptation was so strong to go (and of course going most certainly wouldn’t have led to having drinks) that I literally had to get the Hell out of Dodge.

I felt so angry about this. This feeling wasn’t just a “wow, I wish I could have a beer right now,” or a “what a shame that I can’t join my friends at the bar tonight” type of feeling; it was an angry and irrational “how has your life become so out of balance that you literally cannot step foot in a room with alcohol” type of feeling. It didn’t help that in the hours leading up to the party I had four people come by my office to ask when I was headed over. Each time I awkwardly–even sheepishly–said I wasn’t going. The thing is, I got the feeling that no one believed me. “Not going drinking? That’s not like Dag!” I felt so weak. To make it worse, throughout the evening I kept getting texts: “Where are you?” “When are you coming?” “Up for [random bar] afterward?” The onslaught was vicious and didn’t stop for hours.

I’m the champion of pushing feelings deep down. I’m the guy who seemingly takes it all in stride. I’m the guy who people think never gets angry. I’m affable, though often aloof. I’m the guy who cracks the joke to ease tension. I can’t remember the last time I cried. And here I was driving home from work, tears in my eyes, because I couldn’t drink.

But it was deeper than that. I was also angry at the fact that I found it so hard to stay away from the party, so hard to say no. I think for the first time since I stopped drinking I’ve realized that I really am an alcoholic. Like, for real. People that have a normal relationship with alcohol don’t cry tears of anger if they can’t get it. Up until today part of me thought that maybe I was just playing at this whole bit. In the back of my mind I kept thinking “maybe I’m not really an alcoholic, maybe I just need to slow down.” Well, tonight killed that notion. The fact that I was so irrationally angry that I started to cry made me realize that I’m not just playing at alcoholism; I am an alcoholic. Any thought I have on the matter that tells me otherwise is a lie.

I’m still angry, but less so than before. A little bit of rationality has returned to my mind. Tonight was a kick in the pants that reminds me that this journey is going to be a lot of work. I know, though, that tomorrow’s going to be easier. And I know that at some point joy will return to the journey. For the time being though I have one tangible grace that I can hold onto–the grace of knowing that for the sixth night in a row I’m going to bed sober.

Art: The Polar Sea, 1824, by Caspar David Friedrich

 

7 thoughts on “Day 6: The Hardest Day So Far.

  1. Wow, Dag, that was a really hard one. From your description, it sounds like it wasn’t just the alcohol you were missing, but also your friends, the party, the whole experience of hanging out with a bunch of people and having a good time. That’s not gone forever. When sobriety has become more integrated into your life, you’ll be able to go to those things and have a good time without alcohol, if you still want to.

    As you talked about all the people stopping by your desk and later texting you, I wondered whether it would take some pressure off to tell people you’re not drinking. You don’t have to tell them why (though you could). People give all kinds of reasons–it’s bothering my stomach, I’m on some medication that doesn’t mix with alcohol, my doctor told me to lay off for awhile–whatever you want to say.

    You’re in very early sobriety and all those drinking patterns are still super strong, so it probably makes sense to avoid the alcohol-centric situations for a bit, but you might feel a lot less angry and resentful if you could replace them with something. My younger son who’s in his mid-30s had a similar problem when he quit 10 years ago. All his friends drank or used. He knew he needed to quit, knew he would drink if he hung out with his old buddies, but was really lonely and isolated. He started going to AA meetings and found people–not just people to hang out with, people who were going through the same thing–like talking to some of the bloggers here. He’s got a great group of friends now, and usually they’re the loudest, funniest bunch in the room. I got sober mostly using online tools, and I’ve missed that piece. I do know some sober people, but it’s not my community, the way it is for him. If you have any recovery meetings around you, think about going, if only for the fellowship. It’s hard to do this on your own.

    That said, it WAS a victory, however bittersweet. Way to go!

    Susan

  2. Dear Dag,
    First of all, thank you for your comment to my blog at psycheandspirit.net. The Path to Sobriety is certainly a path to becoming a Wounded Healer.
    The bottom line is always that we get through this kind of day without drinking. So getting through a day of urges without drink is ALWAYS a victory! Sobriety, too, is a journey of uncoverings, finding things out. I remember when I first stopped that I was appalled at just how much time I had spent not only drinking but thinking about drinking. And it is not cowardly to avoid a place or setting where I will be tempted to drink. Once I was asked to help out at a festival. The booth was for Candlelighters, a group that helps kids with cancer. But when I asked my friend what the booth would be selling, she said “Draft beer”. This would be during El Paso’s brutal summers. I also had been a great lover of draft beer. So I said “No, I couldn’t help.”
    Anyway, as a brother in recovery, I am praying for you. Indeed, it can only be done a day at a time.

    Rich P.
    (Clean and sober 29 years through the grace of God and the friends of BillW.)

  3. “Up until today part of me thought that maybe I was just playing at this whole bit. In the back of my mind I kept thinking “maybe I’m not really an alcoholic, maybe I just need to slow down.” Well, tonight killed that notion. The fact that I was so irrationally angry that I started to cry made me realize that I’m not just playing at alcoholism; I am an alcoholic.”

    Word.

    I hear you.

    What a freakin miracle. Do you know how often this actually happens? A divine moment, a realization. It makes up our entire recovery. Little moments of Oh yeah, and Ok, and ALRIGHT THEN, FUCK!! Dude… You are a rock star. A slowly recovering drunkard rock star. Man I love this blog. Out of all the recovering folks I follow with time and inspiration, this is what I look forward to. This blog. I have hope for the drunk trying to make it. I find little bits of GOD working in this life being blogged about. And I couldn’t be more humbled. Inspired. Moved. Day 6 sucked. And you did it. And you made it, and you have an experience you can relay to another drunk soon when they have a shitty day 6. Most valuable experience in the world.

    • Red Sox,
      Your posts and comments are awesome. Thank you so much! You’re filled with true grit and fire–and your comments and posts always embolden me to carry on. 🙂 Thanks! -Dag

  4. I’ve been there. Not to the point of tears, but I feel you. Those exact thoughts through my head, those similar texts, comments, etc. I’m glad you made it through that, I never have in the past. Especially so early into sobriety. I’m hoping I don’t have that happen to me for some time. Congrats on making it through that (and almost 3 weeks of sobriety!)

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