Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thinking It Through to the End...

What a gorgeous day today! Leaving work, I put the top down on the convertible and blasted out of the parking lot blaring music from "Wicked." Defying gravity, indeed!

But alcoholism is such an insidious disease. Sunshine, blue skies, low 70s...what pops into my head? You know. You're outside watering the plants, pulling a few weeds, breaking a small sweat, and there it is. The thought. "Damn, wouldn't an ice cold beer be perfect right about now?" And you start craving the smell, the taste of it hitting the back of your throat, even the sound of the top being popped with that "phssht!" sound. Like the can opener to a cat. I want to run into the kitchen, pull open the fridge, see if Chelle has forgotten and left an Anchor Steam in there.

In rehab, we were warned about moments like this. The sudden urge when you see the waves lapping the shore in the Corona commercial. The unexpected impulse when the sun breaks from behind the clouds. The party people on the sailboat, all laughing and drinking in their bathing suits and god, why can't I live like that?

It's only a beer, for crying out loud.

And this is the part that so many people--who aren't alcoholics--don't understand, because they're right. They're absolutely right. It is only a beer. They can enjoy one, or even two, and then that's it. They're done; they stop.

Me? I don't have a stop button. The moment I start to feel the tiniest buzz, I'm gone. My brain shifts into overdrive and I simply have got to have more. It's painful, maddening, frustrating to NOT have more. I'm craving it; I need it. The discomfort is excruciating. I am twitchy, antsy, anxious; I've got to have another one.

It's a million times easier to just not even take the first drink than it is to have a little and then stop.

If this describes you, welcome to the club. You're hooked! You may not know it yet; you may be able to tolerate the discomfort now; but one of these days you're going to realize this disease has been sneaking up on you, spreading like a bloodstain through your being, and the discomfort of stopping will have become something bigger than you are. You couldn't stop even if someone paid you to.

So, we get the urge to drink, and we pause, and we take the time to think the drink through to the end. It's an easy thing to remember fondly how much fun drinking was when we'd had only a couple or a few. It's not so easy to remember what happens after that. We keep taking "just one more" until we've lost count. Until we're in a blackout. Until we're slurring, stumbling, staggering, and being a nuisance. Until we get sick or pass out. Until we wake up the next morning, head splitting, breath sour, mouth dry as a desert. THAT end.

Oh, yeah, right. THAT end.

No thanks, I'll pass on that.

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