Sunday, May 2, 2010

Some More Thinkin 'Bout Stinkin' Thinkin'

The Kentucky Derby is over, so now that digression is done for a year. I reached eight months sober today, managing to get through the Kentucky Derby without falling prey to a mint julep. Actually, at one point, I reached over and picked up Chelle's tumbler of Maker's Mark and took a good whiff. Blech! I shuddered ... for reals! The hair really did stand up on my arms. I'm fine with the fact that other people can enjoy that poison, but man-oh-mighty, that stuff did not work for me.

I've written here before about alcoholics and how we, even when we're not drinking, develop patterns of unhealthy thinking. Yesterday a couple of friends and I were talking about it: how alcoholics are so accustomed to drama and everything going wrong all the time that they become utterly blinded to the fact that a big part of the problem is their drinking. I remember when I used to drink, I would always blow up at Chelle about just about anything. She was mystified. Two hours earlier, things between us would've been peachy. But then she would utter something like, "I have to work late tomorrow," and suddenly Evil Joyce was off and running.

"Why don't you just admit it? You don't love me anymore!"

At the beginning, she didn't know enough to just say, "Yes, honey, I truly do," and then ignore me, for there is no arguing with a drunk person. At the beginning, she'd try defending herself. That was exactly what Evil Joyce wanted. I would pick and badger and fault-find until I'll reamed her up and down for gambling (hello? I gamble too, if that's not plain); for our lousy sex life (hello? Who wants to make love to a drunk?); for our moving to Spokane (hello? We've been back in San Francisco for three years); and for just about anything I could pull out of my ass.

The peculiar thing is, when I was drinking, I believed half the shit that came out of my mouth. My sick, paranoid brain had me utterly convinced of its own lies. I wish I could pin down with clarity how it works with us. We always believe we're the victim of other people's actions or of fate or of the current lousy job market or anything but ourselves. But as a friend said yesterday, "You'd think if somebody constantly found themselves in the middle of a lot of drama, they'd eventually get the idea that maybe it's them that's the cause of the drama." Alcoholics really don't think that way, because that is how a healthy person thinks. We genuinely think it's everything else. Sometimes we even create conflicts on purpose. When Chelle was being too nice, you can bet I would find something to blow out of proportion and turn into a relationship-threatening issue.

It's not because I enjoyed it. I hated fighting and hated drama, or so I thought. The day after a big fight, I'd be hungover, anxious, and contrite, apologizing for losing control. Yet I did it over and over again anyway. Then I'd drink because my life was chaotic. And then my drinking would make my life even more chaotic. Over time, nothing got better, and my life got only worse and worse.

It took months of being sober before I began to see how psychologically screwed up I had gotten by the end. I can only thank my Higher Power, a load of support from Chelle, my sponsor, and my friends, for my sobriety and sane life today. There but for the grace of God would I be going still.

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