So today marks 100 days without a drink. I have 26 more to go and then I will be allowed to drink again. It was my annual New Year resolution to quit drinking until an event. This year the event is camping May. Last year the event was a birthday party in April, the two years prior not so good, only until February for both years because we went on R.S.V.P. cruises and there was no way I was going to do that and stay sober.
100 days – 126 days will be my record since I’ve become a regular drinker. Of course in my 20’s and 30’s I went months and months without drinking and it was no big deal but over the years the gaps in between have become smaller and smaller. I will say there were a couple of years at one point where I spent nearly every weekend (and quite a few work nights) drunk. I stopped doing the work nights years ago because I’m just too old for those shenanigans, but the weekend drinking has pretty much been ongoing except for my annual resolution.
People used to kid with me about my event rule laughingly telling me “The mail just arrived! That’s an event!” or some other snide little comment meant in fun. (At least I hope it was meant in fun) but the fact of the matter is I do drink too much and this resolution each year is to prove to myself that I can still quit. The question is can I really quit?
I mean look at me now. I’m not really counting down the days but I know that my drinking days will begin again soon. One of my friends says even though I’m not counting the days (the 100 days was just a coincidence, I used excel to subtract the days because I planned to write about this regardless how many days it was, 100 was not a goal or a trigger for me to do this, just pretty cool that I selected the 100th day of all days) I’m still counting the days because I’m looking forward to it so technically that makes me an alcoholic.
I don’t know what an alcoholic is anymore. I like to drink. I am looking forward to drinking again but I will say this I’m also enjoying this sobriety. Its a side of me that I’m not too familiar with seeing. I an argue that I’m more productive and in some ways I am (I’m more committed to my exercising for one) but then in other way (yard work, housekeeping, etc.) I’m pretty much still the same guy. Another thing I like about not drinking is getting up very early, and when I say very early I mean it, like 1:30 AM and I generally go to work so I’m usually at my desk by about 3:00 AM and I work until 3:00 PM. (12 hours days).
There are so many rules involved with defining us as drunks. Here’s a small list I can answer from an Internet site about what defines one as an alcoholic:
- Feel guilty or ashamed about your drinking? My answer is NO
- Lie to others or hide your drinking habits? My answer is NO
- Have friends or family members who are worried about your drinking? This one is tricky. No one I am close to but an old high school friend believes I am an alcoholic and addicted to Xanax.
- Need to drink in order to relax or feel better? If you would have asked me this 4 months ago I would have said yes, who doesn’t feel better after a drink? But no, my answer is NO.
- “Black Out” or forget what you did while you were drinking? Okay I did have a few black outs about 30 years ago in my 20’s when I got really drunk with friends, but never on my own.
- Regularly drink more that you intended to? TRICK QUESTION! When I drink (which is not regularly unless you count the weekends) I tend to drink too much so the answer to this is YES and NO.
Okay because I answered a half YES to at least one of these questions I’m an alcoholic. But I deny that based solely on answering these 6 questions that I can be defined as an alcoholic. Whoops! I “denied” it. When you “deny” that means the opposite, it means you ARE or FOR whatever you deny, at least in terms of Alcoholism. I can DENY I am a rapist, if we used the psychology that AA uses I am a rapist because I deny it.
I looked at another quiz online and almost all the questions were the same as above with a few additional questions:
- Being unable to stop once you start? Now this depends. If I am drinking and I know that I have to go somewhere, especially if I am driving then I stop drinking. So technically YES I can stop once I start, but if I know I’m going to be home and stay home I will get drunk. (I admit I’m a binge drinker which is a form of alcoholism. Or is it?) We can blame our laws and society for a lot of drinkers that stay home. Everyone is afraid to go out because they will be stopped, when they go out most people will control or limit their drinking (most, not all) but if you are home there is nothing to hold you back. Who cares? Drink away.
- Neglecting your responsibilities? Oh how tricky this one is. I always slack off on working out so while I’d like to say NO to this I would have to answer YES, when I drink I’d rather play World of Warcraft or watch a movie.
- Drinking in dangerous situations? (Like before work or when having to drive): My answer is NO.
- Trying to quit but being unable to? Okay again another trick question. I have quit for 4 months with a planned restart day which hasn’t yet arrived. If I drink before that planned day then that means I was unable to make it and I am an alcoholic. Technically I haven’t quit forever but I never planned to (not yet). I will admit that this year I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to quit which is alarming in itself but I did. I have quit for 100 days with no program, with no help, and I still have 26 days to go.
Technically I am an alcoholic. I admit openly I have a drinking problem. On those Friday and Saturday nights (or other nights when I don’t have to work) I will definitely drink and I will definitely get drunk. That makes me a binge drinker.
Its like the old Salem Witch Trials. If I admit I’m a witch (an alcoholic) I will be burned at the stake. If I deny I’m a witch (an alcoholic) I will be tortured and accused until I admit it and then burned at the stake.
I don’t miss work (not yet). I maintain my house (still). I am responsible (for the most part). I admit I binge drink (but don’t when I have things that interfere). I don’t know if its a problem or not.
Okay now that all my pro-drinking rhetoric has been spewed let me say that for the last 100 days I have felt wonderful, and yes if you look back on this blog for the first week or two (another sign of alcoholism) I was afraid of facing the days ahead without drinking. I was worried because of the anxiety attacks I have, I would have not proper treatment other than the Xanax (which I only take if I’m having an anxiety attack). I don’t like waking up the next morning and thinking about the hair of the dog. I don’t like getting drunk just because its the weekend and I decided to start drinking. I don’t like a lot of things about drinking but on the flip side there are a lot of things I don’t like about not-drinking. I definitely don’t like branding myself an alcoholic. I don’t like that once you determine you are an alcoholic you are an alcoholic forever and ever and ever.
You know if you look back on all those questions I answered above I can answer at least one yes for the same question on another of other topics as well. Watching movies, playing with my dogs, working at my job, gambling at the casino, eating, sleeping, lying to people, reading, hanging out with friends, going to parties, going to bingo, mowing my lawn, laying by the pool, doing my laundry, and on and on and on. Does this mean that I have a problem with any of the above. Okay I’m rationalizing which means I’m denying which means I’m an alcoholic. I can’t win. There’s nothing I can say or do other than quit drinking forever to prove I’m not an alcoholic. But I like drinking (at least now, I even said this before I quit) I also like watching movies, reading, and laying by the pool and since I answered yes to at least one of those questions for each of these must I quit these other things I like to prove that they aren’t interfering with my life and my happiness?
I’m in a lose/lose situation here when I consider my drinking. I’ve seen others do and go far worse in terms of their drinking and I don’t label them (sure they probably drink too much but I don’t think I’m in the position to claim they are drunks or have a problem). Psychiatrists and counselors and judges and lawyers, etc., all have an interest in labeling us drunks. The government has an interest in labeling us drunks. Look at all the money they earn from stopping a guy that has had one too many. They lower and lower and lower the amount of alcohol in our bodies to make us legally drunk after one drink and once legally drunk they brand us an alcoholic. I mean their billboards alone tell us their main interest is in the money…. like the one that reads “This guy just “blew” $10,000″ and pictures a guy blowing into a breathalyzer. What about other alcoholics? Surely they have nothing to gain by labeling everyone they meet an alcoholic because they can answer yes during their lifetime to at least one of the questions above. Ever heard the saying “Misery loves company”? Of course alcoholics want others to be branded the same. There is no way in hell they want to think they are the only ones that can’t stop drinking and surely they are not the only ones otherwise the AA cult wouldn’t exist.
I’m looking at all this through sober eyes now knowing that I’m going to start drinking in less than a month from today. Maybe a year from now my fear that I had before this period of sobriety will be doubled, maybe I will be too week to quit again for month and months on end. Maybe I will find myself eating my words and think “What was I thinking, of course I’m an alcoholic. I must quit and never, ever, ever, drink again.” Perhaps that is my destiny. And sadly I’d like to satisfy all those that want to brand me as such just like I’d like to quit forever, but then again I don’t want to quit forever. I like the feeling of being up at 2:30 AM having my coffee, playing World of Warcraft and ready to start the day but I also enjoy staying up until 2:30 AM having several drinks chatting to people on Second Life while drunk, ready to go to bed and sleep late the next morning.
Either way I’m giving up something I enjoy. Either way I have a problem. Lets just hope that when the time finally comes that if I can’t control the drinking (by quitting when I want to quit) that I am strong enough to stop and admit that I have a problem. For now I’m happy to admit that I am a binge drinker and that binge drinking is a form of alcoholism but for the last 100 days I’ve been a “binge non-drinker”. I guess we will just have to see how this all plays out.