Monday, February 6, 2012

My Name is Marc and I am....

...I am a recovering alcoholic.

For most of my adult life, when speaking about my inability to control my drinking, I would euphemize. "I'm a problem drinker," I would say. I would never say "I'm an alcoholic," except in a joking sort of way, with friends, when we're all talking about our last binge weekend, just before going out and buying another case of beer.

Take almost any point in the last 15 years of my life and ask me to take one of those "how much do you drink" quizzes, and no matter what the result (and the result was consistent: whatever the highest amount of alcohol consumed was, that would be me) I would find a way to believe that I was mostly normal, just my drinking was a little bit of a problem. Just a tad. My drinking just needed a slight tweak, and I would be fine.

It's a little bit amazing how I managed to believe this. If I was the one administering the quiz, I would give accurate data and then simply reinterpret the results. If it was someone else administering the quiz (eg, my doctor) I would falsify the data to reach a desired result. It's a little bit funny that even the made-up numbers that I gave my doctor were high enough that he was concerned about my drinking. I have no idea what he might have said for the real numbers.

Over the last week, though, I've stopped lying. I'm not lying to myself, and I'm not lying to those closest to me. I am an alcoholic. Right now, I am an alcoholic in recovery (such as it is), but I can no longer let myself believe that I am not an alcoholic.

I've so far told two people, both of whom know I'm not drinking anymore, my best friend and my boyfriend, and both conversations went pretty much the same way. I told them that I was an alcoholic, they both, in their own way, responded with "No you aren't. Sure you've told me you were concerned about your drinking, but it never really got that bad. Don't worry about it!" And I can see their image of the alcoholic, the homeless, scruffy, unshaved, unkempt man who smells and shouts profanity at random passers-by from the gutter where he nurses a paper-bag covered bottle. Nope, not me. Whew, glad that's settled.

But I've been ready for this objection, because I know things they don't know. So, I told my boyfriend how, when I had a big bottle of vodka in the freezer, I would sometimes buy smaller bottles to pour into the big bottle so that he would think that I had been nursing that bottle the whole week, and not that I finished it in two days. He had no idea. But now that he knows, he's a bit more accepting of the whole "Marc is an alcoholic" thing.

We went over some of my behaviours, and after a little bit, my friend and my boyfriend both acknowledged that there was a pattern, and so maybe the idea of li'l ol' me being a big ol' alky wasn't so far fetched.

I told my boyfriend about some of the blogs I've been reading, and how I do not want to put him through the same nightmare that others are going through. He's completely on board with me, and I don't think I can over-estimate how much his support means to me. Part of my progrerss will depend on my being truthful about my drinking and what I did to facilitate it, so this is a big step forward for me. I am an alcoholic, but I am in recovery.

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