This cannot happen alone

alFrom Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain, strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself,  I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.  You must do the things you think you cannot do!”

I started seeing my therapist because I wanted to quit drinking. It took me a few sessions to be brave enough to bring this up. And I lied when I talked about how much I drank. Not much, just a little. Three glasses a night was really more like one bottle.

Since I’ve started talking about quitting, I’ve also started hiding more. Shame, probably part of the equation from the very beginning, is ever present, and more thickly each time I talk about it and do nothing. I used to drink my wine openly. But in the last couple of months, I’ve taken to hiding the fact. I don’t want to deal with my husband asking me why I’m not doing what I set out to do. I’m embarrassed that I keep doing the thing I know is holding me back.

I KNOW a lot. I know that alcohol is a poison. I know that women who drink heavily tend to suffer from dementia and die earlier than men. I know my body and my mind will feel better once I stop drinking. I know that I am an alcoholic; conversations with other women about the way they drink has revealed to me how my daily habit is more than just a habit. It’s a problem. I know that I feel guilty. I know that I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about what I’m teaching my children about the world.

I know that I’m entrenched in a deep hole. It’s really deep. And lately, I can see how deep it is more clearly than ever before. I’ve gotten used to the hole. I’m a little bit afraid of what I’ll find on the outside. At the same time, I’m sick of it. I want out. So now I’m reaching out for help. First step, writing this blog. Second step, being honest more often with my husband. Third step, asking for help. Maybe you can help me.

Honestly, I wanted to build a community outside of Alcoholics Anonymous. The reality is, I need the community of others who are telling their stories, remembering why this is not good for them, and Alcoholics Anonymous is the best place to start. Maybe you’re in the same boat? What is your story? Help me by telling it!

My therapist is part of my help. But she reminded me that quitting drinking is just a dream without action. Even though I have a hundred excuses for why Alcoholics Anonymous is not where I want to go, it’s time. I have so many excuses for why I’m drinking. Excuses are NOT action. They are NOT looking fear in the face.

Quick story. I was at a conference recently with a huge group of like minded women. We were asked to partner up, stand across from each other and look into each other’s eyes. No words. No movement. Just gaze into the depths of the other woman’s eyes. The leader of the group asked us to speak to our partner through our eyes, telling her what we needed to hear without words. My partner and I came to tears as we did this. It was raw, deep, uncomfortable.

Then we were asked to join another pair, and then another and look at the person across from us in the eyes. I was surprised to see that a few of the women continued to wear their sunglasses during this exercise. So as the group came together and grew, there was some unspoken pressure for them to take their sunglasses off, but there was one woman who could not stand to look in the eyes of the other women. She gazed at a diagonal, clearly avoiding the eyes of the others in the group. I wondered what was happening for her. This looking into each other’s eyes was a very vulnerable thing. Maybe there were some cultural issues. But for me, it was about allowing yourself to be seen and open to the possibility of vulnerability. My excuses are me diverting my eyes.

It scares me to no end to just put this out into the world. I am afraid of looking you in the eyes. I’m afraid of looking myself in the eyes. I’m afraid of looking at my judger (me) in the eyes. Yet, I’m putting it out there. Community is part of the answer. I’m starting with you, my husband, my therapist and Alcoholics Anonymous.

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