Friday, December 20, 2013

Sober Day #52 Alcohol and Victims

I have recognized that my former worldview held a big chunk of 'Victim' in it.  As in, the world is so hard, I can't manage it on my own, it asks too much of me, I don't deserve to feel so bad, I do deserve to feel better, in any way I can.

Yesterday I saw two patients back-to-back who really crystallized this for me (all recognizable details changed):

Both were women about 30 years old, with some medical issues but nothing disabling or affecting mobility. As far as I know, neither overuses alcohol or uses drugs.

The first spent the visit telling me why she was unable to take the medication she needed (she had the medication, this wasn't a money issue), how public services really needed to find her a new apartment, and why it was impossible for her to clean her apartment to help with her allergy symptoms.  The second updated me on her medication progress, mentioned how challenging it had been to go back to school as an 'older' student, and how she was looking forward to taking her final licensing exam in January, so she could go to work in her chosen field.

I know nothing about their other-than-medical backgrounds, or their life in their families-of-origin.  There are undoubtedly complexities and profundities at work here that I know nothing about.  Nevertheless, there were deep differences in their approach to life.

I could see myself in both women.  Like the second, I'm a do-er.  I work hard at my profession, and at home with my family.  I choose goals, go for them, and achieve them.

On the other hand, there is a part of me that whined:  This is tooooo hard.  I neeeeed relief.  I caaaaan't do this.  And this is the part that said:  I deserve a (mental) vacation.  Oh, Alcohol, glug, glug, glug.  Oh, my, that is better.  What world?  What demands? Ahhhhhhh.  All the way to oblivion.

I'm very clear on which patient I more admire, and which part of me I like more.  Early sobriety has been, among other things, realizing:  Wait, existing without alcohol isn't really all that bad.  There's nothing here I can't handle.  Wow, that's not really a big boogey man, after all, it's really quite manageable.  And I AM strong, I CAN do this, Look at me!!!

Big, Crazy, Empowering Stuff!!!


  1. Hooray for you, Carrie! This is inspiring. I've been a big fan of oblivion too, mixing it up with a fierce can-do attitude. I like how you point out that they can be separated!

    I also wanted to comment on your neuroplasticity post yesterday but didn't get a chance. Last summer I read a great book about habit (The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg) that talked about neuro stuff. One thing I've been thinking about recently is that yes, you do make the changes, but the old pathways never go away. They are still there underneath, and can be reactivated easily. So on the one hand, you never forget how to ride a bike. These days I'm thinking it might also mean that the heavy drinking habit will always be established in some neural patterns, so this moderation thing simply can't be taken lightly. I thought I'd pass that along to you since I know you're interested in both subjects.

    Big congrats on 52 days!

    1. I've just added that book to my Wish List on Amazon - it looks very tasty! And I take your point- the Heavy Drinking pathways we wish we could blast out of existence are not blastable- and they will always be their to trip us up at vulnerable moments. Their voices do, however, become softer and weaker with disuse. But you and I will never become carefree, take it or leave it, drinkers, I think.

  2. I'm with you on the victim/can-do split personality thing! I think that people can get scared of how much they can do and when they see this that can send them scuttling back to the perceived safety of before. It is so empowering it can be overwhelming. Yay on 52 days :)

    1. Author Harriet Lerner talks (in Dance of Intimacy or Dance of Connection) about how when one person in a relationship changes the 'steps of the dance', the other person often without realizing, pushes to change the steps back to the way they were. I think this happens in our relationships with ourselves, also. And so when we see how capable we can be- it CAN frighten us, and make us retreat back the the known cocoon of alcohol, as unhealthy as we know that to be.
      A great value of these sober blogs is to see others doing this step-forward, step-back dance- and the ultimate successes- and this makes us a bit more patient with our own wobbly paths!


I'd love to hear about your journey, and hear your take on my journey. Comments are very welcome!!