Beginnings · Family · Mental Health · Writing

On Addiction

Every time I drink any amount of alcohol – be it a martini with friends, or a white Russian at home with my husband, or, back when I was single, a single glass of wine with supper – it scares me how easily and how much I could be an alcoholic.

I hate the feeling of being drunk, of being out of control. But the numbness? The lack of hurt and the freedom from pain? That I can get behind. It scares me how much I like it.

I was lucky. When I was younger, especially, my tolerance for alcohol was ridiculous. Without much experience drinking, I could meet my male friends shot for shot and not feel a thing. I used to joke that it was because alcoholism runs in my family I inherited a healthy liquor tolerance. Now I see how much of an avoidance tactic that was. I have alcoholics in my family, and I know that scientifically speaking I have a much higher chance of becoming an alcoholic. I also know that BPD breeds substance abuse like it was going out of style. My fear of feels can be numbed so well by liquor.

It makes me think, too, how easy it would be. Drop some whisky in my Irish Breakfast tea, to make it truly Irish. Some vodka in my orange juice. Some rum in my warm milk, “to help me sleep”. I don’t act like a drunk girl unless I’m really drunk, which I have only done once (thanks, in part, to my amazing tolerance, and also to my horrible fear of becoming exactly what I expect of myself). I could make it through a day a functioning alcoholic, drinking just enough to have a slight buzz, but not enough to impair my thinking. Even now, my typing is pretty perfect considering I’m two very strong White Russians in, five minutes between them and barely half a dinner eaten.

There is a very sick part of me that is proud of this. It’s just as I was when I was dealing most heavily with my eating disorder. The ability to say what goes in my body and what doesn’t, gauging how my body reacts and  making sure to stay just on this side of unhealthiness. My mother encourages me sometimes to continue on with my eating disorder because I was prettiest while I was starving myself. If I were also semi-buzzed, I wouldn’t notice I was starving. Plus, I could get the buzz easier without food. Probably why I’m feeling it now.

It wouldn’t hurt of course to try and figure how the hell I get to this place, though for me the answer is kind of obvious. The same way I get to any of my bad times. I let myself dwell on bad things; let myself take everything personally; let myself draw a noose around my neck until I can’t breathe for the hatred I feel for myself and for everything I am. It is, without irony, annoying. The intelligent me knows that this is wrong; that I need to stop. The intelligent me knows that I’m reacting in a way which my mental disorder tells me to, not the way I know I would react if I were thinking rationally.

But when my brain is whirling with so many thoughts – it’s not my rationality that is thinking. It’s not my rationality that is in control.

The biggest problem, of course, is that I’m not good at talking about these things. My husband is right beside me. I could tell him all these things and more, if I had the words. But I’m bad at words, if they’re not written down. I know he wouldn’t judge me, wouldn’t betray me, wouldn’t leave me for my imperfections. I know he would help me through my pain the best he could, and when he didn’t know what else to do he would simply hug me until I was ok again. But I can’t. I can’t say these things because the words catch in my throat. I can’t get them out of my head past the jumble they create as I’m sitting here staring down at the bottom of the glass I’ve drained.

I say this, but this is only the third alcoholic drink I’ve had in months. I don’t drink regularly, and even less regularly do I drink when I’m upset. Today, though; today was different, and I have no idea why. Today, all I wanted was light-headedness, was something to slow down the thoughts racing through my head to the point of dizziness. To calm myself down so my worrying wouldn’t make me queasy. And it worked. My thoughts are calm now; the chaos quiet.

Knowing when to stop, I’m good at that. According to my uncle, it’s the main reason he doesn’t think I’ll ever have a problem – I know when to stay enough. I’ve not gone back for a third drink, nor do I intend to. Drunkenness doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t feel the need for liquor every day, not even every month. I could lose alcohol from my life completely and I’m certain I wouldn’t miss it at all.

Even still, my mother’s accusations of becoming an alcoholic every time I have a drink plague me, and so my own paranoia increases ten-fold. In a moment of weakness like this, can I say I will never become what so many of my family members have become?

I like to think I won’t; that I have the will-power to resist turning a once-every-few-months weakness into an every-day disease, but I’m scared. I’m scared that one day I’ll wake up, husband hating me, children disgusted with me, with nothing but a bottle to soothe me. I’m worried that I’ll lose hope, lose faith, lose my mind trying to fight this occasional craving. Like my occasional craving for second-hand smoke, I’m scared it’ll turn into the real McCoy. Like my fear of relapsing on my eating disorders, I’m terrified of turning to the bottom of a bottle for solace.

I don’t want to be that person I know I could so easily become.

I don’t want to lose the will to fight it.

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