Had enough of this yet? Or is this your Disney World?
I can imagine that if you are married and have a family, the thought of being stuck in the house with them every day for the next few weeks is horrifying. It’s probably especially bad if you are a ninja drinker. The fear and anxiety of making whatever excuse you can to leave the house to stock up on alcohol? The horror you feel at the simple fact that your wife (or husband) will be home ALL THE TIME, so how in the hell are you going to hide all the alcohol that you need to sustain you through this living hell?
If you’re unmarried, there are three possible scenarios. One is worse than being married, one is absolutely no different than the life you are living now, and one is your Disney World.
It’s going to be worse than being married if you are seriously dating someone and that someone says, “We need to just stay together during the quarantine phase of this. It’s the only way to ensure that we are not transmitting it to others or each other when we leave the house.”
This is no doubt a REALLY bad idea from your viewpoint. You have your own place to live, and that place is your sanctuary. It’s where you can sit in your own living room and get drunk every single day without anybody saying a damn word to you. And now – this is especially true if you are a man – a woman is going to be in your sanctuary, and not only is she going to nitpick about your drinking, she’s going to nitpick about EVERYTHING.
Therein lies the difference between wives and girlfriends (and yes, I’m about to stereotype and yes, this might be different if you are gay because I am not gay so I really have no idea if this works the same way.)
Wives have come to accept many, many things about you – with the likely exception of the excessive drinking – but a girlfriend is still trying to mold you into exactly who she wants you to be. And this, for a drunk in this pandemic, is ten times the nightmare for you than it is for a married alcoholic. A married man can get lost in his own house for hours at a time. If your girlfriend moves in for a little while – or god forbid you move in with her – you very well may break up in the first 72 hours. This is far beyond your worst nightmare.
What you have to hope for is to be the guy that suffers no change during this traumatic time. If your girlfriend (or boyfriend) doesn’t want the two of you to stay together during the quarantine, you’re golden. Nothing changes. You can keep being whatever kind of alcoholic you have been since you two started dating. But if you move in together during the pandemic, this will be your worst nightmare.
And that’s because you are one fight away from this being your Disney World. Married men have it a little tougher. A divorce is messy. A breakup can take mere minutes. And if you choose that route because alcohol is more important than her, the next few weeks can be the best an addict could ever dream possible.
And why is that? Because it’s everything you already are. Only now, the stress is gone. The experts are telling you to stay away from people. No problem for you. If you’re deep enough into this “life,” you are pretty much a recluse anyway.
They tell you not to touch people. No problem there either. It’s not worth explaining to people why you have alcohol on your breath at 11:00 a.m, anyway. This is especially true if you have to spend any time with family. They’re nothing but drama-seekers wanting to get in your business. But now you can’t hug your mom because you don’t want to expose her. Score!!
They tell you that bars and restaurants are closed. Bars could be depressing, but if you are nearing that rocky place at the bottom, you are more comfortable drinking alone anyway. And it’s WAY cheaper.
They tell you that you have to work from home, and by god this is not just Disney World, it’s an all day pass to jump the line at Space Mountain, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, AND Toy Story Mania!! If you work from home, you can probably get by with getting up about ten o’clock in the morning, and that is just amazing for the hangovers. Not only that, but there isn’t a soul in the entire world who would EVER know you have a Bud Light on your desk during the conference call.
If you’re anything like I was, you are one of those four people right now. I don’t envy any of you. But I do have some words of wisdom for you, and this wisdom doesn’t really care which one of you I’m talking to.
The Fear of Forever
It will never be the right time to accept forever. It’s every alcoholic’s worst nightmare. They can’t accept the fact that they might NEVER have another drink. Well, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s today or ten years from now (if you live that long,) there is NEVER a good time to accept that. They say all the time in AA that “you only have to get through today.” Well, yeah, that’s technically true, but the sooner you accept forever, the quicker you’ll smile about it. And once you smile about it, you’ll be amazed at how many other things make you smile.
Think about how simple this actually is. I say this jokingly, but there is a lot of wisdom in this thought. I am willing to bet that you accepted long ago that you can’t fly. I bet you accepted that you can’t drink arsenic. I bet you even accepted that you can’t ride a brontosaurus at work like Fred Flintstone. You will NEVER do those things, and those are forever things. To be sober, you just can’t drink ever again. It’s just another of many things you are not allowed to do.
It’s EVERY alcoholic’s worst nightmare, but it’s every recovering alcoholic’s saving grace. And for this one, that acceptance is the reason I learned to love the rest of my life and all that’s in it. It’s hard as hell, and I won’t sugarcoat that. But you could die tomorrow, and you will die never doing the ONE thing that can help you learn to love life. And even better than that, it is the one thing that will make you respect yourself again. That’s been missing for a long time, hasn’t it?
The Dread of Acknowledging Regret
Your mistakes and regrets will be masked by every drink you take, and they will fade with every one you don’t. Every day that passes that you are an active alcoholic – and you know if you are one; you don’t need a definition – passes with worsening regret. Those regrets will not get better until you give yourself permission to grow from them.
Not to mention grow AWAY from them.
Well, guess what? Growing is the one thing you are NOT doing. At all. In any aspect of your life. Relationships can’t grow when alcohol is more important. And I don’t care if that relationship is with a spouse, a child, God, coworkers, whatever. There will always be a part of you that embarrasses the ever-loving shit out of you, and that will keep any and every relationship from growing.
As I sat here writing this part, I stopped on that thought. I said no aspect of your life can grow as long as alcohol is more important, and then I tried to come up with something other than relationships. It took a lot of deep thought to realize that relationships are the only area of our lives where growth really matters. If you get sober but you don’t grow your math skills, who gives a crap? If you get sober but you don’t grow your ability to bowl strikes, your world will still spin just fine.
Relationships are the only things that matter in your life, and they will until the day you leave this Earth. Accept the fact that even non-addicts have regrets, and I would bet a lot of money that you are willing to overlook that in other people, aren’t you? So will they. People are DYING to love you. You just have to want relationships with the people in your life more than you want a relationship with alcohol. Again, it’s hard as hell, and it will be hard as hell for MONTHS, but where exactly does alcohol take you in the end, when the last relationship you had on Earth is gone?
It’ll Always Be Your Choice
Until the end of time, there will ALWAYS be only one person for whom you can quit, and it will ALWAYS be you. You cannot quit for your wife or your kids or your job or even your mama. You have to quit for yourself or you will resent the person who made you quit.
You have to be “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” You have to want to change so badly that you are willing to smash full bottles of whiskey in your driveway while screaming “F&%K YOU!!” for everybody to hear. You have to be so angry at yourself for letting this happen – so filled with hatred for yourself – that you are willing to tell people all the reasons they should also hate you just for a glimpse of the hope that exists when you completely give up and want to heal more than you want to hurt.
If you are a spouse, leave if you have to. Take the kids if you have to. Don’t tell them they have to quit. It’s a pointless ultimatum. It has never worked and it will never work. You have every right to be just as selfish as they have been and look out for yourself. And if that means leaving and taking the kids or keeping the ring or saying goodbye, you go ahead and be selfish. It is not worth living your life watching an alcoholic steal your happiness.
But you cannot make, persuade, coerce, or bribe them into quitting. You can ask, but you’d be the wrong person asking. Only they can answer the question. And it only really gets considered when they ask it of themselves.
I Hope you Finally Fail
I hope you get mad over these next few weeks. I hope somebody reads this and decides they can’t go another day without seeing what the other side looks like. I hope you see the joy of these times stuck inside with your families and you like the way that joy feels better than the snug, comfy blanket of drunkenness that’s getting closer and closer to smothering you. I hope you fail miserably at being an alcoholic over these next few weeks.
If you’re anything like me, I saw myself as a failure my entire adult life. And in the end, I finally failed at being an alcoholic. You don’t hit rock bottom and glisten with success. So I hope you fail. I hope this pandemic is your worst nightmare. I hope she moves in and you break up and you cry in your beer that very night knowing there is not a bigger loser on the planet. I hope your Disney World closes down and bans you from the park.
I hope that during this pandemic, you fail. I hope you find that during these boring days where your mind is in overdrive, you find that there really is no definition for alcoholic or rock bottom. I hope you accept that you’ve known all along that you’re an alcoholic, and I hope you realize that if you fall any further, it could be tragic. I hope you decide that you’re okay with this being rocky enough for you.
I hope you finally fail at being an alcoholic. It will be the best thing that ever happens to you. You want proof? Close your eyes and envision yourself a year from now, when life around you is back to normal.
What does YOUR life look like in a year? It could look like mine. It could be filled with family time, pride in your work, hope for the future, genuine happiness, a strengthening feeling of contentment, even that spot in your mind filled with dreams that suddenly opened up after being locked away for years. Or it could look like yours does now. Are you looking forward to that?