Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Does it even matter how 'bad' I was?

I've been getting a few 'was I really that bad?' thoughts lately. And I know there will be people who think I can't have been that bad because it seems like it's all been 'too easy'. I know that people will feel that because I found this comment about my blog on the UK website "Mumsnet" (on a great discussion thread that is full of brave women supporting each other with their issues around booze)...

"I gave up on that MrsD blog - she made it seem too easy! I only read a couple of months, but basically she quit drinking - cold turkey - without any outside help. Friends and family were supportive but hadn't been in her situation. Husband continued to drink around her. She didn't go to AA or get advice from her GP. 

The books she read were unhelpful, and she didn't mention any tactics like One Day At A Time or HALT. And she never fell off or had any serious cravings! Doesn't sound at all like any of us! I thought she had got in the habit because of her situation (lots of parties and barbecues) but she didn't have that strong an actual addiction and was able to overcome it fairly easily."

Here's the thing. I never touch alcohol now - ever. I don't touch it when celebrating. I don't touch it when dealing with disappointment. I don't touch it when stressed or hurt or tired or emotional. I never ever touch alcohol.

I used to touch it on all of those occasions and most other days as well. Alcohol was a constant companion in my life from the age of 15 to the age of 39. I was a steady, heavy, habitual wine drinker and my drinking habit/problem was progressing rapidly in the final years so that I found it nearly impossible to stop once I started if there was any more alcohol in the house. And often I'd go out to find more. If I was ever out in public (rare due to mothering lifestyle) I would get sloppy, slurry and often embarrassed about my behavior the morning after.

No I never drank in the morning and yes I held down a seemingly successful life but make no mistake, I was addicted to alcohol and my addiction was progressing rapidly. The 'cold turkey' point at which I stopped came after months and months of angst and research and trying to control and moderate my drinking, phoning helplines and getting sent information and educating myself about alcohol and my own dependence on it.

Yes Mr D still drinks around me and yes I haven't been to AA or gotten advice from my GP. But don't think for one second that I haven't had strong cravings and don't think for one second that because I never 'fell off' (relapsed) I haven't had to do some serious mental gymnastics to fight my addictive thoughts and learn how to live sober. Raw and sober.

So I'm sorry if you can't relate to my particular set of circumstances regarding my addiction and my recovery. But I do respect anyone's right to express an honest opinion. What I hope if nothing else is that from my blog you can clearly see that living life without alcohol is not only entirely possible, but also great. And maybe you can gain some strength from that. 

Whatever your level of addiction, or the extent of your dependence, or your chosen path in attempting to live sober, know this - you can live without it. R
egardless of what the liquor industry wants us to believe, we can live without alcohol - it is not a necessary part of life. Get whatever help you need. Find whatever support you need. Do whatever you need to do, but get rid of it. We can live without it. We can.

Love, Mrs D xxx


  1. Bravo. Thank you for your story!!!!! It has helped me tremendously.

  2. And just because it's been "easy" (ha ha- even when it seems "easy" we all have our knees moments) doesn't mean it always will be.

    I haven't gotten medical or AA help- I just blog and email. And find other stuff to do besides brood about how I used to drink, or how I want to drink (I don't) or what I used to be like. I am me now, today. This is the life I tend to. I will never forget, but I don't have to wallow in it.

    You rock. I totally relate.


  3. Sometimes it is actually harder to stop if you haven't really gotten in trouble, DUI, or rehab, or jail. But than again it goes both ways. I lost things and was in jail and rehab, and DUI, ANDI still for years though it was no big deal, just had bad luck and definitely not a drinking problem! We are the only ones that can determine how bad is bad, no one else. From what I see you have helped many, many people. And that one, oh well. It is what it is. Everyone's journey is different. I wish I got here sooner than I did, but well I had to travel a bit longer, my husband on the other hand did the same, up and quit one day, has never drank since, go figure! It doesn't matter, sober is sober!

  4. I'm on day one right now and feeling like you all are my support system. Feel great right now. Cooked dinner without, watching tv without, checking blogs without. Of course my brain probably doesn't know yet that it is also going without. Loving these blogs. Can't believe the similarities.

  5. That was an " interesting" post about you. From the quote there seems like a competition for being the worst drunk in town or having the most horrible withdrawal possible - I don't recall signing up to that. If not having those experiences means you cant be "one of us" (as the person quotes) I'd not be going into a decline!!!! Addiction is addiction irrespective of the public face and you're the only one who knows what is happening for you. In rebuttal, I thought your reading list was spot on - very helpful as it showed an option for quitting that doesn't necessarily involve a disease model being applied. Different people need different approaches. Keep being "good" !!!

  6. You can do it. The best part of going without is that everything becomes new again. Everything is real. You can still act crazy, have fun or remain calm but everything stays real. Mrs. D. is right. We don't need it in our lives.

  7. Hi Mrs D. I'm now six going on seven years sober and for most of that time I've dome it alone with online support because out here there aren't meetings. In earlier years I went through that whole 'You're not a REAL alcoholic because...' and ignored it.

    At the same time, I don't assume others, especially in those early days of sobering up, can do it alone. Detoxing at home alone is extremely dangerous as is drinking on top of psychotropic medications. Many people need professional help to sober up and some people need intensive daily sober reinforcement in order to stay sober for the first year or so. Women who live with active alcoholics or who have found themselves trapped in domestic abuse may need to get out of those living situations in order to give themselves a chance to survive, never mind get sober. Those with mood disorders or dual addictions may need more professional support and psychological help than others.

    I sobered up at 47 after drinking for nearly 30 years. The reason I didn't sober up earlier, in my 20s or 30s, after my first black-out, after realising I had a problem, etc, is that I underestimated what it would take. I was desperate and an emotional mess by the time I finally understood what it would take for me to stop drinking. That inner struggle to get and stay sober was tremendous for me (as it was for you) even if it didn't involve outward manifestations like relapses or emotional breakdowns.

    Attitudes around that 'one size fits all' recovery model are changing, but too slowly...

  8. Hi Mrs D

    I think you know your own mind when it comes to alcohol and you know what is best for you.
    I think sometimes people think drinks a lot = alcoholic whereas this is not true I drink a lot (by choice) and am in no way an alcoholic. I think an alcoholic is someone is unhappy about their intake

  9. I'm trying to control anger about reading what was wrote about you :/ EVERYONES journey is different!!! Why would we judge each other based off of if we think the other alcoholic has struggled enough? You LIVED it Mrs D! You've worked hard for your sobriety! You blog has helped me personally very much. Maybe it's because I didn't go the AA route either. I don't know that I've ever wrote about HALT. I suppose according to this persons standards, I'm not an alcoholic either. Even though I drank pretty much every day. Even though it was destroying me mentally and physically. But hey, I found sobriety without checking off her list; it must be that I never was addicted.

  10. Ah the old "maybe I wasn't that bad" thoughts. I was nicely reminded of how relative this is recently when someone who has inspired those thoughts in me at times - because their 'normal' level of drinking would have been me at my worst - said that someone else's drinking had caused them to wonder this themselves.

    Truly, it's pointless comparing. And no one knows your own private hell that you went through to get here, not really. (Though I think you've explained quite often on this blog how your drinking was for you and how and why it was a problem.) It WAS a problem. It WAS causing huge problems for you. You felt you had to quit and you know that you are much better off without it. If you started drinking again you would be a very unhappy camper indeed I bet. Not that I think you're contemplating it, I just mean obviously it was a problem for you. Do the orders of magnitude even matter? Plus, this is an odd measure of addiction… It was "too easy" (yeah, right!) for you to quit so therefore you weren't probably addicted? Huh? Poor Mrs D. Clearly you haven't suffered enough to be a "real" addict.


    This is just another reminder that it doesn't pay to compare. That we have to focus on the similarities, not the differences, and not judge from the outside. I think we all know, deep down, if our drinking is a problem or not. Frankly, I doubt any 'normal' drinker would be starting a blog about quitting drinking or here reading them… At least that's what I've told myself when I've caught myself wondering how "bad" I really was. I mean - seriously.

  11. I've been following your blog quietly for some time and find it helpful. Your tag line was curious to me but it went in a different direction than I thought. It is the notion "was I really that bad" that keeps me tettering on relapse potential. Even though I can go through the list, as you did, the punch that list can bring sometimes isn't warped to a warm fuzzy. Anyways the person who commented you weren't bad enough is likely young into any recovery or growth and I am betting hindsight will be a 20/20 if they are as fortunate as you are to have sustained sobriety. BTW, love the descriptor of mental gymnastics, know that well. Have a good and peaceful day. Donna

  12. Take it as a compliment that you were mentioned...ha ha. I have been lambasted a few times on other people's blogs (entire blogs written about what I have written - what a waste of time and energy, in my opinion). So I wouldn't take it to heart (and it sounds like you haven't - good on ya).

    Everyone's journey is different. I am an AA dude. I don't shove it in anyone's face, nor am I one of those guys that thinks everyone should be there, or you're not a "real" alcoholic. Lots of "real" alcoholics find different ways to quit. Like smokers - some quit cold turkey, some go to NA (Nicotine Anonymous), some use the patch, some use hypnosis, etc. It's all good, if the desired result is achieved.

    We all have different places where we land when we finally get sober. Yeah, some hit the prison system, the legal system, or treatment. Some drank Lysol or Aqua Velva under a bridge. Others are soccer moms with 6 figure incomes and bling, who never lost a thing. So are they less an alcoholic? It's like a reverse snobbery at times - the more you lost, the better an alcoholic. Ridiculous.

    I was actually going to write this (and still will today) on my blog - about how our stories are different and why they are best that they are. The majority of sober bloggers (and lurkers) are female. So it makes sense that the stories that the women portray sit more with women than men. Yes, we are alcoholics and the things underneath are the same, but there is something about someone who speaks to you, is similar to you and understands what it's like to be ______ (fill in the blank). And that's what attracts other women to this blog. And if they don't identify...so be it. So what if you don't talk about HALT (I don't - don't believe in it) or AA. That's not your story. Let them find one of the other dozens of other people in the blogosphere who do.

    Anyway, great job, Mrs. D.

    You're awesome.


  13. You can tell you've reached a big audience when you happen upon someone talking bad about you. Not that it's bad to hear someone say you make sobriety look too easy, too good. I hope you find strength in that. You had a high bottom or you were smart enough to get out before it got harder. Of course it wasn't actually easy! You continue to inspire me and I can relate to much of what you went through and the challenges you still face. Thank you for your blog and your honesty.

  14. I often ask myself about how bad I was and whether or not I really need to do the whole 'abstinence' thing.. debating it even though I know I can not be a moderate drinker. I'm on day 31 sober and still wonder about making this a lifetime decision to never touch alcohol. Blogs like this sure give me food for thought... I have 69 more days to go before I will consider the next steps for me.

  15. That Mumsnet post makes me feel really annoyed! It isn't a competition to see who's the biggest drunk. What they don't seem to have taken into account are your previous attempts at self moderating and all the other control measures we try before eventually realising they don't work. I've been thinking a lot about how bad I was (or wasn't, compared to others) and I keep coming back to the fact that once I did drink I could never stop drinking. I always drank to get drunk. Even as a teenager I wanted more than everyone else.

  16. I only went to a handful of AA meetings my first month of sobriety. Everyone has to find what works for them. Even though I had a "high" rock bottom, I would never try to compare my struggles to anyone else's. What's the point? The point is that sharing our stories helps others. There are people with similar experiences to yours just now discovering that they're an alcoholic because they see themselves in you.

  17. As always, you bring up such amazing points! It really hit home with me yesterday when I had my first meeting with my sponsor. She went through some really scary things which led her to recovery, and we had talked about "other people's" stories as well. When I was telling her MY story, I mentioned that I had thankfully not gone through anything THAT BAD. But that I didn't want to wait until something THAT BAD happened. We all have different journeys and we are different yet the same. And all I can continue to say is...MRS. D. ROCKS!!!

  18. I think it is ok that someone said that you made it sound too easy. You probably did for her. This is the problem with the term addiction, or alcoholic. Once you have a label, it puts you in a category. And there is a scale. Some people are highly addicted and can't function, others can function very well and then there are those of us in between. This is why we don't have to call ourselves alcoholics, unless we choose to. It isn't a one size fits all and some people need a lot more help. And she, like all of us, was expressing her feelings. We could feel compassion for her. I hope, whoever she is, she gets the support she needs. AKM.

  19. I'm a lurker on that thread and while I don't believe there was any malice in the comment I don't agree with it myself. And that's fine. I am now (was!) a lurker on your blog. I won't be the only one either. Remember, you were mentioned initially by someone who thinks it's great :)

  20. How cool! You're famous! Who know you could be flamed other places on the net? i had no idea because i just stay in this small circle of cool people and have no time for scrubs.

    Please tell me you've seen negative comments about my blog! i wanna be as cool as you, you sobriety rebel you!

  21. Oh Jeez, I'm just now catching up on reading the blogs and just read this. I am an alcoholic and anyone that knew me when I was drinking would collaborate with this. I was that bad!! That is not bragging, it's just saying that...oh hell, I don't know what it was saying except that different levels of drinking don't require different levels of recovery. It just requires one kind, the one that's right for you.
    Like you, I didn't go to AA, to rehab, counseling...my husband still drank, my friends still drank, I still went to parties and bars.

    I just didn't drink. We all do recovery different, it is the idea that everybody has to do it the same that keeps a lot of people from recovering.

  22. Mrs D, I can fully relate to your post...as always. That is why I love this blog so much... because I can relate so well to your story. But everyone is different and some are at different levels with their disease. I never wanted to get to that level which is why I finally quit when I did. Like you I am certainly an alcoholic. I am so grateful that I stopped when I did and didn't get to that point where I was forced into recovery. Some poor people are so deep into it that quitting like we did would have been a health risk. I have watched Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (LOVE HIM!) and some patients have had seizures from withdrawal. I am so thankful I was strong enough to stop before that point. But if we kept drinking I think all of us would get to that point eventually. I never want to be there. And I never will! Great post! (And on a side note....you have me saying LOVELY all the time now when I describe things. I chuckle when I hear myself!!!)