Saturday, June 8, 2013

No shame here...

A close friend who I have just told about my blog (and who spent a large portion of last night reading it from start to finish!) has just emailed me and said:

"Wow, It has given me a much better insight into not just what you have gone through over the last year and a half but also the extent of the battle you were actually having with your drinking before you stopped. Its really helped me see why you had to stop ... I never really knew just how much it was ruling your life and the danger of that."

I do sometimes feel like people who I tell I have stopped drinking think I just blew on a feather and got sober. I mean, why wouldn't they? I try to go into detail ("I found it really hard to stop drinking once I started") but it's difficult to encapsulate a very complex addiction into a few sentences and my set of addictive tendencies are rarely disclosed in our society (seems fine but isn't).  

What might help people understand is if I just said more often "I'm an alcoholic". But I don't. I have to admit I don't readily bandy the word around. I say it online a lot when commenting on my other lovely sober friends blog posts.. and I use it very occasionally with friends and family.. but even though I often tell others I meet that I don't drink any more because "I can't", I rarely use the word "alcoholic". It's almost as though I feel like it's overly dramatic. But it's the truth! 

And herein lies the irony. Being an alcoholic has such a dramatic stigma attached to it precisely because people like me don't adopt it. But because people like me don't adopt it it it retains it's dramatic stigma and I don't use it because I don't want people to get the wrong idea about me...!!  

Here I am an alcoholic who is in a position to change how an alcoholic is viewed yet I don't call myself one because of the stigma and terrible image attached to the term. Aaarrggghhh I'm getting myself all muddled up. 

Anyway, how is that ever going to change unless people like me start freely admitting they are alcoholics? (Is it also ironic that I keep spelling the word 'alcoholic' wrong as I type?! I keep missing the first 'o'. Clearly I don't use it often enough even in print!!)

The problem with the stigma attached to being an alcoholic, and the fact that most people don't ever discuss their alcoholism publicly, is that the resulting image remains - that all alcoholics are complete and utter derelicts who crashed to an almighty rock bottom before they gave up the sauce and now they kind of shudder through life with pock-marked skin, husky voices and sunken eyes. Well come on people.. we all know that isn't the truth (nothing wrong with pock-marked skin by the way!). 

The truth is I am an alcoholic. I am a very nice, smiley, respectable, articulate, groomed alcoholic. I had to get sober because I was completely and utterly addicted to wine. I stopped drinking after I had proved to myself through years of trying that I couldn't moderate or control my intake. And I don't see any shame now in admitting that I got addicted to something that is addictive!!!!!!!  

Right. From today I'm going to start a one woman crusade to change the face of alcoholism, right here in my own little circle of life Down Under. From today I'm going to start using the word 'alcoholic' more in my face to face interactions. Seems like a small thing, but for me it's big. Wish me luck.

Love, Mrs D xxx


  1. Good for you! I'm not there yet. The word alcoholic still makes me cringe.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Way to go, Mrs. D! Great post. I could have written it myself. I also avoid using it around the normie population. I actually broke it out at a bar a couple weeks ago where I was having "drinks" (Tonic and lime) with a friend of mine. She still goes out a lot and is very loud-and-proud about it and cannot believe I have stopped. She asked me how long it's been and I told her it will be four years in October. She proceeded to tell others who would stop by us that I haven't drank in FOUR YEARS!!!!

  4. Great post! Whenever I actually say it to a normie, they look at me like I am crazy! Lol! You? They ask. Well yeah, there is definitely a stigma! I am much open to sharing about my alcoholism these day, I have noticed that it is an eye opener to many. I got asked once - don't you have any will power? Well, as a matter of fact when it comes to alcohol, no I do not! Lol! That's why I am an alcoholic! Thanks for this post and keep spreading the knowledge!

  5. Of course we have willpower, we stopped didn't we! Why would we will ourselves to use an addictive substance occasionally once we've realised we are addicted to it!
    I am terrified of the word though I use it whenever I talk about myself to my husband. It's a start and I know one day I will be ok with it and will do my bit to unstigmatise it round my peers. I am just not there yet.
    So good on ya. Mrs D, you go for

  6. I'm not there yet either. Most people I know would perceive the term as one of weakness or less than normal; the person with the "problem." Right now I don't have a problem. I did. But right now I don't. I'm powerful now.
    I'd gladly share my weaknesses with any of you but for anyone who has not walked in our shoes, I'd spend more time having to justify who I am as opposed to making the best of our time together.

  7. Wow, this post really got me thinking.

    i very rarely use the word alcoholic except in AA meetings where i use it all the time. Maybe the stigma irony you were talking about is the reason we begin every meeting with, "My name is ____, and i'm an alcoholic." That way we can't hide behind the lies we save for others.

    Strange that i have no problem admitting i'm in AA to almost anyone (except clients)--hell, i can even show them the 2-year chip i carry around in my pocket--but i never use the word alcoholic. i'm going to challenge myself to use it at least once this week outside of a meeting.

    Thanks again, Mrs D!

  8. Awesome post, Mrs. D. Loved it. (btw, I too misspell 'alcoholic' more often than not - and the same way you too...hilarious).

    I am in the same boat (and as Al) - I use it very liberally online and in the company of other alcoholics, I rarely use it amongst friends and family (not out of shame, but it's like me constantly referring to myself as Scorpio or Male - no point), but don't mention to normies. Again, not out of shame, but it's a personal thing. There are times, I admit, where I just want to shout out "hey buckeroos, y'all are talking to an alkie! You report to a booze pig. Get over it. now get back to work." ha ha.

    But you have me thinking about this Al I have a two year chip (keychain) and part of me wants someone to ask me about it. I doubt it will happen, but it's a very tiny step in me wanting to break out of that alcoholic mold of what people think we are and look like.


    Thanks for this - loved it.


  9. Oooh Mrs D, I am very interested to hear how you find this. I am very conflicted on this issue. I don't know whether it is cowardice or self protection or the fact that AA is an anonymous fellowship (though only in the public arena). But part of me wants to make it a normal part of conversation just as someone might say they suffer from an allergy to cats or something, part of me worries about 'what they will think of me' and part of me wonders if it would just be the alcoholic exhibitionism emerging in another form.

    I get very muddled up about it.

    I've mentioned it some AA friends and got various takes on it. But none that feels right for me yet.

  10. I will wish you luck because I have the same exact tendencies. As much as I talk about my alcoholism in my blog, when it comes to saying it OUT LOUD it's a very different story. You know about my tattoo on my right wrist, I've actually been considering having it removed because so many people ask about it and when I say, "That's the date I quit drinking," I get a "look".

    Sigh...I'm with you on the stigma thing...

    I'm going to stay closely tuned to your journey my friend.


  11. Mrs D, this is definitely one of your top 10 posts! Awesome!!!! I was shocked at myself this week... my husband wanted to attend a Beer Tasting with our Parish and I called to get him a ticket and the secretary told me that wives are going too. And it just flew out of my mouth..."Oh I don't drink". It just came out...I have never said that before! It felt so natural.

    So on the heels of that I read this awesome post. I can't picture myself saying I am an alcoholic least not yet. Like others, I have conflicting feelings about saying it. I DON'T want to say it because you are correct about the stigma. I am ASHAMED that I have this problem with alcohol. I am ashamed that I couldn't control my drinking.

    But at the same time I WANT to say it because I am equally so damn PROUD of myself for having the strength to GIVE IT UP. When you think about it...holy shit we are all so AMAZING! To be successful in giving up something that we all were so addicted to...Wow...It's pretty amazing!

    So, yes, I too am an ALCOHOLIC. But now I choose to live sober and have done so for over 8 months.

    Thank you for this awesome post Mrs D! You always know the right thing to say at just the right time!

  12. Good reflecting on your own process Mrs D. I think it's always important to remember that everyone has their own process and for a lot of people claiming 'alcoholism' as their status is not it.

  13. Love your blog and am with you x