....but the problem is, if you let yourself down often enough, break promises you've made to yourself constantly and often act in a manner you wish you wouldn't - you do start to believe that you are shit. Because you can't blame anyone else for the broken promises. It's you making the promises, and it's you breaking the promises.
"I'm not going to drink until Friday," you might promise yourself on a hung-over Sunday morning. But then workmates encourage you to the pub on Wednesday and "one quickie" turns into a long session and so you wake up on Thursday morning feeling like crap physically and crap emotionally because you broke your Sunday morning promise. The promise was heartfelt and real when it was made. But breaking it was also a choice wilfully made. So it gets confusing. It's hell.
"I'm not hiding any more wine from my wife", you promise yourself as you clear the empties out of your car into the neighbourhood recycling station. But a week later you know one bottle between you isn't going to be enough so you stash another one where you can furtively drink from it without her knowing. You secretly sip, but you feel like shit.
"I'm not going to drink in front of the kids", you promise yourself after your 4-year-old refers to your wine as 'Mum's juice' and it makes your stomach turn. But then four days later you've had the day from hell and it's impossible to resist the pull toward a glass of wine at 5pm. So you have one, two, three, and deep down you feel like a shit mother because you remember that promise you'd made to yourself four days ago.
I don't think 'normal' drinkers ever make promises to themselves about their booze consumption. I think it only happens to those of us who have many, many instances of regret. These instances of regret spawn fierce promises that down the track are really hard to keep because we are (most probably, although this is a slippery scale that is very hard to measure) hooked into booze. Or booze is hooked into us.
It's not that we're bad people, or weak. It's that ALCOHOL IS ADDICTIVE!! If you want to read a really good summary of how and why alcohol is addictive and exactly what happens in our brains and bodies when we drink it read this. And know this: we are not bad people, we're addicted.
So the problem for those of us who have been addicted for a while and have let ourselves down time and again (by breaking promises we make to ourselves), is that we really genuinely start to believe that we are bad people. That we are worthless, that we are crap, that we are weak or damaged or useless.
We're not any of those things. We're addicted.
We're not the problem. Alcohol is the problem. Or more specifically - alcohol inside us is the problem. But us addicted folk lose sight of that. We think it's us. This is why removing the alcohol and overcoming the physical aspects of addiction (withdrawals & cravings ) is only one aspect of recovery. The other is healing our emotional selves. Building up our feelings of self-worth to where they were before we started breaking promises.
When I was at the end of my drinking my sense of self worth was completely shot. I was at my lowest ebb emotionally because I had let myself down time and again. All the wine I poured inside me despite my best intentions and promises to myself had made me feel terrible, and my final deceitful drinking act - hiding a bottle from my husband - was absolutely abhorrent to me. But this is what booze led me to! This was where my addiction had taken me.
The morning after I hid the bottle I separated out from myself and saw very clearly that the problem wasn't me, the problem was the alcohol. It was then that I made the decision to stop drinking.
The problem wasn't me, the problem was the alcohol.
So I took the wine away and slowly began to heal. Now I trust myself again and I respect myself again. And people ask me if I miss drinking?! No fucking way. I'm never touching that shit again.
Love, Mrs D xxx