When I think back to my last effort to quit drinking a couple of years ago, I remember feeling confused by the lack of drama in my own history. I read Jean Kirkpatrick’s Turnabout, and listened to stories from people in my group meetings and I thought “Whoa. I am such an amateur as an alcoholic!” Now THESE people were drunks!
My drinking story is really boring. No epic benders. No blackouts. No elaborate, secret drinking rituals. So in the past, when I compared my experiences to those of others, I really wondered if I did in fact have a drinking problem. On the one hand was the underwhelming tale of my own drinking. On the other hand was that thing that alcoholics in recovery know, which is that you can always find someone with a more harrowing story than yours: someone who really has a drinking problem. That way, you can minimize your own shit. So which was it for me?
This time around I’ve decided my drinking story doesn’t matter. It is a non-story on the outside. In fact I doubt anyone has ever noticed my drinking or would consider it a problem. But it is a story that has lived in my head. It is a story that has run in a loop of resolving to quit or cut back, and then caving in and breaking my own resolutions, often within 24 hours.
This time around, I’ve been listening to others’ drinking narratives in a different way. It is less about what you do with alcohol than how you think and feel around alcohol. I may not have had a lot of drinking horror stories in my past, but when I hear people talk about their thoughts and feelings around alcohol, I recognize these things in myself. I have come to accept that these internal dialogues are the heart of one’s addiction.