ON GETTING SOBER SECRETLY AND WHY I’VE DETERMINED THAT ISN’T GOING TO WORK FOR ME

Happy Hump Day, everyone. Hump it out. And as I always say, be careful not to pull your back out.

So last night boyfriend went out with a friend. She invited him to see a movie and I completely expected them to swing by a wine bar for a glass or two afterwards. I had the normal psycho thoughts like HE’S MAKING PLANS LIKE THIS BECAUSE HE HATES THAT I’M SOBER NOW AND THINKS I’M BORING AND HE JUST WANTS TO DRINK! or HE’S GOING TO FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE WHILE DRUNK AND REALIZE WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO HIM IS BEING WITH SOMEONE THAT KNOWS HOW TO DRINK MARGARITAS WITHOUT THROWING UP ON OTHER PEOPLE’S HAIR! or IF HE REALLY LOVED ME HE WOULD CHANGE EVERYTHING FOR ME AND NEVER EVER EVER TOUCH ALCOHOL AGAIN BECAUSE EVERYONE NEEDS TO START BEHAVING LIKE AMISH PEOPLE SO I FEEL SAFE AND COMFORTABLE!

The truth is, this is only the SECOND situation in almost two months where he had a drink. And neither of those two times were in front of me or in our home. And not only was he respectful about it, he didn’t even come home wasted! What kind of person only drinks two times in two months AND doesn’t make it a point to completely obliterate themselves?!? If it were me, my mission would be clear. If I’m only drinking twice in two months, I’m going to get disgusting. I’d most likely wake up with my mouth tasting like chicken taco and cupcake and I’d realize that I had something really weird pierced like my knuckle. But not him. He just had two glasses of wine which I’m sure when poured together would not even come close to the fishbowl I would have poured for myself. And even though he did nothing wrong, I turned off the bedroom lights at 10:30PM when he still wasn’t home yet and proceeded to go to sleep even though I wasn’t tired that way when he got home he’d have to deal with darkness and me not interacting with him. WTF? I guess I thought THAT WILL SHOW HIM FOR DRINKING WINE WITHOUT ME!

And that’s really what it was about. It was about me being pissed the fuck off that I can’t do that. That he can and I can’t. And what’s even more ridiculous is that I DON’T WANT TO. But I’m mad that I don’t have the option to. And as I lay there in the dark, I realized WAIT. I DO HAVE THE OPTION TO. It will totally kill me and put me in the ground. But the option is there. This is about me. I need to stay in my own yard. As long as he isn’t doing anything to directly compromise my sobriety and is being supportive, I have to start focusing on myself. He eventually came home and climbed into bed. I didn’t say a word. I am so fucking stubborn. It’s gross. But I’m working on it. I woke up this morning and for a moment I had decided to still be mad. But as he left the bedroom to use the restroom, I yelled STOP IT to myself. When he got back, I put my arms around him and asked him how the movie was. I chose reality. I changed the tape in my head. I turned the wheel and headed in a different direction. And it was great.

Last night also got me thinking about accountability. My boyfriend obviously knows that I have a serious drinking problem and that I’m a recovering alcoholic. But for nearly six years, he didn’t know that. Because I didn’t tell him. Sure, he may have thought it was weird that I sometimes went to sleep on the bathroom floor. He may have occasionally tilted his head in confusion when he’d find puke in the sink that I didn’t clean up because I didn’t even know I had puked. Okay. He knew. He knew I had a problem. But until he said something or I said something, I was accountable to no one. SOOO MANY TIMES I tried to moderate or stop drinking completely in private without him knowing. And during the week it was fine. But then Friday would come around and he would say something like, “Let’s go get a drink. This week was crazy!” And if I were to have said, “No. I don’t want to,” then he would have asked why. And I would have had to tell him. And the game would be over. And I wouldn’t ever be able to drink in front of him again.

If I were still hiding this disease, last night would have been different. I would have used his drinking as an excuse to do my own. I’d have stopped after work and picked up some stuff. I would have proceeded to get wasted. And I would have gone to bed and pretended to be asleep exactly like I did last night but for totally different reasons. I wouldn’t want him to be able to tell how drunk I was. Even though he would have been buzzed from his 1-2 glasses of wine, it would be nothing compared to the wreck I was.

But all of that is gone. All of the shadows are illuminated. The scariest thing was making the decision that enough was enough. Going to him and telling him meant I could NEVER drink in front of him again. And the need to protect my ability to continue living in my addiction kept me silent for six years. Even though I wanted sobriety and health, it didn’t matter. What if I decided I didn’t want sobriety in a few months? 6 months? A year? How would I ever tell him, “Honey. I was wrong. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m fine. Let’s go for dirty martinis.” Even though I was sure this disease was killing me and I wanted out, I chose the OPTION of being able to drink over peace. And any attempt at moderation or abstinence was completely futile without the accountability I have now.

Now, he would be FURIOUS with me if I drank. And this isn’t to say that I’m not drinking because of him. But none of this became real until I made it real. God bless any of you that were able to get sober in secret. Even if you eventually told your spouses or lovers, I am in awe that you could put together more than a week or two in private. The longest I went without the boyfriend being in on my secret was about two months. Yes. I had two months of DRYNESS during my six year relapse. It wasn’t sobriety. It was May 1 – July 4th 2012. Boyfriend thought I was just trying to be healthy and lose weight. He did it with me. Then Independence Day hit and I said, “Okay. That was good. Now let’s go make drinks.” And we did. Because HE DIDN’T KNOW. If I tried that shit now, OH HELL NO. He’d throw a TV at my head.

So what was I really saying by trying to get sober in secret? FOR ME, I was saying, “I don’t want to drink anymore. And I’m not going to. But I might want to and I need to protect myself from that person in case I do want to pick up again.”

There are so many people that I need to become accountable to. Not because I HAVE to. But because I want to. There are friends I haven’t told and I know for a fact that they will be FINE with it. So what’s holding me back? The thought that if I fuck this all up and start drinking again, ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE WILL KNOW AND SEE ME DOING SOMETHING HORRIBLE TO MYSELF. The difficulty I have making myself transparent is my disease doing the talking. It’s my disease trying to crawl into dark corners I have yet to expose. It is hoping it can hide away in crevices and holes and maybe I won’t notice.

I’ve determined that the only chance I have at living this life in the long term is to thoroughly and forcefully shine light into every single hiding place. That handful of friends over there that doesn’t really know my boyfriend or other friends? They need to know I’m an alcoholic. Because if they don’t, they are the people I will run to when I’m ready to relapse. Everyone needs to know. In the same way that everyone knows you need oxygen to keep from dying, everyone needs to know that I need sobriety. Because if they don’t know, they will watch me pour liquor down my throat until they are standing at my grave wondering what the fuck happened.

I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I’m not sure when I will go completely public. It could be a few months from now. Or maybe a year. But until I do, I’m choosing a life that is just to risky for my own good.

19 comments

  1. It’s the little inner addict voice saying lets just keep this to ourselves, shall we???!!!
    But the relief of not hiding it, of not needing to explain why you aren’t drinking, the support of friends is lost if we aren’t honest.

    I loved this blog. I did the same. For years I insisted to myself I would not drink on Sunday. Then hubby would go golfing and I’d be alone and would say – he’s doing it. So am I (insert foot stomping). And out would come the wine.

    Silly me.

    1. I did this thing when I was trying to abstain or moderate where I would literally get upset/depressed when I found out he was going somewhere and wouldn’t be around me because I knew that it meant I had to drink and throw my efforts away. Like. I knew that I WOULD drink if left to my own devices. And I could have a week of sobriety and he would go out with a friend and I would think, “Well, there goes that. We all know I’m not going to stay sober if there is no one watching me.” It was AWFUL. So much better now.

  2. OH!
    i love this, this is so spot on.
    The accountability thing was, for me, so important. Once I said it it couldn’t be unsaid, and I am so grateful for that because it has saved me over the years.
    I slowly told my friends and family as i felt comfortable, but i was immediately accountable in AA.

    The beginning of this made me think of my yoga class yesterday where we were doing heart opening moves. The teacher is a sober woman, and talks about the program all the time, couched in yoga terms, but i get the secret language, the code! Anyway, she was talking about how we get so closed off to reality that when our partner says “i’m off to the store for orange juice” we hear “i’m tired of you, we’re through and can you pack me a bag”. She said that was when we needed to do these poses, to re-open our heart to the truth, to shut that little voice up.
    Sounds like you are doing a great job!

  3. It is wonderful that you are able to stay sober even though your boyfriend drinks on occasion. I dont think I would have been able to in the beginning. But my alcoholism was life changing for me and my family, so even though my husband is not an alcoholic, he made the choice to be sober with me and never touch a drink again. I think after everything we went through he is just disgusted by anything to do with alcohol.

    1. That’s amazing and wonderful that your husband is done, too. If I were to ask my boyfriend to abstain entirely until I had more time, he would do it. At least all signs point to that. He told me he would do whatever I needed and to just tell him. I told him that I didn’t expect him to never ever drink. Just don’t go out often, don’t bring it in the house, and don’t drink to excess. He never went out often to begin with, only brought in alcohol when I asked him to (it was always me egging it on), and never drank to excess anyway. And I totally understand what you are saying about your husband being DONE with alcohol because of what it did to you all. My partner of 8 years gave it up with me, too, back in 2005 after I spent two months in ICU unconscious. Our life was destroyed in a matter of two years from when I first started drinking heavily to when I nearly died. Granted there were no kids in the mix and we weren’t married because loving men is illegal in a lot of places but for all intents and purposes, we were practically married. Unfortunately, our solidarity in that regard wasn’t enough to save the relationship and I moved on (and relapsed). I’m sure I’m repeating things you’ve already read but I’m working through it in my head in response to what your comment made me think about. My current boyfriend didn’t see the mess that was the first time. Somehow, I didn’t reach the point I did before. So while he understands and is there to support, he doesn’t have my “bottom” as part of his experience and I’m sure that if he did, he too would be repulsed. I also feel like this time I know how to rely more on other people and the program than I did the first time. It’s hard to describe. Like his support is invaluable and I’m so grateful for it. But it isn’t as vital as when I was with my ex.

  4. This made me squirm because it hits very close to home. Ugh. I hate when that happens. I want sobriety but still like the idea of an “out”. I need to work on complete surrender. Thanks , I think :),

  5. Greg post, thank you! It’s crazy, the crap that runs through our heads, isn’t! Lol! I agree on the accountability. Being open about my recovery has really helped me. The first non friends or family people that I told was my co-workers, and that was the best decision, no one asks me to happy hour or hands me a drink at gatherings or holiday parties. I felt weird about it at first, like left out- then I had the same thoughts, they are doing what I wanted them to do, so I can stay sober, and now I am mad cause I don’t get invited! Sheesh! Too funny!

    You have had a quite a journey! I am so glad that you’re back and here and sharing your story! Thanks you!

  6. Ok, this post came at a perfect time for me. I have been getting sober in secret AND I’m afraid it’s not going to work for me either. So thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!!!

    I have to share this story so I’m sorry if it’s long………

    So, last night I was at a reunion of sorts with family from Ireland…….the drinks were flowing. In the past I was always the bartender, filling up everyone’s glass as well as my own (first, of course, to make sure I got the most). So what happened last night? I drank Pellegrino but my family gave me the job of bartender…. HEEELLOOO!!!! I’m an alcoholic stupids. But they don’t know that, do they?

    So, I graciously opened a bottle of white, a bottle of red, served beer and whisky BUT I drank Pellegrino. At dinner, we all sat around the table where several open bottles of wine sat in front of me. Everyone was living it up. I stared at the cold glass of Chardonnay and was instantly talking myself into “just one glass” which I know damn well is not possible for me. God, one bottle is not enough……

    I held my ground. I got up from the table at one point and poured myself a glass of fresh lemonade and sat down. My aunt – a big time wine drinker said “what the hell is that?” to which I replied lemonade. She gave me an odd look. And then it hit me….this is about me not her. I can do whatever the hell I want. I was mad that everyone was sitting around drinking but I was determined to stay sober.

    I made it through the night sober- whew. I lay in bed last night thinking ok, something has to give – I’ve got a long summer ahead of me if my close family and friends don’t know about my sobriety. My sobriety is the most important thing here and I will do whatever it takes to stay sober.

    So, this morning I woke up bright and early – refreshed and happy – a reminder of how wonderful sober life is…….

    I thought about all the times I tried to hide my drinking…..like secretly opening bottles of wine in the bathroom with a cork screw I hid in my makeup bag. How could they not notice? They had to notice. What about the drunken outbursts that I couldn’t remember in the morning. Come on, people noticed. And the most important ones noticed the most.

    I realized that the ones that matter the most will support me no matter what. And those that don’t, those that judge or try to sabotage me “can go to hell” 🙂

    The other thing I realized is, I will be surrounded by “normal” drinkers and heavy drinkers the rest of my life unless I want to adopt a new family or get new friends. So, last night was a test. And I passed. I felt tempted, a little resentful (well, ok, a lot resentful at the beginning) but in the end I did what I wanted and I stayed sober.

    I know I need my family and friends support to really win at this. So, one day at a time but I’m going to tell them. I have too. For me, for them and for my sobriety.

    1. Wow, MareBear! Thanks for the share. Congrats getting through that night without drinking. Sounds extremely difficult but you are a superstar. We’ll tell them all, won’t we? But not until we’re good and ready.

  7. Thank you so much for all your stories,they make me laugh and laughter is how I have always dealt with pain.I have been half assing it,my sobriety.I can’t have it in the house, it calls to me my son is a bartender/ liquor rep and a normie.Do you know what it’s like to have 100 bottle of vodka downstairs?he moved and I made take it a get rid of it I don’t drink shards my poison of choice is wine,vino,but once I started on the shot I could not quit SCARY.

  8. I struggle using the term diease. I think that empowers the booze to think of my addiction like that, instead I like to think my addiction to booze is more akin to Golum from LOTR who we pity as he pines for his precious ring. For me I have been telling my cravings to go away and never come back. At times this is very hard to do but i keep repeating the mantra to my self.

  9. I am only on day 26 and I am about 7 months behind you in my recovery but I really identified with this post. I had tried to get sober in secret so my times. I went as long as 30 days. But I never wanted to tell my husband. If I changed my mind or I “failed”….I did not want to have him judging me. Well…I failed and then convinced myself I changed my mind many, many times. FInally, I decided to get more serious. I hired a recovery coach, and, realizing that my husband might notice the payments going to my coach, I told my husband I had problem. He was surprised. He said there were a few times he was worried, but not lately. That is because I am still a bit early in the process of the downward spiral and also I am still pretty good at hiding it. Anyway…I told him. He was really supportive. I am trying to decide who to be accountable next….maybe my children…maybe my siblings and mother. I am not sure. Definitely not my co-workers…I am not ready for the shame that comes with saying “I have a problem” and I don’t want any such thought entering the minds of our HR department folks.

    Congratulations on your recovery and thank you so much for this fantastic blog. I am reading the months in order starting with April 2014 so I have a lot more good reading to go. I was trying to limit myself to the parallel times of my own sobriety but I jus can’t wait. I have to keep reading!

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