Dun dun dun…. the dreaded question. Well I know it’s not so dreaded for some of you. Some of you already know that you are alcoholics or addicts and have become empowered by accepting this fact.
Me on the other hand, I am still struggling with these labels. Maybe it’s because I don’t attend AA and I’m not forced to get in front of a group and say out loud every day, “My name is Kelly and I’m an alcoholic” or maybe I’m still in denial.
It was always in the back of my head when binge drinking and blacking out became normal for me. I used to ask myself, Is this normal? Am I drinking too much? Am I an alcoholic? I would use anything to justify that I wasn’t. No, I didn’t get the shakes when I woke up and need alcohol right away. No, I didn’t need to drink every night. No, I didn’t hide alcohol bottles in my closet and drink alone. My friends drink exactly the same amount as me or more.
Once I faced the cold hard truth about my issues with alcohol and became sober, the question still lingered. When you think of an alcoholic, you think of homeless old men on the streets who drink hard liquor out of bottles wrapped in brown paper bags or if you’re obsessed with the show Intervention, like I am, you think of the people on there. Maybe that’s why I love watching that show – in a weird way those people make me feel better about myself. It sounds bad because I don’t think how I was acting while actively drinking was healthy AT ALL and it caused me A LOT of problems, just maybe not the kind of crazy problems you see on Intervention. Either way, it was just another way of justifying my bad habits and decisions.
So… back to the question, am I an alcoholic? I guess anyone in AA would say yes I am and I should surrender to that fact now or else my sobriety as I know is doomed. AA attenders also believe you can’t stay sober without meetings and here I am with one year and 4 months under my belt. When I researched the definition of an alcoholic, most sites told me it is a person suffering from the disease of alcoholism and someone who has become physically dependent on alcohol. An alcoholic cannot control their obsession with alcohol and therefore suffers from various issues in their lives at home and at work.
Well let’s see – physically dependent on alcohol – nope. Obsessed? Not really. Issues at home? Yes. Issues at work? No, not really. Can’t control the amount they drink – ding ding ding! We have a winner. I’ve also heard that an alcoholic is anyone who feels immensely better after they stop drinking – and well, that’s definitely me.
What I do know is I suffer from an addictive behavior and personality and I have alcohol abuse issues. Maybe that makes me an alcoholic, or maybe that makes me someone who just wasn’t meant to ingest alcohol. Maybe I haven’t dived deep enough into my recovery and discovered WHY I had these behavior patterns for so many years. Or maybe, as I know some of you are thinking…I’m still in denial.
Does it really matter? Will labeling myself as an alcoholic make a difference? Will it propel me further into my world of sobriety and recovery? I don’t know, I’ve done pretty good so far. What I do know is I can’t drink alcohol. It is not for me and my life is tremendously better without it. Although you won’t see me shouting from the rooftops, “I’M AN ALCOHOLIC!!” I do still identify with sober people, addicts, alcoholics, or any other type of label that you want to give yourself that has to do with an out of control behavior.
Some days I find myself having a hard time figuring out where exactly I fit into the recovery world and I’m still not really sure. Does this make me a weird sober person? Maybe, but I’m ok with it because it works for me. :)