So when I went into treatment, I did not fit the clinical diagnosis for alcoholism. I didn't meet the criteria of an alcoholic but certainly hit every single one of them for an addiction. So for the past 23 months, I've been saying "I'm an addict. I could easily turn into an alcoholic by switching addictions or the alcohol would lead me back into my drug of choice (opiates)." I tried NA meetings in the beginning and they didn't work for me so I attend AA meetings and love them. I attend mostly AA meetings that are open to ALL addicts/alcoholics, etc. But for those who weren't, I always identified myself as an alcoholic. At some, I got the feeling I wasn't all that welcome to be there because I was an ADDICT, not an alcoholic, etc. And as time went on, I did start to feel as though I was almost "misrepresenting" myself or there under false pretenses, which went against the principles of a program of rigorous honesty.
Well, I've started to get all twisted and resentful about this over the past few weeks. I started to take a good look at myself and started talking about it at my Aftercare that I attend once a week (I continue to attend although I was released after a year by the Board because I love, love, love this group and feel it's integral to my sobriety). I also brought it to my nurse support group, my LADC, and my sponsor. Then, I prayed about it and sat with myself, thinking long and hard. I started to write. And write. And wrote some more. I pulled out my autobiography from Intensive Outpatient and noticed that there was hardly any of my experiences with alcohol written in there; only my recent past with my pill use. I started to make a list, beginning with my first drink at age 17. As I wrote, I realized there was behavior in there that didn't fit with a non-alcoholic. I won't go into details but suffice it to say, I was baffled as to why it was left out of my autobiography or why I had denied it for the past 23 months. Where was it hiding and why?
So I still don't fit the CLINICAL diagnosis.....but I certainly fit every other outline of any other alcoholic out there. I was just too damn hung up on the clinical matrix of the whole thing to look outside the box. And you know what? I'm relieved! And freed! Yes, I'm an alcoholic!!! I don't have to "fight" anymore. Somehow, somewhere, I was fighting....subconsciously, I think. It was leaving the door open. Because you see, if I wasn't an alcoholic and just an addict, then years down the road, when I had left the monitoring program and the Board of Nursing in the dust, I could be sitting around the dinner table with my family (who doesn't quite get the "why can't you drink if you just had a problem with pills" thing) and they would think nothing of my having a glass of wine. That glass of wine would turn into 2, which would turn into 4 and then the bottle. Looking over my history with alcohol, I do not have a very good track record of controlling my use (trying to and failing, yes....controlling, no). I think this disease is so f'ing cunning, powerful, and baffling, that it was waiting for that day. I do. I think my denying that part of me, it was leaving that door open just a tiny bit. My husband, of course, is completely confused and left scratching his head "You're happy that you are also an alcoholic? Uh, okay."
I think it stems from my mom and dad. My mom was an addict and my dad an alcoholic. My mom quit her drugs and moved on. She got on with her life and was able to quit. My dad, not so much. He continues to drink to this day and is in complete denial about his drinking. So in my twisted little mind, I equated addict = good, alcoholic = bad. I remember times where I would be pulling a bottle of vodka out of the freezer because it had been a hard night at work, then freaking out because "I was just like my dad" and dumping the entire thing down the drain. I was always thinking about not "becoming my dad". But when the pills popped up, it was okay because A)they were prescribed to me B)I was in pain C)I was a nurse and so that made it acceptable.
This past week has been a HUGE week for me....this realization has given me such newfound respect for the disease of addiction. I've had respect for it all along but not like this. The fact that I could have been in such denial about the alcoholic part of my disease for this long (I will celebrate 2 years June 30th, God willing) is simply amazing to me. I cannot even begin to count the times I've uttered the statement, "I'm not an alcoholic, but I could be". I've always readily admitted the addict part of me but could not bring myself to believe the alcoholic part. And now, I'm ready to shout it from the rooftops. Well, not quite the rooftops, but you get the idea.
I just had to share with others who might understand the significance this has had on my recovery. It's big. Really big. And I'm grateful. Really grateful. It's wonderful to be here today and I'm glad to be a recovering alcoholic/addict!