Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Drink and I

I am an alcoholic. There I said it.

It all started many years ago. After dropping out of college, I was running around with some friends and drinking, but just on the weekends. A little bit later I started playing bass in a rock band and drinking a bit more. There were practices and parties and beer everywhere. Then just as this was all coming together, I met my future wife. After we had known each other a whole week, her roommate moved out.

Guess who moved in! Yeah, impulse control issues abound. So there I was, living in a small apartment with the hot girl I just met, playing rock-n-roll, and having lots of fun.

Then the drinking really began. But don't think I was a total mess. Out of my friends and family, I was the responsible one. I had a good job that I had been at for 2 or 3 years with perfect attendance. No matter how late I was out I was always on time. In the band, I owned the truck and did all the hauling of our equipment, so I was dependable. The point I'm trying to make is that I was the perfect picture of the “Functional” alcoholic.

The band evolved over the years and then ended all together. I stayed with the hot girl and life just kept going and I kept drinking.

Then the Lord began working in my life. I had grown up going to church and had prayed the sinners prayer numerous times in my childhood. I started to become convicted about a lot of things. I started to contemplate quitting drinking. How God worked in all this is a bit confusing. I know he worked mightily, but my story isn't the made for TV movie conversion and dramatic life change. All the points on the time line aren't  neatly marked with their own gold stars. Real life can be so messy.

There is so much more I want to say concerning my relationship with the Lord and how he worked in my life, but that's not what this post is about. I plan on devoting that story to a post of its own (hopefully soon). Now back to the beer.

So I tried quitting. I cut back slowly and then stopped altogether. Not what you were expecting to hear,  is it? I quit. It wasn't easy. Anyone who has struggled against an addiction knows that it is about a lot more than just stopping something. It is more like creating a new identity, a new lifestyle. Your addictions become part of who you are. They define so much of your life that it can be difficult to sever them without cutting yourself. You need to learn a new way to live.

But this wasn't my first addiction, a few years before I had quit smoking. I become easily addicted for some reason. Everything always leads to excess. So I had experienced these things before and overcame them. I think this made quitting easier this time around.

That was ten years ago. So why now? Why this confession?

At first when I quit, I quit completely. I wouldn't drink any alcohol at all. Then, as the years went on I made exceptions. These exceptions weren't necessarily wrong. They were just wrong for me. Five years after we met, I married that hot girl. (Yes, five years, I know commitment issues, but that's not what were talking about here.) Things didn't fall apart. I didn't fall off the wagon. We would just get a bottle of wine or a 12 pack and relax together occasionally. We did this once, maybe twice a month. It wasn't that often we got alone time together after having three boys.

It is through these times that I have come to realize that I am an alcoholic. I can't stop drinking till it's gone or I'm passed out, which ever comes first. If it's there, I have to drink it. I don't know why others can have a glass of wine or a beer or two and then go on, but I can't. The only way I can control it, is not to start in the first place.

This is difficult. I want to be able to relax and enjoy a drink with my wife. I don't consider this to be sinful. The bible condemns drunkenness, but this wasn't the case. We weren't out driving or making a public show, this was a married couple occasionally having a drink together while sitting on the couch watching a movie. This is why it is so frustrating. The action isn't the problem, it's the actor. I can't do this. It's me

So today I am facing the music and laying it all out there. I am an alcoholic. I have tried to drink responsibly, or socially as they say, and I have failed.

I must drink no more.
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