1: the act of choosing : selection finding it hard to make a choice
2: power of choosing : option you have no choice
I read an excerpt of an article online last week about addiction being a “choice.” It was the opinion of the writer that habitual drug and alcohol users simply have to make the choice to cease using. Suggesting that addicts can quit as easily as we initially indulged.
Free will. Choice. Power. Just use it. Right?
Such is not the case, my friends.
Recently I received an email from Penzu, a private online journaling platform. In 2013-2014 I made a few complacent entries into this virtual diary. I was struggling back then, in the vigorous grip of active alcoholism. Never sober.
Merely surviving; not living.
Upon opening the journal entry from May 5, 2014 I was overcome with anxiety. With tears rolling down my cheek, I glimpsed back into yet another one of my redundant attempts at getting sober. Transported back into that darkness, the anxious turmoil unfolding once again in my stomach. Glancing back at that woman in deep despair. Misery shrouded in hope.
These words are abundant with fear as I longed to untangle myself from this wicked web of addiction. There are lies in there too. Many discrepancies in my own story. Yet also encouragement in the fact that I could see some kind of light beam after three days without poison. Clear headed and reluctantly optimistic.
Yet still not enough to stop. I was out of choices. Powerless.
I drank 3 days after I wrote these words and did so with pride. I had made it seven days without a drink; time to celebrate...with a glass (bottles) of wine.
One month and one week later, I finally hit bottom.
“This is day three of no alcohol. My last drink was on Friday night at 6 PM. After months of drinking from noon (or earlier) until bedtime, I decided it was time to quit. Friday night I started having panic attacks, while Mike was lying next to me in bed. I didn't wake him up, I thought I could deal with it on my own. I fretted all night, worried about my liver, knowing it was failing. Worried if an enlarged liver was pushing on my heart or lungs, because I couldn't breath well. Mike was sleeping so soundly and I didn't want to wake him, nor did I want him to judge me.
By morning, I was craving a drink. I had none in the house. I thought of driving to Kimmy's while Mike was asleep to grab the box of white that I left on her porch. I got back in bed and as I laid on my right side, my lips started twitching. Then my hands were trembling. I got up and drank some detox tea, thinking this would be a quick fix for my starving liver. Instead, it backfired. It made me sick for the rest of the day, and one of the herbal ingredients made me even more jittery. I had a panic attack in Costco that lasted most of the afternoon. By this time I had finally admitted to Mike that I was having a problem, and that being a hypochondriac on WebMd had done nothing for my anxiety. I read more about liver failure and all of the symptoms. How fast one can die with very little symptoms, and by then too late. I have myself convinced that I have at least four of the symptoms. He was so sweet to me, yet I fear I may have chased him away. This is the third emotional episode since we've been together. He did cook for me, brought me lavender and candles to relax me. He encouraged me to get up and juice again, take a soothing bath. Finally he got me to take a pill to calm me down. I slept better than I have in months.
So today? I am feeling better. I haven't drank, and don't have the desire to. I got more done in two days than I have in the past three months. My energy levels are up, and I am eating healthy again. Realizing that there is a very real threat that I may have liver damage. Still scared to death that my damage is irreversible; doing what I can until I get to the doctor to find out what I am really dealing with. I can no longer live in fear. This has been on my mind every time I pick up my morning glass of wine. And as I pretend I haven't been drinking as I meet friends for drinks at 5 PM. I know I'm not fooling anyone but myself. This worry and anxiety is paralyzing from living my life. I am modeling for my kids a very negative way to conduct day to day functioning. As I have spent the past 4 months sleeping intermittently between drinks.
What am I looking forward to:
1. Getting to the doctor and either getting a clean bill of health or a diagnosis, so I can move forward.
2. Reading again
3. Journaling again
4. Playing with my kids
5. Making cookies
6. Getting my crafts out of storage
7. Being a fully present mom for my girls
People say we don't choose how we die; I have the the very intense fear that I have been slowly making that choice for the past five years. Alcohol has become a priority to numb myself. Self medication leads to death. I have been praying for days that it is not too late for me. I am not ready to go. I don't want to leave my children. I want to get better. Right now, today, my anxiety isn't bad. I am encouraged by how much I have accomplished being sober.
I do want to love my life again. I want to live it appropriately. One day at a time. Hoping for an even better day tomorrow.”
Those seven items I was looking forward to? Done.
The accompanying photo? A comparison of dark and light. Despair and hope.
Do I have a choices? Yes, I choose to seek help as needed, work a solid recovery program, and listen to my crazy when it starts to speak to me in a voice louder than my own.
I choose also to be grateful each day. Whether morning brings joy or sorrow, I am so damn thankful to feel what I feel and not live under a cloak of fear, anger, and sadness.