Back from the Edge

What I’m always intrigued to find out when I read any drinking memoir (currently reading ‘Girl Walks Out of a Bar’ by Lisa Smith) is how much someone drank. Sometimes I wonder if this is my addict’s brain hoping to be able to say “look! That person drinks more! That means you are FINE!” but I can report that except for some of the stories that involve other substances too, there have been few so far where the author has topped my levels. On occasion I find myself thinking they must be lying. One bottle of wine per day? Pah! You call that a drinking problem? Bloody amateurs! Truth of the matter is it doesn’t, uhm, matter. We’re all different and we all react differently too. I always feel a bit hesitant to divulge the amounts I used to drink just in case someone like Drunk Me might hear and take it to be “oh look! She drinks WAY more! That means I am FINE!” – that’d be terrible. At the same time I want to be open and honest about this and talking about the actual amount of wine I was drowning in is part of the story here.

Strangely enough, looking back it would seem the amount I drank remained pretty level for almost the entirety of the 12-13 years I drank heavily. When I first spiralled, it was gradual but it was also FAST. In almost no time I quickly worked my way up to and went from almost a bottle of wine a night to nearly two bottles in what can’t have been more than a matter of a year or so of almost everyday drinking, and that’s where I seemed to remain. My cruising speed seemed to stabilise at between two and a half and closer to three bottles and that’s where I seemed to stay. Oh, I know, it’s staggering amounts – I’m not saying otherwise – but isn’t it a little surprising that it didn’t creep further? Then again, perhaps it would have. I just can’t imagine hard liquor but I’m sure my friend Tumbler probably said the same thing at some stage before she found herself drinking Jagermeister before breakfast during those last few years before she lost her life to alcoholism. It’s not as if I ever saw myself drinking a cask of wine every night of the week either. Tomaydo, tomahto.

Before I met Hubby nearly six years ago, I did go under a few times. One particular moment sticks out in my mind of getting more wine as soon as I could stand up one day and I was shaking so bad and was so dizzy I felt my legs starting to give way when I was less than 50 yards from my front door. I think that’s the only time I thought I’d have to open one of the bottles there and then, right on the sidewalk out in the street, and take a few swigs to come right. I didn’t have to, but you can bet your bottom dollar I was into that bottle before I even took my shoes off after making it home those last few yards. I don’t know what time of day it was but probably not much past lunchtime. Hubby, unbeknownst to him, probably slowed me down. Never good to have a witness when you’re up to no good. So I probably have more to thank him for than just telling him I’m grateful for being my best friend – the fact that he just exists seems to have pulled me back from the edge a bit. I’m sure this is true for many alcoholics but I sank the deepest when I was left alone and unchecked and could drink the way I wanted to.

That was the amount I seemed to maintain over the majority of my heavy drinking days – around the two and a half bottles of wine per sitting. Before the dawn of Hubby there were patches – sometimes longer periods – of every single day, definitely. There were also times when I didn’t drink that often and even a longer period one year where I didn’t drink at all for nearly five months. I suspect many of us alkies have a drinking history like that, slightly patchy. In the years since Hubby came along I’d say I’ve probably averaged around four or five nights a week. To be clear though, there are very few instances when I’ve had a drink and it hasn’t lead to me getting completely blotto or in black-out. Apart from times when I’ve either not been able to as there was no more booze or we had visitors or similar, it’s always been a case of if I have one I’m a goner. One drink is too many, twenty aren’t enough – the story of my life.

Do you read this and think HOLY MOLY did she really drink that much? Or do you read this the way I read about one bottle of wine per day and think WTF that’s nothing? You don’t have to tell me but it does always interest me for some reason to hear what another addict’s/alcoholic’s daily intake looked like. Not sure why and whilst in the past it would have been in the hope I’d be able to say “hurrah! I don’t have a problem because just look how much SHE drinks! I’m nothing like that!“, that’s not the case now. I don’t want to drink again because 1) it only causes shit and has no benefits, and 2) if I start drinking I cannot stop.

So the book I mentioned at the beginning is actually one of those where I’ve gone HOLY MOLY, because Smith describes drinking wine and snorting cocaine from the moment she wakes up. There is no part of me – at least not right now – that is trying to use this as a favourable comparison though. It’s not better and it’s not worse. Addiction is addiction. Just like it might be easy to point to the end stage alcoholic on the park bench and say “but I’m not THAT bad” in some pathetic attempt at making yourself believe you’re a “better” drunk because you’re drinking a good wine and not strong cider out of a can in full view. Tomaydo, tomahto. I’ve said it before, but the only difference between me and the drunk on the park bench in this very moment is one drink. That’s all.

Today I’m not going to drink.

34 thoughts on “Back from the Edge

  1. Fabulous post … and an excellent point. I’ve read that as time goes on we need more and more to fulfil the need, the addiction, to reap the so-called benefits which of course are not benefits at all. Added to that our bodies are all unique and different.

    If I had two glasses of wine, I’d be all over the shop, being rather giggly and talking nonsense. If I had three I’d be feeling sick, the room spinning, sweating and so on … not good. At four, it was game over.

    And you’re right, an addiction is an addiction no matter whether you’re addicted to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs and it doesn’t matter how much you need, it’s still an addiction.

    Bravo my friend! Super duper post ❤️❤️. Katie xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good stuff, kiddo. Seriously, you got a way with words. This really hit close to home for me, too. I know where and how I was when I chose to put it all down, and I know exactly where and how I’d be today had I chosen otherwise.

    We call that perspective, eh?

    Liked by 3 people

  3. by the end of my drinking career i was drinking a bottle of strong wine plus 4 big cans of strong lager on a weekday when i had work the next day and quite a lot more at the weekend. there was also beginning to be a gin and tonic habit creeping in before the wine (i always tried to keep it looking like social drinking – who was i kidding!). but you are right, in AA meetings when people talk about the amounts they drank it varies from what i would have thought was pretty lightweight to what i would think would kill an elephant. but what we all have in common is we can’t drink safely.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. You like to here what people consider their drinking problem? When I quit, I was drinking two glasses of wine three or four days per week. Ridiculous, huh. Back when I +really+ drank, I’d pregame a night out with a six pack at home and then mix beers and Jaeger all night. For the past twenty years I drank less and less gaining more an more control. And I haven’t been even moderately buzzed since I banned boxed wine from my house about six years ago. But here’s the thing, the less I drank, the more I thought about alcohol. I’d have my two glasses and then I’d be seriously bummed out. And by lunch the next day at the top of my mind was the countdown to a drink. It was practically all I thought about. So I quit. And then I thought about alcohol all the time. But that has gone away and now I just wish I gave it up decades sooner. You’re doing a great job with your sobriety. It seems to solidify more every day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So interesting to hear, yes! And this makes sense. Any time I tried to control it was a maddening, all consuming exercise in masochism! I guess when we have to even by a LITTLE try to control and regulate, there is a distinct and definite problem already.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Dear Anna, I loved your post because I too am fascinated by numbers. I was trying to comment on it last night just after reading it, but I was literally nodding off in my bed, in the midst of typing (I’m dealing with reading-screen addiction these days, lol). I’ve learned that I regret sleep-commenting almost as much as I used to regret tipsy/drunk commenting, so I held off till now. ;))

      Anyway, I’m super happy that @jefftcann left his comment in the meantime, since he’s basically saved me some work.. ;)) I was sort of like him in terms of drink quantities. In the way that I wasn’t drinking much by some standards, but I had(/have) an obsessive but quasi-controlled love affair with wine. (It’s all still fresh for me, so I’ll be careful with my tenses. ;))

      Basically in recent years booze (wine, in my case) became more and more of a problem for me, because, as many folks I’ve read have said, “if I enjoyed it I couldn’t control it, and if I controlled it I couldn’t (truly) enjoy it.”

      Jeff actually left a comment on my post-drunk xmas elf post that helped me a fair bit. It was a compassionate response but a brutally truthful one. So thank you Jeff.

      I’m still wavering in quasi-denial or semi-acceptance or wishful thinking; something like that. I realize it’s part of a process. I was in the so-called “pink cloud” (only recently heard that term) for nearly 5 months last year, after beginning to read the Big Book and then joyfully abstaining. In the midst of that I overloaded myself with tasks and stressed myself out and finally convinced myself I could reward myself with one glass of wine on a special occasion, which by the end of a few months had turned into near-weekly tipsy/drunk blogging. Which felt amazing in the moment but not so great the next day lol. Talk about self-sabotage. I might be just as strange or silly sober (well, stranger and sillier at times, actually) but I don’t usually beat myself up for what I do while sober; or at I’m easier on myself. And the lack of regret is much better for my mental health. So here I am again, doing my best, day by day.

      This time I’m trying for a year, and we’ll see how that goes. It’s already so hard to think of birthdays and family reunions and things like that. I love(/d) wine so much; it’s like a dear friend, a sparkly friend, but ultimately, as you say, a toxic friend. It’s also a progressively deadly friend. Someone close died of it some years ago.

      I’ve been journalling privately quite a bit about booze over the past years, making records and observations about my thoughts and feelings on it, which ultimately helped me become more and more aware of patterns and issues in my own relationship with it, and with our society’s relationship with it.

      Everyone else’s stories and truths help me a bit; so I’m adding mine here, no matter how much grey there is them. Thanks so much Anna for telling your own story… so truthfully and so beautifully.

      Very grateful to have found your blog. That was thanks to you leaving a kind comment, on the post of a blogger who had kindly liked one of my own posts.

      And now here you are, too, Jeff; and I get to read a bit more of your story as well as the stories of some other kind folks. Small delightful world. Thank you. 💛

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yikes. I just went back to see what little obnoxious gem I left on your blog and I was pleased to see that it’s still something I stand by. About 4 months ago, I started reading sobriety blogs. I don’t know what drew me to them, but suddenly I was learning and understanding more about my relationship with alcohol. So thank you both (and any other sobriety bloggers) for telling your story. By reading other’s accounts, I think we (at least me) get propped up and supported. Peace.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That sums it up for me too, about control and enjoyment. And thank you for sharing and coming into my life/blog world – there are some truly amazing people here and yes, Jeff is one of them. As are you. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I saw a notification that a kind person had recently liked the previous essay-I-mean-comment I left here, which reminded me of it. Thank you, kind person! Regarding what I said there, “This time I’m trying for a year” — well, that lasted 50 days. It was a short year. Just keeping it honest.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think it’s good to talk about quantities in the sober blogosphere just to get an idea of the range. I drank, not daily but whenever I was alone in the evening, 3 or 4 strong beers usually (~1/2 or 2/3 bottle of wine). Even though something in me wanted more than that, I so intensely hated how I felt during the night and the next morning, I didn’t go past that. So it looks minute compared to what I feel are more typical stories of 1 or 2 or more bottles of wine. But it’s been fucking hard to quit, and I think that’s an essential message to get out there. I have 236 days without alcohol and I still think about it daily and do not in any way feel home free. Having drunk very “socially acceptable” quantities. Thanks for your post, thanks for your question, thrilled that you’re on a good path without our poison!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Do you read this and think HOLY MOLY did she really drink that much? Or do you read this the way I read about one bottle of wine per day and think WTF that’s nothing?”
    Personally, I didn’t think either of those ways. A long time ago (honestly) I would have been slightly horrified at the HOLY MOLY option. I don’t think that now, but my heart goes out to anyone who’s dependent on alcohol. As a checkout operator, I see many people who buy alcohol regularly and I know they come to me every day because I don’t judge them. I have never been hugely judgmental anyway, but the reason I’m DEFINITELY not now, is because of you and others here who write so honestly. You inspire me more than you realise x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can just imagine. I sometimes spot “old me”/Drunk Me in other people, I can’t even put my finger on what it is – whether it’s someone’s demeanor that gives them away, I don’t know. Like a lady who in the morning was scanning the cans of ready mixed G&T, perhaps I just recognised something I’m too familiar with. Or, it could of course be that those cans were for the evening or something. I always rotated shops but I reckon I was such a frequent customer at all my different destinations that staff must have known after a while. “Here she goes again”. Your empathy is lovely – the more I ponder what made me stop and ask for help and support, the more I realise that the people I felt safe enough to go to were the people I knew wouldn’t judge. xxx


      1. I see frequent customers, mostly men, but a fair amount of women too, who apologise for buying alcohol or who jokingly add that it’s not all for them. I hate that I know they’re lying, but I GET IT. Some know that I get it…and the others, I hope they get to know that.

        I had really bad post natal depression. I can always tell if a new mum is struggling – or not. If they confide, I will always tell them about me (if there’s time) because I wish that someone would have broached it with me. Not that it would have solved anything but it would’ve helped me feel less alone. The aloneness was the worst. In the same vein I imagine that’s how anyone would feel, having a secret life that they can’t share. On a few occasions I’ve had people confessing to drinking too much. I know that has taken them a lot to share. The last man that did that was visibly overwhelmed about it and we chatted for as long as we could about the reason for his drinking – the loss of his wife. The other day he came to me smiling and told me that he was baking something she regularly made. He’d never baked before but he looked so bloody happy. I swear, that absolutely melted my heart, Anna.


        Liked by 1 person

      2. I 100% agree with that – it’s feeling alone, helpless and hopeless that’s the worst part. Having someone listen without judgment is sometimes all it takes I think. And to hear that someone else gets it and/or has been through the same is SO valuable. It’s one of the reasons so many alcoholics are helped by AA – the idea that it gives us strength to know we’re not alone.

        That story melts my heart too, that’s utterly lovely and heartbreaking. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. About 3 years ago, in complete desperation, I contacted a local Drugs and Alcohol helpline. Long story short they signed me up for a consultation and shortly after that I joined a Family Support Group. It changed my life…and more importantly, helped me understand more about my boy. I no longer go to the group, but I still carry their card around with me, for me and for anyone else who may need their help. I wish every village/town/city in the world had access to something like it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s awesome that you did that. I think it’s massively important. When they say addiction is a family disease I think they’re right because I often wonder if the people it hurts the most are the ones who love the addict. I know I can fight my alcoholism but I’d break in half if it was someone I love who had to, honestly. I also think it’s been a huge learning curve for Hubby, but he has the approach you seem to have of wanting to understand and try all he can to put himself in my shoes. I think it was on Al-anon’s website I read something they tell near and dear ones: the three Cs – you didn’t Create it, you can’t Control it, you can’t Change it. Sounds hopeless but perhaps it does offer a bit of peace somehow. I agree that this sort of support should be more readily available, as much as help for the addicts. Your boy is very lucky to have a mother like you. xxxx


      5. Thank you for saying that, but I made a LOT of major mistakes before – and after – I joined the group. So. Many. Stories.

        The film I went to see yesterday had a scene in an Al-Anon meeting. The 3 C’s poster was on the wall. X

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Film! This got me thinking. Now here’s a book I can recommend. Two books, in fact! But it’s soon out as a film, named after the dad’s book: “Beautiful Boy”. The dad’s book with the same title is harrowing, heartbreaking and everything else you can imagine but I would so recommend it – if you haven’t already read it – and especially if your boy has addiction issues, there may be something especially valuable there for you. The son’s book is called “Tweak” and tells basically the same story but from the addict’s point of view. The film is out soon and I can’t wait to see it even though I know I’ll be howling and ugly crying and snotting all over the place. Authors are David Sheff (dad) and Nick Sheff (the son). The son is addicted to methamphetamine and a whole host of other evils including heroin and alcohol. Neither is an easy read but so, so important. Sure hit me where it really hurt but many invaluable lessons there, not least from the dad’s perspective.

        What was the film you saw?

        Hope you and I can swap stories properly at some stage. I have a feeling we’d be talking for a long time. xx


      7. Haha Anna. I wrote a blog about the film…Go read it and you’ll realise why I’m laughing xx And totally. I know we’d have so much to talk about. I’m at work just now and one of the men I was chatting about before had to be taken to hospital from here earlier. It was so distressing to see him like that again. Sadly it wasn’t the first time he’d looked that unwell.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Oh cool – I will scoot over straight away!

        Shame about that man, it’s just so cruel and gut wrenching. I was always terrified I’d collapse (and die) yet my shaky legs still trudged along that one aisle. 😔


  7. I’m the same. If I had one bottle of wine I’d almost always have another then sometimes a third and it’s been difficult finding people who drank/drink as much as I did. Xx


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