Alcoholism Sucks: The Slow Descent

So it’s 3:20 a.m. and I’m pounding my seventh beer. I feel slightly better about life but not quite okay with it. It’s a struggle to drink enough to feel okay with life but not drink too much to lose your mind to the drunken haze. And with every drunken day that passes that line becomes thinner and harder to follow with less margin for error.

I don’t even know what the point of this post is but I hope it eventually gains some direction. Typing is hard and I’m hitting the wrong keys all the time. Constantly smashing the backspace button to erase any signs of my drunken typing while desperately trying to stay on topic. Maybe it would be a fun project to let the errors stand as-is and just display it to the world: this is what drunkenness looks like. That’d be fun, right?

I find it interesting that many bloggers have a “recovery blog” where they write about life away from alcoholism while no one seems to document the descent itself, which even in the midst of beI find immensely interesting. No one signs up to be an alcoholic and everyone that ends up as such seems to be totally caught off guard that it could, or was, happening to them for years. I’m in the fucking depths of it and the world seems so damn twisted, confusing, and depressing that I doubt anyone who hasn’t experienced it could imagine it. Here there is no hope. Here there is no progress. Here there is only limping along day after day just trying to survive the best you can, beer after beer. There is no outlet. There is no escape. You wake up hungover and try to get to the evening when you can drink again. One more escape after the last, until something happens, something to change the addiction. Something to change the hell of life.

After the past like two months of drinking everyday I just don’t care to work on anything. I haven’t anything in the past month due to the drinking. Not that I haven’t had anything to write about, it’s just that while being perpetually drunk it’s hard to string any coherent thoughts together. It’s hard to let your mind fester on a certain idea and let it lead to a natural conclusion. Alcoholism seems like a fucking blur: the past few days don’t mean anything, the past few weeks seems like a puzzle, and the past few months seems like some barely recountable dream that you’re not sure you actually lived through. When I try to recall the past couple of months I can’t seem to come up with anything. Sure, I lived through it, but I have nothing to show for it except vague memories, dream-like states and experiences, but it doesn’t seem like it was me experiencing them. It seems like someone else was there and I have no personal relationship with the memories at all.

The Descent

I don’t even know why I’ve been drinking so heavily over the past few months either. Surely part of it was due to my month long vacation and drunkenness, but besides that I have no idea. Well, maybe I am aware of a few other important issues but I don’t feel like discussing them here. There’s a bunch of stress in my life currently, and stress seems to be nearly as bad as alcoholism is. Stress wears you down and drains you, especially over long periods of time, and this is certainly part of it. Alcohol eliminates stress for a time, but it seems you must pay the debt back later. Any stress you eliminate with alcohol comes back the next day and if you continue to avoid it by drinking it’ll snowball into some intense hatred of life and anxiety, which only makes you drink more to avoid it further on.

It’s such a subtle descent that it’s difficult to realize how dangerous it really is. I had my first drink at the age of 17 and have fended off alcoholism until now — 17 years later. I’m 34 and never had any real issues with it — sure there were signs here and there but no obvious problems — until now. 17 years later! Half of my life I survived with a casual relationship with little to no abuse until now? Why did I fall at this time? What happened? If I wasn’t an alcoholic ten years ago, why am I one now?

For fucks sake, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. With 17 years of not really having a problem I let my guard down. I decided I could drink once per week in 2020 and was fine with controlling the demon until a few months ago. Then something happened. I don’t even know what it was, but here I am drinking every fucking day. What happened? How did I fail? How did I become this person?

You don’t even notice it. A drink here or there in social situations just to ease your anxiety. A few drinks on the weekends to help you unwind. A drink on a weekday to help you deal with a stressful day. A drink the next morning to let you deal with the hangover. And then a drink after work because it was a bad day. And then another drink the following morning because you’re hungover from the drinks after your bad day. And…and before you know it you’ve been drinking for a fucking month or two struggling day after day just to survive life itself. It happens so slowly that you don’t even notice it, but eventually you realize it’s there. It’s you. You’re the alcoholic. You’re the person you never thought you’d become. But here you are, at 3:47 a.m. writing a blog post after eight beers trying to confess your soul to some strangers on the internet. You feel like you can’t escape and you feel like you’re in too deep. How do you even escape the person you’ve become?

A Way Out

I talked to my therapist about this a week ago. I said I felt fine, that I was doing okay with depression and social anxiety and that I felt pretty damn good really, but that I was drinking every fucking day for some reason. She gave some vague advice that I loved, “Perhaps you’ve gotten over the past issues you were struggling with and now the next problem presents itself. Understanding is like an onion, and maybe you’re moving on to understand the next layer.”

I sat dejected on the sofa and joked asking, “How many layers does this onion have?”

And she replied, “The layers never end…”

“So it’s an infinite-layered onion? Well…Fuck.”

And this gave me hope but also with a slight tinge of meaninglessness. An infinite onion never allows you to reach the core –to where you never fully discover your true self — but maybe I’d moved on from my other issues to confront the next issue: alcoholism. Progress, right? But it’s still strange. You’d think as depressed as I was months ago I’d be drinking a ton then but no, somehow when everything finally started to improve elsewhere in my life the drinking became uncontrollable. So maybe this problem is manifesting at an opportune time, the next problem to solve, the next layer of my personal onion, and it’s up to me to face it.

Two of the supervisor I work with (whom I consider friends) mentioned something about “Substance-Free September” where they elaborated on giving up any substances they struggle with for the upcoming month. They looked at me and said, “Hey Jerm, you want to do this with us? Substance-Free September?”

I gave them a glassy-eyed stare as I knew the one thing I’d have to give up would be alcohol; I was dreading giving up my singular coping mechanism for life. They kinda laughed and I eventually choked out, “Well, I’ve been drinking every day the past three months so maybe I could give up drinking for a month, but…fuck...”

I had been so used to drinking everyday that I wasn’t sure I could do it.

There is a certain appeal to involving others in your life choices. It seems easier to be sober if you haven other people you’ve made a pact with. It’s not just me making choices for myself when I’m suddenly accountable to others. It sounds strange but I’m a very competitive person: if I’m in a “competition” I give it my all just to prove that I’m a badass and if it comes down to me not drinking for a month, I’ll fucking try to prove everyone wrong and beat their asses with sobriety.

And I think this might be a way out, at least a temporary escape from the haze of alcoholism, if even for a month. A competition, a deal, a pact between a handful of us at work that maybe we can try to make it through September without any of the substances we’re terribly depended upon. For one of us, it’s marijuana. For another one, it’s nicotine. Another person is hooked on nicotine and alcohol, but to a minimal degree for each of them. For myself it’s obviously alcohol, perhaps one of the hardest to stop because I’m so goddamn depended upon it, and I think I got the short end of the stick here. But it’s fine because I want a way out. I want to escape, and I think this might be my first step forward. I’m terrified of Tuesday, September 1st, where I might have to face the world in all of its terror and beauty without anything to cope with it all. It’ll just be me and over the past few months I don’t know if “me” can even deal with it without freaking out. But I’m ready to accept it, face the challenge, deal with the struggle, and toss myself into the hell of sobriety after being almost perpetually drunk over the past quarter year.

I suggest anyone who reads this considers getting on board with Substance-Free September no matter what your issues are. Maybe just as a commitment to yourself knowing others are in the same September sobriety boat as you are. It doesn’t have to be anything major either — caffeine, soda, meat, cocaine, xanax, sleeping pills, whatever you use as a crutch — because any tiny act to make your life better can pay immense dividends in the future. We can all be strong by being sober and dealing with live as is without anything to assist us but our own selves. Let’s do this guys and gals.


6 responses to “Alcoholism Sucks: The Slow Descent”

  1. Em Avatar

    This is a big piece with a lot to unpack. I had so many things to say but I kept coming back to the bit about where I’m really trying not to give advice, especially the unsolicited kind. So, I’ll just share this thought about the substance-free Septemeber. I think it’s a good idea in theory but if you’ve been drinking a lot, every day, maybe talk to your doctor because the physical withdrawal could be hard. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. TheBlackhairedGuy Avatar

      Before I stopped I was worrying about if I could stop safely. I had been reading a bunch of stuff on alcohol withdrawal and, fun fact, it’s one of the few things you can die from! That was terrifying. Just reading the symptoms of delirium tremens had me feeling anxious and I surely didn’t want to die from not drinking too suddenly. Luckily I haven’t been drinking too long and the first few sober days went about as well as they could. No dangerous signs or symptoms, but yes, you’re right, this would’ve been the smart thing to do.


  2. ceponatia Avatar

    I think we all had “slow descent” blogs but when we get sober we delete them because they’re pretty embarrassing. At least mine was. Years of “I’m quitting!” … “shit, I’m drunk” … “Ok I’m really quitting this time!” … “sigh I’m drunk again”. Over and over. It also doesn’t really serve a purpose once someone is sober because people love to watch someone’s life fall apart in real time (probably something to do with the high number of codependent people on the internet and their uncontrollable urge to give unsolicited advice) but nobody is going to go into past posts and read about how bad I was. It’s just not interesting out of context. Not unique, either. AA’ers trumpet how everyone’s recovery and addiction are so different but if you objectively read a few blogs by current alcoholics (and there are a lot out there, you just have to look a little deeper) you’ll see that they’re all virtually the same story. Names and places change, the behaviors don’t.

    I read one such blog regularly; or at least as regularly as he posts. He tends to disappear for months at a time. He’s been “quitting” booze for 4 years as far as I’m aware. He’s pretty old and is getting to the point where quitting is almost pointless so it’s a little rough to read. I used to try to offer advice but now I just tell him to take care of himself because I really don’t think he has what it takes to quit.

    Some people say that addicts don’t need a *reason* to quit and saying they’ll wait til Monday or for something like Substance Free September is just a sign that they aren’t really committed but I disagree. There is a lot of power in feeling like you’re starting from a ground level with your feet firmly planted. If it works, it works.

    I wish you the best with it. I think we have a lot in common besides the alcoholism so I think I have a pretty good idea of how you feel a lot of the time. If I can do it, you can. I never believed I’d be able to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. TheBlackhairedGuy Avatar

      One of my issues (I think) is seeing alcoholism as a singular problem I can solve at once. It does seem to be a cycle between being clean, then being drunk, then being, and so on until I finally become a full-time drunk or a full-time sober person. Whenever I do fall off and start drinking I’m rather hard on myself and instead of saying, “Alright, I messed up, let’s get back on track,” I wallow in self-hatred, feel like a loser and a failure, which only makes me give into drinking more. Now that I’m aware of it I think I’ll be more cautious.

      My sister told me about a subreddit called “Crippling Alcoholism” which is apparently a sub for people that have fully given into being drunk all the time. It’s full of those who have given up any and all hope and have fully accepted drinking until they eventually die. It was one of the most eye-opening and depressing things I’ve read in awhile. People getting fired for being drunk, people homeless from their drinking, people experiencing liver failure and withdrawal and so on. I think you mentioning the old, alcoholic blogger that never gets sober reminded me of the sub. Sounds like he’s giving up on any positive change in his life, but I can see how hard it is to really do.

      I agree with you agreeing with me, if that makes sense! It’s now the eight of the month and I’m still sober. I’m feeling rather good too. Setting a date sure helped me, and even if that means I ‘made’ a reason to quit, well, it’s still quitting so fuck it. Like you said, if it works, it works.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. RecoveryWise Avatar

    You have captured the essence of the disease to perfection. The disease is cunning, deceptive, and very patient.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. wjremski Avatar

    I have my own dysfunctional relationship with alcohol, and over the years it has caused me a lot of pain. Sober October is coming up soon, so maybe you can string this out for a couple months. So far in September I have only drank on five days, and only been really hammered once, so I am making some progress. Healthy food, exercise, and some kind of friendship is the best way for me to get through my own problem with the ethanol, and we all need something better than to drug ourselves to oblivion with that cheap stupifying drug.

    Liked by 1 person

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