Labels and catalysts

Well that’s the first week done.

It’s not been easy and there has been a lot to think about and process.

Again I’ve been amazed at how so many people can be so different but also so much alike in their feelings and resulting actions.

Normally at this time I would be reflecting on the subtext and the messages of the group – but mostly what hit me today was how I label myself and also the cycle that I’ve gone through and it’s causes.

To my knowledge no-one has ever called me an alcoholic or at addict (at least not to my face) and I’ve been using the term alcohol dependant to describe myself and my relationship with drink.

It seems though that the definitions (maybe not in a dictionary but certainly within my group when we talk it out) there is little distinction between them.

Some are very happy with the term ‘addict’ and some are not.

Those with the former position seem to have worked hard to get to the point where they call themselves an addict. I’m still in the latter camp, but I’m sensing that by the end of this I may have come to a different conclusion. If I do then I think it will be through another layer of acceptance and not because someone applied it to me.

We’ll see.

I’ve also been confronting (rather emotionally) some issues with the death of my mother today and that’s not easy territory.

I do not like to displace the blame for my actions elsewhere and dislike the victim mentality in others – and when I see it in myself.

I drank. No-one else made me buy it, pour it or swallow it. It was all me.

Mom is a different kettle of fish however and my thoughts about her relationship to my drinking are complex. The very first drink I had passed my lips because of her and I did it again and again when I was younger to deal with her abusive behaviour.

When she started smoking again after coming out of hospital recently my brother and I handled it very differently. He was very angry with her for starting again whereas I wasn’t so much.

Sure I was exasperated, but I didn’t question her behaviour or condemn it in anything but passing. It was clear that what she was doing was idiotic and I vocalised this a few times to her.

But I wasn’t angry. Not really.

The problem was that I understood it. She didn’t need to explain to me why she was doing it. At the time I was drinking more and more to forget the pain she was causing me and I saw many uncomfortable parallels.

I felt like if I understood nothing else about her I understood her addiction and how she felt (rightly or wrongly) that it controlled her.

(Whilst re-reading this I have also noticed that I am happy to call my mother an addict but call myself dependant…)

Her behaviour is why I sought help. I really didn’t want to be anything like her.

I have conflicted feelings about this motivation because in some respects it still feels like she’s controlling me. This sobriety is at times very much a ‘fuck you’ to her memory.

I almost feel I’m getting better despite her and the satisfaction when I think like that is palpable. But she was still the catalyst.

The group leader was quick to re-frame this. He pointed out that whatever it was that caused me to stop drinking, the decision to do so and then come to group seeking a long term solution was mine alone.

No-one compelled me to walk through the door but me. That makes me feel good.

I know one thing. After this last four days I feel exhausted. It’s incredibly wearing looking deeply at aspects of your life you don’t want to confront. At the moment I just want to sleep for the entire bank holiday weekend.

Thankfully yesterday with a screwdriver and a moment of intrepid investigation I fixed my beloved but broken Nespresso machine. I’m going to caffinate the crap out of myself today and power through with my household jobs and other chores I need to get out of the way.

Here’s to sobriety and the weekend.


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