Below is a fantastic guest post from Christine L. @fordrunksonly. She is a published author, and the links to her book are down below. Enjoy!!
I’ve been sober for a lot of years now and I’m glad of it. There is not a single thing I miss about drinking – not one. There is not a single extra drunken argument I feel I missed out on by stopping when I did, not a single public vomit caused by excess consumption of poison that I think would have made my life better, not a single desperate one night stand that I wish I had experienced instead of giving up drinking. Not. One. Single. Thing.
Addiction is a many headed beast and like the Hydra of Greek myth, when you cut off one of its heads, two more grow.
I gave up drinking and in order to squash my craving, I promptly began to eat twice as much. Particularly sugar. Now, many a good old timer will tell you that that’s ok, your body is craving sugar for energy or maybe that your body is craving sugar because there was so much sugar in the alcohol you drank and now that you have stopped, it doesn’t know what to do with its excess insulin.
There is some truth to all of this – but in my case, the fact was that I had always hidden my embarrassing emotions behind alcohol and when I stopped, I needed to find some place new to stash them away out of sight. What hiding place could be more perfect than under a great big piece of chocolate cake or in between a few layers of cream biscuits?
Unfortunately, eating lots of cake makes you fat and I didn’t like being fat. I wish I could tell you it’s because I was health conscious but really, it’s because, as well as drinking, I also had an addiction to male attention and I didn’t get enough of that when I was chunky.
So I stopped eating sugar compulsively but of course then I needed something else to stuff my feelings with so out came the cigarettes! I had smoked since I was 14 years old but when I curtailed my post sobriety eating, my cigarette consumption probably doubled.
While all this frenzied activity was going on, I also had three intense relationships in my first year of sobriety. My sponsor tried to explain to me why this wasn’t such a good idea. ‘You know, I love cars,’ he said. ‘I love the way they look. I love to check them out. I love to fantasise about owning them.’
‘Uh-huh,’ I nodded. Like a good little sponsee, I hung on his every word and waited for the next pearl of wisdom to drop.
‘Well, you know,’ he finished, obviously trying to be gentle. ‘I’ve had to accept that I can’t test drive every car I fall in love with.’
I looked at him with my head on the side like a stupid puppy. What did that mean?
‘Just like you can’t test drive every guy you fall in love with!’
Oh. Okay. Now I get it.
After my first year of sobriety, I began to modify my relationship behaviour using the tools of several 12 step based programs CODA, ACOA and the mother of them all Al Anon. It’s been a long complicated road for me relationshipwise. I was selfish in the extreme. For me, romantic ‘love’ truly was all about how he could make me feel and how much excitement he could provide for me. When he stopped making me feel good and I no longer felt the adrenaline rush of ‘does he/ doesn’t he?’ I was gone. Onto the next! Hi ho Silver and away! Until I was sober, I had never been faithful in a relationship in my life. I had lied without thinking and was basically disloyal in just about every way you can name.
When I was about ten years sober, I had a very bad relationship. It lasted 18 months and was so traumatic that it seemed to take me years to recover. Since my early teens, I had gone from relationship to relationship, always looking for the next big thing, the new excitement, the deeper connection. This relationship was so difficult that I found myself unable to contemplate any others for several years.
For the first time in my life, I no longer wanted a man around. But what would I do with these damn feelings now? Dammit all, I discovered gambling. I punted for a few years, never catastrophically, I never spent my rent money or took food from the kid’s mouths as I have seen in many tragic cases. But it was definitely addictive behaviour. By this time, ten or so years into the program, I recognised I was in trouble with gambling fairly early in the piece. I could see very clearly that gambling isn’t about money, it’s the way the fall of the dice or the turn of the card consumes my mind and takes me away from the humdrum of daily life. There it was – that adrenaline rush again.
Gambler’s Anonymous took care of my gambling as I have found the 12 steps do each and every time I need help with an addiction.
I guess this probably makes it sound like I was a total mess for years after I gave up drinking. Well, that’s not strictly true either. I was simply a human being trying to comes to terms with having a disastrous illness that I would have to manage for the rest of my life in order to live peacefully. During the same years that I was smoking, gambling and using wild men and chocolate cake to keep me away from that first drink, I also learned how to be a great mother, a loyal and supportive friend, a reliable employee and an all round open hearted and loving human being.
Progress not perfection! Plugging the jug (I love these crazy old alkie sayings!) really is just the first step in a life long process that we call recovery.
Christine L. @fordrunksonly
I have a written a novel about addiction and what it does to families. Have a look at it here: