A Better Version

Today is an important anniversary for me. Three years ago I gave away all of the alcohol in my home.

I had been out of a self-admitted stay in a Psychiatric Hospital for four days and I had gotten slurring-my-words-drunk twice in those four days. The day I started Intensive Outpatient Therapy, I promised the therapist I was going to get rid of all the booze, hence me giving it away.

In the beginning, it was hard to stop drinking. I often fantasized about a drink, about how good the cold tumbler would feel in my hand, with the physical sensation of the ice clinking against the glass and the condensation making my hand wet. I thought about how nice the vanilla/caramel/woodsy notes of the bourbon would smell. I thought about the not-unpleasant burning my throat would feel as I swallowed the elixir that would cure my anxiety. And then the tightness in my chest would dissipate. And then I could escape from the pain of my ex leaving me. And then I could numb myself until I didn’t give a fuck that The Church thought I was a sinner. It was really, really tempting.

In spite of the temptation to get instant relief from my misery, I stayed sober.

And I stayed sober some more.

And I stayed sober some more.

A couple of years ago I listened to a podcast in which Jeff Tweedy, the singer for Wilco, talked about his mental illness and his drinking. He said that he hesitated to use the word “alcoholic” to describe himself because, once he was told to stop drinking, he stopped. He explained that he had watched friends struggle to get and stay sober. He said that he didn’t want to diminish their struggles by stealing the word “alcoholic” from them and making his ability to quit drinking look easy when there was clearly something different going on inside his friends’ heads.

“That’s me,” I thought as I listened to Jeff Tweedy describe getting sober. I’ve watched someone close to me relapse. And relapse. And relapse. They’ve relapsed so many times, with tears of regret and self-loathing at the end of the benders. Each time they mean it when they say they’re going to get sober. Then they relapse again.

That was not my experience. Not even close.

The therapist that gave me my “Gender Letter” (affirming that I’m Transgender and that I could start Hormone Replacement Therapy) also talked about Substance Abuse with me. She said that it didn’t sound like I was an alcoholic to her. She said that it sounded like I had merely abused alcohol while I repressed who I was.

I don’t know anymore. Maybe I’m not an alcoholic, maybe I am.

At this point in my journey, I cling to something my Outpatient Therapist used to tell me: The best version of me doesn’t have a drink in my system.

I’m still not the best version of me. I’m not even fucking close. All I know is that I’m a better version now than I was three years ago, when I couldn’t imagine life without drinking.

4 thoughts on “A Better Version

  1. I still binge drink to destress.

    Would go weeks or even a couple months without alcohol and then go all out and chase all in a night. Regrets the next day.

    But, I feel that sometimes we just need an outlet.

    Respect your non-drinking.

    Liked by 1 person

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