Day 11. A timeline of my decline into a drinking problem.

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*cue Ace of Base’s ‘I Saw The Sign’*

I stumbled upon another blog post by the author over at UnPickled blog. In this post she outlines her steady decline into alcoholism based on the transtheoretical model of behaviour change. I found it very interesting and decided I would apply my own experience to this model.

Precontemplation (not ready): Age 20-25 I can confidently say I hovered at this stage for quite some time. By quite some time, I mean the vast majority of my twenties.

I drank and partied a ton in college, but never thought twice about it because that’s what college kids do (right?). Plus I still managed to graduate with honors.

Then I moved to Tahoe, where my drinking career really took off. I arrived without any real sense of direction, so I focused my energy on having a great time and being a great time for others. Partying was my way of connecting with others, and it worked (for a while), so I stuck with it.

Contemplation (getting ready): Age 25-27 I started to joke about my drinking, and say things like “there’s only room for one boozer in this relationship!” (as in I didn’t want to date anyone else who boozed as much as me). My ex expressed concern about my drinking. I knew drinking half a bottle of tequila every night after work was not normal, but I was still deep in denial. Plus I loved wine too much.

Preparation: Age 27-29 This was the beginning of many failed attempts to control my drinking. I’m pretty sure at 27 I was drinking every day or every other day. Usually wine. If it was on top of the fridge (where we stashed our booze) I couldn’t resist it. It didn’t matter if it was mine or not.

I remember an episode where I couldn’t resist a bottle of leftover peppermint shnapps, and ended up chugging it, hating myself each step of the way. Crying, I angrily threw the empty bottle outside, vowing that I would stop drinking the next day. This was right before the holidays. Surprisingly, I managed to stop drinking for two months leading up to my trip to SE Asia. Unfortunately, I did it with the intent to lose weight and to prove to myself I could stop drinking for a while (and therefore was in control my drinking).

It was an on-off wagon situation for years to come. While off wagon I was drinking alone and hiding my empty/half-empty bottles in my hamper or around my room.

Action: Age 29-31 This is when I really decided sobriety was what I wanted. Drinking was no longer cute or fun. Anxiety and episodes of depression (mainly during hangover) started to creep into my life. I got demoted at work and got a DUI within month of each other.

Strangely enough, I noticed my drinking correlated strongly with progress in my professional life. When I went to Bolivia to write for BX I SENT IT the entire time I was there with alcohol and blow. Then the Journal has led me to drink a bunch. I’ve realized it’s been my way of coping with the newfound pressure and anxieties.

For me action was finally going to a few AA meetings (though I’m not currently attending). Listening to recovery podcast. Researching recovery. Writing this blog.

Maintenance (supporting the change): 31-? Well, for one I want to publish an adult children’s book about alcoholism and recovery. And of course I will continue to work hard in my spiritual growth, really nourishing the roots. My goal with this blog is to keep it up for at least a year until I turn 32. AHHHH. I’m going to be 32. And I guarantee I’ll look better than I ever did in my boozy days.

To be honest, I hope I never stop growing. This last 11 days has been such a gift. I’m sure I’ll never be totally recovered, as unforseen circumstances are sure to poke their head out at me when I least expect it. I simply pray I have enough tools in my shed to deal with them in a healthy manner.

Red Flags:

  • justifying drinking for everything from cooking dinner to a night out.
  • not being able to go more than two-three days without drinking wine
  • telling myself that because it was wine it was fine
  • hiding bottles from my roommates
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