Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brenda's Bottles

So the song "Bottoms Up" keeps coming on the radio and I turn the volume up (like whoa loud) and sing 3/5 of the words on the edited version, but it's got a great beat. Then I'm thinking to myself, "hmmmm, should you really be singing a song about drinking when you have issues with Brenda's Bottles?" *Brenda = my alter ego in the book I'm writing about experiences that have not been easy but shaped me into the woman I am today*

Don't get me wrong--I love alcoholic beverages (except beer--gag!) and in moderation, there's nothing wrong with them whatsoever. The problem is that I struggle with using those bottles of rum, vodka, wine coolers, wine, etc. to cope with stress, feelings of sadness, sense of loneliness and so forth. My coping mechanism prevents moderation. I can honestly report that I've only had two alcoholic drinks this year (one Smirnoff wine cooler on New Year's Eve and one cosmopolitan when I went with Brianna and Karen for a late birthday brunch). It concerns me that I can count the bottles. It tempts me that I still have the ABC store purchases on the kitchen counter, ready for an excuse to drink and yet, not wanting to use the alcohol as my "crutch" any longer.

I know people find it hard to believe that I never drank until I was 21 - but it's true. In fact, I was 21 for a week before I had any alcohol and then, I pretty much had it all in one night thanks to my dear friends who had stocked the bar before dinner. (Thanks Joe & Tony!) Social drinking was expected in my career as a paralegal. Pretty much every day ended with at least a drink or two, and sometimes more if we were working late, celebrating a win, strategy planning with clients, or getting paralegals together to complain about our lawyers. Needless to say, I built up a tolerance and earned the nickname "Ali the Alcoholic." I also believed I was drinking just because I could and not because I had a compulsion to pick up a bottle.

With the events of 2008 and early 2009, alcohol became a central part of my daily existence. Friends were coming over--great, pull out the alcohol and celebrate. Boyfriend belittled you or beat you--pull out the alcohol and stifle the emotional pain. Returning to the legal profession's high stress routine after years of actually being happy in a public school classroom--buy more alcohol and drink the night away. Sister and boyfriend hooking up behind your back and eventually having a baby together--that's what the alcohol is there for to ignore what's really going on in the stormy times. Sadly, my last call for alcohol was in hearing the doctor say I had miscarried in part due to the stress of recent relationship ending and in part due to increased drinking behavior. After that, I didn't drink for a long time.....months actually. I felt guilty, depressed and ashamed that my "social drinking" was not helping me heal and was actually doing physical harm as well.

I have an addictive personality. I admit it. I'm all in or I'm not in. I drink in good times and bad, but it's in the bad times that I'm trying to prevent a relapse into alcoholic dependency. These are good times with bad ones just around the edges of my reality. The bottles sit untouched on the counter. I swear some of the weight I lost right away when I started running was actually because I had stopped drinking on a regular (almost daily) basis. That alone keeps me in check to save the calories for celebrations few and far between and not look to the bottles for emotional outlet.

I still can't get the song out of my head though. I really feel like cranking it up, dancing around my living room, and putting a blue raspberry martini in the shaker. But I won't...I'll save the martinis for later when I'm sure I'm a social drinker and not addicted to Brenda's Bottles. I might have to "throw my hands up" and dance some though. LOL

Love and prayers,

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