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|10-06-2012, 01:24 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2012
"Coming out" as an alcoholic
I don't often see this issue raised, which surprises me because it's a big mental obstacle for me to commit to quitting drinking.
I won't tell the whole story, but I'm an alcoholic. I've known it for.. I don't know, at least 3 years. I'm nearly 26. I probably suspected it earlier but was a bit younger and still in college, and not prepared to take drinking so seriously.
This year it all sort of hit me like a brick wall (actually--literally it did, but I won't get into that): trouble with the law, professional reputation, disregard for finances, repeatedly getting physically hurt and going to the doctor as a result of drunken recklessness, the progressivity of it all over the years. I don't just drink too much--this year I officially fit all the check boxes in the definition of an alcoholic.
So, the issue: I don't have a social life (yes, due to drinking) but for my older brother. He doesn't fit the definition of drinking buddy--we do drink a lot together, but we also do a lot of things that only involve drinking in the periphery. Including the other non-drinking thing I care about, skiing. It's fair to say if he didn't drink I'd still hang out with him a ton. That said, he has a wide social circle so getting out for me usually involves being with him at some event that involves drinking.
Other members of my family have problems with drinking, but nobody has said anything. I think my mom and another brother talk about it because they both stopped together (didn't give a reason and it seemed like more of a hiatus than quitting altogether).
If I didn't drink with my older brother, it would be very odd. I'd get questions. And I think it'd be easier if I just let everyone know I'm full blown alcoholic. At the same time that is a big commitment--whether or not I'm able to quit, I'll not be allowed to return to normal drinking habits with any of them. There will be an uncomfortable subtext to it all, for the rest of my life.
The only other option is to move far away and quit quietly, and once I've proved to myself I can stop, make the commitment to telling everyone I've stopped for good.
This has been an issue because every time I quit (my record is 3 nights quit, pretty lame) within a couple days I get invited to something. Because I work at home and need to get out of the house, I decide to go and am also tempted because that's the fun part of drinking--parties etc.
Anyone ever in a similar situation? I've mostly read about people cutting ties but I can't do that here. This has been the biggest excuse I come up with in not proceeding with getting help and/or trying to quit on my own.
|10-06-2012, 01:31 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2012
If you're uncomfortable telling people, make something up. For example, you're on a medication and you can't drink on it. After awhile, you could say that it felt so good not drinking that you gave it up.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
|10-06-2012, 02:04 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2011
I have raised this before... http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...oming-out.html (Coming out)
It was a major issue for me too. I think my number one reason for not giving up drinking before was that I had parties to go to. The option of not drinking at them never crossed my mind.
When I quit this time I made a big deal about it, told everyone I was giving up for lent, just not the real reasons why. A few months in I told my family the real reason. I'm still not sure if that was a good decision or not. Since then I have told one friend the real reason and now I am more comfortable sober I am starting to hint at the real reasons to everyone else.
Thing is I am not sure anyone really cares. I know my sensitivity on this subject has changed dramatically but it took months. I automatically assumed I owed people an explanation, but really other people don't think about alcohol as much as we do and I suspect if I hadn't gone on about it so much that many people wouldn't have even noticed I wasn't drinking. Some do like to push the issue somewhat though and to them I have skirted around the issue somewhat. Basically I think some of my drinking friends do not like change but they will have to get used to it. I don't have a choice so neither do they. I can't cut ties either because most of these people are tied in with my work, but I have limited contact. You may find doing the same might help you too. It is hard quitting and not going to parties for a few months is the least you can do. I promise you that eventually you will be able to go and not drink and be comfortable, but give it lots of time first.
You might want to up your contact with other alcoholics too. I find that in 'normal' society my alcoholism is the elephant in the room but in an AA meeting I can breath normally and not have worry what people think. SR is a great refuge for that too.
Good luck with whatever you decide to tell people x
“The future you have tomorrow, won't be the same future you had yesterday.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Rant
|10-06-2012, 02:04 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Philly, Pa
Yeah, it sounds lame, but saying that you're watching your weight, or have some sort of health concern isn't a bad way to go. I've also, for what it's worth, found that people don't care in the way that you worry that they might. I totally thought people would abandon me over the not-drinking, and while I lost some drinking buddies, my other friends actually seem to want to hang more with me. Since it sounds like your close with your brother regardless of the drinking, it might be easier to come out as an alcoholic to him first. I hope things work out!
|The Following User Says Thank You to Edabisco For This Useful Post:|| |
|10-06-2012, 02:13 PM||#5 (permalink)|
Living sober since 12/18/08
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Denver, CO
I'm not a huge fan of lying, honesty to me has been one of the greatest gifts of my recovery. It's truthful to say that you're making some healthy lifestyle changes, and no longer drink alcohol. I have never gone all the way with "I'm an alcoholic" when talking to friends or family.. I just no longer drink and we all move along with our day. Easier said than done, but.. I also don't hang out with people who drink much anyways, so they didn't care or notice.. and I like that.
They seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods. ~Edith Wharton
|10-06-2012, 02:23 PM||#6 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2011
Blog Entries: 5
I know this is a huge issue that looms large early in recovery. In retrospect that also reflected where I was at back then, uncertain and fearful, filled with self doubt. Later on it's just a health, lifestyle choice issue- not a biggie- like smoking, a gluten free diet or being a diabetic and avoiding some foods. The self consciousness dissipates- having said that I no longer have a vested interest in attending drinking situations as frequently as I used to.
Those that care about us will understand- to check this ask yourself what your attitude would be if your brother said he was taking a break from alcohol for a while?
The bottom line is people think about us less than we think
Let everyone be my teacher and RTFD
May 15 2011
|10-06-2012, 02:25 PM||#7 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: South Seas
My life revolved around drinking, my friends drank...I knew I should quit but that meant changing my life....
I resisted changing my life for so long that by the time I did quit it was very apparent to everyone what I was.
Not being mean, but it ssunds to me like people might already have some idea in your life too?
You can tell your brother the truth, the whole truth or some vague thing inbetween if you prefer but the important thing is to stop drinking.
You can build new social circles and make new sober friends...and you can make all the changes to your life you need to.
You just have to decide when you want to Rennet - there's a ton of support here and elsewhere...& a lot of recovery programmes to choose from, if you want to go that route
|10-06-2012, 02:35 PM||#8 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2012
Good advice on the knowing other alcoholics. I used to work with a guy I respected a lot who had lived a previous life as a drunk in the midwest before moving here and getting sober. He seemed to have a real nice life going for himself, great attitude, I'd be lying if I said I didn't envy him. That's why the 'get out of town' model is so appealing.. at the same time I love where I live. Point being he's the closest I ever came to telling somebody else, and he was more an acquaintance than anything. I think it's just because he was really open about it and I could relate to him
I think I'm better off just saying something to my one brother. Not a lot of details, just 'you know what, I was thinking the other day that everything bad in my life can be blamed on beer. I'm going to lay off for a bit and see how it goes.' I think I can still quit and come across as more casual, without really getting into how chronic the problem has been. When my mom and brother quit, I knew they had problems but I just say 'that's great' and moved on with the conversation, not wanting to press them further.
|10-06-2012, 02:38 PM||#9 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2012
|10-06-2012, 03:25 PM||#10 (permalink)|
Member of SMART Recovery
Join Date: Mar 2010
Good topic. This is a big issue for many of us, especially early on.
I'm one of those folks who thought they owed other people and explanation of why I wasn't drinking, and started off by running around telling everyone I knew the whole sordid story.
Bad idea. They mostly thought I was a nutty attention seeker. It was a total overshare, TMI really, but it took me forever to realize this.
I settled down into simply not explaining anything. Turns out most people do not care, so that works remarkably well.
Bottom line: in my experience this is much less of a big deal than we make it out to be.
"Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'"
-- Jedi Master Yoda
|10-06-2012, 03:39 PM||#11 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2009
This was a big issue for me too early on. I told a fairly good friend my true feelings and issues I had. After that i jut told people I a had quit to try and feel better. It was affecting my sleep and I was going to see if it would help.... that seemed to do just fine.
I agree I don't think people really care as much as we think.
Plus I am now thinner, happier, more athletic, energetic, etc... and all these people see the difference. There is no way I would go back to the old me...
Don't worry about what anyone thinks.
|10-06-2012, 03:43 PM||#12 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2012
Yea I guess I'm just making it more complicated. First thing to do is to stop drinking. I'd at least like to see what life is like outside the physical withdrawals.. I get to day 4 and they seem mostly gone, then both times I've got that far the mental side kicks in and I go buy beer.
I have been successful quitting smoking using a certain mindset.. I treat the withdrawals like an illness that will pass in a few days, and ignore the immediate cure (using) to get better. After that I am mentally tough enough to not use so long as it isn't causing me physical discomfort. Drinking has a stronger mental component that will take a long time, but I know I can get pretty far using the same approach I used with smoking.
|10-06-2012, 04:11 PM||#13 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2011
As for returning to “normal” drinking habits …. do you really want to? Do you want to make it easy to go back to “normal”? In case you are not aware of it, alcoholism is progressive. It gets worse… whether you drink or not. This condition is not going to go away.
If you are an alcoholic you might benefit from AA. I know it’s a big step, but it might get you that first full week of sobriety and a way to cope with the “thoughts” for the long haul after that.
You need not disclose all to everyone, but be true to yourself my friend, it will serve you well.
"The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has obtained liberation from the self" (Albert Einstein)
|10-06-2012, 04:49 PM||#14 (permalink)|
Join Date: Sep 2012
This problem became something I could ignore until I was ready--a functioning alcoholic. This year I literally crashed a car into a brick wall. I lost all my money. I lost my job. Two separate doctors visits due to accidents while drinking. And then I thought about events and decisions over the years and realized this wasn't just some secret I could ignore every day--this has been something that's been a driving force in every major event in my life since I became an adult.
I realized how far it has progressed in terms of number of drinks, and 'rules' for when it's acceptable to drunk or hungover. This summary in my head of how this problem is really bad and only getting much, much worse.. that's what changed this year. The life I live is basically built around, as priority number one, being able to get drunk and pass out every night.
Anyway I didn't want this to lead into a summary of convincing myself or others I have a problem.. I most certainly do. I think you're right that eventually you just have to be honest with yourself, and if necessary others, and deal with it.
edit--And what you quoted me there, that's a key part of why I might want to go full honesty on this. I feel like I've been living a lie.. trying to project an image.. when I really am an individual with deep flaws. Nothing wrong with that, if I'm working on them.. but why should I keep people close to me in the dark?
|10-06-2012, 06:49 PM||#15 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Home - there's no place like Home
Hypo's response really hit home for me. I was mortified at the thought of saying "I'm NBC, alcoholic" at a meeting. It took a bit for me to grasp, but now it does not diminish me in the least. My admission to myself, first and foremost, has turned my life into one worth living. That being said, only a handful of people know my situation. If offered, I simply tell people I don't drink alcohol and leave it at that. No one has ever asked further. I applaud you, Rennet, for coming into clarity at a relatively young age. Good luck on this very fulfilling journey - you won't regret it!
"God bless the broken road that led me straight to you." - Jeff Hanna and Matraca Berg
|10-06-2012, 08:01 PM||#16 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2010
No one except my husband knows I'm an alcoholic. I will have 30 days sober tomorrow, but I've had up to 8 months in the past, and still was able to avoid having to give a full blown explanation of my issues to any of my friends or familiy.
If anyone mentions that I'm not drinking -- and this happens a lot less often than you might think -- I just say whatever I'm comfortable saying at the time.
I'm pacing myself, maybe later.
I'm not drinking tonight.
I'm taking a break from drinking for a while.
No thanks, I have to run in the morning. (I'm a runner so this works but you could use whatever excuse -- I have to get up early for work, to run an errand, etc...)
I'm trying to lose some weight. (Truth, in my case!)
After a few weeks or months, your friends and family will likely start to pick up on the fact that you're not drinking anymore, but if they care about you and are tactful, they're not going to press you for a detailed explanation.
Of course, some people are comfortable being more up front than I am. If you're one of those people then that's great too! I'm just suggesting to you that there is another way to handle it. You don't necessarily have to go around saying "Hi I'm Rennet, I'm an alcoholic" to everyone in your life for the rest of your life, just because you've decided to quit drinking.
Sober since September 8, 2012
|10-06-2012, 08:22 PM||#17 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2012
I am in this same situation. My two best friends, my soul mates are my sisters in law. I love and adore them, but a lot of our activities revolved around alcohol. I'm only on day four of sobriety, so I haven't shared with them how I'm trying to quit. I'm nervous...I don't know what to do. Stay away from them altogether when I know they are drinking? Go with them and pray to God I have enough will power to not drink? I have thought about this a lot lately, and I haven't come up with the answer. I do think however that they do love me. And I know if I came forward and told them I was quitting they would be supportive and help me where they can. I just hoping all my answers with come with time. Good luck! You will know what to do soon.
"Tomorrow is no place to place your better days."
|The Following User Says Thank You to Birdie03 For This Useful Post:|| |
|10-06-2012, 09:38 PM||#18 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2011
I had some trouble with this one at first too. Such as what will I say? How am I going to explain this? What I realized is that most of the time, people don't even notice or care that you're not drinking. When I was drinking heavily, I always noticed what people were drinking and how much because I was mentally obsessed with it, but most non-alcoholics are too busy enjoying themselves to notice what's in your glass.
I never felt comfortable announcing to people that I'm an alcoholic outside of the rooms, I might never feel comfortable with it because I believe it's a personal thing. But that's me. If people do question, I tell them I'm not drinking tonight or I'm watching my diet. Both of which are true.
|10-06-2012, 11:44 PM||#19 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2010
Trust me, if good news and people doing well were of interest to others the papers would have puppy pictures on the front page and all the news shows would showcase love and kindness. Nahh, If it bleeds it leads. We don't have to paint a scarlet A on our foreheads. Simply saying no thanks I'll have a coke or whatever you drink instead is all that is owed. If anyone asks why no alcohol I tell them the truth, "I cut all the way back for health reasons and quit smoking cigarettes too," which I did at the time. Most folks dwelled more on the smokes rather than the drink. I did have a couple of old drinking buds call me a weenie, and I just gave them a big smile and said well this weenie feels like a million bucks and I want to keep it that way. If you will spring for the cost you can have a license plate made up that says "sober weenie" on it and I will put it on the front of my car or truck proudly.
People only see dirt when you point it out to them. Most are too wrapped up in themselves to care about you, and that is true. No dirt, no news.
So what are they going to do if they do find out? Really and realistically do. I doubt the friends of any alcoholic, who is drinking enough to hit their own bottom regardless of how low or high that is for them, don't know we are alcoholics/heavy drinkers/problem drinkers, whatever the label to not have to say the word alcoholic. I prefer "ethanol challenged" myself if someone needs a label.
I had one of my old drinking buddies come by today and say he quit two weeks ago, and he was bad off, worse than I ever realized, and I was his drinking buddy. We are too wrapped up in ourselves to really pay that much attention to anyone. He told me all about it today because he knew I quit two years ago even though I never talk about it, or talk down to them or talk preachy to those that still drink alcohol. I know when I drank any preachy stuff went in one ear and out the other. Scare tactics and being sanctimonious or scoldy just irritated me and never helped. I had to decide for myself and then get some help and support lined up.
That statement that it is prudent somehow to keep quiet until you are sure you won't be embarrassed, is the same to me as saying I am reserving the right to drink again without fear of looking bad. That thought never crossed my mind, as I was, and am, never drinking alcohol again from day one. That takes care of that fear. To insure that I used AA, here, My regular Doc and my VA docs, counseling, my friends and family. If they asked why, I told them I was drinking more than I need to at my age and decided to get healthier. There is nothing more than that to tell is there? I can see the gossip, " Hey did you hear about Itchy? No what? He decided to stop drinking and get healthy! No? He is getting healthy you say? How shameful! I know, can you imagine doing something so, so, well sane and healthy???"
If you want to keep it to yourself fine. If you are afraid to be different, then that is a whole other issue than alcohol, and that is where AA, counselors, and friends come in. Especially ones who kicked the habit before you. You don't have to isolate sober you know.
"Here's to the few who forgive what you do, and the fewer who don't even care" — Leonard Cohen
Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten. -- G. K. Chesterton
|10-07-2012, 12:53 AM||#20 (permalink)|
Crazy Cat Lady
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Blog Entries: 3
This time when i quit i went very public with it. I've outed myself to all my friends and family. I even post updates on Facebook. I'm not shy about my sobriety though i don't jump out to new people who offer me a drink with "sorry, no drinks. I'm an alcoholic!" Being public wasn't an easy decision but i'm comfortable with it now and in a way, it gives me a little extra motivation to stay sober. I mean, when i go back dowb South over the holidays and am at parties with friends, family and booze, no one who knows is going to offer me any and there are so many who know that there's no chance of me sneaking off with alcohol without getting caught. Also, being out seems to have brought me to a heightened level of honesty. In the past, if i relapsed i only had to lie to my husband, my therapist and myself. Now, i have to lie to a few hundred people. That's a lot of pressure. I'm still into my sobriety for me but the consequences of my actions have taken onan even farther reaching scope.
So far, i've not been met with hostility or anything. Surprisingly, i haven't been met with pity either, which i had feared. Everyone who's commented on it has shown me support and been encouraging. Many have told me that they are proud of me for facing this demon and battling it. It has even mended a broken fence or two. All in all, i am very happy with my decision but this is only my personal experience with my family and friends.
Sobriety Date: May 3, 2013
If I can do it, you can do it.
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. -The Big Book of AA, Chapter 5 Page 58
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