drinking is a punishment

Old 06-29-2016, 05:41 AM
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drinking is a punishment

For so long now my once a week binge drinking has been my "reward" for working so hard all week. Now I realize how drinking was really a way of punishing myself, of sabotaging all the discipline and work that I had put so much into. Now that I see this clearly, I am wondering why I set myself up for this kind of self sabotage. And now that I see that drinking is the opposite of rewarding myself, I am hopeful that without bringing myself down once a week, I will accomplish things that were previously way outside my reach. Or maybe living and coping without substance abuse is enough of an accomplishment for today.
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Old 06-29-2016, 05:49 AM
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That's a great change in perspective. For me changing my thinking is key to staying sober. Really realizing what I'm doing to myself....pretty amazing huh?
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Old 06-29-2016, 06:11 AM
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Absolutely love the change in your thinking over the past few days!
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Old 06-29-2016, 07:51 AM
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I was very much a reward drinker. Nothing all week. Work hard, play hard mentality. I lost that battle. Good for you on recognizing as such.
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Old 06-29-2016, 09:37 AM
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Yes, the lure can be irresistible but what a price to pay. A bait and switch. This time of year I would normally be mowing the back yard, reward myself with a few beers, be drunk and never get around to the front yard then beat myself up!
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Old 06-29-2016, 10:45 AM
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I'm drawn by the title of your thread, EJ.

The Devil doesn't show up at the door with a tail and pitchfork. Always wrapped in a nice, sometimes irresistible, package. And once he gets one foot in the door, it seems impossible to get him out.

People here who know me may know or recall parts of my history. Sober for twenty five years, drank for about three, and now sober for about five.

At the end of my relapse, my XGF threw me out, changed the locks and requested no contact which, though difficult for me, I abided. No matter how much I wanted to stop drinking in order to "save" the relationship, I couldn't do it. My twenty five years meant little in comparison to the damage I'd done during my relapse. And I learned nothing I didn't already know from my relapse. Getting sober again has been the most difficult thing I've ever done, including my first time getting sober in 1983.

We've now been apart for about six years, during which I made both personal and financial amends, through email and snail mail. I didn't expect any response from her, and I never got one. But these were steps I knew I needed to take, both because it was the right thing to do, and as necessary for me to move on with my own life.

I made one last-ditch effort for us to meet in person and possibly become friends, though I made it clear in the letter that I also wanted to explore whether or not we could rebuild our relationship. (We'd been friends on-and-off for about sixteen years before we became a couple.) I felt I needed to do this in order to move on with my life. Again, no response expected (though very much hoped for), and none received. By the time I appreciated that I was not going to get a reply, this fact was very painful for me, and I needed to work in more creative ways to move on. In the end, it was the right thing to do.

As time moved on, she stopped appearing in my dreams, and I only thought of her every now and again. The pain had receded, and it only occasionally returned in mini waves. But, overall, things had slowly changed for the better.

Then, very recently, she reappeared in my dreams again, virtually every night for a few weeks. In my dreams, she was taunting me and both saying and doing hurtful things. She never said or did anything hurtful during all the years we were together. The settings have usually been at parties or dinners with her and me alone or with a larger group. I was neither craving nor looking for a drink in my dreams, but instead was a passive bystander while she flirted with and often was making out with both friends and strangers. She relished theses moments, and rubbed it in as much as my imagination allowed her to. At the very end of the dream, she was coming on to an old friend of mine who's chief counsel for Mercedes-Benz. When I saw this happening, I said to him while she was present, "Joe, when she kisses you good-bye, please limit it to a peck on the cheek and not an act of foreplay." He did so without hesitation, though in a somewhat bizarre way, but he made me feel safe.

Here's the thing...Until today, I only accepted the dream at face value (which is not like me), and took it to mean what I created in the dream. Many people don't believe in dream interpretation, but it's often an invaluable tool in my work. Briefly, I understand that dreams (as does the unconscious mind itself) communicate in symbols, in part as a defense against an in-your-face confrontation about our personal fears, including trauma, and conflicts. I finally asked myself today what was going on in these dreams?

For me, my ex is symbolic of alcohol. It's very attractive, and part of me still wants it, even though it hurts me (as she does in the dreams), even though I use it turn myself and my life to rubble. The extremely powerful seduction of being with my ex -- and she wouldn't be trying to hurt me so much if she no longer cared -- is the lure. If I have her again in my life, then everything will be just fine. The alcoholic part of me knows this since it is part of who I am, and uses this information to seduce me towards taking on a person, place or thing (alcohol) to make everything better. My alcoholic self is pushing back against my work to move on from my ex by offering a quick fix to that process through drinking.

Finally, I'm tortured and tormented during these dreams, but don't truly care about getting back with my ex any more than I normally do when I wake up. I'm indifferent. Alcoholism is nothing if not subtle.

Alcohol was not a reward for me; it was the reward. The more I move on without it, the more sinister the alcoholic part of me becomes. It's just the way things are for me.
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Old 06-29-2016, 11:35 AM
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I was a binge drinker. Sometimes I would try to justify my alcoholism by claiming that I did not drink everyday or become physically dependent on alcohol. My binges led to some horrible withdrawal symptoms and I had to change my life or I was going to hurt myself falling down.

I think it takes time for our brains to heal to really perceive how destructive our actions have become or have been. At one year sober I can look back and see that I was not really living when I was binging on the weekends because I was essentially in withdrawal during the week.

Getting sober is the best thing I ever did even though it took me so many relapses to finally come to the conclusion that I cannot drink alcohol. Accepting my limitations is part of my growth as a person.

I hope you have a great day and that you get all the help you need.
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Old 06-29-2016, 02:01 PM
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It amazes me that what we thought was a reward, was actually a punishment.

Good for you for seeing this. It took me a long time. It wasn't until the main guy at my home group said, "...we stop doing all the things we do that are harming us. We stop putting poison in our body..."
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Old 06-29-2016, 02:12 PM
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Thank you for this thread effortjoy. After hopping off and on the wagon since February (with ever worsening withdrawal) I too have come to think that drinking was some sort of self punishment. Avoiding living. Preventing growing. Achieving nothing ever.
I even feel like forcing the poison down my neck and not even enjoying it at times feels like a long drawn out suicide.
I hope in time to achieve more but for now staying sober is enough. It must remain the non negotiable foundation to my life (I pray)
Take care x
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Old 06-29-2016, 03:23 PM
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Like eating at a restaurant and getting food poisoning then going back to the same place getting sick again only to go back the next weekend! Makes no sense but I kept going back for years
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:22 PM
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End Game said what I was thinking of.

First, your change in perception is awesome, so keep at it.

That said, I agree with EGNYC. Alcohol and other drugs were the reward. They weren't my problem, they were my attempt at a solution to my inability to handle life and how I felt.

The consequences of using seemed like a punishment, but no matter how self-destructive I got, I can tell you that I was never after those consequences. Sure, I felt that I deserved no better, but the drugs were simply my way to escape reality and find oblivion. Using for me wasn't about self-flagellation, it was about escape.

In the end, there was no escape, but I kept trying.

I knew that using would make things worse, but I convinced myself that I didn't care, because it was more important for me to escape now, if only for a brief time.
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Old 06-29-2016, 04:53 PM
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I also used my drinking to escape and here's what I realize now: escaping my life was also a way of subconsciously punishing myself. Because every time I checked out of life, even if it was just once a week, instead of dealing with reality, I robbed myself. I robbed myself of an opportunity to become a stronger, healthier person by facing whatever was happening around me. The escape that drinking promises is an illusion because it really traps us far more than just remaining present would have done. Sometimes we panic because there is so much we can't control and we think alcohol helps us get back that control. But this is just another illusion: alcohol convinces us it will give us back control and instead it makes our lives uncontrollable.
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Old 06-29-2016, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by effortjoy View Post
alcohol convinces us it will give us back control and instead it makes our lives uncontrollable.
Good point.

One thing, it may sound like semantics, but it's not. Alcohol (and other drugs) don't convince of us anything. Our addiction does all the deception.
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