Dry. Part 2.

Dry. It really sucks. Dry, meaning alcohol free, it’s miserable. At least it is for me. Lots of us (dry people) use the euphemism sober. It sounds adult, more mature. I don’t call myself sober because of what it implies, which is: not drunk. It’s not that I’m not not drunk, it’s just that before, when I drank, I wasn’t a drunk just a drinker. So dry, not sober.

Yesterday I read a blog post about alcohol. I thought I was reading about pie—pie for breakfast. Readers who have memorized every post I’ve ever written already know that having pie for breakfast is something I enjoy. The post was called Pie for Breakfast and while part of it was about pie, most of it was about the power of alcohol to wash over one’s resolve, to steal sobriety even when you don’t want to give it away.

Another thing my blogger-friends know about me is that I’m a serial commenter. I can’t help myself. If I can, in any way, relate to what you’ve written, I’m going to comment. So, here’s yesterday’s comment:

I love pie for breakfast. It’s usually apple, but yesterday it was pumpkin with three fried eggs (not on top but on the side). Do you want people to comment on your drinking problem? I have a lot to say, but you seem pretty content so I won’t preach.

And then I went to the bank. As I walked around the corner, I thought about what, exactly, I have to say, and about how much I actually wanted to preach.

Not too long ago, I read another blog post. A woman wrote an angry scrawl about her drinking problem. She painted out-of-control scenes that left her in dangerous situations. I suggested that she talk with someone, maybe one of her parents, to see if she could get some help with her alcoholism. She slammed me. She told me that I’m just another in a long line of men who think we can fix her problems because she’s a woman. She told me what I wrote was triggering, and it only made her feel worse.

What I wanted to tell her is that back before I was a drinker but not a drunk, I was actually a drunk. A big one. I wanted to tell her that I wasted more than ten years, and I didn’t want to see someone else go through what I did. Instead I just hit like and tried unsuccessfully to forget her.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called My Intervention(s). Don’t click the link, you don’t need to read it. The important point is that my feelings were hurt by the fact that nobody ever staged an intervention for my uncontrollable drinking. Possibly, I could have skipped the drunkenness. I could have moved earlier into that long period where I drank, but didn’t get drunk. Maybe early enough that my relationship with alcohol wouldn’t be screwed up. Maybe I could still, to this day, be a drinker and not dry.

Because I’m dry, I mourn the loss of flavorful red wines, Zinfandels and Pinot Noirs. I miss hoppy pale ales and nitrogen infused stouts. I miss hanging out at parties, glass in hand, feeling that particular relaxation that only comes from a modest amount of alcohol.

These are the things I would tell the pie blogger. She’s young. Maybe young enough to change her habits. Possibly she could alter her drinking now so that in thirty years, she won’t need to be dry.

Read Dry. Part 1.

25 thoughts on “Dry. Part 2.

  1. Oh my, it’s hard not to want to advise when we’ve been there done that. As the former wife of a man with an alcohol problem I didn’t want to admit that it was, in fact, a problem. But it was. And the day I closed the door on him was a good day. But, I also recognize that I had married two things—a human and his drinking. And that’s one too many entities in a marriage. So, I get it. You’ve been there and it’s hard to watch others doing that.
    In my own case, no amount of telling me worked, I simply had to understand when enough was enough. It’s like being told 104 degree water is hot and it hurts to touch it, but 104 doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s just a number. What means something to me is when I put a toe in and I scream in pain. Then the person who told me it was 104 degrees looks at me like I’m stupid and I say, “well you didn’t tell me it was THAT hot.” Experience, in other words, is the only messenger that seems to matter much.
    But what do I know—I’m the idiot that boils her toe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I doubt I would have been receptive to an intervention, but in hindsight, it would be nice to know someone cared enough to give it a go. I once asked my foather about my young adult drinking and he says he never noticed anything too severe. But I wasn’t living there except college summers so he probably didn’t have much opportunity to observe. It sucks to hit oldish age and figure out that you do, in fact, have regrets. Fortunately I met my wife and she indicated pretty quickly that she wasn’t going to put up with the hardcore drinking.

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  2. Hi! I wrote Pie for Breakfast. Don’t fret, I am well aware that I have a drinking problem. I started this blog as a place to talk about it. I’m working through it with professionals, groups, and on my own. This isnt my first go-around. You’re just getting the tip of the iceberg. I appreciate your story and your knowledge on this topic though and I welcome guidance.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oooo pie for breakfast and a cup of coffee. Hey, I picked up berries at the store, maybe a cobbler with extra sugar on top. I love to bake and grandma taught me to make pies like hers, the ones that won awards.

    I am glad to see you have reached a point where you at least seem happy and I love the distinction between dry and sober. It is not one I would have thought about. Thanks for sharing Jeff.

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  4. I do like pie for breakfast, and eat it extremely rarely. I don’t have a drinking problem, but I do have a sugar problem. Actually, I have a drinking problem, too–gives me a migraine nine times out of ten, with just a little bit (half oz will do it). Detoxing off the sugar now. One week in, so far so good. Big treat today: banana with peanut butter. This age stuff is humbling.

    Good post, Jeff.

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      • I do like gummy bears, but they don’t like me! I’m actually grateful that the response to alcohol cut me off early in life. I well appreciate what a trap it can be. I’ve been dealing with the sugar crap (which is milder, I’ve done enough work with addictions to know that) and in its thrall most recently for 2 years, I can’t imagine how hard it would be with alcohol or tobacco, to say nothing of other drugs, licit and illicit that induce an intense craving/longing for a state or experience. Oh, the give of the gummy bear on the first bite, followed by the taste. Gosh, a whole bag of pleasures. Oh, I get it. Different poisons for each of us, it seems.

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  5. I’m glad you’re a commenter, I am too! As much as writing is therapeutic for me, comments open up the awesome opportunity to exchange perspectives, experiences and learn some insights. You said a recent post I wrote made you do a double take (this so cool by the way!) and here I am reading yours and feel I want to pick your brains!

    My little double take I guess happened when I read that sober/dry is something that isn’t positive. Actually, I’ve heard this before, but it still gets me reacting. My experience is not the same but this is why I’d LOVE to discuss it all with you! In a way it makes perfect sense as we’re all different people and have different triggers and reasons, but I find it so interesting. I don’t have it all figured out (FAR from it) and I’m barely 10 months sober/dry, but there is not a thing I miss about drinking – I honestly see more appeal in eating dog poo! 🤢 Anyway, I just recently discovered your blog and will do a deep dive as I can’t wait to learn about how you see it all. Oh, and you’re a fantastic writer!

    Big hugs,

    Anna

    Liked by 1 person

    • So I’ve amended my comment on your site to give more information. But you’re correct, I don’t see being alcohol free as a positive thing. I see it as punishment for my heavy partying in my youth. I know thhis is a stupid point of view, and I probably couldn’t have put it into words before your comment, but it nevertheless is how I feel. I use writing to help sort though things that bother me. I haven’t written much about alcoholism lately because the desire to drink has faded over the past couple of years. Perhaps there’s still much to explore. I hope all of your comments aren’t so pointed and insightful, or I’m really going to have a problem 🙂

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      • Oh no! Then I expressed myself clumsily because I didn’t AT ALL mean to criticise – what I wanted (but perhaps failed) to say is that I find what you say interesting and look forward to reading more. The fact that we feel differently about things isn’t a negative as far as I’m concerned – we’re all different and only human! If I expressed myself in a way that upset you or could be a problem for you I apologise and will take greater care in the future. All the best, Anna 🤗

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      • No I’m not upset at all. I prefer to be challenged. I tend to communicate with a sarcastic tone so it gets tricky to determine what I actually mean. I’ve really got a very thick skin and it would take a lot of work to upset me with a comment – although it has happened.

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      • Hey, Just to close the loop, my wife an I have started discussing my negative feelings towards freedom from alcohol-dependence. In fact, calling it *freedom from alcohol-dependence* is already a huge step for me. Previously, I called it *my inability to drink alcohol*. This conversation represents the exact reason I write a blog… so thank you.

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  6. I connect with this in so many ways, Jeff. I’ve given up a lot of unhealthy habits over the years that I found enjoyable, like smoking or soda, and after a certain point the craving for them was gone. The smell of smoke now makes me nauseous even though I was a pack plus smoker in my mid 20’s, and half a can of soda has the same physical effect. But alcohol is different, even though I recognize I would be categorized as a high functioning alcoholic and that I absolutely am using it as self-medication many days. I love wine. I love going to Brewfest every May and trying new beers and its as much a social engagement as anything. I didn’t have the early, heavy drinking days you did but I know that I drink more than is considered normal, that one glass never really seems like enough. This habit is as much a part of me a being an avid reader, it feels integral and changing yourself is hard and messy and counter to human intuition. But I was once a smoker too. I’m not ready to be a dry household, maybe some day. Going dry, or sober, or transitioning over to freedom from alcohol dependence (which is a great distinction and shift in your thinking and sincere kudos to you) is something that has to be a personal choice if it is to hold. If there had been an intervention in your youth, would it have been effective or would the angry punk side of you railed against it like the blogger whose initial response to you was anger and fear?

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  7. Hmm, you seem to know me possibly better than I know myself. I doubt that I would have put much stock in an intervention, but it definitely would have gotten me thinking. But if 36 hour hangovers couldn’t change my behavior, I don’t know what would. But still, it would be nice to know that someone cared.

    You’re current drinking sound exactly like my drinking before I quit. I didn’t think of myself as an alcoholic but someone who was dependent on alcohol (is that the same thing?). Have you ever read my essay Methadone? It’s in my book, Fragments. If you haven’t, I’ll email it to you. It describes my process of going from alcohol-dependent to alcohol free, but I wrote it before I gave up alcohol, so it’s kind of cool.

    It’s funny that you compare wine to reading, because for me, the two were intertwined. Every night, I’d drink wine and read. When I quit drinking, I had trouble reading for a month or so. I just couldn’t settle down to do it. Then I substituted seltzer with lime for wine and everything is good. Now, instead of being really dehydrated all the time from alcohol consumption, I’m super hydrated from water consumption.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad for the super hydration. That sounds shitty, but I don’t mean it to.
      Hydration is key to kidney health, says the medical professional…. who has learned over the years that most medical professionals are super high functioning alcoholics… and swingers.. and whatever else helps you get by in a world filled with assholes and seemingly random accidents or cell abnormalities that change your entire life. . I’ve always found it interesting that the greatest concentration of alcoholics and swingers alike are found within the military and healthcare …. a kind of common self medication across dealing with the worst of humanity. Or common excuse. Whatever gets you through the day.

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      • That’s an interesting stat on medical professionals and possibly a glimpse into why no doctors called me out on my drinking for 35 years of my adult life. Add to the list of alcohol abusers artists. I think over-drinking is a reasonable response to seriously introspective thinking. The swinger thing is interesting. It’s an area of society that I really haven’t thought much about and sort of thought was secluded to novels from the seventies.

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