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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The state of sobriety

There was a full moon on Wednesday night. I admired how bright and shiny it was with its ability to light up my entire yard. Intellectually I know that the moon only appears white because it is reflecting the light here on earth. Still, I revel in its beauty and can almost feel the magical power emanating from the shine.

I could use some magical power these days. Riley has not been feeling well. Besides not feeling well, he is having a difficult time communicating with the nurse about his pain. Often times he simply says that he just feels yucky in general then will yell out in pain a few minutes later. Ask him where it hurts – his answer is on his entire right side. If I had magic powers I would just wave my wand and be able to see his pain.

Often I will say something to a person about Riley no longer drinking. Everyone oooos and ahhhhs about how his sobriety is wonderful. I’m told that I should at least be grateful for the lack of alcohol. I know they mean well. I smile and nod.

Back in the day, if Riley had quit drinking and was still able to maintain a quality life, I would be
ecstatic about him kicking Miss Vodka to the curb. It would have meant a chance for us to have a “normal” life.

I’ve given up reminding people that he is not sober by choice. He is sober because alcohol destroyed his body and brain. If he could he would still be drinking today. While being bedridden, he would still be drinking his morning coffee half/half with vodka. He doesn’t drink because he is unable to get it himself. He is sober because he has no choice.

What is being truly sober anyway? I don’t believe it is just about having alcohol in your system. I think being sober is a state of mind. You can be sober and still be a son-of-a-gun. After all sometimes a jerk is simply a jerk with or without alcohol. I’ve known people who are complete assholes and didn’t drink at all.

Sobriety comes from a place deep inside our being. To be sober means to try to have the best possible life for yourself without damaging those around you. It’s looking at life in a positive direction rather than grumbling about the negative. It’s being a peace with your self. Being sober means being able to say “I’m sorry” and meaning it completely. If you are simply not drinking and still have the mindset of an active alcoholic – you are not sober.

Riley is simply not drinking. He is not sober. He hates being sober and takes advantage of every opportunity to tell him how unfair I’m being because I won’t buy him any booze. Miss Vodka still lives in our house even though she doesn’t show herself – that is except in Riley’s mind.

In Riley’s room, in Riley’s bed, there lives a man who once wrote award-winning technical manuals; a person who did the “hard” level of New York Times Crossword puzzles; someone who I could never beat at Scrabble; a quietly soft spoken man; a man I knew as being gentle and kind. Miss Vodka took him a way and left in his place a sullen, angry, over-bearing, demanding jerk. What is left is a man who can’t understand what is happening to him or how he got in this condition. He blames me for his being sick because if I would just get him some Vodka, he would be fine.

I feel bad because he is in pain at this moment. I know and understand that he is dying, but I don’t want him to be in so much pain. I wouldn’t want that for any person, alcohol or not. The morphine isn’t doing its job. I’m not sure what I am supposed to do. The nurse will report back to the doctors at the hospice agency. I think I’m supposed to wait.

Waiting is not my strong suit. Today I’ll call the hospice office and tell them that we can’t go through the weekend without some relief for Riley. I will insist on finding out if the pain is related to his cancer or liver, or if it is something that can be treated – like a kidney stone. I will display a side of me that is NOT in anyway sober. Imagine that! A non-drinker displaying a non-sober attitude. Sometimes the lack of sobriety is a useful thing.

There was no moon last night. It was overcast and the moon was probably hiding in the clouds. Maybe it just didn’t want to tempt me to steal her magic powers.    


TheFairytaleThatWasnt said...

There is a world of difference between "not drinking" and "being sober." The vast majority of active alcoholics - those who drink, like my husband, and those who are what AA refers to as "dry drunks", like Riley - do not understand, much less want to understand, the difference.

Cicada Rose said...

Hey Linda, as always your post serves as a valuable compass for me. The voice of experience and perspective.

My husband is fighting as hard as possible. He dries out, fails, tries again harder, dries out, fails, tries again a little bit harder. He has learned empathy, understanding of his actions, and the difference between "I'm sorry" and an apology. In turn, I learned last night that forgiveness is an actual emotion, and I felt it for the first time, quite possibly in my entire life. Whether or not this sticks, I am grateful for that moment of peace for myself. I am learning to find small pieces of treasure in heaps of junk.

Right now my husband is a man fighting for sobriety, but still being an abusive ads at times. Why do I stay even though I can't stand him most of the time, he has damaged me irreparably, and may never be free? It's a little bit of everything, I suppose. For similar reasons as to why you want to help Riley out of pain.

Wishing you comfort and strength through the weekend.


ADDY said...


ADDY said...

By the way, that last comment was supposed to be a heart. Obviously didn't work out that way!

Anthony Limpert said...

This article really touched my heart. I run a new blog called Drug Free Lifestyle. Here is an article we just wrote on how to stop drinking and stay sober. Hope it helps someone out there or touches someone half as deeply as this touched me. http://drugfreelifestyle.org/quit-drinking-and-stay-sober/

Kathie Perry said...

I like to read your blog. It hurts my heart to know what each individual has to go through dealing with an alcoholic. I won't go into detail about my situation I think I ranted on about once here on your page. But I want to comment on your reference to Miss Vodka. I laughed quietly to myself when I read that. My husbands choice of drink is Wild Irish Rose. He loves Rose. You can almost see the orgasm when he puts the bottle to his lips and swallows her down. I have told him often she is his true love. He knows its true. It makes me so sad. He has done permanently altered his brain. He like Riley is no longer the loving gentle person he once was. He won't ever be back. Thankfully he cheated on me and I put him out. He is living with her now and she will allow him to drink every day. That's what he wants someone who let him have his real woman.
I have to be thankful I am not in your situation because he has many health problems and continues to drink one day the girlfriend will bear the brunt of all those ailments. I felt a comradelier with you have the same view of the bottle as I do. I feel sorry because once you loved him.............. And in some way you probably still do.

Mary Freebed said...

Ironic--he chose alcohol over most of the other things of life, and ended up without even that.

Tanja Guven said...

Deeply ironic that he chose alcohol over the rest of life and ended up without even alcohol to show for it. My sympathies for what he put you through.

Jennifer said...

I came across your blog after searching "how to cope with a father who is dying of alcoholism"… My father is 57 and has been an alcoholic for about 15 years (my whole adult life). You remind me so much of my mother who is currently at the hospital with my Dad. I will make sure to pass on your blog to my mom… I know that she will be able to relate and connect to your story on so many levels… there's something comforting about not feeling like you're alone while on this journey. I hope for peace and comfort to both of you! Thank you for sharing your story!