So…there’s something that you all need to know about me. Granted, it’s not very cheerful, but I’ve thought about it and have decided that I feel comfortable sharing with you a personal issue that I have been facing for a while now.
For the past year, I have (had?) a drinking problem. Namely, alcohol. Although I have had a few drinks here and there as I was growing up, it wasn’t until last year when I turned 21 that everything just…went crazy. With all of this new freedom that I had with being legal, I was purchasing and drinking alcohol constantly. All sorts as well, from wine to beer to vodka to cocktails to even rum. Granted, it wasn’t the taste that I was after (although I do admit some mixed drinks did taste pretty damn good), but rather the effects: I was drinking a lot just to get intoxicated, to lose myself in the sensation.
Then, this Spring Break, I went too far. Shit went down, and I greatly regretted it. I won’t go into too much details with what exactly happened, since I’ve already mentioned this in a previous post, but in any case, I was (still am) ashamed of myself, and since then I have gone to counseling to clear up my drinking behavior, thinking over and reassessing the reasons why I had turned to alcohol so much by talking it over with my counselor.
So far, I have gone to about three sessions, and I have found them pretty helpful. At first, I wasn’t really feeling at ease with my counselor, since we hadn’t known each other very well (and neither did it seem for her, as well). But after the initial meeting, the following ones were better and I became more comfortable sharing my thoughts with her.
Since I’m doing counseling under my university’s services, I won’t be able to access it once I graduate, and even then, I don’t know if I would choose to continue with counseling elsewhere. Personally, I believe that I don’t need it, because…ever since that drinking incident, I was so traumatized that I knew that I had a problem and was fully aware that I needed to stop. At least for a while. And after talking it over in the few, brief sessions with my counselor, I’d acquired plenty of really good information/advice on how to move on with my (drinking) life.
That’s why the purpose of this post, then, is to share with you what I have learned during these sessions. Here are a few “counseling notes” that I had pulled from jotting down during my sessions, as well as from memory. Perhaps some of you all can relate to this, and maybe you can get something out of this. Maybe not. Here goes:
1. Having “Me-time.” One reason that I drank was a way for me to pass my time, alone on Friday nights. There’s something…poetic about having a glass (or two) of wine with your pasta dinner, and then some afterwards when watching TV or on the computer. Just…losing yourself in the sensation always appealed to me. But that was my problem, and so what I learned from my counselor is to find alternatives to spend my Friday nights alone. She offered ideas like watching films, writing, even taking a walk before or after dinner, just to clear my mind (and/or digestion :P). I found them to be good suggestions, and although I haven’t had much time to do them (just because of school and work), I’ve made an effort to do so when I could. And so far, it has gone well. 🙂
2. Knowing/setting *realistic* boundaries on drinking. As I have probably stated in my previous post(s), I have abstained from drinking any alcohol since the incident, and so far it’s been almost three months of sobriety. I consider this period as a temporary “time-out” for me to step back and reflect on my drinking issue. I know that, realistically, I can’t avoid drinking forever: there will always be occasions (e.g. socials, business dinners, etc.) that will involve alcohol– I just need to be smart about how much I drink and how I know my tolerance level.
For instance, having just “one drink” really depends on just what that one drink is. Is it a glass of wine? Or one shot of tequila? Because while both are just “one drink,” their alcoholic content greatly varies. It also depends on the circumstances (i.e. if I were to purchase alcohol on my own, or go out and getting drinks at a restaurant). Occasions, such as purchasing alcohol for consumption with friends at the apartment, and setting some sort of limit on drinks (1-2 glass of wine, 1-2 times a week) would help me control my drinking pattern, while at once not overly controlling it.
3. Being aware that I will slip up. Granted, even if I were to take all of these alternatives/precautions into consideration when it comes to drinking again, there will be times when I go too far and have an extra glass too much, as well as paying for the consequences the next morning (e.g. hangover). True, it will suck, but what my counselor told me was that, even if I fall, it’s learning from it that will make you more cognizant of what to expect next time the situation arises. Basically, it’s learning from my mistakes that counts, not beating myself up for it.
So that’s about it for me. If you have ever been in this situation or similar, I would be interested in learning how you did to get through it, whether through counseling or personal re-evaluation. Feel free to share, if you’re comfortable doing so. There’s no pressure.
With that, I wish you a good day. 🙂
– The Finicky Cynic