“Self-medicating”. What a great euphemism. Much terser than “numbing myself from the thoughts haunting me, filling my being with shame.”
Self-medicating is something with which I am extremely familiar. It appears to be my destiny. My parents did the same and I’m more than certain, my mother’s parents did as well.
In April 2016, I left the house I shared with wife and three daughters since 1994. I spent a couple weeks in the basement of the house of my oldest friend, Marty, and his amazing wife, Frannie.
I was a grateful house-guest for two weeks. During that time we had extended cocktail hours most nights. Then I moved into my apartment. With no one to judge me, my cocktail hours started earlier and earlier, if you consider noon “early”.
I’ve moved beyond that point. Since my return from Paris two weeks ago, my alcohol consumption has declined dramatically. Even in Paris, I never had more than few drinks each day, primarily Rosé.
I wish I could say I simply decided it was time to stop self-medicating.
The reality is, I have no idea why I’m not over-doing it. Yeah, I still feel the pain of mourning my losses. At times. I ‘m still anxious over the uncertain horizon ahead of me, at other times. Yeah, I’m still learning to be a “me” instead of a “we”.
Nonetheless, somewhere inside me a switch tripped. And getting numb lost much of its appeal.
Not all of it. Last night: one beer with dinner. One hit of pot later in the evening. The night before, five cocktails. Three at happy hour with a buddy. Two drinks I “pre-gamed” before meeting him.
I’m not consistent in reducing my intake. But for a couple months I was consistent. Consistently over-self-medicating. Every day.
This perspective shift has been extremely reassuring. The specter of my late father, a “high-functioning” alcoholic, has loomed over me all my life. (I could write an entire entry why “high-functioning” is a meaningless phrase. Just because you’re professionally successful, and never get pulled over for drunk driving, and never “appear” under the influence, doesn’t mean you’re not towing a moving van full of dysfunction.)
Earlier, I wrote self-medicating “appears” to be my destiny. I gave myself wiggle room because I have learned I actually can change my destiny. Through therapy, I now embrace the fact that just because my parents were one way doesn’t mean I have to be the same. I have a chance.
In any event, for now, I take great solace I am meeting the challenges, the pains, and pleasures of my journey with a clear head.
Well, mostly clear.