Am I alcoholic enough to stop drinking? Am I really that bad?
It had occurred to me that this is a genuine question, one I asked myself numerous times before I officially broke up with booze.
Do you think battered women often think to themselves, do I get beat up enough to leave my husband? Before they actually do? Unfortunately, I think they might. Is he really that bad?
Sitting in my first AA meeting as I listened to others tell their big stories, I felt small. Mine is going to sound so stupid, I thought. These people aren’t even going to take me seriously. Instead, they will probably tell me to go back out there and drink until I have something share-worthy, I recall thinking as I squirmed in my seat.
Did I belong there? Was I alcoholic enough to be there? Was I really that bad?
I can now say with confidence that yes, I did belong in AA. I belonged there not because of my story. I belonged there because I couldn’t stop drinking by myself. I needed support from a community of people who had stopped drinking successfully. I needed to have a place to go where I was comfortable talking about my drinking and how it had affected me and my life. AA was a place I could be vulnerable and honest and let my guard down with people who got it—who got me.
I can now say with confidence that yes, I was alcoholic enough to be there. Not because I was physically addicted to alcohol waking up and drinking all day. I was alcoholic enough because I started craving alcohol every day at 2 p.m., which scared me. I thought way too much about it, and it disturbed me that it was so significant. I wanted to be able to take it or leave it. Days I promised myself I wouldn’t drink, I would end up drinking.
I was alcoholic enough to be there.
I can now say with confidence that yes, I was that bad. I wasn’t that bad because I got a DUI, lost my job, or was in financial ruins. I was that bad because compared to how I feel today; I know without a doubt that I was sick. I didn’t realize it at the time; in fact, I had no idea how sick I was until a good year after I stopped drinking. In hindsight, the damage alcohol was inflicting on my mental and physical health was, indeed, that bad.
The shame, the guilt, the never-ending self-loathing—alcohol left me feeling battered and bruised. My self-esteem had taken punches in the gut, and my confidence had blackened. On the outside, I covered up my feelings in fancy make-up, but on the inside, I could not hide anymore. Alcohol was no longer serving me, and it was causing me more pain than pleasure.
I didn’t stop drinking because I had to; I stopped drinking because I chose to.
I had enough rounds in the ring with alcohol. How bad is bad enough? I say it’s bad enough when you say it is bad enough. You can leave and break up with booze whenever you damn want—there is no lock on that door.
No matter what your reason—yes, you are alcoholic enough to stop drinking.