It’s been a rough day. I’ve had to do a lot of thinking after an unplanned trip to Urgent Care with what has turned into a very painful kidney infection. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve brought it on myself again by drinking again a bit over the last two months. Now I’m now trying to answer the question….
Am I actually an alcoholic?
Why do I ask this? Well, at least according to the PA at Urgent Care, I am an alcoholic because I have been ignoring the pain in my kidney and continuing to drink (albeit minimally) in spite of it. It doesn’t matter that I quit for three solid months or that even in drinking recently, I’ve cut way, way back from what I used to drink – which wasn’t really that much especially over the last few years. I guess because even just one drink seems to hurt me that I shouldn’t drink at all. But I have ignored this fact – again and again and again for years and years – only stopping here and there when it would start to bother me again. In fact, my kidney pain is a big part of what prompted this one year “experiment” to begin within. Evidently that is a problem, at least to the PA.
The impact of the blunt statement by the PA hurt me a lot worse than when he tapped the area around my already painful, inflamed kidney to check for an infection. After recommending that I go to a nephrologist to see if there is a deeper kidney issue, he also strongly suggested I seek treatment and counseling at Fellowship Hall, a local rehab center. Wow.
So I’ve spent part of the evening taking a variety of online self tests about alcohol addiction. I am not liking the results. Though they’ve all had a different angle and set of questions, they all say that I have a problem with alcohol and need to seek treatment. (Note, I answered them as my drinking self to give an accurate picture of what I am like when I am drinking.)
However, this outcome still galls me because I haven’t had anything to drink in a week (well 6 days if you count the one ounce of wine I had last Sunday, less if you count the literal sip I had of Dave’s beer one night and tiny taste of his martini another. Hmm that all sounds bad). But a week ago I had two glasses of wine and had gone nine days before that. And let’s not forget the three months of not drinking from March to June. All in all, I’ve actually been feeling mentally fine about myself – drinking or not drinking – until today. But now I am starting to wonder if all this time I have actually been in denial about the truth.
I’ve felt virtually speechless all day. Have I been going through the stages of grief for the potentially pending death of my drinking life since this all started in March? Or simply unwilling to admit that I do in fact have a problem? Is that part of the grief and if so what stage is next?
I am torn between wanting to fall apart and acting like absolutely nothing has changed. But it has changed – and that is that someone else…a medical professional…thinks I am an alcoholic.
Seeing those words on this page are stunning. Someone thinks I am an alcoholic...not one of my friends, not someone who has seen me with a big, delicious buzz but a medical professional who knows nothing about me other than what I told him. And he thinks I am an alcoholic.
I don’t know how to share this with anyone – not my friends, not my husband, not even the people who read this blog – although I will eventually because my whole purpose in life is to help others succeed and/or heal. But at the moment I don’t quite know how to deal with the fact that in spite of all my self-exploration, evaluation and ongoing “self-healing” that I may have overlooked the reality that I am an alcoholic. And the fact is, it probably took a stranger to tell me because no one else in my world can tell me the truth (or their version of it) without thinking about how it will affect them and our relationship – or perhaps most importantly – THEIR relationship with alcohol. No one wants to consider that too closely.
I’m not sure what I know for sure other than in this breath everything will be OK. That and it is time to go to sleep – or at least to try. Please sending loving, restful thoughts and hope that I can get to sleep without a problem.
In case this post makes you want more info about the stages of grief, click here for a helpful article I found tonight.
Or this about “Dry Drunk Syndrome”
And this about Grief about Quitting Drinking
You can look under Resources and Articles tab to find links to some of the various assessments I took as well.