Alcoholic, or is there another way?

“If you’re asking, you might be.” I’ve heard this, and probably what you might be thinking right?

I went to bed, I started with anxiety and panic, so I did my breathing exercise to calm myself. Back to sleep, flashbacks... I get out of bed a walk the empty house, and decide this isn’t working. So I started drinking, which leads to this post.

You all know what it is like and I’m just trying to make it. I’m not bad, I don’t hurt anyone, but I’ve been in this survival mode for so long.

Since I was 12, I have drank to numb myself. I feel feel untouchable, bigger than I am. I’ve always felt that I can summon the words to put me in a position of power and control. I feel free, still sad, but free.. It’s my routine, has been since a kid. Anytime I can do it without being a problem to anyone around me.

Always the day following I feel more vulnerable than I was the day before.

I don’t NEED to drink, but it’s more than a drink. I go until I’m ready to pass out. It offers me freedom from the hurt inside me. I can sleep without remembering going to sleep. On the others side of that coin my anger can peak, and I get super dark, to which I won’t get specific. It works.

I’ve always classified myself as a controlled alcoholic. This means if I abuse it, I no longer have an outlet.

As I go through therapy now, I question if what I’m doing is ok, because the effects of drinking and emotions are much more extreme. I can’t possibly deal with this without an outlet, I do have to work the next day.

There has to be another way, maybe I am an alcoholic? Can anyone relate? How do you deal?
 
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Medicating yourself with substances is interesting, isn't it? I never understood the relief people got from using various things until I started smoking pot. When I get high enough, I feel "normal" again - no symptoms, no anger, no fear. I just feel like myself without the PTSD. So now I have a medical marijuana card.

I'm certainly not qualified to be able to tell if you're an alcoholic or not. I think often to alcoholics, everyone who drinks to excess once in a while is an alcoholic. But if your drinking is causing more problems than it's solving, it might be good to cut down or stop for awhile. If you have a therapist, this might be another thing to discuss with them.
 
Many of us use something to chase the pain away, there's many ways we try to medicate ourselves. I've used acting out, food, etc. Self medicating is usually not healthy but it seemingly takes the edge off, even though it usually adds to our pain or problems in the long run. You already made the huge step to start therapy & are here too working through the issues, so you are doing good, it just takes more time than we want it to, to heal. Everybody is different but I remember it took me a year and a half till one day I realized that I actually felt good. Hopefully you are closer to that point than you think and hopefully when you get there you'll be able to not need the alcohol anymore. I do think your acknowledging that it is an issue and not in denial about it is a big step in the right direction. I would encourage you to keep on working through with the therapist and here, you might not see the light at the end of the tunnel from where you are right now, but I assure you it's there.
 
I agree with all the responses. However, like me with food, it isn't healthy and needs to be addressed somewhere along your Healing Journey. If not, now, then when you are ready. But it DOES need to be addressed.

Again, look at 12-step groups (that are safe for you). That may help in addition to therapy. I am doing both right now. It helps!
 
@Gistin I have never had a problem with alcohol or drugs but I used all the other things we survivors use to mask the pain. I went to a 12 step program that was for anything you felt powerless over and it really helped to learn the steps and tools of coping with any addiction.
 
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I’ve always classified myself as a controlled alcoholic. This means if I abuse it, I no longer have an outlet.

As I go through therapy now, I question if what I’m doing is ok, because the effects of drinking and emotions are much more extreme. I can’t possibly deal with this without an outlet, I do have to work the next day.

There has to be another way, maybe I am an alcoholic? Can anyone relate? How do you deal?

Yes, I can relate too. I too used with as much control as I could manage. Little, to no missed work, graduated with a B.S. degree, and in my mind, it seemed managed. The parts I put blinders up was using needed money for pot and different beers, lagers, pilsners. I eventually caught on that I was barely managing half of what could be considered family expectations.

I would go to some parent teacher meetings, soccer games, plays, or other school things, but made fewer and fewer family time activities. We had a small group of family friends and I justified that lack for those monthly or so gatherings. I finally noticed how bad I'd gotten when my anger was too obvious to ignore. I raged inside and driving was out of control. I would stop and argue with whom I considered obvious aggressors on the road. A very unsafe practice, I justified it that I can argue because I'm a big person in stature. But, I've never fought anyone, nor did I work out, so it was beyond the pale of folly.

19 years ago I finally saw it clearly. I had been to in-patient treatment after being thrown out of the house age 15, and I knew that wasn't needed. I had been to a half-way house most of my 17th year, and there too discussions were made about drinking or pot. I'm sure many of us briefly mentioned it to a counselor/therapist back in the day. I wouldn't admit a problem, but wasn't honest. I began AA 3 times, 1 in my late 20's, 1 in my 30's (2 meetings or so) and the final and ongoing time when I wast 39. That last took 3 months to quit, and I made it to about 3 meetings a week for at least a year. I settled on alternating between the 3, and then finally settled on the one that was the best time for me (about 3 years in). I think AA can help if doing something of service helps someone (me) to feel useful. I felt worthless.

I learned what I needed, and certain steps are tricky. It can turn me off if there's too much religion, because my Jesus had nothing to do with it, and my faith never came close to helping me stop. I found no help with any church based considerations.

I've shared this way because maybe you've looked into it before and these example seem familiar, or maybe you're unfamiliar and some insight before hand would help? Like some of the different meetings, such as Big Book, 24-hour book, Closed, or Open, 1st Step, Speakers, and other.

I stopped going quite a while ago, and honestly can't recall how long it's been. I'm still sober, and I'm not sure about needing meetings going forward, but I know it may be necessary if I get powerful urges, or have go back and decide to stop again?

I have visited Detox Centers, where our group would sometimes arrange to bring a meeting. It was also a service and some of those helped to see how difficult it can get to stop, if they can at all.

It took me at least 4 years to settle that I was sure I wouldn't go back, but at least 7-8 yrs before I could think better (clearer). I used to dissociate and avoid thinking at all cost.
 
Thanks for your feedback... I fear sleep lately more, so I don’t slowly drink myself to a point, I line up a series of shots and plow into my bed. This is what I was doing just after making this post. I don’t ever drink on the week I have my kids back at home, so those times are really tough for me. But this is the controlled part of my drinking. I bike, kayak, hike, climb ... but the end of the day comes eventually.

When I get high enough, I feel "normal" again - no symptoms, no anger, no fear. I just feel like myself without the PTSD.
I should really try smoking, oils, or eatables. Drinking doesn’t really offer a middle ground.

@F.A., @NC-Survivor, I’ve been to AAA off an on, and that is what got me on this schedule of drinking. If decided if I abuse it, I can’t have this escape anymore. Alcoholism runs on my Dad’s side of the family, my Dad isn’t a drinker, but he was raised by a Severe Alcoholic, and is a fine example of how to win in life coming from that. I’m aware and remain aware when I sense it getting away from, which is why I posted last night.

@Ceremony What a journey thank you for sharing, and I’m happy that you’ve been sober all this time.

I learned what I needed, and certain steps are tricky. It can turn me off if there's too much religion, because my Jesus had nothing to do with it, and my faith never came close to helping me stop. I found no help with any church based considerations.
Well said, I feel the same way.

I have mentioned this to my Therapist, and we talked about it. One thing the hit me last night, maybe I’m preventing my healing by numbing myself? Maybe I’m supposed to have night terrors? Maybe flashbacks are ok? The other side of that, I feel if I don’t have an escape, as in the past overwhelming feelings cause me to get depressed, angry, suicidal thoughts. Being in therapy has opened up a floodgate, and writing has been the healthy, but sometimes I feel worse, which I also know is normal. “Worse before you get better.”

Thank you for the dialogue.
 

OnceInnocent

Registrant
I can totally relate. my parents and grandparents were 100% alcoholics.
I grew up drinking and would often be told by my mom that I didn't need to go to school so I could stay home and drink with my mom.
I was a beer runner for my dad, so I got lots to drink. it was a daily thing as well as the sexual abuse and at the time it helped to numb the pain and the memories.
I didn't stop drinking until dec of 2016 because my life started to fall apart. it was SO HARD to deal with abuse sober. I have no cravings to actually put alcohol in me, but I miss the ability to numb the pain.
im sure im an alcoholic. im also sure, if I was raped again, I would probably go right back to it.
Im sorry for all you have been through.
when the pain got to much I broke down and got on depression meds. (don't take citalopram or escitalopram!!! mad sexual side effects. Wellbutrin is the best for me.)
the meds just weren't enough. I had to start doing therapy. and got to do emdr and that's what I do now. its so helpful!
 

Toad

Registrant
Abuse survivors often fight with anxiety.

Alcohol increases anxiety for up to 10 days.
This can cause insomnia.
- So you drink again to combat the anxiety and get to sleep.
- Which cause more anxiety and insomnia.
-So you drink again to combat the anxiety and get to sleep...

I heard the book "This Naked Mind" is good in explaining and motivating ones to get out of the cycle.

You can do it! You already don't drink when you have your kids!
 

MACH123

Registrant
Booze is good medicine why else would so many people use it? It's hard on the body though. I have used it on and off throughout my lifetime. It got to be finally like anything else or everything else. Always tapering off. Food smoking exersize you name it. Good for me bad for me it's all the same. Booze if you can do the hangovers is pretty good. You have to be tough though and the problem is, you can but your body will give out before you will if you're tough.

All the old guys that came home from the war my dads generation were WWII guys and you were expected to drink a lot and handle it.

Then I was a teen ager and the guys were coming home from Vietnam. I never heard about Korea. That was scary shit. Then it was the hippies and the veterans and everyone went from being a working drunk to whatever we were IDK. They were already saying how bad drugs were by then but I think it was too late .

But booze works. I thought it was starting to get to me and I stopped again. Never really sick just half sick most of the time. But drinking steadily keeps you sorta numb and about functional but not really. Like a lot of meds. It's comfortable though in the evening before bed to look forward to. Just even a few drinks now though and I don't feel well next day. I like feeling good better than going to bed half stiff lol.
 
@Toad, I can’t say that I experience the symptoms you describe.

Here’s a real life experience recently: I was driving down the road, I was reliving through a flashback several scenes of moments. What stressed me out is not only the memories, I don’t remember driving across town because it was so real and traumatic. That hangs with me all day, and there is no way in hell I’m getting any sleep. So I slam back shots within maybe 5 minutes. I wake in the morning feeling very rested, no dreams, no thoughts, just that I slept.

No this isn’t healthy, and like @MACH123 said, hard on the body.

I think my question still stands in my reply above - In with a T again, restarting dealing with the past with the goal to find solid ground, but... By shutting down my body, preventing myself from experiencing more flashbacks, more memories, dealing with anxiety and panic, which is part of the healing? Is that healing? Yes and No I feel.

Processing all this, I may have more than one problem, I just have not peeled back those layers, which is what I’m trying to do here.
 

OnceInnocent

Registrant
@Gistin its a coping strategy. So no one can blame u for using it. But it’s clearly not healthy.
The thing that others said to me was, “I don’t want to see you die” or “you don’t deserve to die for the way you feel, the perp should die.”
NONE of that worked for me. Bc I just wanted the pain to stop.
The only thing that worked for me was saying to myself, I believe that some time in the future, if I face this crap and keep pushing, I will feel better.
My therapist tells me this and so does my wife. And my 9 year old daughter, who knows daddy was sexually abused, tells me too.
I finally have some support and I see other survivors who have less bad days and more good days.
We are here for you for any kind of day.
If you face the crap and keep pushing through it, you will feel better.
You are loved, bro!
 
@OnceInnocent You’re right, they should die with this, not me, and I’m trying to plow through it. Thank you for your words, and incredibly brave to share with your wife and daughter. I’m attempting to find the strength to unload, I don’t know that anyone wants to be around for that, and neither do I... I think. I’ve always dealt with this privately, spent so much time holding it down, I don’t know what to do with it all. I have a good therapist, I believe the writing is working, and I have this place (MS).

I can feel this rage boiling inside me and sadness I can’t begin to articulate, who wants to see that come out.

It’s like having a wheelbarrow overfilled with emotions, the rot has finally become too much to push around... So I dump it in the middle of the room, now it’s too much to deal with, and it is once again just easier to walk away. But I won’t, and like you said, I have to push through it and all should die with the perp. Just seems too easy for the Perp and that pisses me off!!!

Thank you for your works again OnceInnocent..
 

OnceInnocent

Registrant
no problem man. what ur doing right now is the hard part. and ur still doing it.
people who love you (male female whatever) will be happy to listen and sit with you while u sift through the shit.
I got lucky that my wife is also a survivor. so she gets some of it. but do I wish there was a bro who would help? YES. we don't get to choose sometimes. but we do the best we can.
as for my daughter, I want to keep her safe. so I have been teaching her how to keep safe and I want her to have empathy for survivors.
im starting slowly with my twin boys too. its a challenge bc it has to be age appropriate and be helpful not damaging to them.

im super proud of you for doing all this hard work. this is a great place to vent and get support. never feel embarrassed to say anything or ask anything.
 
I think my question still stands in my reply above - In with a T again, restarting dealing with the past with the goal to find solid ground, but... By shutting down my body, preventing myself from experiencing more flashbacks, more memories, dealing with anxiety and panic, which is part of the healing? Is that healing? Yes and No I feel.

Processing all this, I may have more than one problem, I just have not peeled back those layers, which is what I’m trying to do here.
From what I'm hearing in therapy, the intention is to NOT re-traumatize me, but rather to build capacity for safety in the present moment. The residue of trauma definitely resides in our present lives, often triggered by current events. What therapy should do ideally, is help us regulate our emotions so we don't go into overwhelm. It is only after we've found safety and a sense of security that we can address past events... if that is necessary at all. We know the trauma happened years, even decades ago. We're not going to change the past nor change the characters in our lives who harmed us. In my case they're dead, so nothing is going to change with her. What I want is to have my life back TODAY and tomorrow. I understand how alcohol, food, drugs, sexual acting out can all change the channel so the troubling residue of the trauma doesn't grab me. But we all know none of those things take the trauma away. More often than not using whatever leads to shame, not healing. So if you need alcohol to keep yourself from doing serious self harm, go for it. But consider that to heal you will eventually need to find a way back to yourself, with kindness and compassion. It is possible to heal these jagged places in ourselves and those of us who found their way to this website can help each other along the way. We deserve nothing less. Good luck G.
 

genedebs

Registrant
Dear Gistin

You have to diagnose yourself. My first therapist was quite blunt. "Therapy won't do you any good if you don't
stop drinking." I was suicidal (Step in front of an 18 wheeler) so I went to AA. For me, I have been in therapy for the last
16 years. Before that off and on for 10 years (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). CBT is good for coping as an alternative to
booze. It did not help me heal. It did make me far more open to the emotions in my memories.

I believe I could not do psychotherapy while I was drinking. So I have been sober for 27 years and tjat is as long as I drank (15 to42).

I still go to AA (I get angry and irritable if I don't have a meeting at least every third day.)

My desire was that I would stop having intrusive thoughts, but I o longer think that will happen. Some of the ore crazy
experiences still are not understood, but (I can remember their emotional content, and cope with it instead o numbing out o
or denying that it mattered.) As visitor said, "the troubling residue of trauma grabs you", it still happens but most dAYS
I CAN COPE WITH IT.

That much healing can work for you without drinking or other numbing actions.

May God grant you peace, his most precious gift.
 
@Visitor and @genedebs I hear what both of you are saying, I do and I appreciate it.

Stupid that is makes so much sense, in what you say. The flurry of emotions in me play against me so, and disorganized storm keep common sense at a standby... I am seriously fucking scared of how I feel inside, have felt all my life, held it in, and I don’t want to scare anyone off.

I think I’ve reduced this down to not having someone by my side to help me, hear me, distract me, love me, see me. I can’t burden my kids, I go to bed alone in my thoughts, face whatever the night brings, I have a job and people that count on me, I can’t be an inconvenience.

There is certainly no one yet that I feel like sharing what I’m going through, and if I did find someone, I fear they’d bug out and leave. Sure I have my T, and she is great. I have you all, to which I receive a lot from you all. I have started drinking a lot more since I had my recent breakdown back in November. When these feelings get to be too much, I switch to survivor mode, or really drink.

I did this part to myself, I live with this shame, and refused to really deal with it.
So this shit is just going to be really really hard!
 

WG

Registrant
Gistin - I,too, would tell myself that this is almost too much to deal with. I told myself that no one could handle what I held inside. I told myself that it may just be that no one truly cared. All of that, I discovered over time, is a lie. Someone at this site said : "If you can survive the abuse, you can survive the recovery". I've never forgotten that.
As for the drinking - it's a mind and mood altering substance. Yes, it can numb, but it also takes more than it gives. You say you've driven while under the influence - if I read it correctly - were your children in the car? Were there others out on the road with their loved ones in their vehicles driving along not knowing you were driving as you were?
As for finding someone to walk along with you in all of this - they're out there. Possibly even at AA. Possibly even at a group setting. When you do meet someone - take it slow. Don't meet "over drinks" - that would be counterproductive. Meet someplace public, and just be you. That may be difficult at first since you're still getting to know you, but give it time. If they're not what you're looking for, talk with someone else. Yes, it takes time. Yes, its a lot of searching and talking and numerous introductions. What good outcome isn't worth the effort?
I believe someone already outlined this for you and at the risk of repeating it, here I go : drinking to find sleep will not work eventually. Right now it gets you into a stupor and eventually your body shuts off and you drop off. But it's not a productive, natural sleep. It's forced because of the alcohol. It won't be restful and it won't get you better.
I would say, get to AA. If you don't like the one you go to, find another one. They're out there. Yes, its a lot of work. Yes, it is a lot of "handling life", but it's worth it.
 
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