We look back, us alcoholics, far more often than we look ahead. The past is where the fun is, the excitement and the nostalgia. We see things the way they used to be, and wish we could recapture that magic, even one more time. So we chase it, and drink, and look into our glass only to find recurring emptiness, so we fill it up, and try again. People like me; people who have decided that the past is not all that rosy call this practice romanticizing. It is epidemic this time of year. The alcoholic mind connects the holiday season with intoxication, and nothing we do, no matter how hard we try and think our way through, we miss it.
And what’s not to miss?
Alcoholics like me are missing something, so we replace it with something else. Alcohol works, so we use that. Is it no wonder that the happiness we so crave comes with it memories of raised glasses, toasts to our fellow man, drinks to this, and that and the buzz that only the holiday can bring? When we think of the people in our lives, and the times we had, and the love we shared we do so most often with images and manufactured feelings of well being brought on by intoxication. In our mind we clearly remember happiness. What we forget is that the happiness we experienced was fleeting, and more times than not ended with disappointment.
It is not our fault. We felt most at peace and least in pain when we had a few under our belt. In our mind the best times from the past are those spent in that state of mild intoxication where we felt the most normal. We conveniently forget that even the best of us can never maintain anything closely resembling mild intoxication. For us, it is all or nothing when it comes to drinking, and until we find out how best to give our all to existing with nothing we will be destined to drink far beyond any reasonable person’s idea of social drinking.
We can romance the drink all we like, but the truth lurks inside every bottle. One is too many, and a thousand is not enough. Rather than romanticizing the drink, a good strategy is to see the drink through. Yes, there will be moments in that trip down memory lane where the alcohol served its purpose, and all was well. But by traveling that road to its finish, where disillusionment, disappointment, injury, hurt and resentment reside the whole journey becomes clear.
That is when we can make the choice whether to be honest with ourselves and get on with our lives to the best of our ability, or to live in a our version of the past that conveniently leaves out that which we need to accept if we have any chance to create the life we are capable of leading; a life of contented sobriety.