Content Warning: This is a series that follows my journey using art while going into recovery for alcoholism. So there will be mentions of alcohol-related thoughts and behaviors.
So lately, I have come to the realization that my drinking is out of control and I need help. But, before I get into how that realization occurred, let me give you a bit of background of my life in terms of its relation to this topic and drug of choice.
I come from a family of alcoholics on both sides of my family. Both my grandfathers drank themselves to death. One died at 49, the other in his early 70s. My ex-husband is an alcoholic (married young/divorced over 20 years now-no kids). Members in my immediate family are and/or adult children of alcoholics and/or alcoholics in their own right. I have extended family members that have been living a life of sobriety and work their recovery programs well. So I was aware that I was already predisposed for alcoholism. So instead, my drug of choice became food, specifically sweets like cake and brownies, or Doritos and other deep-fried snacks.
As for my drinking, I was more of a social drinker, unless it was after a bad breakup then it would take me a few days to finish a small bottle of wine or vodka.
When I began the journey for help with weight management it was strongly suggested, more to improve my health quality, that I undergo bariatric surgery. I was on the fence until I had a required endoscopy and found that there were precancerous polyps lining a majority of my stomach. So yes, I had the surgery. During one of the prep classes the hospital staff told our group that we had to deal with our issues (the fat in the head), that voice of poor reasoning that said it was better to binge than face that issue. Because, they have seen a steady increase in drinking and gambling. That and there is only a 40% lifetime success rate of keeping the weight off post-surgery.
I took this word of caution and went with it. Thinking I had it down.
Then the pandemic happened a few months post-surgery and I managed okay. But, by last fall, I began to have more than that occasional glass of wine. By winter break, and only during winter break, I was drinking up to 4 bottles of wine in a week. Thinking it would save me money and keep me from doing something stupid, I naively joined a wine club.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…Sharra you idget, you’re setting yourself up for a crappy life. Stopppp!!!
I kinda agree and did whatever I could by March to abstain and stay sober. I did and felt pretty good by semester end.
But, within a few weeks of the semester ending, the drinking ramped up but it was accelerated. One bottle turned into two in a night, then a month ago I had my first blackout and should have died. Should have died from consuming 2 bottles of vodka in 5 hours on an empty stomach and with combining it with my meds. One of which has a warning that it could stop your heart if combined with alcohol. So naturally, I began desperately seeking help in the form of finding local AA support groups and reached out to a family member for support.
Oddly enough, a few nights ago, a friend called. Someone I hadn’t heard from in a while and told her what had been going on. When asked what set this off, I really had no idea as I am fully familiar with the 12 program and even knew it was helping me with food addiction. So she suggested I use art to figure it out since that’s what I’m in school for. Let the images speak up since I can’t discern what my mind and spirit need.
That and to go to a local drug and alcohol treatment center for an evaluation. I go this coming week and will start the intake process for the outpatient rehab recovery program.
I don’t want to go the way my grandfathers did. I’m only 40 and have too much I want to do with my life.
So while coming off the booze once that phone call ended, I let myself paint. Nothing planned, just full intuition, prayer, and asking myself why it needs to drink. This is the first layer of the painting.
The next day, I looked at where it was sitting and could start to see the beginnings of an image and wow is it filled with pain. I wasn’t brave enough to keep working on it but I hope to get brave soon.
So I decided instead to go for a walk where I tend to do walking meditations. That’s basically walking while staying fully in the now with observing nature around me so that truths, guidance, etc…. can come up in my thoughts on where to proceed. Sometimes I end up with visuals as metaphors for what’s going on. This kinda spooked me at first but now I have a sense that this is something so painful that my mind is finally starting to feel safe enough to feel whatever it is I have blocked off.
Secret doors in hidden hallways, promises my soul won’t break;
Scratches & screams at the door, too afraid to open inward;
Abuse to real, a soul that bleeds
I know I have a lot of work to do and this painting process is just the start. I also have hope that going to this outpatient rehab will be intensive but well worth it in the end. My life is now on the line and I know it.