Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 19 - The Longest Hour

As great as it was to have my nephew and brother-in-law in town for the weekend, it wasn't the easiest part of a cleanse I've ever had. In fact, it was the longest amount of at-home entertaining I've done since I started cleansing almost ten years ago.

Despite the fact I was in good shape for the antics which began before dawn on Sunday  morning - including rock climbing, lots of running in the rain and toy shopping at Indigo which was open at 9 a.m. and an absolute shining Godsend ... there were moments on Saturday night where .. . damnit! I just wanted a drink.

Time seemed to go by so slowly - not all night, but for one hour early in the evening. Particularly between 6:38 and 6:52 p.m.(I marveled at how many times I looked at the clock during those fourteen minutes!). I seemed trapped in some Mobius loop on the time-space contiuum or something. No matter what I did, no matter where I wandered, no matter what I thought, I heard the boys in the background enjoying scotch and beer (not the kid of course!), and it felt as if I was on one of those long, slow airport 'movators' ... walking the wrong way.

Maybe I should've made plans to be somewhere else. But I didn't want to miss a minute of the visit. So I kept busy putting out snacks and cleaning up in the kitchen. I had a Red Bull, but it went down like water. (I usually nurse them throughout a social engagement and it seems to work better than chugging!). I had a sparkly Hint. I sipped Coke. I drank lots of water and snacked my ass off (I found munching all night kept my energy up more efficiently than a single full meal - and the boys liked it, too.) Plus it gave me something to do.

Even so ... there was that hour (and maybe it just felt like an hour) where it seemed as if I was melting into the couch ...

There was something 'missing' - that's all I can say. And what it was was my personal pleasure. Not that I don't adore my bro-in-law and nephew. I couldn't love them more and I was so happy to have them here.

But my 'personal' jolt of enjoyment was simply missing - at least for that troublesome hour. The thing is, cleansing really does make drinking pleasurable again.  If you've ever been trapped in the cycle of addiction, you probably know that alcohol doesn't really 'work' anymore when it comes to bringing you joy. For most of us, that realization is depressing - but it can't (at least rarely) get us to stop. Because that's what addiction is.

But even though I'm happy to report that cleansing has definitely released me from the darkness of addiction - it's also enhanced the pleasure I get out of every drink. So on an occasion where I'm used to drinking and I can't because I'm on a cleanse, I can miss it. It certainly doesn't happen often - and I can always handle it. And, in retrospect, the discomfort was brief and passed quickly.

I followed my own hints about dealing with cravings (which usually aren't a problem at all!). Things like taking deep breaths and keeping busy. Then I told myself ... Hell! One rough hour on a single night is not like 'taking one day at a time' forever - as they have to in A.A.

I reminded myself that I know in my heart the plan works for me and that it's improved every aspect of my life. So big deal if I have a craving for a drink on a Saturday night when we've got company and everyone else is getting tipsy? So what? It's still not permanent abstinence. And it's not impossible to deal with.

I cleanse because I know it keeps me healthy and happy in the long run. And as a person who was once strongly addicted to alcohol, it keeps me in a place where I'm in control of my life. Does it mean bluebirds and butterflies are fluttering out of my ass every second of every day? No.

But it also doesn't mean that I can never enjoy drinking again - which is the fate of so many problem drinkers since abstinence is still regarded as the main treatment of addiction.

Of course, the research and therapy field is changing quickly - and I expect it to continue. Because I'm not the only one who's discovered you can deal with alcoholism in other ways besides abstinence. Programs like Practical Recovery run by Dr. A. Tom Horvath in California are customizing treatment programs to individuals, including other options to abstinence. And as was outlined in The Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives by Reid K. Hester and William R. Miller, the idea of abstinence and 'confrontational' style counseling - which has been the basis for much one-on-one therapy in the addiction field - simply doesn't work. And might even make some people worse.

Alcoholism is a very serious condition - I know that because I've been there. Many experts even call it a 'disease' (though in some cases, I side with Dr. Gene Heyman of Harvard who is so convinced it's a 'disorder of choice' that he even wrote a book by that name!). Generally, total abstinence has been the only way to deal with addiction - and that would mean a lot more than what happened to me on Saturday night.

I can handle one hour of inconvenience every now and again. The truth is, the only reason that craving was even a problem for me in the first place was because I've never had house guests on a cleanse. But now that I have, I can not only survive it, today I feel happy and confident that I handled a new challenge - and won. In hindsight, it wasn't a big deal at all. This morning, it even makes me want to laugh.

How's that for bluebirds and butterflies?

10 days left to go!

The Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives (3rd Edition)

A Disorder of Choice

Indigo/Canadian books:

The Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives (3rd Edition)

A Disorder of Choice

Practical Recovery