TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with destructive emotional, psychological and familial issues caused by alcoholism including suicide. If you were looking for a light-hearted Friday KTK this ain't it. Your milage may vary.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a clinician. Any subjective material is a matter of opinion based on long experience. Your milage may vary here as well.
VOCABULARY: A Destructive Alcoholic is someone whose alcoholism manifests in behaviors and psychological states that have a negative impact on the people around them. Degrees of severity are infinite from mild to severe and outcomes are as well. Not every alcoholic is destructive. Your milage will be exactly the fucking same or worse.Happy Friday, KTK! Hope everyone had a fabulous end to their work week or summer week or whatever kind of week you typically have. I do know that some of you, maybe many of you, will be taking a load off with some alcohol to round out the edges of the day here this evening. More power to you. Please know this diary has nothing to do with that (hopefully) and it isn't a shame diary or a moral tirade against the eeeeevils of daemon alcohol.
If you do find that it skims part of the enjoyment off the top of your beverage my apologies. That trigger warning up above also serves the purpose of warning people who aren't in the mood for something heavy or who don't want to deal with any internal dialogue they may have regarding their own drinking. Those damn internal dialogues! It's what this diary is all about.
So drink up! Prost! Don't let this be a buzz kill. After all, we are all adults here, right? Join me after the overstimulated amygdala for more fun!
In the intro I mention internal dialogue and I link to an article about the effect of alcohol on the function of the amygdala and subsequent social and emotional deficits that can result. This isn't a medical or practical diary, and I am not interested in that part of the discussion right now. This is a personal and reflective rant. In the interest of clarity it is worth going over what that link is describing, especially for the many readers who aren't going to click.
The crux of the deal is this: the amygdala is largely tasked to "perform a primary role in the processing of memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions,". Excessive alcohol consumption, especially heavy binge drinking, damages its ability to optimally perform those functions and over time degrades memory, decision making and emotional reactions. Anyone who has ever lived with, been around or had to deal with a a destructive alcoholic (from here on simply "alcoholic") knows just exactly how those three things can manifest and also knows that not a single one of them is pretty.
Heavy drinking and alcoholism cause personality changes and can exacerbate personality quirks that in the average person might be simply annoying or even go unnoticed. These changes often are accompanied by internal dialogue that acknowledges those changes as destructive and thus begins a cycle of perpetual mental instability and flux. I label these dialogues as Self-Hate and Self-Pity and the both of them suck. Big time.
Emotional liability is probably the hardest part of being an alcoholic. When a person is drunk daily it is never possible to get a handle on emotions, starting with the daily act of getting first drunk (the primary task of any alcoholic). When the alcoholic first drinks is the true beginning of their day, regardless of the time. It could be 7am or 4pm, that's when the process starts. Because about 20% of alcohol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream upon consumption, it facilitates the release of dopaminethus activating the pleasure center/reward center in the brain and furthering the cycle of addiction. It's what the active alcoholic lives for, to feel that reinforcement. It's the same reason everyone drinks, it simply feels good.
What doesn't feel good to the alcoholic is coming down, and that's why the drinking continues well past the point of sanity. Unfortunately for everyone else involved nobody gets a "do-over" with alcohol, you can't reset the clock and drinking more only make you more drunk and less functional. This is where that internal dialogue really starts to matter.
On the other hand my grandfather, with whom I grew up, was an alcoholic. Highly functional, didn't affect his job or his family life and never his personality, but he drank a lot and I saw that as a kid. In fact, I liked that about him at the time. It was exciting to me to see him with four fingers of scotch, a book and an ashtray for hours after work, or once retired all afternoon. I found that incredibly appealing and it left an impact on my attitude toward alcohol. My grandfather, however did not teach me to drink he only opened the door to the possibilities. My teacher as a drinker was my best friends older brother. I took my first real drink under his guidance when I was 9 years old and I never looked back until it was too late.
I won't use his name but he is still alive, just how no one knows. A dozen DWI's, almost twenty rehabs, alcohol poisonings, lost jobs or no jobs for years and years. He is the sweetest person in the world, a truly nice guy with an emotional liability the size of the universe. We used to make drinks named after him: take a tall water glass and fill it mostly with liquor then add a bit of mixer and there you go. Five drinks in one and you are off to the races, that's how I learned to drink. Later I used to joke that I only drank two bottles of wine a day, no comment on the size of the bottle. Same concept made whole. Drink larger, longer and faster was the name of the game.
My friend's brother learned to drink by watching his father, who was also the sweetest guy in the world with an emotional liability the size of the prior universe. His tragic and extremely graphic suicide only served to cement his son's fate because he became infinitely worse afterward. really came into his own. I wish I would have known at the time what a wake up call was or how to answer one because that event surely was ringing my number.
Eventually, after many years of hard drinking I was able to stop completely. Those circumstances, the how and why, won't be discussed here. I will only say I am the lucky one, that I won the lottery and that my desire for alcohol is entirely absent. I know a few alcoholics, some in my own family, who lie about their drinking (of course) to leave the impression that they no longer drink or are largely sober or even completely sober. I used to do that all the time, I get it. Besides the fact that lies are transparent to alcoholics, or that I can tell if they've been drinking practically from the ring of the telephone let alone the first word of mouth, most people have a really, really hard time getting sober and I truly understand the difficulty.
Because of the way alcohol works on the brain, the odds of quitting are biologically stacked against you. OTOH, I usually call out the bullshit because frankly, they need someone to call them out about going to a real rehab and getting long term psychological counseling. So far that ain't happening with most of them so they either will eventually get help or they will drink themselves to death via disease, overdose, accident or worse. Maybe a couple of them will ultimately quit drinking in prison after taking someone else's life. These are the choices many long term, older and nonfunctional alcoholics have to choose from. I feel for them but my patience is thin nonetheless. I am so fucking over alcohol it isn't even funny.
But I have the luxury of saying that having beaten those odds, purely by luck or fate or some god I don't believe in who is actually real, or whatever. All I know is my reset button got pushed and that is rare enough to qualify for miracle status, I will take it and I ain't giving it back.
I only wish I could pass it along free of charge to the rest of the world...
For some people that record can morph into one that says "you have no reason to live anymore" and that is the record that most worries me about some people I know well who have not dealt with their issue. It's a notion that being an alcoholic is a fait accompli and thus accepting the notion that deterioration and descent into abject self abuse is not something that can change. It's a sad fate and it's also utter bullshit, but convincing someone in that phase is pretty hard to accomplish. Believe me, I have tried and so far failed. I'll keep trying, though, Maybe some of them will even read these words.
The cycle is thus, self-hate fuels the drinking directly, leading to acute bouts of destructive behaviors like absurdly risky actions, argumentative or violent outbursts, pathological lying (self-pity fuelts his one as well) and all manner of other behaviors, leading to more self-hate and thus more drinking. The list manifestations is endlessly tailored to individual people and their circumstances and personalities, but self-hate is by far the biggest psychological factor involved in alcoholic personalities in my non-clinical experience.
Self-pity is also fuels self-haterd but it's a little more sinister since the role it plays is one to ultimately be used on other people in order to validate the emotional liability of the alcoholic and allow them to feel loved. How does tho work in practice? Let me use an example from real life.
The person I describe is a pretty serious alcoholic and has been for a long time.They have gone up and down over the the years as most people do, from enormous amounts of booze to kind of maintenance or functional drinking that allows them to keep a job instead of not. The one constant is this person has a self-pity record that is seemingly endless. Regardless of their incredible talents or obvious smarts their need for everyone to know how hard life has been knows no bounds. There is rarely a time when it's their fault and responsibility is taken and owned, the problem is always of someone else's doing, there is reason they have been damaged by the world and they are not the reason.
What are the results of this attitude, this destructive internal record? No one wants to hear that shit, it gets really, really old. People start to move away, friends drop off, family doesn't call. Of course, that causes all manner of outbursts, being ignored in one's self pity does. Thus we have outrageous and unwarranted personal attacks on folks who simply aren;'t interested in playing that game because frankly they don't have to. Lost friends and ruined relationships abound here. Not feeding the self pity monster is the quickest and fastest way to elicit an unwanted dose of blame and hostility. Where it used to work as a hook to draw people into this safe space as company, self-pity eventually (always) becomes a tool for rebuke and shifting blame. Now that person is incredibly isolated. Yay! More drinking!!
Taken together these two records spin in he heads of most alcoholics like co-morbid flywheels, running the pistons of the abuse engine daly at full tilt. It is incessant and it is the single biggest psychological component of the destructive alcoholic status, IMO.
Thanks for indulging me, friends. I have had a great week in regard to new work and family and end of summer stuff, but there are a couple people that have been giving me the blues. Nice to have a place to vent when I know I won't be judged, or at the very least I won't have to face you in real life afterward.
As to comments please feel free to change the subject, or not, as you wish. I will not be offended at of if you choose to post pootie pics and talk about the weather instead of all this noise.
Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate. Readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.