I’ve spoken to more women than I can count on this subject, it comes up again and again. It’s not really all that surprising a situation…unless you actually think about it. For those of us pursuing recovery, the decision to quit drinking was a big deal. I had been drinking for 25 years and my social life, home life and my (dysfunctional) work life revolved around it.
When we made the decision to stop there was great relief and some hope. We admitted we had a problem and now we were going to work on it. We may have received high praise and encouragement from our significant others, family and friends…for a while. And then, maybe slowly or maybe all of a sudden, that decision to quit drinking wasn’t really all that interesting anymore and all your people had gone back to the same glass of wine with meals, beer at the barbeques, cocktails at the party and so on.
No, we can’t control any of this. No, we can’t make anyone else stop drinking. However, when we sober up we start to see things differently, we start to feel fucking everything. We become really sensitive about all the booze that seems to be everywhere. After I stopped drinking I would occasionally think back to all the places I wouldn’t go if alcohol wasn’t permitted or served and how insane and selfish I was even though it seemed completely normal. And it may be that this is where we left our people, they are still there.
So we made a decision to quit and we stopped going to bars and pubs. Maybe we gave the office parties a miss for a while and made appearances at family celebrations but begged off early. We reduced our contact with booze without turning into antisocial hermits. Some of us hooked into new friends and social activities through 12 step meetings or other recovery groups but when we got home, there it was. It was in our house, our safe place, our refuge from the bombardment of booze-fueled everything. Why? Because our partners were still drinking.
Some recovering alcoholics can deal with this. I am not one of them. For the first 3 months I white-knuckled it walking past that open bottle of red wine in my kitchen countless times during the day. It wasn’t that he refused to get rid of the alcohol in the house, I just never asked him to. I was still in so much shame around the mess I had made of everything that I felt I didn’t deserve to ask for anything. I was so convinced that I was a shitty person, not a person with a shitty disease, that I no longer had any right to declare a boundary in my own home that would keep me safe.
It got too hard, I couldn’t take it anymore. At the suggestion of a friend, I sat him down and told him that if we didn’t get the booze out of the house that it was very likely (it was actually a dead certainty) that I would start drinking again. He got upset, he got mad, he even pouted a bit which was weird ‘cause in 20 years I don’t think I’d ever seen him actually pout. We put everything from the fridge, the liquor cabinet and the stuff in the case under the bed (I know, I know) into totes and he locked it in the shed.
Although it was still on the property, it wasn’t in my face anymore. An astounding weight that I didn’t even realize was there was lifted from my shoulders. And you know what that jerk did after having his indignant tantrum? He quit drinking for a year and a half.
My point is this: If you need to get the alcohol out of your house so that you can have some peace of mind, less temptation, a break from the constant reminder that you want to drink, then bloody well do it! Your home should be a place where you can relax that fight or flight reaction to alcohol. Your home needs to be your safe place.