They say every alcoholic has to hit “rock bottom” before they can quit drinking. I didn’t hit mine with a bang. My experience was fairly banal. I hit bottom softly like a feather floating down to earth. Of all the stupid things I’ve done when I was drunk and wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t drunk, it was something as simple as a hangover that brought me down.
It wasn’t just one hangover; it was six hangovers in 12 days. My new thing was “control drinking.” I would pace myself through 12 beers so I wouldn’t do anything stupid. The problem with pacing myself was I never felt drunk but I did get the full 12 beer hangover the next day, all day and night.
Last spring I was just coming out of a long depression and I went on a kick. It went something like this. I would control drink 12 beers and not feel anything, spend the next day and night with the worst suicidal 12 beer hangover and the next day I would be sober until I drank again that night. I did it for almost 2 weeks.
The last night of drinking I couldn’t control my pace anymore and I got that feeling and by the end of the night I did something stupid. It wasn’t major. It was just crossing a line I wouldn’t have crossed if I wasn’t drunk. It was something simple and had no consequences but I feel dumb about it so I’m not going to write anything here. Besides, it was the hangovers that made me want to quit.
I’ve had worse hangovers. I’ve had hangovers that lasted 3 days before. I never drink that many days in 2 weeks. It was drinking every other day and hungover every other day. Finally I couldn’t take the suicidal thoughts and the fear of acting on them and the guilt that comes along with that knowing from personal experience how suicide can fuck up a family for generations.
It was a sober day and I was fighting the urge to buy more beer, remembering how awful I would feel the next day. I still wanted to drink. I’m not sure how I did it but I finally broke the cycle. I didn’t know it would be a long term thing. I’ve read that hangovers are a bad reason to quit drinking because the memory will fade and you will drink again. I’ve also read you have to do whatever it takes to stop drinking. It’s the memory of the torture I put myself through with absolutely no reward. I put myself through it mentally every time I think I want to drink.
It’s working so far. That was my rock bottom. I went out with a whimper, not a bang. I didn’t do anything stupid I would regret. I didn’t get arrested, I didn’t kill myself, obviously. I just had a hangover. Actually several, but very boring compared to other rock bottom stories I’ve heard over the years.
Maybe the memory will fade. Maybe I will trick myself into thinking it wasn’t so bad. I can think of 2 reasons I might start drinking again.The first one is stupid. I would meet a woman who wants to go for drinks. I would be too embarrassed to admit I am an alcoholic so I would lie and just say I’m not much of a drinker and just go with it. The second would be much worse. I’ve never had anyone extremely close to me die. I don’t know how I would react to it but considering my past behavior, I would probably go straight to the bottle. Maybe I wouldn’t but if something ever happened to my daughter I would definitely give up.