Friday, January 16, 2015

Why I Drink

Hi. I'm Vix, and I'm an alcoholic.

The funny thing is that I drank very little in college and none at all in high school, minus the wine coolers my father let me drink while we watched "Star Trek: Next Generation." Alcoholism ran in the blood, but I figured if it hadn't hit me by the time I graduated college, I would be okay.

I was very, very wrong.

At the age of 27 I started drinking wine after work regularly because I hated my job and wasn't sure the industry was right for me after six years of schooling for it. I bought a couple bottles a week, no problem.

Shortly before I bought my house, I reeeeally hated my job and was drinking a bottle a night most nights. Still manageable though. I wasn't worried.

When I lost my job in January 2010, I bottomed out in upper middle class white girl terms. I drank tequila straight, whiskey on ice, and vodka sodas all day long. I barely recognized my puffy alcoholic's face in the mirror.

Within months, I was drinking half a handle of vodka a day. But as long as I could be drunk off my ass and still have the coordination to run three miles on the treadmill at the gym, I figured I wasn't doing too bad, minus the vile green vodka shits the next day alerting me to the fact that something was so incredibly not right.

Drinking may run on my father's side of the family, but I never blamed my drinking on my bloodline. I knew it was all on me. The bipolar disorder, though? I blamed that entirely on my mother and her shitty genes. It still feels like a much bigger problem than my drinking because I have only moderate control over my biochemistry, whereas I have complete control over how much I do or don't drink.

When I was diagnosed as being bipolar a year and a half ago, many, many puzzle pieces in my life started clicking together. It all made sense. In fact, it was kind of amazing I hadn't turned into a cokehead by then, which was certainly well within my personality.

When I started out drinking, it was because I hated my job. Actually, I hated the entire industry. I drank to forget those eight hours a day.

The thing was, I noticed my writing/blogging was better if I'd been drinking. It was raw and gritty and painfully honest. you can't buy that kind of gold.

So I started drinking on purpose. I needed to get past all those filters so I could write what I really felt. Raw and gritty were exactly what I was after. If that required a bottle of wine, so be it. Having a cleared out mind and a hangover in the morning were worth the price as far as I was concerned.

What it comes down to is that drinking helps me write. It helps me get past the demons of self-doubt and "you're no one, why would a single person give a fuck what you think" and "Stop. Just Stop. You're being a stupid bitch."

Eight months ago my psychiatrist demanded that I stop drinking so I could give all the many medications I'm on a chance to do their job. The man started talking about treatment programs and that scared me into action. Within a month I was drinking only 40% of the wine I used to drink. He says that's not enough, invalidating the pride and sense of accomplishment I feel for scaling back so much after years of drinking half a handle a day.

People assume alcoholics have something to hide. I'm on guard stone cold sober because the full-force blunt of my personality is NSFW. It's heaven to unleash everything I have in my writing. Drinking helps me feel like the real me.

Also, it just plain old tastes so damn good.

The problem is that I don't know how to write sober. Sure I can write, but the writing doesn't feel enough like me. It feels falsified, cold, like something a killer robot would write. It feels like there's a wall between me and the world. I can't have that. So I drink and I write. And the results prove that it's not a bad writing process.

Sucks for my attempts at sobriety though.

My goal is to one day be able to drink like a normal person. Drink only a glass or two of wine some nights, nothing on others. The problem is I have no idea how to pull that off. I don't know how I'll write the same way I do now. Any suggestions would be welcome, by the way.

Until then, I will bask in my three to four glasses of wine a night and try to figure out a way to write as well sober as I do drunk. I will also bask in having normal shits for the first time in years.

Oh how it's good to be Vix.


  1. If you're willing, try this little experiment.

    Take your computer offline. Open your word processor of choice. Start writing the most wild, offensive things you can imagine. Things you would never EVER dare say out loud to anyone. If it makes you cringe, record it. If it makes you mortified, add it. If you're ashamed to think that anyone might see it, it goes on the page. Keep it up until you can't think of anything else.

    Once you're done, save it and compare it to your writing while you're drunk. See how it compares. I suspect you're far more awesome than you give yourself credit for.

  2. I wonder if my lack of drinking is why my writing is so guarded. And my fear of losing my job. There's so much I want to say (on my blog for example) & I don't because it's easily linked back to me.

    Weren't some of the best writers alcoholics? That must mean something.

  3. here is an alternative to contemplate and try - write sober......

    1. decide what you think you do best when drinking
    that is, is your creativity phase (developing the plot, story line, and overall flow of the chapter(s), and perhaps developing the characters
    or is it fleshing out the dialogue and/or descriptions, and giving life to both

    2. you need to figure out an environment that will permit you to TOTALLY engage in writing while sober -- without distractions, real or imagined -- so that (hopefully) you can achieve the same level of engagement (and that absolute disregard for what people are gonna think) that you seem to have when drinking

    - start WAAAAAAY ahead of deadlines so you are not being distracted by the clock, so you actually have enough time to succeed (you KNOW it's gonna take longer than you think, and we have both seen the difference in your writing when you rush it)
    - set aside a specific amount of time to write when you know there will not be any visitors or known interruptions
    - NO movies or TV shows running on an adjacent screen, not even on just the speakers
    - listen to wordless music (to drown out the minor real distractions like neighbors or cars or the a/c cycling off & on)
    - lock the dogs out if they are awake or want to play/go pee/get fed/etc, maybe let them in at the start to curl up with you if they are behaving/asleep
    - go pee and poo so nature does not disrupt you
    - eat something so your stomach isn't growling
    - have some quiet munchies already prepared and at hand, just in case
    - get some cough medicine or hard candy, if appropriate
    - have a tall glass of water, tea, flavored water, soda --strictly non-alcoholic
    - FOCUS on your writing -- fuck all the rest of it
    - put that bottle of wine on the counter - but out of sight, NOT to be touched or even thought about until you have completed your writing goal for the evening (plot, outline, chapter list, two chapter, whatever), which must be a challenge, but achievable

    let's move forward in steps, so for now, go ahead and drink for the "better" phase, then try some of this "writing sober" crap for the other phase(s)

    suggest you write a couple of chapters for that new co-authored book while drinking (and then make a pdf of the as-written version for later comparison)
    then write a couple drinking/sober (another pdf)
    and finally, write a couple just sober (and another pdf)

    then compare the pdf's and see what's different, how it differs, and how you can capitalize on the favorable differences & improve upon the not-so-favorable ones (if there are any)

    yes, I actually DO realize that I am asking for absolutely incredible and pretty much unnatural behavior for a manic alcoholic, but we both know you have the strength to do whatever you REALLY REALLY want/decide to do
    (and I don't wanna hear the bullshit about you know having willpower, you've seen it, and we both know you have it - WHEN you decide to)

    I am not talking about doing all this in one week, or even one month, maybe not even one book, but at least get started on it.

    what'cha think?

  4. From having an alcoholic father myself, what worries me the most is your goal of drinking "like a normal person." For an alcoholic, there is no such thing as just one drink. It's not physically, mentally or emotionally possible. The difference is that a non-alcoholic can go without that drink and be just fine. That one drink is just a little treat every once in a while. To an alcoholic, that one drink is what they spend all day to make it to, it's almost their reason to get out of bed. And they will say that they'll just have one drink and things will be better. That one drink will be an accomplishment. But the problem is that the one drink is never enough. It leads to two drinks cause what's that gonna hurt? Then the next thing you know you've polished off the bottle.

    Unfortunately for an alcoholic, one drink will never be enough and your goal should be no drinks. You will always want that one drink, but recovering alcoholics know the truth that they won't be able to stop at one. You're not recovering yet, you're making excuses to still drink. I think a treatment program might actually be good in your case. It may be hard, but you have to learn how to be happy with your writing without the crutch. Because that's just what it is for an alcoholic, a crutch. However much you think it makes you a better writer, it's just an excuse to keep drinking.

  5. Agree with Alison - NO alcohol. And drink does not help art. It wrecks it (at least too much does). I have seen a band get onstage drunk and make complete fools of themselves.

  6. Nice post, as it is brutally honest and soul bearing. That said, it sound like the therapy being recommended to you is what you need. Your post describes a person struggling with depression, anxiety, stress, etc and you chose alcohol as a friend to help you cope. How about going a week without a drink and if you can do that, go a second week and see if you can go without a drink. If you can for two weeks in a row without a drink, why drink again? What you really need via therapy is to find healthy ways to deal with your issues and changing from alcohol to cigarettes is not the answer either.

  7. Have you read Infinite Jest? Great insight and writing on addiction, and just incredible modern literature all around. I think it would speak to you. Good luck.