What i Means

Double Dose recovery alcoholism sobriety

Double Dose

Not only did sobriety save my life, it gave me a life worth saving.

Alcoholism defined me for the longest time. i joked about it (“I don’t have a drinking problem, ‘cept when I can’ find a drink” [Tom Waits], “i’m a writer; drinking is a job requirement”, “i was an alcoholic but the my tolerance went up”…), i wrote about it, planned my day around it, denied it, survived it, and tried to hide it.

Right after i stopped drinking, i was afraid drinking defined me and didn’t know what ‘I’ meant anymore. i tried referring to myself as “alcoholic in recovery” for a while, then went back to “writer”. i also had “Coffee Addict”.

In the last couple of months, i’ve found my coffee is backing up because i no longer finish my morning travel mug during my commute so now i have that to polish off along with my “arrive at work” double instant espresso but i can’t finish all of that before 11 when i go the coffee shop for my morning espresso and then i have to gulp all the leftover dregs cold before lunch and my dessert coffee.

i’ve decided to drink less coffee. Logical, right? Not for me. It took me weeks to come to this obvious conclusion–that i no longer need to force myself to maintain my coffee intake and that i should just scale it back instead. i’m grateful now that i can recognize it and, more importantly, i can make necessary changes without threatening who i am.

i no longer define myself because i will no longer limit myself.

“Drinker” is a word. i’m neither.

The Dark Side sobriety recovery alcoholism

The Dark Side


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home.

Posted on November 18, 2012, in Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Glad to hear this, Al. Your caffeine consumption has always amazed me — the amount you drink would make anyone else’s teeth chatter uncontrollably. Glad to hear you’re backing it down some, and without it being another “should” you’re dumping on yourself. Sometimes life just does make it easy.

    • Thank goodness for progress, eh? Where would we be without it? Wait, actually i can answer that; we’d be further back.

      Thanks for the visit and keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  2. “Not only did sobriety save my life, it gave me a life worth saving.” Amen to that.

    You just hit the nail on the head with that quote, thank you.

  3. Yeah, I am with waynemali, that line is killer good. <—– irony, ha. I mean, it is really, really cool, and amazing, and I have endless gratitude for it.

    Then there is this: “i no longer define myself because i will no longer limit myself.”

    This post really hits on something that I never could put my finger on or words to, and you figured it out for me.

    I realized that for the past 22+ months (you almost have your second year under your belt!! Cool!), a lot of the months after the first six months have been about this kind of re-definition process. I always knew how much you identified how much you were a drinker, you and alcohol were one in the same, and yes, I knew there was a crisis of identity, but I guess until this post I did not know how much of one.

    “Who am I without alcohol?” I can see and understand that is the place you have been in for a while now, and I am glad you are figuring that out. I’m glad that you are seeing you are a limitless being without alcohol, and without any substance — that there is a “you” inside of you that is independent of externals to define you.

    I think that is really cool.
    Keep up the good work.

    • I just realized this makes no freakin’ sense, and there is no “edit” feature in WordPress:

      I always knew how much you identified how much you were a drinker, you and alcohol were one in the same,

      I was trying to say that I knew that you identified yourself very closely with your alcohol. It was a part of you.

      Hopefully the rest of it makes sense! 🙂

    • Hi Babe,

      Thanks so much for the positive feedback. As for an identity crisis… i hope this post didn’t give the impression that i’ve been walking around in a confused daze for the past few months. It’s just that, in the past, it would never come to me to change a behavior because all of my behaviors defined me. Now i’m realizing i don’t want to be defined.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

      • Nope, you were not giving the impression of walking around in a confused daze, not at all, but I had been picking up on things in you, and in our relationship, whose cause could be/can be directly tied into trying to figure out who you are without alcohol.

        Working On It said it in a comment below: “I hope we aren’t defined by our problems but by who we are” (emphasis added).

        What I see is that the point at which you were at 22 months ago, there was really not much of a “who I am” outside of alcohol. Being an alcoholic permeated your sense of self, I really do think. It came out in your writing, in your choice of likes and dislikes, in your choice of friends and social activities, and so on — even your choices in music! By and large, the alcoholic and you were interwoven into a personality. You even used to talk a lot about this when you drank, when you were getting drunk, in that “golden window” of time where you were beautifully expressive before going to the “bad place” or to the passed out place. You remember what I am talking about?

        From what you expressed in this post, I can see that a lot of issues in your life in recovery the past 22 months, especially the more puzzling ones for me, can be tied into this re-definition process, and are therefore no longer so puzzling. “Baffling” let’s say, lol.

        I have read that basically people “arrest” at whatever age they were when they became an addict, so for you, that was basically the person you were at 18: your likes and dislikes, the things you liked to do, etc. All those things I listed up there and more. Not that some growth was not happening between 18 and your age in 2011. Of course there is some addition and refinement to the personality with time, even with addiction. Humans are wired up to do that no matter what! But as far as emotional development goes, what the literature on this says is that people are arrested at the age they became addicted. So you are catching up: re-developing that person you were from 18 and helping that part of you catch up to your age now.

        That takes a lot of work and introspection and figuring a lot out.

        That’s a further refinement of what I was getting at up there based on your response. I hope that gives something more about what I was trying to say up there.


  4. I’m with Celeste, I love this one too:

    “i no longer define myself because i will no longer limit myself.”

    Wonderful post Al, just wonderful.

  5. Great post. The first sentence and the last 2 hit spot on. I hope we aren’t defined by our problems but by who we are.

    That said, the first step in solving the problem is admitting one exists. Love the pic. Take care. L.

    • Hi L!

      Thanks for the compliments. Those two sentences were my favorites as well. Also thanks for noticing the picture! i got a kick out of it and i’m just glad someone else did too!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

    • Hey you guys! Great post. Not labeling yourself “drinker” allows you to find out what and/or who you really are. At first it’s so refreshing (putting down “the food” equivalent “bottle”) and finding out there are some gaps and big misconceptions. But it’s all good.

      Something struck me today: It’s been a hard year — four significant deaths … that which i have not control over.

      My emotions are being twisted or is it that i’ve felt grief??? WOW, really … caring about OTHERS???

      For some reason, I realized that i have trouble feeling “normal” or “well” or SANS problems!? Right? It’s a blip in the horizon, and i’m glad i have the perspective to “name it or define it” and try to enjoy being OK … and even “pretty good”.

      I will keep coming back. Beat ya to the punch 😉

      • Hi Mel!

        Thanks for the visit. i understand that feeling of looking for a problem so well. i even wrote a post about that a little over a month ago.

        Sorry to hear about your hard year! It sounds atrocious. Here’s to hoping 2013 is a little easier. At least you were able to get something positive from it.

        Keep…uh… Keep Keep Coming Back, lol

        Al K Hall

  6. I wish I could drink coffee! I realized LONG ago that I used coffee to enhance my mood; it was an upper. I would go to GREAT lengths to get my coffee (“my” — ha!) before anything, especially work, work meetings, interviews (like, interviewing others), writing. I had a few alcohol-induced panic attacks in 2005, and the coffee buzz went from marvelous to horrible! I haven’t had a cup of coffee since 2005 — I’ve tried a few cups of caffeinated, but it turns my brain to static. (I do decaf. Meh.) Anyhoo, the point is, I was forced to give that up, and man, WHAT a blessing. It’s absolutely wonderful to not feel trapped, like with booze, by your need for a coffee fix! Plus, it wreaks havoc on your digestive tract. Good for you; moderation is definitely the key to coffee! (As for booze, ’twas not so simple a conclusion, for me — ahem.) xx

    • Hi there Drunk Drunk Girl friend,

      Thanks for the visit. i most definitely use coffee as an upper, still do in fact, though i’ve realized that for whatever reason (age, metabolism, sobriety…) i need less to have the same effect so i’m able to cut down. The funny thing for me is that i’m even able to moderate. When i was still drinking, i wasn’t able to moderate in that or in any other area of my life. One of rhe surprise benefits of recovery is that i’m now capable of doing a balancing act in areas that in the past were impossible for me.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  7. Al i read your linked post. Brilliant. THANK you for that. Holidays are trippy .. but i’m goin’ with it … flowin’ with it …

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