I have found the term ‘functional alcoholic’ bristle me a bit. It keeps digging into my skin a bit every time I hear it. The reason why and it is something I said earlier, “I feel like a fraud.” Why I feel like a fraud, it could be a few reasons. We will cover that after my analysis and thoughts.
First, I’d like to do a poll. I’d like to stand in front of a busy grocery store , busy street or mall and ask people “What do you think an alcoholic is?” What do you think they’d say? Would they describe physical appearance or give a honest intellectual answer of the medical kind? Let’s remind ourselves this is the year 2015. People will respond based on experience or none. Let me define that a bit more. When we know people of all different ages, family life, condition and addicts; we as recovering people know what an alcoholic looks like or where the addict developed. Maybe in out own families we judge, discriminate or feel she. So, for the “none” category they might say things like “derelict” “bum” “drunk” or what I hear tied to stigma is “guy under the bridge clasping the brown paper bag.” Those uneducated or inexperienced, someone who hasn’t been touched by the dis-ease, witnessed the descent of alcoholism will likely think of default images or what they know of from television. That is fine. They wouldn’t know a functioning alcoholic if it bumped into them.
I would be surprised if people are that naive in this day and age. However, how do we work on ourselves or view ourselves in our own community? Are formerly functioning alcoholics judged because they didn’t hit the ‘clearly define’ rock hard bottom? (I say this in jest) Back to the fraud I feel. I didn’t have the “horror story” of jackpots, thankfully. I had enough teasers though that could have been. Before I got sober, I felt a ticking time bomb was following me. Just waiting. As I second guess myself, it becomes a slipper slope of making excuses, looking for reservations and telling myself again and again, what if. Let’s think about it for a minute. If everyone in AA had hit this ‘clearly defined’ rock hard bottom; wouldn’t we all be in jail, dead, mangled, no family, no job, homeless, hairless, no livers, walking zombies? How would we get to a meeting?
So what makes me functional? According to WebMD. Please take a peak.
Now my assessment of why I can say I am an alcoholic. Doesn’t matter functioning or not. The bottom was around the corner. Here it is:
- I didn’t lose my job and I was highly successful; still am – my point of view is this. I was going to get caught, embarrassed, embarrassed my boss, do naughty things and possibly be in a situation I couldn’t control.
- I still looked just fine, could exercise daily, didn’t lose any teeth and had no perceivable liver spots – my point of view is, I was looking bloated. I just looked tired.
- I had a husband – he just hadn’t left me yet. He was going to. He would have. If I continued the selfish behavior, he would have left. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want disgrace, I wanted to fix things. Now I am doing that.
- I didn’t have a DWI, DUI, etc…- I almost did. Right before I quit. I was in a parking lot backing up into a parked car. Loaded. I quietly pulled back into the space, kept the car running and decided my next move. Imagine if the person whose car I hit came out of the bar? What if the cops showed up? All done.
- I was healthy internally – multiple paranoid visits to my Primary taking blood work showed me that I could keep drinking! My liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain – all pumping! But the anxiety, panic attacks, shakes, cravings and sweats – they all kind of were bad signs.
So, that’s all analysis I have for now. Overall, functioning is better without alcohol. I’ll take it.