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Think you haven’t reached “rock bottom” yet?

For three years before I finally quit drinking, I knew that I had a “problem”. I drank almost every day. As soon as I opened a bottle of wine, however steadfastly I had stated (and previously negotiated with myself) that I would make the bottle last AT LEAST two evenings – deep down I knew that I would drink the entire bottle and then wait until my husband went to bed, and finish off HIS bottle (because he never drank more than a couple of glasses, and would have made his bottle last two, if not three nights, if I hadn’t polished it off for him).

The truth, Gloria Steinem said, will set you free. But first it will piss you off.

And the truth, did indeed piss me off for three years, and I did everything I could to either deny or then rationalize my drinking patterns.

Denial was hard.

Because the evidence piled up like a crime scene – recycling, a dwindling bank balance, nothing EVER getting finished, drunken rants or ridiculous post on facebook – it would not have taken a whole lot of investigating to present a water tight case….

So I turned to “rationalizing” .

“At least” became my mantra…

“At least I don’t drink as much as X

“At least I’m not mean when I get drunk”

“At least I haven’t ever got a DUI” (note how I didn’t say, at least I have never driven while over the limit)

The problem with the “at leasts’ is that they are ever changing, and my  bar of drinking behaviour standards was getting lower and lower…

“At least I am still working” ……..(em, that one’s debatable because I was self employed and was basically watching my client list dwindle…)

“At least I am still married” – again, I could see my husband’s reserves of patience slowly decrease

“At least I’m not drinking in the morning” ….this one actually makes me chuckle a bit – as if I should be ‘congratulated” for my monumental act of willpower watching the clock tick round to noon on Saturdays, so I could pour a glass of wine, to ‘reward” myself for managing a hour or so of house work.

The trouble with the “At least’s” was that there was always a new low that I could aspire to.

There is a lot written about ‘rock bottom” and the need to reach it before you can turn around. The issus with ‘rock bottom’, is that firstly, we seem to have this stereo-typical vision of what ‘rock bottom’ looks like – homeless, penniless, drinking cheap cider or mouthwash maybe – and then we measure ourselves against that – almost giving ourselves permission to keep on drinking – because ‘at least’ we haven’t reached rock bottom.

So if you are still rationalizing. If you are still trying to measure your hangover against the other’s at the party, or whatever it is that drowns out that little voice of reason or truth  I’m proposing that you abandon the whole concept of ‘rock bottom” altogether. Instead of measuring your drinking against some spurious version of rock bottom, measure your problem against how many times you think to yourself…at least…

And if that doesn’t work for you consider this….how many people are saying THIS about YOU?

At least I’m not as bad as (insert your name)…

No, my rock bottom was when I became someone else’s…..”At least”….

It was painfully clear to me, that I was the bottom bar that everyone else was measuring themselves by…

“At least I’m not as bad as Jackie….”

If you find yourself wavering and justifying…….remember this…rock bottom is when you are someone else’s “at least….”.


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