Sometimes I feel completely in control. I have a grip on the nightmares and the thoughts. I am moderating and controling my drinking to just being a social beer. And then all at once, I am flyingdown the wrong path with no headlights on. Its the ultimate snowball effect. There are so many factors to monitor and control and when one slips they all go and it feel as though I can not regain my balance. It makes me feel like I have failed myself and those that depend on me to take care of things.
I let the reigns slip on Thursday, slipped into my old drinking habits and spent most of that day and the majority of Friday stumbling. Then I caught a cool version of food poisoning which was probably a good thing because it kept me from missing reserves. Saturday, I was just pissed at myself all day for being weak. Sunday I sat and thought, reassessed what I was doing right and wrong. Figured out what caused the slip, tried to mentally shore up those defenses.
I am more upset about this slip than the other ones that have happened, because recently I have been more in control than ever. I am also mad about it, because I have been working with other vets and this slip was pretty evident in front of them, only it was the first time they met me, so they think its just how I am. This doesn’t sit well with me and I will do my best to overcome that
Slipping, is not some obscure thing. If you are dealing with either life after combat and or PTSD, you are going to screw up at some point. You are going to slip or stumble. Its going to make you feel like a big bag of ass and a failure. That’s when the real struggle hits. When the easy comfortable thing to do is stay right where you are face down on the cool, dark, bottom. Slowly drinking yourself into a quite coma. Commit suicide with a locked and loaded Jack Daniels bottle. This is where you find the drive, the focus. You dig the toes in and start climbing out. Make apologies where necessary to those you trespassed on, on the way out (this will make you feel a lot better about screwing up, but its limited to how much patience they have). Set a plan with realistic goals, e.g. I am going to cut the drinking down to 2 social beers, this is considered moderate drinking. To help me, I am going to tell my buddies I drink with, so they can hold me accountable. As another reminder, I am going put something on my body like a 550 bracelet to remind me that when I am 2 beers in and feeling good, how shitty I will feel if I fail to stop. I remind myself that drinking is the cowards way out because I am too afraid or too weak to deal with the shit in my head. And I remind myself that I do not want to be dependent on any form of medication that includes self-medication…. This my friends is the struggle. Not when you are balancing on top but when you are looking up from the bottom with your face muddy and bloody from the recent fall.
The hard part for me, I run this website. I had the internal struggle of my pride versus the possibility of helping someone. Do I confess to the fact I slipped, I failed, and go as far as to explain how in the hope of helping another who may be hanging with me face down in the mud, or do I maintain my pride and keep it to myself. So you know, I have wrote and deleted this post 3 times. Deep in the back of my mind though, I know that when I do that, that is something that has to go up here. We aren’t interested in the neat and the clean. We aren’t interested in the cookie cutter system we are interested in fixing this and working with it. To do that we need a clear no bullshit assessment on what happens and how it happens so people who read this can develop clear tactics and techniques to combat it. So Here it is all laid out. I slipped. Lost control, I drudged up a bunch of memories, drank to hard to try to numb the pain, drank some more to try to go to sleep, woke up the next morning still thinking about it had a drink in my hand by 12. Woke up the next day in a freaking depression and anger fit, fought my way north of that and then regained balance the next day.
For me fighting my way out of it is all about anger and responsibility. You have to find your tools to fight your way out. I focus on how mad and disappointed I am in myself and I focus on my responsibilities to others to motivate me to get back up and kick some ass. Figure out what works for you, don’t be like me talk to others about it (i have a hard time asking for help, surprise surprise). Do tell people you are cutting back or getting in control of whatever bad behavior you are doing, they can either help you are get out of your way or hold you to it. Always remember you aren’t in it alone, its not the last time you will fall, and its not about how hard you fall but how fast you get back up.