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Drunk Dreams.

28 August 2013

I had a drinking dream last night. I no longer remember it. When I woke up from it at 6:15 in the morning, only about 20 minutes before my alarm was due to ring, I thought about trying to write it down, but instead I went back to sleep. I only remember the barest of details. And they are similar to all my other drinking dreams. I suddenly realize I’ve been drinking without meaning to, essentially. I just look down and realize I’m halfway through a drink. Rather than immediately throw it away though, of course I finish it, because it’s too late. I might as well get drunk, as long as I’ve lost all this time.

And then I start to panic and think about my sponsor, and what I’ll tell him. Then I start thinking about my new girlfriend, and what I’d have to tell her. I’d lose the relationship. I start thinking about how I can lie: “I didn’t mean to drink so I don’t have to tell anyone. I can keep my time”; “No one has to know. I’ll just stop again right now. I did it before, I can do it again”. But I know it’s not that easy. I have this sense, in the dream, of impending dread. I’m afraid it’s all going to begin again. The drunkenness. The sloth. The fear. The rage. The sickness.

Waking from these dreams is an incredible relief. I realize I didn’t really drink. I don’t have to give back all my time. I didn’t lose everything I’ve worked for. There was some talk in my Sunday meeting about drunk dreams. I shared then essentially what I’m writing now, except that I hadn’t had a dream recently then. That when I have these dreams my first instinct is to ask how I can lie my way out of it.

I’ve written before that honesty is the first casualty of alcoholism. We can’t tell the truth and drink how we want to. If we tell people how we drink, they get concerned, they tell us we’re in trouble, they refer us to doctors or, worse, to AA! Honesty and drinking alcoholically don’t go along together for long. To drink like I drank, you have to lie. And the lies feed the shame, and the shame makes you need to drink.

There is a moment of terrible freedom when we finally decide not to lie about it anymore. When we say: “I am going to level this facade and let it all come apart. This is the truth of all the things I have done in service of my addiction.” It is awful and wonderful and glorious in one obliterating heartbeat.

I’m grateful for these dreams. They remind me of all the lies I don’t need to tell. All the sicknesses I don’t need to suffer. All the isolation I don’t need to endure. And they rededicate me to the steps I take forward.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 28 August 2013 07:11

    I’ve had a couple of types over the years…

    Initially I’d be in some inner city concrete jungle somewhere, I’d drunk, I know I had and I needed more but everywhere was either shut, or members only or whatever so I’d be desperately running around this place trying to get a drink.

    Now they are rare(r) and like you it is like the dream starts with me with a half finished drink in front of me and my thoughts going – “Damn I’m drinking” I finish that and get another and then start to consider how I can carry on without others knowing – or I start to justify saying things like “It’s only lager it’ll be ok, I’ll control it”. Given I tried all that changing drink nonsense before I know that is a route to nowhere.

    Like you say you wake from them rattled, shocked, confused – once the brain goes – “Oh only a dream” you begin to calm down but it normally leaves me with an uneasy feeling for a while.

  2. Syd permalink
    28 August 2013 07:17

    I have the dreams about my wife or my dad drinking. And it’s a bad feeling to wake up with. I’m trying to get them to stop but am ignored. Anxiety related stuff. Glad that in the light of day things are okay.

  3. 28 August 2013 21:30

    oh boy. It’s the most unsettling dreams, the ‘it could be true’ dreams that leave you feeling out of control and scared and all the other stuff.

    It’s very true what you write about the lies and the knowledge deep inside that it’s something wrong and that people (who cares) will comment and then the trouble going through all that lying and deceiving. The freedom of not lying is unspeakable. It’s just very hard to get there I think, especially if it isn’t “your” secret to keep (if that makes sense?)

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