The Peril of Being “High Functioning”

I’m what a lot of people would call a high functioning alcoholic. Like, my family didn’t worry about my. There were no staged interventions. When I brought up my drinking to friends and family, like, “maybe do I drink too much?,” I always got back an emphatic NO!

Mind you, it’s not like I told anyone the truth about how much I drank alone. More like, I wanted to know if I was getting away with it. And I pretty much did. I was there at all my son’s little league games and my daughter’s theater performances and got them to the doctor and dentist and playdates. I was involved in the schools. I knew all the teachers and their friend’s parents. I hung out at school pickup with the other mamas.

I never missed work because of a hangover. I worked hard. I got through a very challenging 4 year graduate school, with excellent grades, then right away started a business and grew it and have staff and serve people in my community.

I have friends. I volunteer in my community. When invited to social events, I showed up, with a hostess gift or an appetizer. My house was clean-ish. I paid my bills.

What’s remarkable is the incredible resilience of the human brain and body. Like, I routinely poured ethanol down my throat and my body kept going.

It’s a trap, being a drunk who still pulls off the show. If I had been confronted by those close to me, I might have sought help sooner. Not necessarily for myself, but because I care about my reputation so much and would be ashamed to look people in the eye if I knew THEY knew I was a drunk. Plus, our culture pretty much revolves around alcohol. So if everyone in my circle drinks, they’re going to be more comfortable if I do, too.

Getting away with it helped me ignore the problem, rather than looking beyond my reputation to how I was treating myself. I was sick and tired ALL THE TIME. I was always trying to control my drinking. My diet sucked. Exercise was erratic. My mood was awful. I lied about my drinking. I wasn’t proud of myself. I stopped feeling pleasure from everyday things. I suspected I’d be happier not poisoning yourself. I’m so glad I gave sobriety a chance ❤️

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