Sobriety Navigator: Closet Drinker and the Pain of Leading a Double Life.
Closet drinkers are living in direct opposition to their beliefs and values. If they were not, they wouldn’t try to hide their drinking. Closet drinkers are not bad, evil or devious people. They are good people who have been deeply wounded. These wounds have convinced them that they are bad or defective people.
Closet drinkers live under the constant, self-created pressure of never living up to their own list of demands. Since their high standards and demands for perfection are so unrealistic, they continually set themselves up to fail. This cycle of self-sabotage only reinforces the messages of not measuring up, once again triggering the constant companions of self-doubt, hopelessness and low self-esteem. This pain is instantly relieved by the surrogate significant other, mother alcohol.
Closet drinkers are plagued with a constant fear of being judged. Even though they can judge themselves unmercifully, it is the judgment of others that is the most terrifying. This fear of people and of what they think of them rules their lives. They can sit and dwell for hours over something they think they did wrong. Closet drinkers walk through life saying to themselves, “there is something wrong with me,” and blame themselves for anything and everything. You do not have to beat up on a closet drinker or scapegoat them because they will repeatedly mistreat and scapegoat themselves.
Closet drinkers are convinced that they are responsible for others. But, since they know they cannot fully take care of or rescue other people, the pressure of relationships outweighs the pleasure. They know it will only be a matter of time before they disappoint others with their inadequacies and are rejected by them.
A beautiful, middle-aged woman surrendered to the fact (while she was incarcerated) that she was powerless over alcohol and that her life had become unmanageable. It took multiple DUI’s before she was eventually rescued from the isolation of closet drinking. She knew that she had reached a point where she could no long predict her behavior while under the influence of alcohol. But what she found most revealing was that the unmanageability of her life, be it drunk or sober, was from giving her power away. She had allowed the opinions and thoughts of others to completely dominate and dictate her life. She had been unwittingly living a second-hand life. This was the driving force behind her drinking. She finally realized that caring more about what others think of you than what you think of yourself has the power to kill.
Today, without fail, she recites a prayer which has become a powerful tool in assisting her with her sobriety:
GOD, JUST FOR TODAY I ASK YOU TO DO FOR ME WHAT I CANNOT DO FOR MYSELF. HELP ME TO REMEMBER AND NOT ALLOW PEOPLE, PLACES OR THINGS, POWER OVER ME TO DICTATE MY THOUGHTS, FEELINGS AND ACTIONS. THANK YOU, GOD!
By Cynthia Peterson