“But I Don’t Want To Be an Alcoholic!”

shutterstock_22702285In the past week, three different people have made the same remark to me: “But I don’t want to be an alcoholic!”

It’s an honest plea. A desperate declaration of resistance. But it’s also kind of funny. One, because they’re saying to me—I don’t want to be like you! Please tell me I don’t have to! And two, because absolutely no one wants to be an alcoholic.

I sure didn’t. During my active drinking, it was like a constant mantra in my head: But I don’t WANT to be an alcoholic! I will NOT be an alcoholic! I REFUSE to be an alcoholic! Glug, glug. Don’t say that yucky word! Eeeew! Get it off me!

[The Huffington Post accepted this blog today, too—so I'm sending folks HERE to finish reading. More people may see it that way. Thank you!]








  1. I like the answer that *the prospect* doesn’t HAVE to want to be or do anything. But if they carry on as they are they will have 3 choices: jails, institutions, and death. If they are sitting in your living room talking about it they probably know that on some level already.

  2. Congrats on getting your blog post in the Huffington Post!

  3. Heather, thanks for the post, it reminds of something I am grateful for in this, and that you reminded me (I emailed you a few days ago) and it is true – perhaps it is a label “alcoholic” and it can come with any amount of meaning we attribute to it. Right now, I am feeling grateful, it means I have admitted to being vulnerable, I don’t know what I am doing in this life (God does) and that I need help and support. The alcohol itself was just a tool to me thinking I was in control. Now I can proudly say “I have no idea, I need help, I am human :D”

  4. Hi Heather. I love this post. For so long I complained that I just wanted to be “normal”! I did not want to be an alcoholic, either. But I do see it now as a gift (well, not always). It has opened my eyes to so many things I don’t think I would have ever been exposed to otherwise. It has brought Spirituality into my life, I have learned the true meaning of friendship, and it opened a door to the writing world I so wanted to be a part of.
    And the most important thing I have learned is that no one is “normal”.
    Thank you for your blog.

  5. This reminds me of that line from Lord of the Rings when Frodo says “I wish the ring had never come to me.” And Gandolf replies, “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” (I’m not saying God made you an alcoholic or that He made my husband an addict.) There are times I wish recovery wasn’t part of our life and our marriage. But I can’t change that and looking back only makes me bitter and resentful. Instead, I move forward and seek out the brokenness in myself and others. We could all be in recovery for something. Thank you for sharing. I love your honesty and openness.

    • Lisa, you’re right! I agree that we could all be in recovery for something. I’m actually one of those weirdos who on most days feels super grateful for my alcoholism–just because of how it took me to the end of myself and into a better life than I could have had had I never become a drunk. Loved your comment. Bless you. Heather

  6. Julie Dieterle says:

    I am thankful that I receive these blog posts. I want to drink so badly today. I am stressed, I dislike my job, my teenage son hurt my feelings last night, I am feeling displaced in my role as a mother right now because my children are growing up and I am not sure how to continue to nurture them without smothering them . . . . . . on and on and on. I have been sober for 8 months and some days are easier than others. Today is a hard day. I don’t want to reach out for help to the ladies on my group text, I don’t want to ask for prayers because I am feeling vulnerable, I want to drink, period, which is absolutely not an option. So, right now in this moment, I choose to reach out and ask for help. As soon as I hit enter on this post, I will pick up my phone and send out a distress call to my awaiting prayer warriors. Thank you, again Heather, for sharing.

    • BRAVO … and right there is how it works … we want to drink … but we don’t NO MATTER WHAT and in that dark place of needing … we reach out to our fellow surrendered survivors and ask for a hand … and we make it another day, ready and willing to offer our hand to another. I love sobriety and I love that I don’t do it alone, I tried and I can’t and it is in the common bond of like suffering and surrender that the desire and willingness to STAY is borne, fueled and grows.

    • Wow, some of your words were exactly mine today: “My teenage son hurt my feelings last night, I am feeling displaced in my role as a mother right now because my children are growing up and I’m not sure how to continue to nurture them without smothering them!” You say it so perfectly. This transition of not being needed in the same way has caused me such grief. Who am I now? I never realized I was such a mom and needed to be, for me! Thank you for sharing your struggles here and for your confession that does help others remember we aren’t alone and we can ask for help. As Heather’s post says, we are meant to need each other in this crazy world–even if it’s words on a computer screen, the hearts come through too!

    • Julie, aren’t my readers amazing? I love when they do that–step up to support each other. I echo their encouraging words. Oh I can so relate to the kids growing up and out thing. You put it so well: how to nurture without smothering? When you figure that one out you’ll be a billionaire. Thanks for writing, friend.

      • Julie Dieterle says:

        I love being a part of the community of soberboots readers. It is the first recovery community that I have become a small part of. Still have not found a meeting that fits.

  7. I love this post. It’s a reminder I needed. I have been finding myself, after nearly 4 years of sobriety, wondering if I really am an alcoholic. Hating the label as much as I did at first, and thinking maybe it is too constricting. Maybe a social drink wouldn’t hurt at all. Maybe a glass of wine or champagne in celebration of something would be perfectly fine.

    But I never drank like that. Moderation almost always alluded me. And to jump through so many mental hoops to incorporate something into my life that is actually completely unnecessary…I have to be suspicious of my own motives. Desire to escape loneliness after my recent move, feeling orphaned, pride at not wanting my “new” life to carry the label “alcoholic”. Yeah. That rings much more true.

    • I’m so glad this spoke to you where you are. It’s amazing how quickly we “forget” or rationalize or start to second-guess our choice to be sober. When I actually time to recall in detail WHY I was so miserable and how HARD I tried to not to drink to excess so I could continue to drink to excess and not quit–it makes me shudder to think I could ever imagine going back. And yet, it happens every day. Lord have mercy, I don’t want to go there. Which is I love talking to readers like you. Thanks, Marcia. Heather

  8. “During all those years when I was praying for a private, discreet miracle from God—one that would spare my pride and let me go my way saying, “Whew! Glad that’s over!”—it never once occurred to me that he was holding out for a bigger, better miracle.” This hits home for me as a child of an alcoholic. I feel this about all the ways co-dependency affected my life. I wanted the quick fix to be healthy and God was providing the daily miracles, the long walk home, which is so much more fulfilling. Thanks for this.

  9. The one that allows me to say without a trace of shame today, “I’m Heather and I’m an alcoholic.” JUST BEAUTIFUL! Thanks Heather.

  10. It is so interesting to me that the resistance to recovery is what kept me in pain… the shackles of self bondage. Surrender to what “might be” opened a door to all that I never knew possible.

    LOVE this post Heather. I get to experience the “bigger, better miracle” everyday, and I know that all I can do is provide witness. I cannot hand it to anyone… they gotta reach out and take it for themselves.

  11. “…it never once occurred to me that he was holding out for a bigger, better miracle.” This is wisdom. It applies to so many situations that we face.Right now neither my husband nor I are employed. “Please fix it,” I ask Papa. He smiles and says he’s got a plan that is better than just fixing the situation.

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