A few individuals in my life have stated I have an “addictive personality.” I have a history of smoking, I drink, when I get into a show I binge-watch it, I get obsessed with specific ideas and topics, I probably spend way too much time on social media, I obsess about myself way too much, etc etc. This doesn’t seem like an “addictive personality” to me so much as a problem with addiction.
The most impactful of these myriad addictions/obsessions is alcohol. It was also my first addiction, beginning at around age 12 when I discovered my parents’ liquor cabinet. Children don’t just start up drinking to get drunk on a regular basis at such a young age without there being a history of trauma. The link between addiction and childhood trauma is clear:
” The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, which includes some 17,000 participants in California’s Kaiser Permanente insurance program, found multiple, dose-dependent relationships between severe childhood stress and all types of addictions, including overeating. Adverse childhood experiences measured included emotional, physical and sexual abuse, neglect, having a mentally ill or addicted parent, losing a parent to death or divorce, living in a house with domestic violence and having an incarcerated parent.
Compared to a child with no ACEs, one with six or more is nearly three times more likely to be a smoker as an adult. A child with four or more is five times more likely to become an alcoholic and 60% more likely to become obese. And a boy with four or more ACEs isa whopping 46 times more likely to become an IV drug user later in life than one who has had no severe adverse childhood experiences.
“These are extraordinarily strong relationships,” says Dr. Vincent Felitti, a founder of the ACE study and the former chief of preventive medicine at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. “You read the newspaper and the cancer scare of the week is about something that raises risk by 30%. Here, we’re talking thousands of percentage points.” ” [from an article titled “How Childhood Trauma Creates Life-long Addicts“]
So there’s some history to my “addictive personality.” Adaptations that helped my childhood self defend against negative experiences are no longer useful as an adult. Counseling over the past five years and cognitive behavioral therapy techniques have helped tremendously. However, there will always be aspects to myself that are shaped by those experiences, those memories. That can never be erased or undone.
But I can at least quit drinking again. I’m functional, but in so many ways my consistent over-consumption derails my physical and emotional health. I thought it would be helpful if I listed the reasons here, wrote them out, so that my motivation to quit drinking might better integrate with my conscious mind. Also so that at any time, I can look at this post on my phone to remind myself why I quit. I am fortunate that the following reasons do not include “lost job/relationship/homeless/driving drunk/etc.”
- I feel fatigued; my body is forced to metabolize alcohol on a consistent basis, distracting it from its main functions while also causing damage. Quitting will give me loads of energy.
- Appetite and diet will improve, further bolstering my stamina and motivation.
- My risk of cancer will diminish significantly, which is especially important in the context of smoking (alcohol consumption correlates with the development of multiple types of cancer).
- Emotional health will vastly improve, and I will have a better chance of working through the issues related to dysphoria and my desire to transition.
- Quality of sleep will improve, and dream recall will become vivid and colorful once again. This is one of the most exciting parts of alcohol cessation, since dreams have always been a central part of my personal growth. And considering that my primary male sex organs wake me up to dysphoria multiple times a night (whether I drink or not), having a dream journal will provide me a constructive way of working through these experiences.
- That god-awful smell of unhealth will go away, and I’ll stop sweating so much. Seriously, it’s really gross to me; I smell too much like a man and can’t stand it (although I like the smell on other men!).
- Whenever I quit drinking, I start consuming large amounts of herbal tea of all types. Holy basil tea is my favorite because of the profound calm it brings me. It’s also delicious.
- My house will be much cleaner, since I do most of my cleaning at night (unless I’m drinking).
My intention with detransitioning was to find an alternative to dysphoria other than transition. That dysphoria is inarguably an umbrella term for multiple, inter-related issues, I cannot deny the impact of childhood sexual abuse in its development. This history of CSA is connected to my problems with addiction, which itself is a coping mechanism for dysphoria. Then there’s the history of internalized homophobia, and feeling uncomfortable and confused with my social role as a man. There are the feelings of hating myself for being male. None of these are healthy.
If the end-result of quitting HRT is simply me backsliding into alcoholism, then there was no point to detransition and I should go back on hormones.
Is my behavior taking me towards a more fulfilling life, or self-destruction? My behavior is beginning to resemble my pre-transition self. I’ll be honest, that clearly indicates a self-destructive path. If I’m simply returning to where I was pre-transition, then again, there was no point to detransition.
For all these reasons, I am choosing to stop drinking. This is one thing in my life for which there is no balance – I’m either drinking, or I’m not. Many people don’t experience alcohol this way, and that’s okay. Alcohol consumption is standing in the way of me finding a healthier path. It’s preventing me from working through the issues I quit transition in order to work on.
I’ve gotta make this count.