Rat in a Cage

Another busy week!  Up to day 16 and feeling really happy about it.  I had an urge on Wednesday to stop and get wine.

Wednesdays can be tough.  My oldest has lifeguard lessons in a city almost an hour southeast of us.  My hubby is taking the class with him, so he takes him, but he is coming from work in Monroe (about an hour south of where we live) so I have to rush home, figure dinner and leave to meet him about 30 minutes south.  Consequently, after my work day is done I can look forward to almost 2 hours in the car (including my commute home).  Then, just like every other day, it feels like a rat race to get everything done to prepare for the next day.


I was on the way home from dropping him off when Betsy started yipping in my ear.  I humored her for a minute, thinking that it sounded good.  But then she started to sound like a sick duck.

This duck is how Betsy sounded.

And I DIDN’T listen to that sick yapper– you know why?

I have a new Garmin fitness watch and it has helped me get up early this week and run/walk before work.  It felt really good to get back on track.  I ran/walked Sun-Mon-Tues so I took the morning of Wednesday off.  So I KNEW I HAD to get up early on Thursday to workout.  That wasn’t going to happen with a wine hangover.  I didn’t WANT a hangover.  I didn’t WANT to turn back my counter.  I didn’t WANT to tune my youngest out and ignore him counting the minutes until his bedtime.  I didn’t WANT to stay up too late and sleep poorly.  So, no Betsy.. sorry, it does NOT sound like a good idea, not at all.

I saw my therapist yesterday and updated her on my progress, including the story above.  She then told me about the Rat Park Study.  It was fascinating to me.


Basically (and I haven’t had a good chance to check all the facts, so I apologize in advance if any of the info below is not accurate), in the study, rats isolated in a small cage with no stimuli chose to drink drugged water consistently over regular water.  Rats in the “Rat Park” (AKA a HUGE cage with other rats, various toys, room for mating, etc) chose regular water over the drugged water.  Interestingly, rats who had been isolated and drinking the drugged water stopped drinking the drugs when moved to the Rat Park, and began drinking the regular water.

I’m a rat and I have the choice.

I can stay in the tiny cage and spend my days drinking the drugs and shutting out others– OR I can live in the Rat Park.  I can get up early to go out into the world, enjoy the peace, expand my lungs, strengthen my muscles and go to sleep satisfied that my dog is happy and exercised.

I can laugh with my kids at night, turn on a good movie, zone and enjoy popcorn and m&m’s OR I can hang out by myself with my drink and my headphones, not feeling anything.

I can rush home early from a family get together– all because I want to drink– and I don’t want to drink and drive, so I sit at home– alone.  OR I can stay as late as I want, holding a conversation because I’m 100% coherent and can drive home just fine.

I can brush my teeth before bed, read my study bible– or romance novel and think deep thoughts & set the alarm early knowing that I will wake up clear headed and refreshed, ready to work my muscles.  OR I can poison myself well into the night and wake up with an awful headache, agonizing general pains all over and enough guilt and shame to fill a 40 yard dumpster– completely and miserable exhausted.

I am so lucky.  I am not a rat in an experiment.  I have the choice and will always have the choice of which cage to spend my days in.  I can escape from life or live life.

Which one will you choose?



Published by Organic Revival

I am a mom of boys, wife, furmom, gardner, walker, runner, teacher, reader, writer and cook. I am 42 years old and live in the beautiful state of Michigan. I love my job as an elementary special education teacher. The most remarkable quality of mine is that I'm a recovering alcoholic.

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