Percentage rather than days

Hi all. I know I haven’t been posting for months but I think that happens to a lot of people who are trying to get sober but not really bloggers.

Since my last post, I did get drunk once. I was at a small, local Burner regional and I got drunk one night on cheap wine. I wasn’t sure why I did it but I think it was related to 1) feeling lonely 2) had a crush on the guy who offered the wine. I had fun but ended up going to my tent for something and passed out early. I wasted one night of a 3 day festival and regretted it the next morning when I had a hangover.

And I survived another Burning Man year with ALMOST no alcohol. I told several people  in my camp I do not drink but I was still offered booze in some form all week. I did take a few sips of champagne as it was passed around during volunteer shifts. And I had some champagne at a camp that has champagne parties at sunrise everyday, but it is small amount they give and the 2 cups I had were maybe 3/4 of a measuring cup. Then there was one drink I had on the last day as I passed a camp as my sort of farewell toast to Burning Man.

I sit here now a week later and think about what that means for my sobriety. To myself, I remained sober. I had a tiny bit of alcohol but avoided the amount that would cause me to crave. (Last year when I sipped the passing champagne, I gulped it down and realized I was keeping my eye on the bottle as it got passed around to figure when it would get back to me.) No, I do not think this means I can moderate. But I also don’t think I need to start to recount my sobriety. This is one reason I do not subject to the AA club nor the philosophies there. If I went to an AA meeting now, they would consider me newly sober and I would have to wait for 30 days since that last drink to get a new chip. It sort of erases all the things I learned the last 2 and a half years.

So I’ve decided to think of my sobriety in percents. I would estimate I have been sober 95% of the time since January 2014. I plan to sit down and actually calculate the percentage out when I have time. I can remember everyday I had a drink since I first slip in May 2015. The more as time goes on and I do not drink, that percentage will go higher. I think that is more important than chips or resetting my sobriety clock. I will never get a cake at an AA meeting with this belief but it will keep me sober to the best of my ability.

I am in school now so don’t really think I will have time for blogging. But I feel confident I can have that percent up to 99% by January 21, 2017.

Beers and Fears

I just survived a dinner with friends at nice restaurant with a menu of a lot of beer choices. We were spread out over two tables and shared a bunch of different appetizers. Everyone ordered beer, except one woman, who ordered some fruity cocktail. And me, who ordered a cranberry and tonic. No one questioned my choice or commented. I was offered the beer menu but declined it. One friend offered me a sip of his beer but I said the last drink I had was at the Christmas party with this same group of people. “Wow” one guy said and then moved on to talk about some art project.

I still felt the desire to want a beer just to make me feel comfortable.  Not because they were drinking beers. They could have been having ice teas and I still would have wanted the social lubrication of booze. I know a few of the people in this group more than others, but not that well. But the leaders of the group were at this dinner. We finished volunteering all day for a art festival. The leaders invited the volunteers out for drinks and snacks afterwards. I knew I would be surrounded by alcohol temptation, but I thought it would be a good way to have the group, and the leaders, get to know me. I wanted to be seen as a doer, a contributer, and a team player. I wanted to share in their stories. But being a newbie made me wish I could share a beer also.

There were many moments I thought the dangerous images of “just one beer”. I kept reminding myself where that lead to last year. (This last Memorial weekend marks 1 year since my first relapse, but next week marks 7 months renewed and completely sober.) I worried “they must think I am boring” and “will they all talk about me afterwards and regret inviting me?” I felt like I was in high school again and wondering if I would be accepted at the lunch table. I wanted to leave with the honest excuse I was tired, but didn’t want to be seen as a killjoy.

Alcohol is so evil how you can need for socializing but it also ruins your social skills.

I was worried most about one of the group leaders. She just seems very temperamental and doesn’t seem to like a lot of people. A lot of other people in our circuit have said they fear her. I have always worried she didn’t like me but I think she just doesn’t know me. She is an artistic genius and values hardwork. I wanted to join this gathering to get my face there as a volunteer. I wanted her to know my face.

My plan worked. During the meal, she shared plans with everyone of her new project and she pointed to me “don’t tell anyone about this! Top secret! ” I was giddy.  I earned her trust! By the end, as almost everyone but 3 people were leaving, she asked me if I wanted to stay for another drink. I felt liked. I said I was tired and I would be back early tomorrow to help them set up for the festival. I felt included.

I survived the get-together sober and I think I overcame my fear of this group leader.

Love and Exercise

I just want to write a quick note that I am feeling better. I had old friends that visited over the weekend. And today I went for a 3 mile hike. I think the love of friends and exercise helped a lot!

I am actually worried about my friends because they are both overweight. One is extremely overweight. He gained a lot since our days of partying in our 20s. He mentioned a few times “I need to lose weight” but then he ordered a few beers with every meal and some between meals. I wanted to slap it out of his hand “THIS IS NOT HELPING YOUR HEALTH!” He does not have a drinking problem but his drinking is not helping his weight problem. Anytime I have a friend whine about their weight and then see them drinking alcohol, I want to pour some of that beverage into a sack and glue it to their bellies. THAT IS WHERE IT IS GOING!

Now I know not everyone that drinks is overweight and a lot of people that quit drinking have problems losing weight. I know I was irritated when I first quit that pounds weren’t falling off. Then once I stopped replacing alcohol with carbs and sugar, and once I started hiking and walking, the weight dropped. It helps. Not fool proof but at least the walking helps pump my blood, clear my mind, and maybe see some pretty views.

I was disappointed my friends tired out very easily. But I guess it was like the days when I used to pass out on them early or disappear from the clubs.

Unhappy

But be careful when you finally get heppy. Because you can become greedy for the one thing you don’t have.
I missed drinking. This new world was grand, but I didn’t feel complete without that foamy abandon. I thought about drinking all the time. If only I could drink again, then I could lose myself to this handsome stranger and not be hobbled by my own nagging insecurities.

From Sarah Hepola’s Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

I haven’t had much time to read this wonderful book because of school. I haven’t been sleeping much nor well because of stress from work and school and life.

My mom is no longer talking to me because I demanded my 14 year old nephew apologize for ditching me 4 months ago. Not much. I just wanted an apology. But I guess my mom and sister were offended, like I was criticizing their parenting. So they stopped replying to me. In defense, I told my mom about my suicide attempt in 2001 that put me into the ICU. She tried to call and left a message wanting to know what is wrong. I got the message as I was going to class so I shot back a quick text reply about our family ignoring problems and I still want an apology. A week went by and no response. I guess she just wanted to make sure I didn’t have a gun to my head at that moment but as long as it is just my ramblings about excepting a teen to learn say “sorry”, she can go back to ignoring me. So I blocked her number and my sister. Then I deleted my nephews and brother off Facebook. I declare myself an orphan and only child. It is not much different than going on through life with them all ignoring me anyway.

I see my cousins posting about their brother that died in February. Their posts are full of love and mourning. I feel jealous for their closeness. “Sibling day” just passed and it reminds me of how crappy my siblings are. I am too. When the terrorists attacks happened in Paris last fall, I secretly wished my sister was there. I will miss my nephew and niece but I also feel guilty I don’t miss, nor know, my other nephew and niece.

The stress of being family-less has been eating me up. And hating work because I feel odd and unlike has made me want to quit. I start thinking drastic thoughts. Start thinking of getting drunk to numb it all. Start fantasizing about ways to die. Some think gardening when they see hoses. I think carbon monoxide poisoning. I think of buying a flight somewhere and chasing Valium with whatever rum is local. I think of going to the Middle East, breaking a law like fighting for women’s rights, and getting stoned to death. I think of going on a sailing trip and skinny dipping, after taking a bunch of Valium. I just want to stop feeling.

Then I went to a party Saturday. It was a costume party. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed expressing my creativity. I enjoyed seeing people that seemed honestly happy to see me. I felt surprise that people seemed impressed by my costume. That they seemed really happy to hug me. I felt liked. And that is more I get from my family.

So the suicide dreams are slipping away as I get more acceptance. Maybe happiness is on its way.

Sober Campus and Stories

It is Alcohol Awareness Week. At least according to all the flyers posted all over my school’s campus, with photos and a stories of a victim from boozing too much. When I google the event, I find that April is actually Alcohol Awareness Month. Is my school getting a early start? Or is there a separate week or month to focus on alcohol abuse on college campuses? Either way, it is sobering to read those stories.

There was a different one posted in each bathroom stall and on almost every door to each building. A 20 year old fell off a balcony while intoxicated at one school and died. At another school, a guy passed out in the road walking home from a party and was killed when  a car drove over him. 18 year old girl was found dead in her dorm room from alcohol poisoning on a different campus. All young people who probably thought they were just having fun, just fitting in, just partying, and not realizing the dangers of getting drunk. It took me two decades to learn for myself.

I have to keep reminding myself I was lucky. Even with all the dumbshit I did or horrible things that happened to me when I was actively drinking, I am alive. I survived. I am here to tell my own stories and not have them plastered on a wall for people to contemplate while they are peeing. (Unless you are reading my blog on a laptop on the toilet.)

I have started to read Sarah Hepola’s Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. I am only on page 12 and so far I love it. It is me. It is my story. It is about my life! Well, it is Sarah’s story but so far I relate to so much of it. I have to force myself to put it down and finish my school work first. But a quote that sounds as if it came out of my own personal journal is this:

I think I knew I was in trouble. The small, still voice inside me always knew. I didn’t hide the drinking but I hid how much it hurt.

I have been making new friends that seem to accept that I do not drink. It is the old friends that have been irritating me lately. The ones that say they are proud of me, but continue to overindulge in bottles of wine. The ones that parade photos of being plastered online. The ones that perpetuate the glamour of getting shit-faced. The ones bragging about all the green beer they will chug this Thursday, as if that is the more important event in the world. I don’t know if I am jealous, concerned, or lonely. But all three feelings make me annoyed.

I am working Thursday night. I wonder how many years it will be that I volunteer to work St Patrick’s night to avoid the parties and Jamesons.

And the Oscar goes to…

I went to an Oscars party last night. Well, actually, only a gathering with two new friends watching the awards on television. I texted my friend to see what I should bring. She said she was headed to the store to get chips, hummus and wine. I decided I would bring something to contribute and counterbalance the wine. I brought some yerba mate ice teas, a large vegetable platter, and ginger hummus.

The host offered me a glass of wine after I took my coat off. She listed all the choices of reds and whites, and then added she also had beers. I said I will keep to the ice tea. But once my tea was finished, she was a great host and jumped to offer me wine . I declined and asked for water. Sparkling or plain filtered?

No questions until the other friend, who had a few too many glasses of wine, asked “Do you not drink?” I did not bother with jokes that I was drinking plenty, just all alcohol-free. I said no, I quit. They asked if it was a diet or something temporary. I explained that I quit two years ago, with a few slips starting last summer, but I have been completely sober almost 3 months. The host seemed impressed. But the drunk friend asked the questions I might have asked if I was the drunk girl. “Can’t you even have a little bit? Don’t you know how to stop when it gets too much? Are you gonna try again after sometime sober?”  She told me how she can’t drink too much and I thought her current state of inebriation was obvious. I do not know how many glasses she had before I arrived, but she was matching her glasses of wine with my glasses of filtered water. She even began adding sparkling water to her wine to make spritzers and slow down the buzz.

I explained to her my slips last summer proved I could not have a little bit, nor should I try to go back to drinking anytime. I can not moderate. I was fine sitting there with my water but I know if I had one glass of wine, I would want the rest of the bottle. I would use too much mental energy telling myself to sip rather than chug and it was a lot easier to just avoid the taste to my tongue. And when the awards ended and she passed out on the couch, I was very glad I quit drinking. The host and I chatted a little bit more about our lives and I was able to drive home.

When I first quit drinking, I don’t know if sitting there avoiding their offers of wine would have been so easy. But I feel I have learned a lot since January 2014 about myself and what alcohol does to my body. I felt I honestly did not want to drink alcohol last night. No acting. No need for award for me.

Uncomfortable

I have already mentioned that I am going back to school. But “going back to school” makes it seem I had the summer or a semester off. In actuality, this is returning to the classroom after graduating with an associates degree fourteen years ago. And returning to a university rather than a community college after twenty years! I am surrounded by traditional students on campus. The community college I graduated from had a lot of older students that worked while getting their degrees. This school is mostly kids in their twenties that live on campus. This is more uncomfortable than I thought it would be.

I took some online classes the past two years. I started taking them to ease myself back into college life and to attempt to increase my GPA. None of the credits from those three classes were transferred to my new university. But I am glad I took them for the slow return to academia. Yet online classes are not the same as classroom classes. I was able to hide behind a computer screen.

I am at least fifteen years older than everyone in my class. It makes me feel old. But at the same time, taking a college class makes me feel young. Having homework and writing papers makes me reminisce about my twenties. I like having a notebook. I wish I had a locker to decorate. I could fill it with photos torn out of Teen Beat magazines.

My drinking slips made me realize being uncomfortable creates urges. If I am at a party or surrounded by people I do not know, I begin thinking “a beer will help me relax.” Yet that is not possible in a classroom. It had me thinking that I am learning to deal with the uncomfortable feelings I get surrounded by these new kids who are so different from me. If I can learn to handle the feeling there, maybe I can learn to deal with being uncomfortable at parties.

I need to read my SMART book. It has a section for dealing with cravings. Maybe it has a part for dealing with being uncomfortable.