21st birthday

Today I have been driving around the city in which I spent most of my twenties living. I have driven past a lot of memories, both good and bad. I made many drunk mistakes during those seven years. I do not remember if I ever attempted to go sober back then.

Did I believe I had a problem?  Was I under the illusion that I could control it?  Or did I just think it was a part of being young?  I enjoyed my party life style. I thought any other type of life was boring and not worth living. And I was still at a point where the good times outnumbered the mistakes. Or that is what I remember now. Maybe once I start reading through my journals, I will recall more problems than I wish to admit.

I thought of stopping in the 24 hour cafe that I used to go to drunk. Everyone in that cafe was drunk between 2am and 4am. I guess we were lucky cops did not sit and wait to pull over everyone as we left the parking lot. I once took my mom there during the day and she agreed the coffee was great. I felt proud that the place was good even when sober.

The place where I got all my body piercings has been changed to a mobile phone store. I was always sober when I got pierced. Was piercing just another way to fit in with the parties? I think everyone I knew in those days had at least a tongue piercing. I started to get rid of mine in my 30s. Now I only have simple ear piercings.

I am eating at a restaurant that I used to consider as a fancy date place for my ex-husband and I. Restaurants are when I feel I am testing my sobriety.  I am so used to a glass of wine with my meals. And I honestly could have one or two and be fine. For now. But even if I have only 1 or 2 glasses every other night for a month, I will eventually go back to 1 or 2 bottles a night. I ask for a glass of water and return the wine menu to the waitress right away to avoid the temptation.

Mistake #3: my 21st birthday. My first time getting drunk was when I was 18. (I might add that as a separate mistake later on.) I actually think the law in America should be 18 years as the drinking age. If you can join the military and die for your country, you should be old enough to have a beer. By the time I was 21, I gained a lot of drinking experience at frat parties, other college parties, military bases and trips to Tijuana.

I was married at the age of 20. I tried to get in a bar once with my husband with a fake ID. The bouncer recognized it was fake. I kept insisting it was real. He threatened to show the ID to a cop across the street. He gave it back and told me not to bother with any of the other bars along that street cause they will keep the ID. I was mad at my husband for not sticking up for me. He remained quiet by my side the whole time. I began feeling anger at a society that would let me be married but not let me in a bar. We left. He picked up beers from the store and we got drunk at home instead. (Can someone get in trouble for contributing to a minor for getting their spouse drunk?)

So my 21st felt like it was opening doors to freedom. No more trying to get served with a fake ID and fearing it failing. No more having to sit home. I could enter the world of party people legally. I never foresaw all the other fears and problems that would develop over the next seventeen years.

I do not remember much of my 21st birthday. We had dinner. I had wine with dinner. Then we bar hopped. I remember going to the bar where that bouncer turned me away. I got free birthday shots. I drank mixed drinks. I think back than I drank Sex on the Beach mostly. I sort of remember going to another bar. My husband said we went to several bars that night. And then I got sick when we got home. He cleaned it up. It was the beginning of him cleaning up many of my drunk nights.

A lot of people have told me that not remembering my 21st birthday is a sign of a good birthday.

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Pink Cloud

9 days sober.

And I am on my pink cloud. I have heard this term to describe the wonderful feelings in the beginning. I have been fantasizing about my sobriety.  I have been contemplating how I am going to announce my 30 days. I have been thinking of how wonderful I will feel when I hit my 90 days. I think I have only gone 90 days sober once in my twenty years of drinking. And I crave the congratulatory remarks when I finally hit one year. I am imagining all the “likes” I will get when I announce it on Facebook.

I do the same when any new relationship starts.

I also keep telling myself of how my life will get better. Of all the things I can accomplish now. I will read more. Exercise more. My biggest passion in life is traveling. I told a friend tonight that I will be able to visit her more now that I will not be wasting my time in bars. She, who has also battled with drinking in the past, said “so you THINK!” A warning?

I do have this blog to keep up. I will put that on my list of goals. And I will travel. My drinking never before stopped my traveling. Ok maybe it has made me miss flights or buses. And I wasted days hungover instead of seeing sights. And I did skip out on a promise trip to visit a friend’s new baby last summer because a party came up that I “could NOT miss.” But I promise to try to visit more friends.

I listened to the audio book “Living Sober Sucks” the past two days. Tonight he suggested not telling most people why I am not drinking. He said to make up other excuses rather than “I have a drinking problem”. He said to say I have to drive (but honestly, that excuse does not work because people try to say “oh just one drink!”) He said to claim I am allergic to alcohol. People are not comfortable with that excuse. I agree.

I have already dealt with people not understanding.  I have had many friends try to convince me I just need to NOT get trashed. As if I could control it. I never plan to black out. I never plan on the mistakes I made. I have met people who don’t believe blackouts are real. They think drunks make up blackouts as an excuse to forget what they did. I guess if you never experienced one, it is hard to believe a person can look perfectly in control and functioning and not realize their brain went to sleep already. I used to joke that I wanted to install a drunk cam on my head to remember my night.

I think if people urge me to drink, I am going to say I have liver damage or a liver enzyme issue. If I start throwing out fancy medical terms, maybe it will sound plausible. And I never know. I might actually have damaged my liver over the years.

Mistake #2- a few months ago: I was visiting friends in another city. I had a flight at 6pm. I went on a lunch date that day. I thought I would leave before 3pm, get my bags, and head to airport by 4pm. Lunch started with margaritas. By 3pm, I called the airline and changed the flight to the next morning. I paid $150 to change the flight just so I could continue my drunk afternoon.  The date by that point included the guy and I sharing a table with a drunk women in her 60s. The three of us went to a jazz bar. I switched to rum and cokes. My date disappeared.  I got mad and called friends to come pick me up at 8pm. (Later the date told me he went to his house one block away to charge his phone and came back but I was gone.) I do not remember much at my friends’ place except them harassing me to tell them the time of my morning flight to set the alarm for me. I do not know if I continued drinking there. Probably. I woke up at 4am still drunk. I was still drunk when I arrived home that afternoon. Wasted that day and money.

Beginning this blog one week sober

I have had this idea for awhile. For the past year, I have started to jot down in a pocket calendar, that was gifted to me by a former boss, the mistakes I made while drunk. The things I lost. The one-night stand. The blackouts. The accidents. The dangerous situations. The fights. I have achieved goals of “30 days no booze!” and then would celebrate that goal by getting trashed. And then more mistakes. I thought if I could come up with 365 mistakes I have made while intoxicated, those mistakes would give me a reason to go sober for a year. And I am hoping if I can make the goal of a year sober, I can attempt a life change of abstinence.

I recently found my personal journals from 1998- 2008. I skimmed them and found many memories from drunk nights, both good and bad. I am not going to lie and say all my drunken times were mistakes. But there were too many close-calls, of my life or other lives, for me to continue drinking. I believe my lack of self-esteem is the core of the problem. My addiction was born by my desire to be accepted. Cleaning up is being born of my desire to live.

 

This blog will be my way to list and share some of those mistakes. I will start with small ones and try to work my way up to the destructive ones. I will also write about my current state and how I am dealing with my sobriety. I will try to do this daily. I will not use the real names of anyone. 

 

As of today, I am 8 days sober. It has not been hard. I have been driving across the United States since my last drink. So there has not been any temptation. I just downloaded the audiobook “Living Sober Sucks” by Mark A Tuschel to listen to for today’s drive. I will be spending time with friends the next few nights. I know the time will be full of my crying about my addiction and their supportive words. They are friends who have been with me for a long time and have seen some of the wreckage cause by my drinking. Going sober seems to be the time of testing who are friends and who are party associates.

As for an example of a mistake from my drinking, I will start off with this past New Year’s Eve. I was partying with some friends in Kuala Lumpur. We were at an apartment complex in the suburbs and the party was on the rooftop lounge. We had a nice view of the Petronas Towers. I broke my Galaxy3 that night by throwing it to a friend to take a photo of me while we were both drunk. He didn’t catch it. I do not remember seeing the fireworks over the famous towers. I do remember helping a stranger while he was puking. I do not remember leaving the party. I woke up the next day on a bed in a strange apartment in another suburban area. There was a fan blowing. My friend’s friend was lying on an air mattress in the room. I did not really know her and did not feel she even liked me. I went into the living room to play Sherlock Holmes and track down my belongings. The owner of the apartment was one of the party’s organizers. She was sweet. She offered to give me a ride into the city later that day. But I wanted to leave sooner. I wanted alone time instead of being hungover with these two women I barely knew. She gave me directions on how to take the bus to catch the Metro to the city. I was happy I had money on me and did not lose my purse. I worried how I was going to travel the next 3 weeks with a broken phone. It felt like a wasted New Years Eve.