My very big festival= Big Test of my Sobriety

I am at a week long festival in the desert of Nevada. Some of my readers will know it or have heard of it. I am stealing a wifi signal right now to make a quick post. I will make a longer blog next week to describe my experience. But I am starting day 5 here and I am still sober. I am actually enjoying this festival more than ever before. My friends are al impressed I am able to resist the temptation because booze are EVERYWHERE! But I have witnessed enough drunk related, idiotic events to stress my need to remain sober.

Plus there are AA meetings here! At a festival in the desert! I went to two. It helped me to know there are others like me out here.

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I will post next week more about this week and add mistakes that I have incurred here in the past from being drunk.

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Sober Birthday

I had a birthday recently. My first sober birthday. I did not blog about it that day in attempt for my identity to remain a secret. Might sound paranoid but I am always worried someone I know will stumble upon this blog.

It was nice. I spent the day in a museum. For dinner, I went to a restaurant with a pharmacy theme. They had a couple of non-alcoholic specialty drinks.
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I had the paracetamol. It was nice. Made it feel like a celebration. I had plans to meet some people afterwards but I was tired. I went to bed early. Also, I was worried that not being able to accept birthday drinks from friends was going to depress me. I chose to celebrate on my own.

Next year, I plan to go on a big trip with friends. It will include camping, hiking, and exploring the wilderness. I used to think I would allow alcohol for my guests. But now I am not so sure. If they can’t spend a few days without alcohol for my birthday, I am not sure I want them there. The last few days with my friend getting tipsy is making me appreciate being around sober people.

Mistake 210- I had a birthday party sometime in my early 20s at my apartment. I had a good amount of people show up. Not sure why, but a friend wanted to go to a bar. So I went with her. Maybe she was dating a bouncer or bartender. But I left my own birthday party to go to a bar with her. This was the days before cell phones so no one knew how to get a hold of me. It took them about 30 minutes to realize I was gone. Not sure if I ever apologized for that.

Changes in 7 months: I never want to be an annoying drunk again!

My friend and I arrived in Reno and I texted a friend to meet up. My local friend suggested a brewery to watch and listen to some music. We picked a meeting time.

I said to the friend I am traveling with “I am not sure if this guy knows I quit drinking.” I was not really worried. We have met up about once a year the past 7 years and catch up on each other’s lives over drinks. I don’t think he has ever seen me drunk. I was not worry about telling him I am now sober. I, also, was not gonna walk in and make a big production of it. “Hi, nice to see you again.  I am a recovering alcoholic. How have you been?” I just mentioned I did not know if he knew.

My friend started coming up with a bunch of excuses. “Tell him you are pregnant. You aren’t drinking so you can drive me. Tell him you are on medication.”

I was not planning on telling any lies. I would rather be honest with my friend. The way my friend was coming up with excuses made me think he assumes I am ashamed of my problem. But also reminded me of the way I was back in January when I thought of quitting. I got ideas from the book Living Sober Sucks and made my own list of lies. I kept wanting to come up with a medical excuse and use medical jargon to confuse people. It is amazing how in 7 months I now would rather be honest than lie.

Well, mostly, honest. If I do not know the people well or they are co-workers, I just tell them I got tired of drinking. That is the truth but I do no go into details of my disease.

We met up with my friend. He was sitting outside on the patio with some friends. I was starved. But of course the waitress always asks for the drink orders first. Since it was a brewery, it had mostly craft beers. Yet they did have non-alcoholic St Pauli’s Girl on the menu. I giggled and ordered that. I was actually glad I did because it took asking her three times to bring me water for her to do so.  Beer was served quickly. And my burger was quick. My travel friend did not order any food.

I was tired from being on the road the last few days. I was about to tell me friend we should ask for the bill when he ordered his third beer.  I was not really annoyed that he ordered another but I was calculating his irresponsibility. 1) He did not eat before drinking. And 2) he usually drinks Budweiser and lower alcohol beer and here he was drinking craftbeers with slightly higher alcohol content.

After he finished and we left, his intoxication started to annoy me. At first, just little things bothered me like insisting on being right about topics. But what really pissed me off was when  he pissed by the car in the upper level parking garage after I parked the car. Not by a tree or bush even. On the concrete! I was livid. “Why didn’t you do that at the brewery!” He said he didn’t have to go then. Even though just before getting there, he was complaining he had to go. We were in the parking garage! He could have run into the hotel if he had to go that bad. I told him that is such a trashy thing to do. I felt like I was hanging out with such an idiotic drunk. I grabbed my luggage and quickly walked to the hotel. It was so embarrassing. So third world. And I know he is going to go back home and tell his friends that I am a bitch, or controlling, or annoying, or that I flip out easily when tired. I would rather be all that than a drunk!

Mistake 207- I was in Vegas many years ago and met a guy. We were drunk and making out in a casino late at night.  We were near a slot machine when we were getting hot and heavy. I took him to my room. My friend that was staying with me was not there. She was out eating. When she returned, I made her stay in the hallway while he and I had sex.

Mistake 208- Next morning, I realized my wallet was missing. I got upset and assumed I dropped it somewhere in the night. The guy I met kept insisting that I go to security. I thought that was hopeless but I did anyway. Luckily, they had my wallet. (With about $500 in it.) I had to describe what it looked like to get it back. The security guy said “we found it by the slot machines.” That was how I remembered the guy and I getting hot and heavy by the slots. I was so embarrassed. Of course Vegas casinos have security cameras everywhere. A guard must have watched us kissing and groping and anything else we were drunk enough to do in public. Then someone came in to save my wallet when we took off for my room.

Mistake 209- Later that day, after more drinking, a co-worker, that was with me when I met the guy, texted me to see if the “loser” was still with me. I was upset that she called him a loser. So I replied back that he and I decided to get married. This turned into a lot more texts back and forth of her trying to talk me out of it. She called me later and my friend in my room answered to say I was at the chapel. It was a funny, drunk joke until I got back home and my manager called me into her office. She was concerned that I married a man I just met in Vegas. I explained to her it was just a joke that got out of hand. She said she was worried I must have been on drugs at the time. Maybe if I did get married while drunk, I would have been ordered to rehab ten years ago.

 

Don’t Understand Drinking Anymore

I am on a roadtrip and at a national park. We were supposed to camp but the weather report says 80% chance of thunderstorms.  So we got a hotel.  We didn’t check in until after 11pm. My friend decided to finish his last 3 beers. I am not sure why I was so annoyed. I do not understand why he needed them in the first place.

I told him I wanted to get up early to get into the park. He said we should sleep in if it is gonna rain. I told him I’d rather get an early start in case the morning is the only good weather we get. He actually suggested just getting drunk if it rains all day. And will I overdose on coffee while he drinks Budweiser all day?

We have 14 more hours of driving after this park. I sort of want to find a dry town as our next stop.

Quiet but dry

I have not posted in a few days but still sober. I am on a roadtrip with a friend. I have not had time to blog or read blogs. My mood has been better. We have been having a good time. We’ve been listening to music and comedy. We listened to two Robin Williams cd’s. I really enjoyed his jokes about alcoholism. Not sure if they made my friend uncomfortable.

I have never known my friend to have a drinking problem. But I found it irritating he had to buy a 6-pack of beer last night. We are doing a lot of driving. We stop in hotels around 10 at night with plans to leave by 9am. Why does he need beer? I also do not want to become judgemental. He drank 3 of them while I went to bed. Now I need to make room in my cooler for his beers? Hell no. He will have to deal with skunk beer tonight. My yogurt gets priority.

Mistake 206- I was in Taiwan for a few days. I wanted to make an overnight trip from Taipei somewhere. I picked Sun Moon Lake. I planned to take a train there in the afternoon and hike the next day.

I spent my one night there drinking in my hotel room. Everything in the town closed by 9pm. I found one place still open for dinner and ordered a large beer. Then I stopped at 7-11 on my way to my hotel to pick up 2 more large beers. They also sold little shooters of alcohol at the counter. I bought a few.

I sat in my room, watching some lame movie that I have seen hundreds of times, and drank alone. I also messaged with an ex-boyfriend while drinking. I got a little tipsy. I woke up to see the sunrise from my hotel room. Took a photo. Went back to bed. I was too dehydrated/tired/hungover. I slept until checkout at 11pm.

I had a train to return to Taipei that afternoon. I had to cancel my plans to hike around the lake. Instead, I did a boat cruise. And drank a lot of water, green tea, and ibuprofen.

Ginjinha

It is hard to read a page of my Lonely Planet Pocket Guidebook for Lisbon without mention of ginjinha. It is a Portuguese cherry flavored liquor.  There are certain areas and bars that are great spots for a cup or shot. I know it was mentioned in other cities in Portugal but it seems each region had their own style of this drink.  I sort of feel I am missing out but then again,  it is just a sweet liquor. I would rather enjoy pastéis de nata (custard tarts.)
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When I first started reading up about Portugal, I only had my Lisbon small guidebook for reference. In the beginning of the guide,  it lists the top sites, some basic information,  and a walking tour. The tour route is for a bar crawl.  The Cais do Sodré bar crawl is through the stylish district that was one the haunts of drunk sailors and prostitutes. It is now a hip,  late-night avenue. I immediately worried if there would be anything to see in Lisbon. Of course,  that is an absurd worry. But that being listed as the first self-guided tour made me feel I was already missing out.  If I can’t barhop, would I like the city?

I love it! There is so much beauty and history.  I wish I brushed up on Moor invasions and Spain’s rule of Portugal. But it was still enjoyable, and more so without alcohol. I got to see a lot more than I would have with hangovers or sipping away in bars. And I saved a lot of money drinking mostly water with meals. (A few sodas here and there.) The “free” wine tastings would just encourage me to buy a bottle or two.

Portugal might be known for its port and ginjingha, but Colombia is known for its cocaine.  Doesn’t mean I need to try that when I visit there.
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Mistake 205- I was on a diving trip.  It was a live aboard which means we stay in the boat.  We dive from the boat.  We sleep, eat,  and drink from the boat. There are rules about drinking before diving so they stop selling alcohol pretty early at night and none during the day if you want to dive.

I had about two each night with dinner. The last night, knowing I had no more dives,  I drank $60 worth of beer. In Malaysia where beer is cheap. Beer was more expensive on the boat than in the rest of the country but it was still a lot of wasted money. They were either $5 or $6 each. Just to get drunk and look at photos from my dives.  No one else was drinking much.  One other woman had 2 beers. I was the only alcoholic who couldn’t wait to dive into the haze of booze.

Depressed but Dry

Yesterday was the hardest day to stay sober in awhile.  So many times,  I really want a glass of wine. And I started trying to bargain with myself as to why I should have a drink. I can not remember the lies I told myself now but I am so glad I did not fall for any of them.

Robin Williams’ death was in my mind most of the day. Crazy how I could be so affected by someone I do not personally know. Damn him. Did he realize how this might effect thousands of people in recovery?

I know. That is a selfish question.

I kept rehashing my own suicide attempts. How I changed my mind. How I failed. Then there was that one time in Vegas when I called the suicide hotline. I don’t think I was really contemplating suicide at that moment. I think I just needed to talk to someone. Oh and I was drunk. But I wasn’t always drunk when thinking about or planning suicide.

I made a post of Facebook that I consider as my “Honesty post”. I basically said how much it hurts when people do not support my sobriety,  how I feel like a freak when they criticize it, and how people need to stop stigmatizing depression and alcoholism to prevent more suicides. I admitted that I had suicidal thoughts just a few days ago. I shared that I was fine now but by being ashamed to talk about it, I am continuing the stigma of depression. I also said I need to step away from Facebook and not log on for the rest of my trip.

When I returned to my hotel and WIFI last night,  I had an email.  It was from the aquaintances who told me my post about sobriety made her decide to try quitting. She made it 70-some days before relapsing. She wanted to thank me for my Honesty post. She has been going through some tough times and has been frustrated at people’s lack of understanding. She said I am one of the few she can talk about her drinking problem. Since I have not logged into Facebook since making that status, I do not know what the reaction has been. But her email made me glad I wrote it. I do not even know her well. I told her I will call when I get back to the states.

Another day I am proud I did not break down and drink.

Mistake 204- I had a friend staying at my place for the weekend with her boyfriend. I was new in town so did not know bars or people yet. We went out Friday night to meet a guy she knew that lived nearby.  But I did not really like this guy nor the bar he had us meet him. My friend was drinking Red Bull and Vodka and was drunk early. I did not even drink much because I felt I had to help her boyfriend babysit her. I was slightly upset. They wanted to go back there Saturday night but I declined. 

Instead for Saturday,  I found out a friend from another city had a friend visiting. I invited this woman to come out. Then another friend had a friend posting a get-together at a few bars. I thought this sounded like a perfect way to meet new people and new places. Since the girl visiting offered to drive,  I got trashed. I wanted to make up for remaining sober the previous night.

The guy organizing the get-together knew me. We met at a festival. I was too drunk when we met to remember him. But somehow, we were making out by the end of the night. I remember kissing on the side of the road as he walked me to the car. The woman I was with was irritated I kept her waiting. (My friend staying with me had her own drunk night with her boyfriend. Thankfully they had a spare key.)

Mistake 124- The next day, the guy I made out with invited me out for brunch. He brought a friend and I invited the woman I went met the night before. (I tried to invite my friend and her boyfriend but they were hungover.) I was nervous to see this guy again so I started drinking as soon as possible. I had these drinks with orange juice and I think vodka and something that made them taste like creamcicles. It was very good and I had 3. But they were also strong. I drove to brunch that morning. I acted obnoxious to try to hide my embarrassment. I think that made the guy regret making out with me. Then I discovered he was 12 years younger than me. I think that made both us of uncomfortable. 

I had to walk around that neighborhood a bit after brunch to try to sober up. New in town and already taking the risk of drinking and driving.