Ego

I am better than you.
I might not have what you have, but I am a better person.
I might not be as pretty or thin or rich, but my heart is better.
I might not be as happy as you, but I am more important.

These are some thoughts I seem to have at times to make myself feel better. I look at happy couples and tell myself I am better because their happiness will not last. I tell myself I am better off alone than settling. I do not even know these people but I convince myself that I am better. I will try to mask my jealousy by mentally degrading others.

I have traveled.
I have done volunteer work.
And now… I am sober. I do not poison my body with alcohol like you do. I do not drink that venomous juice which you THINK brings you happiness. I have REAL happiness because my mind is clearer.

How does someone with such low self-esteem develop such an ego? Is it a real ego or am I trying to believe I am better to cope with my feelings of inadequacy?  of course I do not think or react like this towards everyone. Only when I feel threatened.

This is another characteristic flaw I need to overcome. It stems from anger. Anger at myself.  Anger at my life.  Anger at my past. And it is because of fear that I really am worthless. I judge them to hide how harshly I judge myself.

Buddha describes anger this way: It is like you pick up a hot coal to throw at your enemy. The hot coal is your anger.  You are gonna be more hurt by the coal than your enemy. We need to feel the suffering the anger causes and then drop it. Let it go.

I need to learn to let go of my anger, fear, jealousy,  and judgements. I need to focus on compassion and that includes compassion for my past and problems. I need to stop desiring so much. Desiring a relationship and acceptance has cause me so much suffering.

I really need to start meditating.

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Oktoberfest

Many years ago,  I met a couple from Munich, Germany. We got a long great and they invited me to stay at their place if I ever visit Germany. A year later, I emailed them to see if they could host me for Oktoberfest. They agreed and we made plans for me to stay on their couch for three nights of the two week celebration.

They told me they usually don’t allow anyone except family to stay during Oktoberfest.  They said the last time they had a friend stay, the guy got so drunk that he tried to urinate in one of their houseplants. They felt I would be a more responsible guest.

I spent my first evening hanging out with them. We met up with some other people, including one of my German friends visiting from another city. It was fun and a lot more than what I expected. It was a large carnival with rides and games. And then there were the packed beer “tents” (actual buildings ) with food, music and beer. Most of the tables inside are reserved and some of the reservations started a year ago. We managed to find a table outside one of the tents. We ordered pretzels and large mugs of beer. I have a photo of me smiling big while holding up my first Oktoberfest beer. Later that night, my host had me try different shots of schnapps. I was loving Munich.

The next day I returned without my hosts because they had to work. I met up with my friend and the group from the previous night. We walked around and drank as much beer as we could. We drank beer all day! I had some food. I think schnitzel or something very German. I have the menu that I stole. I met some people who I am still friends with today. My German friend left early and I stayed late. I was dancing on tables and spilling beer.

I drank so much that the rest of the evening is blurry. I know I got on a very high swing ride by myself cause I made a video of it. It was the kind of ride of swings that goes around and lifts you up so your feet fly below you. But this one was like 30 meters high. You were lifted above the festival.

Mistake 239- That night, I have a photo of me standing in front of one of those house of mirrors. But I am not sure what happened. I sort of have memories of being in there. I think with a guy. I do not know what happened or what we did. I sort of remember pushing him away. I am not sure. I know I lost the jacket that I had on in the photo. I remembering I was crying trying to give the taxi driver directions to my hosts’ place.

I woke up the next morning hungover. I tried to piece together the night but decided not to bother. I was too embarrassed. I had plans to meet up with my German friend at Marienplatz. I thought we would go to the festival together. But when I found her at the meeting point, she said she wanted to explore the sights of the city instead. I was upset. I came to Munich specifically for Oktoberfest. I already visited it years before and did the tourist stuff. She said “you only care about getting drunk.” I felt that was an okay goal during Oktoberfest. So she went off to see the city and I rushed to the festival. Some of the people I met the day before were meeting at noon and I wanted to join them.

When I got to the meeting point late, I did not recognize anyone. The group must have wandered off to a tent. I waited to see if any other stragglers would arrive. I started to get depressed. Could I have fun at Oktoberfest alone? I then thought maybe I should go find my friend. Maybe I should join her. I walked outside the festival trying to decide. As I wandered, I received a text message. A British guy from the previous night had my number and asked if I knew where the group went. I replied no but asked if he wanted to meet up with me. He said sure. Yea I had someone to hang out with! My mood lifted.

I saw a shop selling German festival clothing of dirndls and lederhösen. I decided to buy a dress. I wanted to really get in the Oktoberfest spirit. I bought one that was brown and yellow and match my sweater. It was a very cute outfit. I met up with the British guy and we had a great day drinking Bavarian beers.

We found some people from the group by the evening. I was drunk at this point. The British guy had to leave and I joined the group. We got a table inside a tent. I was standing on the tables dancing again. I had drunk German guys talking to me in German and they didn’t care that I did not understand them. I also met an American guy there with his friend. We joked about the drunk Germans must have assumed I was German because of my dirndl.

There was a woman walking around doing breathalyzer testing. She gave out certificates with your BAC level. I got it done and then had everyone I met sign it. I do not remember what my number was but I remember acting proud. I lost the certificate sometime that night.

Mistake 240- I woke up the next day in a hotel room. I was nude. I looked over and noticed I was in bed with the American. And his friend was in the next bed. The guy was nice and we exchanged emails. He found me on Facebook a few years ago.

Two embarrassing nights and two blackouts. I kept thinking “at least I did not try to pee in my hosts’ houseplants.”

Drunkcations

I am enjoying my few days of “paradise”. I am doing some things I love: scuba diving, snorkeling,  and reading. I am relaxing and reflecting. I am thinking back to all the travels and vacations I have done where my relaxing meant recovering from a hangover.

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I am reading Kevin Griffin’s One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps. I have been reading this for awhile but keep getting distracted by school and travels. I am enjoying it and only up to step 3. I would recommend it for anyone who considers themselves Buddhist to read this before reading the Big Book. Or at least that is how I am going about it. One line just really bite me:

I’d always been afraid to get a sponsor because I didn’t want someone to tell me what to do.

Has that been my problem? Is that why I hesitate to commit to AA or get a sponsor? I still feel like I am in a phase of sobriety where I want to research all my options before “committing”. I already researched the “trying to control my drinking” and failed so I know I am committed to a life without alcohol. But will I divorce this idea one day? Commitments don’t always last.

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It is hard to believe I will never had another tropical cocktail or local beer. Sobriety is so much better than the drunken vacations I have done. But it is not easier. It is especially hard when I think of the good times I had when drinking while traveling. I need to stop romancizing the alcohol.

Mistake 237- I was visiting friends on a beach in Thailand. We all met a woman that was a yoga instructor and there on vacation. She’s offered to do a yoga class for us the next morning at 8am on the beach for free.

I stayed up drinking until sunrise. When my friends knocked on my door and I told them I wasn’t going, they laughed “she is hungover again.” I regret missing out on that. In fact, I stayed up drinking until almost sunrise my 3 nights there. My friends usually went to bed at a reasonable hour. I made friends with the locals.

Mistake 238- I went to a party in Singapore.  Even though the beers were $10 USD each, I drank a lot. I do not remember the end of the party and spent the next day hungover. I spent a lot of money that night. I started to nickname the city “Drink til poor”.

I am sure I can come up with plenty of other drunk mistakes from travels but I am going to enjoy my last day in “paradise.”

“Then what do you do for fun?”

I am in Belize for a couple days on the island Caye Caulker. The island life is so beautiful and relaxing. I have been diving and snorkeling. It is also Belize’s Independence Day so there are a lot of celebrations. It is very tempting to grab the local beer Belkin and join in the fun.

But I am resisting. On my diving trip, we were supposed to have rum punch on the way back. I asked for a juice instead. I went to a restaurant La Cubana for dinner and the special included 3 rum drinks. “Can I get watermelon juice with no alcohol instead?” And the snorkeling trip was supposed to end with rum punch. They love their rum here! (I think it is cheaper than the Belkin beer.)

I went to bed very early my first two nights because I was exhausted from traveling and then diving. I missed the fireworks but heard them from my bed. I was worried how I would handle the late night celebration alone and sober. The daytime parades and parties are easier for me even though a lot of people are drinking alcohol at breakfast time. One local told me some men put stout in coffee mugs to hide that they are drinking beer in the morning. This is a huge vacation spot so I can understand people wanting to be in the party mood but even the locals seems to have party brains.

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Then again it is a holiday weekend. Maybe they are not always like this. But I still am surprised that so many women are walking around drinking beer on the streets.

Tonight I went to eat at one of the bars near my guesthouse. I spent some time talking to the owner/bartender and another patron. They drank beer and shots of whiskey and I drank a Sprite and Fanta. Part of me really, really wanted a beer. There were a lot of other travelers around me, mostly young, laughing and drinking. I wanted to be able to do that again. Even though alcohol is a depressant and not something I need when traveling alone. Too many times I got drunk and then got sad (or sadder) when I felt not included. Or I would have got drunk and made a fool of myself hitting on the guy sitting next to me. Or the bartender. I actually wished they had ice tea. The soda was disgustingly sweet.

A local guy came in with a flyer. He is a DJ and playing at a new club on the island. For $10, you get in and 3 free drinks. He started to list all the drinks for me. I cut him off and said “I don’t drink alcohol.”

“Do you smoke?” (and I can only guess what he meant.) No.

He looked stunned. “Then what do you do for fun?” I felt defensive and not sure how to answer. I thought of the diving and snorkeling I’ve done the past two days. I thought of the books I have read and the traveling I have done. I have fun but I do not think this guy would understand those activities as fun. I told him I dance. He said “good then you can come dance. When people say they don’t drink and don’t smoke, I picture those boring people sitting in the club doing nothing”. He demonstrated by sitting down and imitating a tree stump. I said I dance when the music is good. A woman sitting next to me said “so if she isn’t dancing and having fun, that is the DJ’s fault.”

I laughed. I did not think of it that way. It was his turn to be defensive. “No not my fault someone can’t have a good time.” It made me wonder if artists are really any good if people need to be drunk or drugged to enjoy them. And I thought if I were really drunk, I could be listening to crap music and having a good time. I told him I would rather have a good time without alcohol and that I do not need alcohol to enjoy life. He seemed bothered but that could because he might have a problem. (He admitted he has been drinking whiskey since he woke up that day.)

My idea of fun might be different from others but I don’t think anyone considers hangovers fun. And I left that bar without making any drunk mistakes.

Mistake 236- I was in Mexico waiting for my bus to the airport. I was drinking all day and it was now evening. I sat on the beach with a cocktail hidden in my water bottle. I was trying to read my book by headlamp. I decided to take a nap instead. I set the alarm on my phone. When I woke up, I was still a bit drunk. I grabbed my bags and rushed to catch my bus. Once on the bus I realized I dropped my $40 headlamp in my drunken rush.

I know that sobriety is not a guarantee that I will never lose things again, but I do seem to be more organized without my brain clouded by booze.

Te-kill-ya

As soon as I got off the plane and walked through the airport, the tequila advertisements started. Then when I walked past duty free right next to baggage claim, I saw large displays of tequila. I was never a big fan of shots of tequila but I did like some Patrón margaritas.

Alcohol seems to be the largest souvenir of so many places. Rum in Puerto Rico. Vodka in Russia. Port in Portugal. I remember one time I was thinking of visiting Brunei and when I told my friends alcohol is banned in that country, they said “then why would you want to go there?”

I had lunch at a famous beach bar Señor Frogs. I remember eating and drinking here before while waiting for a ferry to Cozumel. I came here because I knew it was on the beach and had wifi. I ordered a “lemonade” but it tastes more like seltzer water with some lemon. I went ahead and ordered a virgin banana daquiri.  The waiter clarified “no alcohol?” “Sí, sin alcohol.” The bartender rang a bell and blew a whistle which meant free tequila shots for everyone. When the guy came to me and I said no, he yelled “FREE TEQUILA!” I again said no gracias. He looked shocked. I might start telling people here I am pregnant.

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Virgin Piña Colada

I used to get sick when I drank tequila shots. I tried to avoid them. But if I was drunk and someone was ordering a round of shots, I would agree. And then usually vomit and suffer a horrendous hangover. Yet, still do it again.

Mistake 235- I was tipsy from a bottle of wine to myself at dinner. I took a long route back to my guesthouse so I could explore the streets of Tulum. I found a tequila shop that had a DJ with turntables. People were dancing in the shop and pouring out onto the street. It was a party after the shop was closed for business. They still had a bottle of tequila being passed around from which people to do shots. I joined the party and drank some Dos Equis, but declined the shots. I was diving the next day and did not want to be sick. Yet 1) I should not have drank as much as I did the night before a dive and 2) I was in some tequila shop with a bunch of strangers, with very few speaking English, getting drunk. Not the safest thing. And lucky no one was putting GHB in the open beers they gave me.

DUI Equals Loss

I was scanning through profiles of friends on Facebook earlier. And I came across a page of which several of my high school friends belonged. It was a page for the birthday of our classmate’s sister. She was killed in 1991 by a drunk driver.

I remember really liking her in the one year I knew her. She was a senior when I was a freshman. I remember she seemed to be the only nice senior I met. She offered me and other students rides home. She never treated us like we were less human. She had a huge heart and beautiful laugh. She had gorgeous eyes and a bright smile. And she died too young because of a drunk driver. Because of someone like me.

I mentioned before that I was a good kid. I did not start drinking until I was 18. Well, I tried a few drinks here and there. Mostly with my older sister. But I never really DRANK until I joined the military. And the blackouts started almost right away. I never connected my behavior to the behavior of the person that killed my classmate’s sister. I never thought I would become one of “those people”. Aka people with a drinking problem.

The other night at work, a commercial came on the television for a lawyer that specializes in DUIs. Two coworkers were commenting how expensive DUIs cost now. “That is a couple thousand dollars now.” I said “it costs more than money.”

After my second DUI, I sort of thought I had a drinking problem. Or at least I admitted I was having too many problems from drinking. That was when I first created a “sobriety journal” to start listing the problems. But I did not want to stop drinking. I was not ready. I just wanted to learn to control my drinking and avoid blackouts. I never realized I had to find a solution to my self-hatred: my reason for drinking.

Too many people think DUIs are no big deal. Or the legal and financial consequences are too harsh. But there are too many second and third DUIs. There are too many accidents related to alcohol. There are too many deaths. And the death of someone I once admired was not enough to steer me away from driving drunk.

Mistake 233- My first DUI: I was at the usual bar I hung out at on Thursday nights. After last call, I tried to drive to my job to sleep in my car in the parking lot. I kept extra clothes and toiletries in my trunk for such occasions. I was worried if I drove home, I would sleep through my alarm. Instead, I got pulled over for not having my headlights on. Something so simple. I failed the sobriety test and breathylzer. I do not remember what my BAC was.

I was arrested. Ironically, I was wearing a t-shirt “Top 10 Drunk Lies” at the time I was lucky I knew the home number of a friend because 1) you could only make collect calls from jail and 2) you could not make collect calls to cell phones. And who knows phone numbers much anymore? Usually you just look up their name in your contact list. He came and bailed me out. I got home in time to call out sick from work and spent the day crying. My roommate told me her “almost arrested” stories. We agreed it was just bad luck.

After my court date and sentencing, my driver license was restricted, I paid fines, and I had to take an alcohol safety class. All of the people in that class were forced there and did not take it serious. None of us thought we had a problem. AA meetings were not recommended nor required. I basically learned I just better plan out my drinking nights. And that worked for a few years. (Mostly because I did not drive for a few years.)

Mistake 234- While not a drunk mistake, this was linked to my DUI: I got caught driving on the restricted license when I should not have been driving. I was allowed to drive to and from work, to and from school, to and from doctor appointments, and to and from my alcohol classes. I was driving to pick up my mom for dinner before going to my college graduation ceremony. I got pulled over for expired registration tags. The police officer gave me a ticket for the tags and violating my restricted license. I thought graduation would be included under driving to and from school but the judge ruled otherwise. He suspended all my driving privileges for a year. And I missed my college graduation ceremony because I was not in the mood after getting the ticket. I ended up getting rid of that car since I could not drive it because I was not able to afford the insurance with the DUI surcharges.

First Sober Trip to Mexico

9am and I am on a plane waiting to fly to Mexico. I am not nervous: neither nervous about flying nor desire to drink. I feel all my “alcohol education” I have been teaching myself the past 8 months has helped. (I will reach my 8 month milestone while on this trip!)

I mentioned the time only because I got upgraded to business class and everyone around me is ordering orange juice and vodka. A screwdriver at 9am. I would have picked Bloody Mary if I was still drinking. But I am happy with my coffee. (Okay,  not really cause it tastes burnt.)

I have a few days of diving and reading planned. It is rainy season so not expecting too much sun. Excited that I won’t be wasting money and calories on margaritas. I am more worried about my willpower with chips and salsa. Trying to limit my complex carbs for the next month to see if it helps me drop a few pounds.

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Found my section on drink menu

Mistake 227- I spent New Year’s Eve in Cancun once with a boyfriend. We took a bottle of champagne to the beach for midnight after pre-drinking all night. I think we had “two-for-one” deals that night. After finishing off the bottle and feeling very drunk, we had sex on the beach. That would not be a big deal except I swear I caught flashes from a camera. I was too drunk to care. So might be photos out there somewhere of me and my boyfriend doing the nasty on a beach in Mexico.

Mistake 228- Last time I was in Mexico, I spent an afternoon getting drunk on the beach of Tulum alone. I then drank a few drinks after the sun went down. I started to walk back to my hotel. A truck pulled up as I was walking and the stranger offered me a ride. I got in. The man was an American living there. He said he watched me sitting on the beach that day He asked if I wanted to go on an adventure. I asked what did he mean. He said “you know what I mean.” My response was a loud, drunk laugh and I said no thanks. He dropped me off at my hotel and it wasn’t until I told some friends that I really realized the risky situation I put myself in.

Mistake 229- I kept drinking once I got back to my hotel. I overslept the next morning and almost missed my bus to the airport. I was hungover on my flight home.

Mistake 230- My first time to Mexico was when I was 18. I was new to drinking but already experiencing blackouts. (Wrote about a few mistakes already from my younger years.) I went to Tijuana and got very drunk with some friends. We never got passed the first bar because I was doing so many shots of tequila, I could barely walk. My friends had to almost drag me to the bus back to San Diego. I remember kissing one of my friends that night who had a girlfriend. I almost got in trouble for underage drinking when I got back to my school.

Mistake 231- I took another trip to Tijuana a few weeks later. Again, got super drunk but at least we made it to the main street of bars. I was so drunk I either dropped my wallet or was pickpocketed. I had no ID to return across the border. (This was before they required passports.) I started crying. Thankfully I was with a friend who had two ID’s: her drivers license and military ID. Since the photo on the military ID was black and white, she crossed the border with her drivers license and I flashed her military ID while hanging onto a male friend. Thankfully, I did not get busted for impersonating a military person.

Mistake 232- I took a trip further south from Tijuana with a guy I was “dating” (it was only sexual), our friend and his girlfriend. We all got a room to share. We spent the afternoon drinking so much that we all needed to nap before sunset. My guy and I were so drunk that we started to have sex as soon as we got in the bed. We did not seem to notice our friends were in the room. I do not talk to either of the guys anymore but I am still friends with the girl. She said it was the most awkward moment of her life.