My last post was February 2019. It is now almost April 2021. I have not blogged when the COVID19 Pandemic started, even though I should have. It could have helped. Instead, my stress and anxiety of the unknown of this new virus made me turn to alcohol. And even though bars and liquor stores were closed, take out was available and I was able to pick up bottles of wine to drink at home. Alone.
I ended my happy relationship the day after our 3 year anniversary in October 2020. I was sort of glad when lockdown happened because I thought “no stress of us not being able to see each other” but I was still depressed at another failed relationship. Also I wondered “would the lockdown have gotten him to agree to live together briefly?” A DJ on a radio station I listened to did that. Moved in with her boyfriend during lockdown since they got to work from home. But my boyfriend and I weren’t working from home. Sorry, my ex-boyfriend. He and I both needed to keep working through the lockdown. I was scared and stressed and used the pandemic as an excuse to order wine from the liquor store one block away.
I never mentioned this before in my blog because I was always worried about my license, but I am a nurse. I am “essential worker”. So an unknown virus rampaging through my area and hospital, making me think everyone I knew and loved was gonna die, seemed like a good enough reason to give up sobriety. I wanted to give up everything. I felt so hopeless. I watched as the number of positive COVID patients increased in my hospital in March 2020. I felt it was only time until I caught the virus. Two coworkers soon lost their husbands to it. A friend lost her lover. The nurse who retired and I took her day position died from it. A bunch of our respiratory therapists soon fell ill and were out sick from out. A huge portion of housekeeping began calling out sick from fear of getting it. I started wearing a mask at work before it was mandated and I was called “paranoid’. A week later, the hospital told everyone to start wearing one at all times.
March to May 2020 was my worst two months of my career.
At the same time, I was dealing with attempts to secure a job overseas. I was to move in either March or April 2020. It was delayed due to the pandemic. I actually tried to tell my assistant manager to not put me on April’s schedule when the agency recruiter called to say “the borders closed. We don’t know when you can start now.” Then my visa paperwork has issues but could not be addressed because the embassy in DC was closed due to the lockdown. When everything switched to working from home, it created unforeseen clusterfucks and delays.
Also, I was worried about my elderly mother a few hours away. She was still working when lockdown started because she was a cashier at an essential place. I would text her horror stories of the hospital and how many people were dying until she agreed to take a medical leave from work. Not only is she over 70 but she has hypertension. I was reading reports that patients with cardiac or blood pressure problems were doing worse with the new virus. I wanted her to stay home and away from people. I warned her to keep her grandkids and visitors away. The stress of worrying about my mom just added to the weight on my shoulders.
I had friends that called me to check in on me. Most were worried about me being exposed to COVID and a few were worried if I would start drinking. My one friend called as I was opening a 2nd bottle of wine one night. But after a few nights of drinking home alone as my way to cope, I did quit again. I went sober for the next few months. Until I tried working overseas in Saudi Arabia.
I do not want to go into my abroad experience much. But I became very depressed there. Even though I have extensive travel experience around the world to many countries, I found it hard to adjust to the culture, of both the country and work. It was a very conservative place where alcohol was illegal. Before going, I thought it was a perfect place to be sober. But even the threat of jail time or deportation, simply for drinking booze, was not enough to keep me sober. I discovered a lot of foreigners made their own alcohol, which ranged from bland more-like-juice-than-wine concoctions, to very good whiskey-like beverages. And I ever liked whiskey! But I was so depressed and unhappy I took almost any alcohol that was offered to try to forget where I was. A few times I was offered real alcohol, both rum and gin, that were smuggled into the country. The pleasure of feeling risky and doing something illegal-there-but legal elsewhere made me feel like a teenager.
Then I spent a few weeks in Dubai before returning home. Since it felt like I was released from the oppression of Saudi, I drank almost anytime I could But not all the time because alcohol is not available everywhere. I am not sure if that made it worse or not, because I had to seek it out to drink it. It is not available in all restaurants. It is available at most hotels but then some hotels are dry establishments. My first hotel said alcohol was not allowed on the premises. My second hotel had a rooftop bar, but I avoided it because this hotel was not very strict on mask mandates and pandemic restrictions. The one time I peeked at it, it was way too crowded. But at the 3rd hotel I stayed, I easily spent $15 to $20 per cocktail. Oh, that’s another thing. You need to seek out the alcohol and it is very expensive there! But I kept making excuses like “I deserve it after surviving living in Saudi!” But that is one thing alcoholics are great at: making excuses.
And since returning to the USA, I have felt like a fraud. I stayed with 1 friend for a week where he drank but I did not because he thinks I have been sober since 2014. I met up with a new friend and when she suggested we meet at wine bars, I told her I do not drink alcohol so I suggested coffee. But I have been ordering wine when alone at outdoor dining. I kept telling myself “you will stop again. You are just stressed out and deserve this!”
Today, I drank. I had 2 glasses of wine at lunch and then 2 glasses a few hours later at dinner. I walked home (at least I am wise enough not to drink when driving now!). I got home and seriously thought of seeing if I could have wine delivered. But I started reading a new book. The Year of Less by Cait Flaunders. I started it cause I thought it would inspire me to buy less and save money. But it is also about her sobriety and drinking problem. She mentions all the money and time she wasted on alcohol. It got me thinking that I need to get serious again about sobriety. And not just to save money. I need to reread this blog and start it again. I need to remind myself of the problems alcohol created in my life.
In the time it took me to write this post, I also stopped a few times to make dinner. The time sobered me up to where I did not want to order more wine. That is a start. Can I find my old list of the 365 reasons I was trying to write about to keep my sober? I have made a few mistakes the few times I drank since starting this blog. Should I rejoin the 100 day challenge?
In the book, she mentioned one thing that helped her stay sober (and spend less) was being accountable to someone. I have no one with whom to be accountable. I am single now. I am far from friends and family (and I have been bad with being honest to them about my sobriety!) But I have this blog that I can be honest in because I am hiding behind a screen.
So maybe I can mark March 31, 2021 as my sober date.