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.


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.

Family Funeral

My cousin died last week. He was only 42 years old. I do not know what he died from and it shouldn’t really matter. I was told he went to sleep on the couch and never woke up. He had a stressful job, so that could have been it. It could have been from a bad diet.  Or it could have been from the alcohol and drugs he did years ago. I am not certain what or if there was drug use, but I know he was in AA. The drugs were an accusation by my sister.

I was not close to my cousin. I think the last time I saw him was twenty years ago at my grandmother’s house. I stopped by for lunch and he happened to stop by also. We swapped some stories about my time in the Navy and his time in the Marines. Maybe he just got out of the military at that point? I do not remember. We were not close before that either.

I was not close to his sisters. I would not have recognized them on the street if I did not search for them on Facebook after I received the news. They were all older than me. I think one has grandkids now. I do not know any of their spouses nor kids.

I can not remember the last time I saw their mom. My aunt. My godmother even. I do not have any bad memories of her. I think she and my mom got along. But we were just never part of each other’s lives. Her ex-husband, father of her children, and my mom’s brother died in 2009. I was traveling in South America at the time so did not attend the funeral. My mom did not either. She did not talk with her brother since their mom died 8 years previously. She said she felt showing up would be rude. To this day, I do not agree with her missing it.

My sister knew their family the most. She got close with my cousin when she ran into him in an AA meeting. But whatever relationship she once had was soured by her accusations. I heard she was calling his work place. She was telling them things. Stories. I don’t know all the details, but I know he had a restraining order against her. This was also about the time she called me 5am, drunk, and yelled about something that happened in 15 years earlier.

When my mom called me to tell me the news, I cried. I cried for his loss of life and my lack of a loving family. My mom began to speculate the cause. She brought up my sister’s accusations and said “maybe there was truth to it.” I was angry. I said it shouldn’t matter if drugs or alcohol were part of the cause. It was like she was making an excuse for her daughter’s actions. I cut the phone conversation short to avoid hearing more rationalizations.

Tonight was the viewing. I drove an hour and a half to pay my respects. There was a long line. He was well liked in his community. I heard so many comments about my cousin always having a smile on his face. As I waited, there were photos on display showing him with friends, with his kids, at work, in the military, and with his sisters. I cried realizing there are very, VERY few photos of me and my siblings as adults.

Then I saw photos of my cousin with my grandmother. She passed away 14 years ago and I was not able to attend her funeral. I lived a few states away and had no way to get there. Also, I was going through personal struggles at that time. I just failed a class, had a car that kept breaking down, was going through my divorce and kept having new relationships fail, and was pretty broke financially. Seeing her photo made me mourn not attending her funeral and remember my hard times. I remembered my attempt at suicide the following week. When I woke up in the ICU, I thought the angel of my grandmom must have saved me.

As I was standing in line, I saw my sister. She brought her son. She walked up to me and said “I didn’t know you would be here.”

I wanted to say “you SHOULDN’T be here!” Instead I just cried again.

She said “what is wrong?” At a funeral? Why would you ask someone crying at a funeral “what is wrong?” I just cried more. She hugged me. Her son hugged me. Then I pointed and told her the end of the line was back there. I did not want her with me. I wanted to distance myself from her. I didn’t know if anyone that was standing around me knew her and the problems she caused.

She asked where our mom was. I honestly told her I did not know. My mom never bothered to tell me the funeral details so I did not know if she knew them. If I did not find my cousins on Facebook, I would never have known. But my mom stopped by earlier.

When I got to the receiving line, I was almost out of tissues from crying. I stopped at the casket briefly for one last look of my cousin and said “I’m sorry.” I met his wife for the first time and apologized that we met under these circumstances. I said hello to the next guy and afterwards wondered if that was my cousin’s half-brother. That technically makes him my cousin but I only met him once. My grandmother always referred to him as “the bastard.”

My aunt was looking very old. She was seated in a large chair because she has trouble standing. She didn’t recognize me at first. When I said my name, a look of shock came over her face. She kept repeating my name over and over and I kept saying “I’m so sorry” over and over. She said she wants to stay in touch now. She hasn’t seen me since I was a little girl. She asked if I talk to my mom. Does she know how little my siblings and I talk to each other and how some of us are estranged with my mom? I told her “yes we talk” and she told me to get her address from my mom. It is horrible that her son’s death is what it takes for me to want to reconnect with my godmother.

I spent a few minutes with each of the sisters. One of them has a daughter going to college near me. One said my mom looks just like our grandmom. Another said I look the same as always. I wanted to turn back time and create a bond with them. Become close as young adults. As teens. As family. I want to know them and spend time with them outside of funerals.

I want a relationship with my cousins that I do not have with my siblings.





Thoughts on detoxing

When I hear about alcoholic detoxing, part of me feels like “haha I am better than you because I never went through detox.” The other part of me wants to go back out drinking until I get to the point of detox. Then I will feel like a true alcoholic.

Staying sober and single

I am starting to think I may always stay single. And I am starting to be okay with that. As long as I stay sober (and get enough sleep), I can be happy.

I find I get annoyed too easily. I don’t want men showing me photos of their kids, especially not their grandkids. Show me photos of places you have been or amazing sites you have seen to capture my attention. Sometimes I think I am not gonna find someone unless I go back to traveling. Then I could find someone with whom I have adventures in common, but they will most likely be unstable.

I went to a concert last night with a friend of a friend. When I told him I don’t drink, he asked about AA. I told him I don’t believe in AA. He gave me a lecture how it saved him from cocaine. Yet, he was sitting here drinking beer in front of someone who just confessed her problems with alcohol? I told him the “our way is the only way” attitude and lectures, like the one he was giving me, are the reasons I don’t like it. He also kept trying to talk to me during the show, even after I said “oh this is my favorite song!” I finally told him to keep quiet until the end of the show. So instead he texted and updated Facebook until his phone died. I had to put my hand to my face to block out the annoying cell phone light. I gave him a ride home and listened to a lecture about Jews being the reason for the African slave trade. Then he told me how cool I am and wondering when he could see me again. I told him I am too busy. Way too busy. Don’t think I can date until I finish school in 2020.

There were two very drunk, annoying women two rows in front of us. They kept yelling how they were sitting in the boring section. I wanted to tell them to jump over the railing to a more fun section, 30 feet below us. When I made a comment afterwards about the drunk girls, he said “oh they were just having fun.” I said at least they helped kill any desire I had to drink a beer.

Now I started a writing class, I really want to get back into blogging more. That depends on time.

Success Is A Stairwell

I don’t think the cravings for alcohol will ever go away.  I just need to learn to cope, deal, and live with them. And not drink.

I went to my second SMART recovery meeting. I was late because I had the start time wrong in my head. I was 20 minutes late but the meeting lasts hour and half. I enjoyed it. I walked in on a discussion of a TED talk about addiction. (That reminds me, I need to watch that video.)  I have not been to a SMART meeting since November. I have not been to an AA meeting since before that. When the group leader asked us to talk about our past week, a few added how they have been since their last meeting. So I started with talk of my past week and then added how I have been (related to my drinking problem) since November.

After my post of being sober at the party, I got drunk on the dinner cruise. I am not sure why I even did it. It was a masquerade party on a large yacht with many levels and rooms. There were three different DJs in different areas of the boat. Lots of bars throughout the vessel. I spotted a few of acquaintances on the bow taking pictures of the sunset. I posed with them for some photos and they all said I looked glamorous and beautiful. Maybe it was the compliments, or maybe it was the glamorous surroundings. Maybe the masks and the costumes and being surrounded by water made me feel it was another world. And it was a world where champagne flowed.

Without hesitation, I asked for a glass of champagne at one of the bars. I paid with cash because I swore I would just nurse this one glass and it would be my last. Then after a few sips, I thought maybe I would space it out and have one an hour. Of course that did not happen. I do remember at one point getting another glass and a handsome man named Mike started to talk to me. He asked my name and reached out to shake my hand. I remember thinking “I am too sober to handle talking to this gorgeous man.” I ordered a 2nd glass, pretending it was for my friend, and excused myself to find her. I drank both glasses.

I ran into a lot of people I knew at this party. Later I found out I even missed some people I knew, either due to the masks or being drunk. I even called one girl by the wrong name and when she corrected me, I realized I wrote about her in my blog. She was the woman that experienced my small meltdown  after Burning Man 2014. I am not sure if I ever explained to her in my apology emails that I was struggling with sobriety. After she saw me drunk at this party, I felt like a fraud.

I did have fun for the most part. Except I spent $300 on drinking. That included the “oh let me buy you a drink” expression to my friends. I ran out of cash and started to use my credit card. Then when I couldn’t find my credit card the next day, I canceled it. I found it 3 days later in my wallet hidden behind my driver’s license. I slept in my car where I parked it a few streets away. I woke up with no coat and no shoes. I even went back a few days later to see if I left them on the street somewhere between the boat and my car, but by that time a homeless person would have snatched them up. I convinced myself that they are being more useful to a homeless person now rather than just a drunk mistake.

Again, one of the things I like about SMART meetings versus AA meetings was the way I got to discuss this setback. The leader asked me how it made me feel and told me to compare it to a recent night out where I did not drink.

I can not go to many of the SMART meetings because of my work schedule. But I will read the book I bought there and put the lessons to use to stay sober. I also started a book Sober for Good by Anne M Fletcher. It is full of advice from people who quit drinking with different ways. It even mentions people that stayed sober just from reading books about sobriety. I think the books I read in the beginning were a big help for me.  Now I need to immerse myself in the dry books again to stay in the saddle.

I am not sure how much time I will have for reading my sober books nor reading novels for fun. On Monday, I start my first classroom class since 2002. I took a few online classes the past two years to get me prepared (and unfortunately none of those credits transferred.)  But having to go on campus twice a week is going to take up a lot of my time. Plus, it is a college writing class that will require a lot of reading and writing papers. I also signed up to start an online art history class in March, but I will have time to adjust my life schedule to this writing class first. I am trying to work extra shifts when I can to help pay for the school. I am gonna be busy starting Monday. Too busy for drinks and hangovers.

I keep looking back on that boat party and regret the alcohol and money spent. But I also keep looking forward to being on track with school and my life. Wallowing in bitterness won’t help me succeed.

Hello 2016

A quick hello to everyone. I am still here. Still sober. Doing good. I was busy for a few months studying for a certification for my job and just passed the test! And now I registered to start matriculating  classes this semester!  Which means I am more on track with my life than last time when I was just taking online classes to try to boost my GPA. (Hint that idea doesn’t work if the school doesn’t take any of those credits.)

I will get around to writing a more in depth entry soon. Or someday. I hope everyone following is having a good year so far and staying sober.

Sober at the Party

I went to a party last night. It was a costume party. Again, I loved seeing all the creativity and beautiful outfits people made. And I loved the music!  I was reminded that if the DJ is good, I can dance without alcohol or drugs.

I arrived 11:30pm. I thought that was a good time. My friend said she would arrive the same time. I waited. And waited. I walked around a lot and texted a friend. I felt like a loser on my phone at a party. I had a hard time trying to find people I knew because I wasn’t wearing my glasses and everyone was in costumes. A lot of people had masks, wigs, or just looked different. Feeling aline made me want to drink. If I had a few and got tipsy, I wouldn’t mind the waiting and I would have the courage to talk to strangers.

My friend showed up with her friends close to 130am. And she was trashed. It was so annoying. She kept telling me wonderful things about myself and how good I look since I got sober. Her slurring made me even happier to be sober than her compliments. I kept apologizing to people as she pushed through the dance crowd. At least she is a friendly drunk. She hugged a lot of people and told them all how beautiful they are.

I left at 3:30am. We had plans for a dinner cruise with friends today. We were supposed to arrive between 3:30 and 4:30. It is now almost 5pm and she has not even responded to my messages. My guess is she is still sleeping away her hangover. She most likely will miss the boat leaving the dock. I guess I better try to meet some peope.