“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.

Reel Recovery Film Festival

If you are near one of the cities hosting this festival,  try to check out a few of the films.  I will be in one of the cities during the dates and hope to find time to see a couple. I will give my review of whatever I get to see.

The cities are New York City,  Los Angeles,  Las Vegas,  Vancouver, Delray Beach, Houston, San Francisco,  and Sacramento.

Reel Recovery Film Festival

Writers In Treatmentis proud to present The REEL Recovery Film Festival. This multi-day event is  a celebration of film, the arts, writing and creativity. We showcase filmmakers who make honest films about addiction, alcoholism, behavioral disorders, treatment and recovery. Slated for screening is an eclectic lineup of contemporary and classic films, documentaries and shorts from American and international, first-time filmmakers and industry veterans.

Mistake 226- I lived near a movie theater once. It was across the street from the parking garage of my apartment building. I was home drinking some beer alone and decided to check out a movie. I took a small backpack with me. I shoved 6 beers in the bag. I put a t-shirt in there to keep the bottles from clanking. I sat at the top and back of the theater. I finished all those beers and passed out. Missed half the film. 

Myself Without Alcohol

I want to know myself without alcohol.

Ann Dowsett

I began listening to the book Drinking: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. It has a lot of good information. I am beginning to hate alcohol. Why did I put that crap in my body? Expect more posts about things I learn from the book.

I am thinking of taking a nutrition class next semester. Maybe that will solidify in my brain of how much alcohol destroys my body.
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Mistake 225- I ran into a friend recently for a brief moment. We chatted a little bit. Then as I went to hug him goodbye, he kissed me on my lips. Nothing serious. But planted his lips on my lips for a few seconds. I thought “why did he do that?”

Then I remembered when I ran into him at a club several years ago. I was trashed. We made out. I don’t know how long it lasted. My friend pulled me away and told me about it the next day. I guess he now things I am just a kisser. I feel I need to reinvent myself to a lot of people. I am discovering who I am without alcohol.

Just Breath

I had another meltdown at the post office the other day. I was very frustrated by their strange hours (10am to 4pm.) When I couldn’t go there after work in the morning (because I was not staying up another 3 hours), I woke up early in the afternoon to go. I rushed to get there before they closed at 4pm. I did not eat, no coffee yet, and I was tired. When the guy behind the counter told me I did not have enough proper identification, I started to cry.

He was really sweet with helping me and I did find another form of identification that was good enough. There was a woman working that was there that morning when I first tried to come in but found out they did not open until 10. She was not too nice that morning and must have thought I was a nut case this time. I apologized to the man several times telling him I was just tired and hungry. He said he understood. But I don’t think he actually does unless he suffers depression.

I cut back on my 5HTP. I was taking it twice a day but I switched to once a day because I thought it made me sleepy. But I am gonna try the twice a day dose again.

At work last night, I started thinking about something and then got worrying and almost had tears again. I told myself to concentrate on my breaths. Breath in. Breath out. I counted to 60. I felt better. I really need to find time to start meditation. Thinking is my worst enemy at times.

I have been thinking a lot about my future and school. I am trying to figure out where I want to go for my program. I was set on going to one university but that school is making things difficult and I am not sure I want to go through the trouble of establishing residency and then not getting accepted. So I have been considering other schools. But I have an aquaintance that keeps trying to encourage me to go to the school that is giving me the hard time. He claimed I am not being “proactive” enough. That pissed me off because he does not know me well and does not know how much I have been working to go back to school. I keep trying to think what kind of ulterior motive he has. All I can guess is that he wants me to live near him. We met on a dating site and had sex a few times. Other than that, I do not know him. I hate how this is frustrating me. I want to write him “well I am sober now so we will never have sex again so I do not know why you care about where I go to school!” Of course, I will refrain from saying anything so mean to him. But I am on the verge of just deleting his friend link.

Mistake 222- When I first met this guy, we had a nice lunch date. He was nice but I did not really find him attractive. The second time, I was already drunk when I showed up and he kept buying me more wine. I remember it was a dark, strong red wine. Zinfandel maybe? But I took him home with me and we had sex.

Mistake 223- I moved away but was coming through town. He offered to get me a hotel room since I did not have a place to stay that night. Of course he would be staying in the room also. He showed up with snacks and 2 bottles of large wine. I remember thinking I would need to drink at least one of the bottles before we had sex. Now looking back, it almost feels like prostitution.

Mistake 224- Next time I saw him, we met at the beach before I had a flight. I remember he picked a place to eat but my only concern was a place that served alcohol. This place did not. I was irritated. But we had a quick dinner. We caught up on small talk and lives. I said something about wanting to get to the airport early and left. Instead, I went and drank a bottle of wine I had in the trunk of my rental car. I did not want to have to pack it. I sat on the beach, alone, and finished off that bottle before driving to the airport.