60 Days and Sour

I have been feeling very irritable. I should be celebrating 60 days of sobriety but I am having a hard time getting into a celebratory mood.
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I’ve been getting upset too easily. I have been mad at co-workers,  mad at slow drivers, and mad about things friends post on Facebook.

My ex-boyfriend was annoying me. He asked for medical advice and then did not follow it correctly. The next day he was complaining he still did not feel well. I told him to go to the damn doctor then! He is on the other side of the world. Plus, he was bugging me about problems he had with two women interested in him. Oh poor him. I told him to go ask another ex-girlfriend for advice instead.

At least for the first time,  he asked me how my sobriety is going.  That made me happy.

Some might say it seems I am experiencing Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). The most common symptoms are:
-Mood swings
-Irritability
-Tiredness
-Variable energy
-Variable concentration
-Disturbed sleep

If you add “cramps” it sounds like PMS.

Oh yea, I am have suffering wicked cramps. So it could be either one. I still want to bite the head off anyone that asks me any questions.

But I do not want to drink. That would piss me off more if I gave up my sobriety.

My cramps have been bad the last three years. That is due to getting an IUD. When I was with my ex, I thought we would be together forever. We were in a committed relationship so this birth control option made sense. And I did not want to take birth control pills or anything with hormones because I thought the hormones made me moody and caused our fights. Now I realize my drinking and low-self esteem caused most of our fights.

But ever since I got the IUD placed, cramps have been very painful. And the cramps make me think of my IUD and then I think about my failed relationship. And that gets me sad and more irritable.

Sounds like a nice Hallmark card:

My horrible cramps make me think of you. Miss you lots!

So I am 60 days sober. I still have to make an appointment for my facial. I am working lots of overtime so that treat might get pushed to 70 days. I am popping ibuprofen like I used to pop back beers.

Ok, maybe not that much.

*(I wrote this blog on my dinner break that I finally got after 8 hours of work. Some food and Aleve made me much less irritable. YEA 60 days!!!)

Mistake# 60 – I was living with my ex boyfriend in his country for the summer. We actually spent 6 weeks touring a few countries and then 6 weeks in his city. I was the first girl he took home to meet his parents. I took a language class to learn his language. And I was trying to figure if I would want to move there. If we got married, I could get a visa.

I ended up not really liking it there. Mostly it was due to lack of friends. I did not feel his friends welcomed me. And I could not get rid of the nagging feeling it was because of his ex-girlfriend. She never did anything to me or against me. I just thought she was jealous of me and wanted him back. I felt their mutual friends did not accept me. It was as if they viewed me as her replacement. And I was an American.  And I didn’t speak their language. I would never be good enough for them. And they did not think I was good enough for him.

No one ever said such things. It was all in my head. Until one night, I got drunk, and I posted my accusations on an online forum on which his friends were all active.

The next morning, I woke up with some foggy memory of the forum. I checked it. Oh god there were so many comments. A lot of the comments were trying to decipher my drunk writing. They even asked “are you sure English is your first language?” His ex-girlfriend made a friendly comment that she would like to be my friend. I was jealous and embarrassed. Here I was writing mean, nasty things about his city and friends and she was being nice and accepting. What a bitch!

I delete the whole post. Deleted the evidence. But I knew I could never face his friends again.

I went back to the United States soon as planned. I got a job. He came to visit about two months later. I went to visit him about a month later. He came to visit me again. The long distance became too much.

I still fear that city and his friends’ opinion of me.

Temptation Station

I have a good friend visiting a nearby city this week. I spent the day with her yesterday. I kept rehearsing in my head how I would tell her I was now sober. Should I wait until lunch? Should I wait until she mentioned getting drinks? Should I say it right away? ‘Hey, great to see you! You look great! I quit drinking. How’s your husband?” How would she react? I expected her to be supportive because she has substance abuse in her family and lost a fiancée to addiction. But would she make jokes or tease me or want to avoid the topic altogether?

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The Temptation of Saint Anthony

I have been worried about going to this city because it seemed swarming with temptation. Bars everywhere. I guess like most American cities. Is that why cities tend to have more AA meetings than the suburbs? A meeting available almost every hour of the day?

I had to wait a half hour for her. And her phone battery was almost dead so I had to be at the meeting point. I couldn’t change plans and wait in a coffee shop. Nor in that Irish bar that seemed to be waving it’s orange, white and green at me as an invitation. I am pretty sure I once drank there. I drank in many bars throughout this city.

As soon as she approached me, she pulled something out of her bag so not to forget to give it to me. It was a purple pashmina scarf. I bought it in India. I left it at her wedding. I wrote about what I remember of her wedding in Mistake #8. Getting this scarf was a nice reminder of stuff I have lost while drunk. Maybe I could wear it like a banner of sobriety?

We walked to a place for lunch. We were playing catch up. I am not sure what we were talking about, but I just blurted out “so I quit drinking.” She responded “I thought so. Something you posted on Facebook awhile ago made me think that.” I asked if it was what I posted St Patrick’s Day. (I posted this was the first St Patrick’s that I didn’t care that I am working and that made me happy that I didn’t care.) She said no, it was something a few weeks ago. I wonder how many other friends have guessed it. How many other friends know my “secret” but are not asking or offering support?

During lunch, as usual, our conversations were all over the place. One minute we would be talking about my job, then about her marriage, then about my family, then about her job, then about her honeymoon. She asked about my previous plans to move to one city and why that changed. I started to explain to her about the complications moving there and their relation to my drinking problem. Then I took it further back to last fall and added “oh by the way, sorry for my drunk behaviour at your wedding.”

“Oh no worries. Every wedding needs one of those.” Oh my god. I was “one of those.” I was the drunk, crazy chick at the wedding. I was the embarrassment. I was the one that everyone talked about afterwards. I apparently got mad at her friend and he had no idea what he did. I was screaming at him. She asked me what he did that was so awful. I have no memory of it. I told her I spent 20 minutes the next morning searching for my car before I realized I took a taxi from the reception.

The rest of the afternoon continued with our chattering non-stop. We went to a museum. We shopped for books. I would slip in little stories about my struggle. She would tell me about her dad and brother’s struggle. I told her about my blog. She recommended a book Easy Way to Stop Drinking by Allen Carr.

We bought tickets to see a show that night with her friend that was also visiting. Her friend had to work all day. She joined us later for dinner. When we met up with her at the hotel, the first thing she said was “I need a drink!” I was going to introduce myself but then I realized I recognized her. Yes, I met her at the wedding. She might have even sat at my table. I think there is a photo of the three of us at the wedding? But she didn’t say “Oh good to see you” or anything else that was welcoming. Did I say anything horrible to her back in September? I felt shame.

We took a taxi to a street near the theater. We walked up the street looking for a flavor of dinner that would please us all.We passed many Happy Hour signs. My friend is mostly vegan so we agreed on a vegetarian place. As we got the menus, she turned to me “are you okay if we drink?” I really appreciated that question. I told her confidently “no, go ahead. Enjoy!” I enjoyed Diet Coke. And honestly, I did not even crave their pinot grigio and syrah. Maybe the memories, or non-memories, of the wedding helped keep me strong. Or maybe knowing that Saturday will be 60 days sober was my weapon. Or that next week, I will surpass the LONGEST I have ever been sober in 20 years. Or, I really just did not desire it. I know where it leads.

We got to the theater in time for a quick stop at the concession stand. We all wanted a souvenir cups. They are plastic cups with the show’s name on the side. Large size. Not sure if this is a pint or not? Both of the other women ordered cups with wine. It had to hold about 2 or 3 normal size glasses of wine. I got Diet Coke again.

They wanted to get photos of the three of us before the show started. The curtain time lights were flickering. I patiently waited while two tipsy women kept trying to do selfies of the three of us. They both had trouble trying to figure out the flash. They stopped a few people to ask to take our photo but they could not get one with enough light. My phone was turned off to save the battery and I am clueless with Apple products. It was interesting to be the sober one observing the drunk performance. How many sober people looked at me with concern in my drinking days?

During intermission, they both discussed whether they would go out after the show. I debated whether I would join them. And it wasn’t that I was worried about being around people drinking. I was very tired. I wanted to go home and get under my covers.

By the end of the show, they sobered up enough to decided to go back to their hotel. We hugged. Said our goodbyes. I got on my train. I survived the night unwounded. And I felt stronger by facing the battle. I walked into a city that has always tempted me in so many ways to do bad and I left feeling good.

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Mistake # 53- When I first met my friend from yesterday, she was on a three-month drinking break. She said she did it as a dare. We met on a camping trip. The trip ended just in time for Cinco De Mayo. Our camping group all planned to shower, change, and meet at a Mexican restaurant. She and I were both staying with a mutual friend and sharing the guest room. She sort of became my babysitter for the night.

I got trashed on margaritas and shots of tequilla that night. I thought I was doing good for most of the night. But I woke up in a daze in the guest room.  The first thing she said to me was “do you know who you were trying to hook up with last night?” I said a name. She said “did you see how short he is?” Yes but he is cute and single. “Wow you have low standards when you are drunk!”  I was lucky she was sober and sharing a room with me or never know who I would have brought back with me.

That started our friendship of talking about our “boy problems” over drinks whenever we met up. She was around for a few more of my mistakes. I never remember her getting trashed but then maybe I was always too drunk to notice. I am happy now to have her support in my sober circle.

Mindgames

No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep. Unknown

I have a friend that posted that on Facebook. Then her friends all agreed. I thought “unless you had blackouts like the way most of my nights ended.” She is a party girl. I don’t know if I would say she has a problem or not. But I am happy that I am trying to discover a different life for myself.

I was at the gym last night on the elliptical trainer. I noticed this machine had a television with a plug for headphones. I do not watch much television but I do like the show Scandal. I got excited that I can work out for an hour on this machine on Thursdays while watching the show. But last night I watched a show called Mindgames starring Christian Slater and Steve Zahn. “The show is about two brothers who run a problem solving firm that employs solutions based on psychological manipulation.” They use psychology to change people’s minds. I thought “wow I could really use that company to change my alcoholic mind!” Maybe I will start to watch this show.

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It got me thinking how just staying sober is not gonna be enough. I need to change me. I need to find a way that I can be around people drinking and not be tempted. I need to not get mad at liquor commercials on TV. I need to not be angry that I can not drink alcohol. I am actually starting to forget the good taste of my favorite beers and wine and rums. I need to stay away from even SMELLING such beverages to avoid triggering any desire. Image

I need to start reading more than just memoirs. I need to add self-help and psychology books about changing my thoughts and fighting this disease. I need to start doing meditation. I have meditation books, music, and scented pillow I bought in Nepal. I just need to make the time to do it. I have been interested in meditation for the last two years as a treatment for my mild ADHD. Now I hope to use it to fight my boozer brain.

Mistake #52- Meeting the the friend that posted the quote at the beginning of this post:

I met her online. I can not remember if it was Friendster or Myspace or another social network. But I love traveling and I have traveled a lot to meet cyber friends in real life. So I planned a trip to visit and meet her.

That morning of my fight, I checked in at the airport, went through security, and sat down to have a coffee and bagel. I looked up at the television screen to hear a report on CNN say “Today is not a day you want to be flying anywhere.” Great. There were snowstorms all over the northeast and midwest and most airports were closed down due to weather. It pretty much screwed up flights all over the country because flights were canceled or delayed. My flight was delayed three times within an hour and half. Everyone was scrambling to get their flights changed. I always feel sorry for those people that work at airline counters during such times. I finally got a flight schedule later in the day. But even that was delayed due to mechanical problems.

My friend was cool enough and understood all the delays. Instead of arriving in the late afternoon, I arrived late at night. Her friends were at the bar. She said she will pick my up at the airport and then we will meet up with her friends. Then my bag was lost! So she brought a tshirt for me to wear out to the bar so I will feel a little fresher.

I drank at the airport all day. But when I got to the bar with my friend, I still felt way behind her friends’ state of intoxication. Also, I didn’t know anyone except for my Cyber friend and this was our first time meeting in person. So I drank a lot and drank quickly to feel more at ease and try to catch up. Lots of beers and shots. Lots of shots. I do not remember any of her friends I met. But I got super drunk. I caught up and surpassed them.

I woke up the next day in my friend’s bed. She slept on the couch. She gave me some juice and advil. I apologized for getting so drunk. Since she was a party girl, she understood. I asked if I did anything stupid.

“Oh nothing besides trying to kiss me and get me in bed with you.” She laughed and I blushed. I guess I should add that she and her friends are all lesbians.

My Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades (rose tinted glasses that is)

I am feeling good and feeling positive. I started plotting out my awards for each 10 day milestone. Thinking of that coconut cake for 50 days was a huge help. Someone could have offered me a glass of expensive champagne and said there was finally peace in the middle east and I would have declined it and said “great, but no thanks cause I really want that cake!”

For 60 days, I am planning a facial. Hopefully my skin will start showing some booze free improvements.

For 70 days, I will get my legs waxed. (Wait, did I say rewards or punishment?) I have not shaved since I stopped drinking. A benefit of being single. But spring and short season is coming.

For 80 days, an 80s New Wave party! I am a little worried about handling that one. It is a Duran Duran theme and I know the DJs. I think it will be a reward and a test of temptation. But I know I can dance to New Wave sober.

For 90 days, I am going to see a Broadway show! orchestra seats!

For 100, I am going to plan a trip somewhere. I don’t know where yet. I actually work for 3 nights on days 100, 101, and 102. But the days after that… I want to fly somewhere. Soar to sobriety. Look to my future where each sober day is an award.
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Mistake #51- A quick one- There was a small club I used to frequent in 2003-2005. I used to go there for the New Wave parties I mentioned above. On Sundays, it was a rock and punk music night. And strippers. They had professional ones dance on a box in the middle of the dance floor and then invited anyone else to get up there as an amateur strippers. They even gave out awards for best stripper or aka “Slut of the Week.” I used to get wasted at this club. I would even go alone and  assume I would run into someone I knew or make a new friend. One night,  I am really thankful I ran into a friend. I don’t remember much but I woke up at home in my bed. Wearing my jeans and a pink, feather boa around my neck. No shirt.

I was confused until he messaged me online. “Get home okay?” I said yes and asked if he was at the club. He responded “LOL yes. You were awesome. You got up on the stripper box. You threw your shirt out in the crowd. Someone kept it.”

Um where did the feather boa come from? One of the other strippers gave it to me when I couldn’t find my shirt. My friend put me in a taxi after extracting my address from me.

Did I win Slut of the Week?

No.

Happy Sober Saint Patrick’s Day!

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This used to always be one of my favorite holidays. Right along with New Year’s Eve, Halloween, and my birthday. All big drinking days! I would work Easter, Mothers and Fathers Day, and Christmas if I could be off those other days. But even if I had to work, I would schedule an alternative day to celebrate. And get drunk.

I now hope to think of this day as a holiday to celebrate my Irish heritage. But without Guinness, Baileys, and Jamesons.

Mistake #50- I found my junior year prom date on MySpace. I haven’t seen him since I graduated high school 13 years before this. We were platonic friends when he went to my prom with me. I was a good girl back then. Now here we were both adults and living in the same area. He invited me out with his friends for St Patrick’s day.

I remember being so nervous meeting up with him. I was such a dork in high school. He was too. But I really wanted to make a good impression on him. I wanted him to see that I was no longer a dork. I wanted him to think I improved. I was now cool.

He stood outside the bar on his phone giving me directions. He thought I was coming from a different way down the street. He had his back turned towards me as I walked up and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and looked gorgeous. I thought of the ugly duckling story. He did not look like the nerdy, soccer player I used to know. He was now a handsome man. I was shaking when he hugged me. He asked if I was cold. I admitted that I was nervous. He said “then let’s get started drinking!”

He kept complimenting me. He told me I looked hot. I “filled out nice.” I blushed a lot. He said that according to my MySpace profile, I turned wild. The quiet girl who was on so many high school committees was now a party girl. There were a lot of photos of me chugging booze online. It was sort of my signature photo. Chugging a bottle of beer. Chugging a bottle of Champagne. Chugging a bottle of wine. Always a glass or cup in my hand. He said he wanted to see this party girl. I told him “no, you don’t want to see her.” He kept buying me shots.

His friends were all welcoming. Turns out, he was going through a divorce. His friends hated the wife. They wanted me to help him get his mind off of her. They kept buying me shots. My beers never neared empty because someone was always making sure I had a refill.

The night got blurry. The subway stopped running back to my house at some point. One of his friends invited me to stay at his place in the city. Prom Date also lived in the suburbs and since it was too late to drive, he would stay there too. I remember some blond girl that I got along with well. I think she worked for Planned Parenthood headquarters or something. I think she was dating the friend who invited us both to stay on his pull out bed in the living room. I remember her saying “use condoms!” and put some in my hand. I remember making out with Prom Date on the couchbed. I had my shirt off. And then he stopped and said he couldn’t go through with this. He was still in love with his wife. I started crying.

He drove me home instead. I cried the whole way. I kept saying “sorry. I’m so sorry.” I am not sure what I was sorry for? Things never took off for us. I didn’t see him again until the summer and he was either still not over his wife or was just not into a drunk, party girl.

Sober Circle

I have a friend that posted on FB yesterday that he has not had alcohol for 30 days. Now he is trying to quit smoking. I was very proud of him.  I told him I was 52 days sober. Both he and another mutual friend liked my comment. Then he had other friends posting 5 months, a year and half, and 3 years sober. I liked each of those comments. It got me excited. Could I find support amongst real life friends?
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I never thought of this guy as having a problem. I don’t know if he is just on a health kick or what motivated him to quit. He mentioned not drinking was easy but quitting cigarettes was hard. I always thought of him as having a bad temper. I always brushed it off as Latino machismo. Was alcohol to blame for his attitude?

How many of my friends have problems but don’t know it? Or how many are like I was the last few years: know it but not wanting to do something about it? Will I find support amongst most of my friends? Will they let me play in their reindeer games when I tell them I quit drinking?

I had to go to alcohol counseling after my 2nd DUI. I had to do 20 one hour sessions. I was only living in the area for 13 weeks so they let me add private sessions onto the weekly group sessions. I liked the private sessions best. I felt the group sessions were a waste. No one wanted to be there. The private sessions felt like the therapy that I needed. It helped me see that my depression and low self-esteem were a large cause of my drinking.

I remember crying a lot in those sessions. I was scared that if I quit drinking, I would have no friends. I was scared I would lose everyone. Everyone expected me to be a party girl. I was fun. I was entertaining. I got invited to a lot of parties. Back then, even if I passed out or made a fool of myself, I got invited again. Those that disapproved of my drinking were bitches that just didn’t like me. My self-image always had a cup in her hands. Most photos of me at that time had a cup also.

That is who I was. Drinker. Boozer. I wanted to be Holly Golighlty. My friends compared me to Parker Posey’s character Mary in Party Girl. I did not know who I was without alcohol.

Back then, I don’t think I understood what friendship meant. I didn’t understand my own identity.

I moved away for a couple months and then returned. I got upset at people for not making time for me when I returned. I got mad when I was not invited to dinners or parties anymore. I spent a lot of alone time in bars. I felt my group of friends grew closer while I was gone and I was standing outside of the circle.
This happened a lot over time. I would move to a new city, make friends, and then always feel I was standing outside of their close-knit group. I longed to be in the circle. I tried to drink my way into the middle. I never saw that it wasn’t working until now.

I complained about standing outside the circle to a friend once. He suggest I create my own circle. I am gonna take that advice and create my own circle of sober friends and support friends. If they don’t support me, I now understand that is not what friendship means.
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Mistake #49- I was invited to a party in the suburbs. I drove a few people since not many people had cars. We brought sleeping bags and tents to sleep in the backyard. I brought a case of beer and two bottles of wine.

The party location got switched. The host’s parents came home early. They were supposed to be gone all weekend but a neighbor called when the house started filling up with people and loud music. No, we were not teenagers but that was how I felt. I was in my 30s. I think the host was in college. But I remember thinking “cool! I never got to experience this in high school cause I did not get invited to these type of parties.”

One of the guys said he lived a few blocks away so we could move the party there. His housemates agreed. Yea! The night lives! And this house had a pool! (Even though it was a shallow, above ground pool.)

Lots of drinking. Music. Games. It was a great summer party. I remember telling people I would make pancakes in the morning. But I drank too much as usual. I don’t remember anything else except waking up in my tent. Nude.

I found my clothes folded up at the entrance of my tent. I got dressed and looked outside. No other tents. I walked inside the house. Lots of bodies passed out all over the place. I proceeded to get out the ingredients to make pancakes.

People started waking up and making their way to the kitchen. I made a ton of pancakes. A few people declined them. It was mostly females that said “no thanks.” I kept feeling I was getting nasty looks from them. I so bad wanted to ask someone “did I do anything stupid last night? How did my clothes get off? How did my tent get set up?” But I was too embarrassed.

I took down my tent and was helping clean up the yard. A cute guy was helping me. He told me that it was smart planning to bring a tent. I laughed and whispered “yea but I don’t remember setting it up. Nor why I was nude.”

He filled me in on the details. He set up my tent. I took off my clothes and jumped in the pool. I kept trying to get everyone else in the pool with me. A few followed. He got in. He and I started kissing. He and I had sex in the pool. During the party. “I can’t believe you don’t remember any of this!”

I was mortified! I wanted to just run away and hide and erase that whole night. No wonder people didn’t want my pancakes. They probably thought they would catch a disease. They were giving me nasty looks cause they thought I was nasty. I WAS NASTY! What the fuck!

Let’s just say I am so glad this was before the days of Smartphones with video cameras.

No wonder some groups of friends stopped inviting me to parties.

Trouble

The other night at work, I did something I should not have done. I hope my manager does not find out. I hope she never reads this blog or future employers read this. I could get in trouble for what I did.

I watched movies.

I watched California Solo and FlightI guess I have been on a movie marathon kick for flicks about alcoholics.

California Solo stars Robert Carlye as a Scottish ex-pop star that gets a DUI while living in California. This leads to the possiblity of being deported. It was a good movie. Brought back some memories of my DUIs. Made me think how the punishment for DUIs in some country is the death penalty.

Flight was an excellent movie starring Denzel Washington. He is a pilot that saves a falling plane but was drunk and on cocaine when it crashed. You watch him deny his problem most of the movie. I felt I could relate to his struggle. My life has been crashing for a long time and I denied I had a problem.

I think it has been the last three or four years that I have actually said out loud “I am an alcoholic but I do not want to stop drinking.” I did not think going sober would be worth giving up my fun. I need to be grateful I stopped before alcohol caused more troubles in my life. I worry I will never completely be free from my DUIs. My record will follow me everywhere.

Now I need to stop watching movies on my phone to avoid trouble at work.

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Mistake #48- I stopped at 7-11 to pick up more beer. I was a little tipsy already. I was sitting in my car after my purchase. I was listening to something on the radio that made me laugh. Windows were rolled down. A man walking out of the store saw me and said with a smile “something funny?” I smiled back and shared with him the joke. We chatted and at some point he mentioned he was a police officer. Uh-oh! Shit. He had to smell the beer on my breath and saw me just buy more. But my keys were not in the ignition so I can not get in trouble. I just had to wait until he left.

We talk a bit more and I was surprised when he invited me back to his house. He explained his wife was out of town for a horse show. He was lonely and just wanted company. I guess I was bored so I agreed.

I drove and followed him to his house. He had a beautiful home one block from the oceanfront. I do not remember what was going through my mind. A rich, married cop inviting a young 20-something, strange, drunk girl to his place? I was not worried?

We drank my beers and then some of his beers. I started to realize there was no way I was going to be able to drive home. He told me I was welcomed to stay the night. There was a guestroom. He encouraged me to keep drinking. But eventually he leaned over and kissed me. And that lead to me staying over in his bed.

The next morning I went to get a glass of water in the kitchen. As I was drinking it, I started to read the calendar on the side of the refrigerator. I noticed a doctor’s appointment listed. I recognized the doctor’s name. It was a obstetric/gynecologist. This cheating cop had a pregnant wife!

At the time, I was a secretary and medical aide on a postpartum floor of a hospital. That was why I recognized the doctor’s name. Two months later, I recognized the cop’s last name on the patient census. When the nurse was about to roll the crib with their newborn baby into their room for the first time, I offered to do it for her. I walked in, introduced myself, and asked for the baby bracelet number. His face turned red. He turned around right away and busied himself with something in a suitcase. She was very nice and sweet. I handed her the baby and said congratulations. I tried to stall and stay in room to see if he would turn around. I kept asking her if she needed anything: diapers, bottles, a new husband.

Of course I did not say the last part. I never said anything to anyone. I was probably not the first nor last woman he cheated with. I felt sorry for her and their new child. She would be a teenager now. I haven’t really thought about it much until now.

Alcohol causes so much trouble.