Roadtrips and coffee

Day 5 of New Sobriety.

I have been fully vaccinated from COVID for over a month. And since the CDC said fully vaccinated people can travel at no risk to themselves now, I decided to take a short roadtrip to the mountains.

Once again, work has made keeping away from alcohol easy the past few days. And when I arrived at my hotel, I was very tired. But as I now have coffee in the lobby and see the beer bottles lined up behind the bar, my first thought it “would be nice to have one tonight.”

My dark roast

But maybe if I return to blogging almost daily, (I am not gonna commit to daily), I can be accountable to something to remain sober.

I need to reread my drunk mistakes that I started blogging about 7 years ago so I know what one’s I wrote about already. But for now, I will post a more recent one.

I was living in Saudi Arabia. I thought it would be easy to keep sober in a country where alcohol was illegal, but no. Almost every expat has easy access to alcohol.

I went away for a night to visit another city a few hours away. A guy I met on Tinder, another expat, offered to allow me to stay in his guestroom. It was not smart but I was depressed and lonely. Those two combined leads to desperation.

When I arrived, he gave me a tour of the city in his car. He seemed like a nice guy. He was living in Saudi for several years. We did not talk about our lives back home. Only talked about our experiences in the Kingdom.

That evening at his place, he made us pork ribs. Yes, another thing illegal in that country. Enjoying the forbidden was a special high. With dinner, he served us gin and tonics with Tanqueray that he smuggled in. He made me drinks very strong.

After dinner, we kept alternating sharing music we liked via YouTube videos on his television. At some point after many drinks, we began kissing.

Let me back up though to the times his phone rang. He would answer it and leave the room. He would go to the kitchen or down the hall to chat. This happened twice. He spoke in his language but I understood when he said “I love you” before hanging up.

During out makeout session, as the clothes were starting to come off, he confessed. He said he was married. A smarter woman, or a sober woman, would have stopped there. But alcohol was clouding my mind. I just yelled at him for telling me. Then we had sex. I don’t remember much of it except it wasn’t good. Then I passed out asleep.

Then next day, I had a wicked hangover. He tried to wake me up for morning sex and I just growled “I need water.” He got me water, and then kept trying to kiss my shoulder. I kept pushing him away. The regret was worse than the hangover. I kept scolding myself “he told you he was married and YOU STILL had sex with him! You are a horrible person!”

I kept pushing him away. “I need sleep!” He finally got out of the bed and let me sleep in. When I did wake up hours later, I noticed all the crosses and religious icons in the room. I then remember a bit of the conversation of him being a devout Catholic. This was making me mad cause not only did I have sex with a married man, I had sex with a hypocrite!

I emerged from the guestroom and entered the living room. I said I needed to have lunch. The previous day he did mention a restaurant in town I wanted to try. He began saying lunch could wait and started to try to kiss me. I kept pushing him away. I was so disgusted with myself and him.

I began texting my friend back in the USA. She told me to just leave. But his home was on a military base. Uber was not allowed on the base. So I couod leave until he drove me somewhere. I wanted to return to a tourist site where I could request a taxi or Uber home.

He began to say “I want to do what we did last night.” He wouldn’t say sex. Just kept saying those words like it was something pre-pubescent game where you couldn’t say that 3-letter word. I kept pushing him away and moving couches or room.

I finally said “what would your wife say about it?” This upset him.

“Why would you say that? Don’t say that.”

Phone rang. Maybe she sensed it.

I went to grab my bag. I also put on my abaya. (Abayas are the robes women wear over their clothes in public. Abayas are not mandatory in Saudi anymore, but many places it felt uncomfortable to not wear one so I had to always carry one.) When I returned to the living room wearing the abaya and my overnight bag in my hand, he got the point.

We left and went to the restaurant. I needed a greasy burger and fries. Since public displays of affection are taboo in Saudi, I did not have to worry about him attempting to kiss me.

After lunch, he dropped me at the taxi stand. He helped me negotiate a price with a taxi driver. Then I was gone. No hug. Just waved and I hopped in the car.

He kept texting me afterwards. He said he wanted to see me again. I finally blocked him.

Before moving to Saudi, I was worried about getting involved with a married man. I heard too often about the men that go there to work and conduct affairs. It happened to a friend of mine and ruined her marriage.

I was lonely, so I wondered if I did not drink gin that night, would I still have had sex with him? Probably not, cause he was about 4 inches shorter than me. I didn’t know beer goggles also added height.

2 years later and feel starting over

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.

No More Slipping

I slipped again two weeks ago. I am finally ready to just call it a relapse. One long drawn out relapse full of slips since last May. Slipped… sober 3 months… slip…sober a month… slipped again. And each time, something bad happened.  The first time I lost a favorite dress. The 2nd time I scratched up my shins doing laundry drunk. And this 3rd time,  I dropped a shopping bag with a Dali clock I just bought and broke the stand. I am gluing it back together as much as I can but actually hope the cracks will remind me to stay sober!


I keep saying “I am back on track” after each slip. But obviously I need to make a change. I need to do something. I really want to stay sober. I have experienced many of the benefits. I don’t want to face anymore of the horrors. I know everyone is going to say “go to meetings” and “get a sponsor.” I almost went to a meeting last night but decided to go to bed early.

This latest slip was in Barcelona. Well, actually in Figueres after visiting the Salvador Dali museum. Sangria was included in the special at lunch. I got tipsy while talking with an American couple sitting next to me about the Dali museum and travels. Towards the end of my meal and half pitcher, I felt they were judging me. I felt they were disappointed for some reason. “Look at this drunk traveler.” Was I slurring? I think my feelings of guilt were making me paranoid.

I had dinner that night in Barcelona with a friend and her friend. She knows I am sober but her friend did not. They ordered a pitcher of sangria but I declined the glass when the waiter brought me one. My friend apologized for the pitcher when her friend went to the bathroom. I wanted to confess my afternoon drinking session but I was ashamed.

The next day I planned to walk around the city taking photos. I headed to the Barri Gothic area. But I felt an itch everytime I past a place offering sangria. I finally stopped and ordered a half pitcher with pizza. Then I spent the rest of the day walking around, taking photos, and stopping for sangria. I stopped at 3 different places along the Ramblas. I kept telling myself I deserved it. I was relaxing. I was people watching. I came to Spain to see the Dali museum and accomplished that so now there was no hurry.

I got drunk and started to chat with a local guy online. Soon we made plans to meet. I spent the night at his place. We did not actually have sex because he couldn’t get it up. But I am disgusted at the risky situation I put myself in. And the next day, I went back to the room I was renting and slept most of the day. A wasted day.

That evening I did get to an AA meeting. It was a big book meeting. I don’t remember what the reading was but I did not relate to it. I felt out of sorts. The shame and guilt were worse than a hangover.

So I am at 2 weeks sober today. Again. Pink fucking fluffy cloud.

Failed at Sober Burn

So I didn’t make it through Burning Man without drinking alcohol this year. In fact, I broke sobriety in Reno. Met up with some French guys for dinner and when they ordered a bottle of wine, I did not decline a glass. But I was glad they were there to share the bottle.

And once at Burning Man,  I remained sober the first few days. But on Wednesday I had a volunteer shift that required me to socialize and be outgoing. I asked a camp mate for a beer to help lubricate my personality. It was a weak move. And I drank more the rest of the day. And a little each day. I got tipsy but not extremely drunk. And no blackouts or stupid acts. I started to think maybe I will just reset my sobriety clock after each burn.

I am not fooling myself into thinking I am no longer an alcoholic.  I know I am. As soon as I left Reno, I vowed to return to my abstinence lifestyle.  But I also want to stop focusing on numbers. Focusing on how many months or years I refrained from drinking. Stop focusing on the higher the number, the better of a person I am.  Stop feeling guilty for not keeping my sober streaks lasting longer.

I am also thinking of attending SMART meetings. Maybe I can stick to that program better than AA.

thoughts while slipping

The day I relapsed, I wrote about it in my journal while I was drinking. I hate the term relapse though. To me, that envisions giving up and drinking a lot more than I did. To me, a relapse lasts days, weeks, months or more. My slip was 1 day and then 1 more day. It was a slip. Here is my journal entries:

22 May 2015

…I walked more but was hungry two hours later. I stopped at a place on the waterfront. Upstairs had a nice view of the bay and a beautiful breeze. The waiter suggested fish or lobster with shrimp. I opted for the fish. And when he suggested “mojito”, I gave in. Today is 1 year and 4 months of no alcohol. I could blame it on seeing bottles and signs of rum everywhere. Or maybe cause I am feeling lonely. I thought “maybe just one drink.” After a few sips, I took a gulp of rum through the straw. It was like kissing an old lover that I never forgot. One that used to abuse me but at that second, I missed his tasty lips. Sparks flew. Our passion was rekindled.

I swore only one. But when I finished it and was still not done lunch, I thought “maybe a beer?” Might as well. I already broke my sobriety. I should have a beer but sip it to last the rest of lunch. Then I will stop. I feel ashamed but also debating if I will tell anyone about this.

So one mojito and half a beer and I feel tipsy. I am glad my high tolerance is gone. I am not sure if I will drink more or not the next few days. I don’t want to get drunk and lose something. And I am worried about what it will do to my brain and body.

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”- Buddha

Is a sober world an illusion? Is having a few drinks ending my suffering of struggling to stay sober?
After I left the restaurant, I kept thinking of getting another drink. I wanted to chase the buzz. I figured “why not!” I would start sobriety again tomorrow. I will just drink a little throughout today.
I stopped at a bar to read my guidebook. I ordered 2 beers. Then I walked, took photos, and got a taxi to the waterfront. I watched the sunset. Then I went to another restaurant for dinner and a beer. I sat outside with the evening breeze and continued to watch the sun setting. I noticed the sunset was prettier once the sun was gone. I am trying to think of a metaphor for that but I am feeling drunk. After the light is gone, beauty arises?
I went walking along the waterfront. I had my headphones on and was feeling good. Later I regretted having my headphone on cause I missed a bunch of live music. A lot of guys made comments at me. Some looked like teenagers. It was a nice ego boost for a woman about to turn 40. Then I got lost. I finally hailed a taxi and was a good thing because I was walking in the complete wrong direction. But I now sit in a cigar bar, full of smoke, and one waitress for the whole place. I am gonna order one rum and Coke and then bed.

23 May 2015

Back on sober track. After my rum and Coke last night, I had a daiquiri because that bar was famous for them. Then on my way back to my hotel, I wanted one more drink. There were people stopping people on the street to bring up to a bar. It was very small place with 5 tables and a 2-guy band. It was all old men and 2 female waitresses/bartenders. As I was finishing my beer, some pretty, young girls came in. They all had very short dresses on. They approached the old men. It seemed there was one young woman for each old man. They either danced or the girls sat very close to the men. I think they were prostitutes. The men looked to be in their 50s and big while these girls could have been their daughters. What kind of place was I in!

I was only buzzed at the most yesterday but I did not sleep well. I woke up a bit hungover. I kept hitting snooze for one hour. Already having a night of drinking affecting my vacation. My day of slipping was 6 beers and 3 mixed drinks. Evidence of not being a moderate drinker!

25 May 2015

written while drunk:

    Why Do I drink (did drink?!)

I drink to feel loved
I drink to feel wanted
to be accepted
to be popular
I like the fuzz
the buzz
It feels innocent and
takes me back to childhood
before depression
before identity
before self hatred.

But it doens’t keep me there.
It creates an illusion.
But magic if fake.
It is not real
Sobriety is real.
Truth is real.

I need real.

26 May 2015

So I drank again last night. Then I met a guy. We bar hopped for places that were still open. Then I took him back to my hotel with me. We had sex. I had a tampon still in. I don’t even remember if it was good or not. We tried to have sex again this morning but I was too tired and hungover. Not sure if we will stay in touch or ever see each other again. I am ashamed and feel guilty. I have not had sex for over a year and was hoping to break that when I found someone I cared for. Instead I threw it away on some guy that gave me a compliment in a bar. I feel sick from the hangover and guilt. I wasted my last day sleeping and popping advil. I am still not sure I will tell anyone. Can I go back and pretend it never happened? I will start going to more meetings when I get home, find a sponsor, and work the steps finally.

Drinking Game

You know you are an alcoholic when you sit in an AA meeting and think of how it could turn into a drinking game. Drink everytime you hear “higher power”, “it works if you work it”, or “the Big Book.”

Of course it would be a coffee drinking game.

16 days

The number seems so small to the length of sobriety I had. But I am still sober (again.) Spent the last few days of my vacation reading my book “Buddhism and the Twelve Steps”. I still need to read the Big Book and combine what I learn from this book with that. I have been making mental lists of who I need to make amends to. Also, I need to reboot this blog and go back to listing my mistakes. I need to reread what I have already written so I don’t repeat myself.

But I feel more positive about starting over than when I first got sober. I also realize that staying sober is an active state. It is not gonna just happen. I do need to work for it.

Just ask

I got a spa package today that included a glass of sparkling wine. While I waited for my waitress, I sincerely considered it. “Just one since it is included. Then water.”

WTF. I just went through the “just one” thoughts 2 weeks ago. I remember where that got me but here I was thinking of trying it again.

Even if I had just one, once the alcohol gets in my blood, I start craving. I start obsessing. I start thinking of nothing else but wanting that numbness.

Instead I asked if there was anything nonalcoholic I could get with the package. “Of course. We have a sparkling juice instead with orange juice, lemon juice and grenadine.”

See. Just ask. You will be surprised how many places will accommodate us that can’t booze.


My first vacation AA

Yesterday I went to my first AA meeting in another country. They have an English speaking meeting 5 nights a week. I missed the meeting my first night due to jetlag. Then I went on Friday. I really enjoyed it. It felt good to finally share about my relapse. It was interesting to hear about the stories of alcoholics from around the world. I liked that they have chips, including monthly chips for the first year. I am not gonna focus on the chips this time round. Most of them were going out for dinner after and invited me. I wish I joined them but I was really tired and had a tour early the next morning.

As I was leaving the meeting, a man yelled to me “don’t go to the pub!” I am glad he did. I kept that in my mind as I walked past many pubs on the way back to my hotel. I kept it in mind when I stopped in the store to buy water and saw beers cheaper. I kept it in mind today when I thought how nice it was to have strangers care about my sobriety.

I spent all day on a tour with plans to go to the meeting as soon as we returned to the city. But we got back late. I was 30 minutes late to the meeting. I was very glad I went for two reasons.

First, I met two women on the tour. We chatted about the pros and cons of solo travel. We compared our plans for this trip and admired each other’s photos. Then they made plans to go out for drinks afterwards and invited me. I declined because I had plans to meet other people. I just didn’t say those people were a group of alcoholics.

Second, I asked the tour bus driver to drop me off by the lake rather than my hotel. He said that was no problem. I was last person on the bus. He asked where by the lake and I said “on the other side.” There was a small road that went down that side of the lake with the AA building. He asked “a guesthouse?” I gave the address. “Ohhh I was wondering. Welcome to the club. I have 15 years.”

I wanted to hug him but he was driving a bus. I was so thrilled to share this sort of secret code. I told him I was 11 days again after a year and 4 months sober. He wished me good luck and happy travels.

I won’t be able to attend anymore meetings this week here because I will be on a roadtrip. But those 2 meetings gave me fuel to stay strong. I have my Big Book I have been reading with meals. I have other club members around me whether I know it or not.

To Thine Own Self


These are not mine. I found these when I was unpacking into my new place a few months ago. I originally found them in a house I rented 12 years ago. That house was full of abandoned things. The previous tenant lived there for years and then moved out quite quickly. I asked why and was told her boyfriend died suddenly and she moved into his house. It was traumatic so she left everything behind. I was happy cause I needed a lot of the furniture and kitchen things she left. And I would get drunk and search the boxes and stuff in the basement. I called it “treasure hunting.”

I remember she had a niece. I found photos. Other toys. A Fisher Price record player. Or at least I always assumed it was a niece.  I never asked. She had some old clothes that I turned into costumes. Antique kitchen utensils I still have hanging now. She had an old, electric hand mixer that still works (and probably better than any new one I could buy now.)

I found these tokens in a box of old stamps and Japanese coins. I kept them because this was shortly after my first DUI and experience with AA. Did I, deep down, think I would try to go sober one day?

I always assumed they belonged to the lady that lived there that left quickly. Which makes me wonder about her. Was she like me? Were those photos a niece? Or a daughter of whom she lost custody? Did the traumatic death trigger her to relapse? Is she sober now? Is she alive? Were those her coins? Maybe they belonged to her boyfriend? Maybe alcoholism was the reason for the traumatic death?

I have been thinking of my dad lately. Father’s day is coming up. Plus his birthday. Plus his deathday. He died from lung cancer, not his alcoholism.  As a kid, I always suspected he would die from cancer. I just wondered if it would be lung or skin because he was a sun worshipper in summer. I never considered the alcohol killing him. Not many people do. We don’t think of what it does to our insides.  It rots our body. It kills our veins. Would my dad have been able to fight his lung cancer if his immune system was not already destroyed by alcoholism? 

I can not answer any of those questions. I can only find the answers for my life. For my sobriety. For my happiness.