Coma

I received an email that a friend of mine is in a coma. I met him while traveling in his country. Another mutual friend suggest we meet up. We got along right away. I don’t use this phrase usually, but he felt like a brother.

We have stayed in touch via Facebook. He used to be a recipient of my drunk chats since he is 12 hour time zone difference away. I would be drunk and he would be at work. We discussed traveling, relationships and diving. I was supposed to go see him last January for a diving trip but I changed my plans and went to Borneo instead. Now I might never see him again.

He had an asthma attack. That caused severe pneumonia. That led to cardiac arrest. He has been on a ventilator the last few days fighting for life.

I hope he wakes up. This has also been sort of wake up call to me.  A message to appreciate my life daily. To be very grateful my drinking never put me in a coma. Or I never killed anyone. Just one drink could take me back to my blackouts and getting behind the wheel of a car. Even if I think I could drink and just “plan” better to avoid driving, I have proven over and over that the drunk monster will screw up plans.

Sobriety brings me a new respect for my life.

I pray for my friend and his family.

sober

Mistake #82 – When I met my friend, it was for a festival. It was a last-minute decision for me to go there. I was staying with an acquaintance of a friend since all hotels were sold out. There was a large group of us that went out together. We watched parades during the day and danced in a club at night. I do not remember when the drinking started but I got drunk on cheap, local beers. One of the locals invited everyone back to his place for afterhours drinking. The guy I was staying with was getting tired and wanted to leave. As usual, I did not want the partying to stop. “No just stay! Stay a little bit longer. Everyone is having fun. Don’t be a party-pooper.” This guy insisted on leaving. I was too drunk to notice when he left without me.

I woke up on the end of a bed. The guy hosting the afterhours had many people crashing in his room but I was a surprise guest. “How did you end up staying here?” I blamed my host. He just left me! A lot of the people in the room were not fond of that guy so they all agreed how rude that was to ditch me. But I now admit I acted like a little, drunk brat. And thankfully I was at a safe place to pass out drunk.

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Childless

I went to an AA meeting the other day where most people talked about issues with their kids and how it affects their sobriety.  It made me so glad I chose not to procreate.

But that does not mean my sobriety is not affected by children and family. I have a niece and nephew who mean the world to me. They are my younger sister’s kids. I was a big part of their life when they were younger. Then she and I have not gotten along since 2011. I am not sure what her diagnosis is but I know she is suffering from mental problems in addition to substance abuse. I suspect the mental issues are secondary. She did not want me in the lives of her children anymore.

My mom has helped raise them a lot. I don’t think my sister would have managed without her assistance. My mom secretly kept me in touch. She would have them send me cards and talk to me on the phone when they visited.

My sister began to show increased erratic behavior last summer. She gave her two children to their paternal grandparents “for a little bit” and then spent two months fighting for them back. (Their father has been out of the picture most of their lives.) The children were returned to her. I heard she seemed normal for a month and then began “acting up”. My nephew is a preteen and the poor kid told me his mom is “sick”. He is old enough to know.

Last fall, she gave them to my older sister and her husband. She signed away her parental rights and sent them a 1000 miles away. She was mad at my mom so did this rather than give her custody. I was worried because I have not gotten along with my older sister for two decades. I could never pin-point the reason. Maybe she has mental issues too. But I guessed I would never see the kids again.

Since they were born, I have sent them postcards, gifts and foreign currency from all the places I have been. I have taught them few words here and there in other languages. I’ve taken them on trips to cities that are driving distance to their home. Now the poor kids were uprooted and taken away from the only life they knew. Besides my mom, my brother has been closest to them. He was my nephew’s best friend.

At first, my older sister contacted me and said she wanted me included in their life. Over the months, new and stricter rules keep being placed that makes it harder to speak with the kids. We are only allowed to call for a few minutes on weekends but my sister and her husband monitor the calls. I do not know if they get the cards I send. Then they told my brother and I we can not visit the kids. It has been tearing us apart.

Then last night, her husband told my mom that my brother and I are no longer allowed to speak to the kids. I emailed my sister asking what did I do to be denied contact. She responded with a myriad of reasons and excuses that did not make sense. When I tried to refute each one, she replied with mean messages and told me “this is not about you!” Then, to add nastiness to her emails, she said the kids do not even ask about me. She said my close relationship to them is made up in my mind.

There are so many feelings going through my head and body. I am hurt and angry. Saddened. Worried. I worry so much about those kids. My nephew is very sensitive and emotional. Before I went away when his mom first started with her problems, he apologized to me for his mom being mean. He cried and told me not to leave. I think my niece is still too young to know what is happening. The times I have talked to him, he talks to me about art and books and the latest Walking Dead. I wonder what they are going to say to him when he doesn’t hear from me nor my brother.

I am trying to restrain outrage and hatred. I have been reading Buddhist quotes to try to find a peace of mind. I am going to start a journal of letters to them but not send it. Hopefully my mom will be allowed to see them this summer (unless she gets cut off too) and she can show them the journal. I hope keeping these letter will show them I never stopped loving and thinking of them. Hopefully my younger sister will seek help and regain custody.

I know I mention that my sisters have mental issues but fail to mention mine. I know I am an alcoholic. I suffer depression. I plan to explore whether my depression triggered the alcoholism or the other way around. Maybe if I can treat my depression, I can fight the drinking problem. I am not perfect. But the kids should not have to suffer.

I am not letting it affect my sobriety. I did tell my mom I wished I could just drink a bottle of wine and call my older sister to give her an earful. I know that was not rational thinking.

I pray for my little K and D.

By your own folly you will be brought as low as your worst enemy wishes. – Buddha

Mistake# 34- I was visiting a friend in Florida. She had her two little girls with her. One was 4 and the other 7. I spent a week with them traveling from Tampa to Pensacola to St Augustine. I was asked to join them to watch the girls while my friend took care of some things. She was going through a divorce.

The week was  a good reminder of why I do not want kids. I even went to the airport early to try to get an earlier flight home. I was drained from spending time with her kids. I was tired of their yelling and screaming. I was irritated by their crying over a stuffed animal or cartoons. I was so fed up with their fighting that I went out alone my last night.

The last night was a visit to St Augustine. It is the oldest city in America. We spent the day sight-seeing. I remember two girls arguing relentlessly and not listening to their mom. That night, I decided to go out alone. I wanted my own time. I went to some place for dinner and margaritas. A guy from the bar started smiling at me and then asked to join me. We talked and had many margaritas. Many! He invited me to a small party down the street.

I got drunk and went back to this party full of strangers. I do not remember much except a beautiful kitchen, more margaritas, and he and I having sex in a bedroom. Then I stumbled back, along cobblestone streets, to find the hotel. I do remember being scared I was gonna break my ankle on the antique road.

The oldest daughter was waiting up for me. She said she was worried when I did not come back by the time her mom went to bed. I told her I got lost.

Shamed by a 7 year old.

Long-term Recovery

Today I watched the film The Anonymous People on ManyFaces1Voice.org. I cried  some. It was moving and inspiring.

The thing I really liked was too use the term “long term recovery” instead of saying alcoholic. But how long do I have to be sober to consider it long term? It still feels sort of strange to think this is forever. I gave up on the idea of forever when I got divorced.

It is crazy to think of treating addicts as criminals.  I started reading Orange is the New Black. I love the show but reading the book makes me realize how it is a waste for our society to send someone to jail for a non -violent crime ten years after it happened due to our “zero tolerance” on drugs. I look forward to reading more. And I really look forward to the second season of the show.

I am going out for a friend’s birthday dinner tonight.  I am a little nervous about temptation but feel better after watching the movie.

“The easiest part was kicking it. The hardest part is living it.” – a man in the film

Mistake #32- I went out for drinks with friends.  I was separated from my husband for a few months. I started to date a guy that had a condo near the beach. I was getting upset that he didn’t call me or answer his phone that night. I was a little drunk and decided to drive by his place to see if his car was there. Was he out with another girl? I was jealous yet I was the one who still thought she was gonna fix her marriage eventually.

I got pulled over. I quickly took a sip of mouthwash I kept in my car door.  I read that they can not use results of a breathalyzer if you have mouthwash on your breath due to the alcohol in it. I told the officer I was just on my way to my boyfriend’s house. She asked if I was drinking and I admitted yes but diminished the amount. She asked why my breath smelled like mouthwash. I said I met a cute guy at the bar and I kept some in my bag to freshen up my breath. She had me step out of the car. Her partner said something about real alcoholics drinking mouthwash for the high. I stuck to my breath freshner story. When they asked me to walk on a straight line, I started to cry. I told them I have been having a really hard time being separated from my husband and I was in school and please please PLEASE I can not get a DUI! I walked the line while bawling my eyes out. I did other soriety tests while crying. I must have done okay because they did not arrest me. They gave me a ride home.

The whole ride home she lectured me. She talked about drinking and driving and all the deaths she has seen. I kept thanking her. I cried. I must have seemed such a mess especially with my stories of husband, boyfriend, and meeting a guy in the bar.

I walked into my roommate’s room when I got home and woke her up. I cried and told her I almost just got arrested for a DUI. She hugged me and told me stories about her “almost” DUIs too. I swore I would never drink and drive again. I finally went to my room and cried to sleep.

I got my first DUI a year and half later.

Selfish

Last year, I met up with two of my friends at my favorite bar. It was my favorite because it 1) had a lot of good IPAs,  2) was next to my apartment building so no worry of driving, and 3) the bartenders would let me keep drinking after they locked up and cleaned. They would even let me buy a bottle to go (which I think was illegal in that state?)

My friends lived down the street so no worries of driving for them either. They are an awesome couple. I never feel like a third wheel with them. We could have interesting conversations whether sober or drunk. Our group of friends were a fun, party crowd. I had discussions prior to this night with our group of “what if” this couple got married. This night I decided to share the group’s feelings (as if I was the spokesperson?)

The female of this couple was busy in a discussion with the gentleman in the stool to her left. The male, I will call him Bob, was on her right and to my left. In between us. Somehow I blurted out “you know none of us want you guys to get married.”
He asked why not.
I said “couples change when they get married. And we all love you guys the way you are.”
He said if, or when, they do get married, it won’t change them. But she wants babies one day so they most likely will take that step.
I cringed. Babies? That will really ruin them as the fun couple.

Bob doesn’t drink much. In the two years I have known him, I have never seen him drunk. The girlfriend, on the other hand, seems to compete with me as to who will pass out first at parties.

But who am I to tell them not to advance their relationship?  Who am I to want to prevent the possibility of losing a drinking buddy? Just because I do not want babies doesn’t mean all my friends should choose the same lifestyle. And just because my marriage failed doesn’t mean my friends can’t find happiness in it.

I was being selfish. Just like I feel selfish wanting all my friends to stop obsessing over alcohol. So many memes on Facebook glorify drinking. A lot of articles are being shared about the benefits of wine and whiskey. And there is a popular post going around on my news feed on how to open a wine cork without a screw.

I posted a link to making healthy water with lemons and limes. A friend commented “what about rum and lemon.” I said not for me. I have been sober 3 weeks. His comment got a like. Mine didn’t.

What about posts of the benefits of being not drinking? What about the damage alcohol does to the small percentage of people who can not handle it? If I start posting articles about sobriety,  I think I will be blocked by more people than my drunk posts did. My drunk posts were “entertaining”. I really had a lot of friends tell me that. Some joked that trying to decipher my drunk typing was like a game.

I need to not get on a  pedestal.  I need to not be selfish.
But I am still keeping my sobriety a secret from most people.

Mistake # 31- I had a birthday party that included hanging out in my apartment complex’s rooftop jacuzzi. I made it an “international theme”. The party started in my apartment with lots of exotic food I made representing different countries. And a lot of drinks like Australian wine, Russian vodka, Italian Amaretto, Mexican tequila, Caribbean rum, Irish whiskey and all kinds of beer. We moved the drinking up to the rooftop after the food was finished. I had a bottle of red wine for me. A whole bottle that I wouldn’t share cause it was expensive. I don’t remember a thing after I got in the jacuzzi.

I woke up in my bed the next morning. I had a friend staying at my place for a few days. She said everyone left and I refused to get out of the jacuzzi. She and another guy cleaned up the rooftop. They then found me floating facedown in the water and had to pull me out. I also confessed a lot of embarrassing secrets that night. I had more embarrassing drunk times in that jacuzzi and always blamed the heat.

Hunting for a chip

I went to another meeting today. My 3rd meeting since my 30 days of sobriety. My 3rd meeting that they did not give out chips. Well, tonight they did give one chip to a guy that had 90 days. I guess they give chips only to home members. Is this like apartment hunting to find a home? I feel like maybe I will get my 30 day chip by my 45th day.

There was a speaker in the meeting. I was very sleepy. I did not get much out of this one. It was 90% men which is different compared to most meeting I have gone to. I guess I will keep hunting.

My cyber chip:
image

Mistake #25- About a year and half ago, I went to a street fair. It was the kind of event where they close off the streets in a neighborhood for people to sell arts, crafts, and food. At each intersection, there was a stage set up for bands. Beer was sold near the stages.

I went alone but ran into a friend of mine. I’ve known him a few years from festivals and parties. He is very good looking. He was dating one of my friends when we first met but they broke up a year before this. He started seeing another girl at this point but he rarely brought her around to parties. I did not really know her.

We met up at a band he recommended. We started drinking beers. He knew a guy that worked one of the beer stands so we were getting a few freebies. We walked around to see other bands and to meet up with various people he knew. We grabbed beer every chance possible. I would get two just for me to avoid having to wait in line so much.

We went to dinner at a Mexican place. We started to drink margaritas. We were on our third when another band was supposed to start. The restaurant let us put the margaritas in plastic cups to take with us. Since the band was playing nearby, I kept going back to buy us more margaritas throughout the show. They made me buy the organic ones in order to get them as “take away” since they really weren’t supposed to be selling them that way. They were about $15 each. Expensive drinks! Next day I had 3 receipts of two drinks each. With tip, $100 on 6 drinks!

I don’t remember much of the shows. I took a lot of photos. Afterwards, my friend wanted to call it a night. He stopped drinking so he would be able to drive me home. I wanted to keep partying. I never wanted a good night to end. So I talked him into walking to a nearby gay club. He joked that he has never been to one but would go since I could protect him. I drank rum and diet cokes in the club. I think I danced. I do not remember much of the club.

The next morning, I woke up in his van parked along a street. I have never seen his van before but saw his work equipment in the back and assumed it was his. I texted him “I guess I am in your van? I need to pee.” I have never been to his house before either so did not know which one he lived in. I decided I couldn’t wait. It was about 6:30am on a Sunday. I opened the door,looked around to see if any people were outside, pulled down my pants, squatted by the curb, and peed. Then climbed back into the van to go back to sleep. About 10 minutes later, he knocked on the van door to wake me up. He said he tried to carry me in the night before but I refused. He said I insisted on sleeping in the van. He brought me inside and offered me the toilet. I was too embarrassed to tell him I took care of business already. He invited me to sleep in his bed. It felt so much better than the van seat!

A few hours later, I was woken up by his phone ringing. He answered it and went to the other room to talk. I pretended I was still sleeping. I overheard him telling his new girlfriend how I got wasted, took him to a gay club, and then I started propositioning him. He told her things I said to try to persuade him to have sex with me. He resisted my drunk seduction. I was mortified.

I kept pretending to be asleep when he came in to wake me up after ending the call. He said he had to give me a ride home so he could get stuff done. He gave me my bag. I did the “day after drunk” check. Keys, yes. Wallet, yes. Credit card, no. He said I must have left it at the gay club since I started a tab. Camera, no. All the fun photos of the street fair were gone. I went to the gay club when it opened up that evening and recovered my credit card but never found the camera again. The camera was a month old.

To this day, I do not feel comfortable around his girlfriend. She is super sweet and I think they are so great together. I just can not help but feel she must think of me as the drunk slut that tried getting with her man.

Focusing on the Negative

“Sometimes the past should be abandoned, yes. Life is a journey and you can’t carry everything with you. Only the usable baggage.” ~Ha Jin

(I have no idea where that is from but a friend just posted it and I thought it went well with my blog today.)

A friend recently messaged me I should focus on the positives things about going sober instead of the negative. This lead me to try to explain the pink cloud to him. I have tried to quit drinking in the past and those times I focused on the positive. I felt wonderful. I imagined how great my life will become now that I quit. I thought of all the improvements in my life and the weight I would lose and how my relationships will become perfect.

What happens when all that doesn’t come true?

That overconfidence can be dangerous for recovery.

Alcoholics have notoriously selective memories. No matter how sickening the hangover, how humiliating the drunken behavior, how dangerous the blind-drunk drive home, we seem incapable of recalling consistently or clearly how bad things got when we drank. – “Drinking: A Love Story” Caroline Knapp

I wrote about being on a pink cloud my 9th day of sobriety. After trying to explain it to my friend, I decided to read up more about it myself. I found this website and it’s description of the pink cloud to be interesting: Alcoholrehab.com:

People can feel cheated when the super highs of early recovery are replaced by more modest emotions.

(I actually added that link to my blog because I wanted to save it and I really wish I had the money to go to a rehab program in Thailand. Do they allow scuba diving as part of the program?)

I am writing this blog for my recovery. Some people might read it and see I am worse of a drunk than they are. Some might read it and think my mistakes weren’t that bad. Others might relate to my stories. Some readers might have no problem with alcohol at all and do not understand my blabbings. But I am writing about 365 times that I do not want to forget. Moments that I want to reflect on when I think just one glass of wine will be okay. I have already forgotten a lot of the incidences. Or buried them in my mind. Journals and stories from friends are helping me.

Thanks for reading.

Mistake # 20- NYC costume party: I was finishing a 30 days drinking break. The end to my break was going to coincide with a trip to New York City to visit a friend. People teased me for picking an expensive city to start drinking again. My break was over on Thursday night. No problems. I went out with a friend for a few beers and conversation. She went home at a reasonable hour and I went to another bar. I drank alone until 1am. I drank again on Friday with another friend. Again no problems. Then Saturday, I went to a costume party. I started drinking in the afternoon that day. Beers with a late lunch. Lots of beers. I picked up some beers for “pre-drinking” in the apartment before the party. I was drunk on the subway to the party. I was very trashed at the party. And I continued drinking overpriced rum and cokes.

That night I met a guy that I thought of as a small, internet celebrity. I have his YouTube videos saved on my account. I had a small crush on him. I have no idea what I said or happened, but anytime I have seen that guy since that night, he avoids me. I joked and defended myself by saying that I am not a stalker. Just a drunk.

I woke up the next day at my friend’s apartment laying next to a purple skirt. It was a long, shiny skirt. It had a ripped zipper. I asked him where did it come from? He said he found me at the party passed out on a couch hugging it. He has no idea how I acquired it. The blackouts are baggage I will not miss.

Allergies

Early sobriety has the quality of vigorous exercise, as though each repetition of a painful moment, gone through without a drink, serves to build up emotional muscle. -Caroline Knapp “Drinking: A Love Story”

I read some more of my journals last night. I had to have a tissue box next to me because I kept crying. There are so many stupid things I did. I hurt my mom and others I love so much. But my love for alcohol prevented me from stopping the cycle. I know a lot of people who try to go through life without any regrets. For me, most of my regrets were subdued stupidity. I chucked my regrets off as drunk mishaps. Misfortunes. Mistakes.

I was eating some chocolates and read the allergy warning label on the side of the box.  “This product manufactured on equipment also used in the production of products containing Peanuts and Tree Nuts.” I was glad I do not have nut allergies. The candies were clusters of chocolate and coconut. I thought of the people who are allergic to coconut and felt sorry them. I could not imagine being allergic to strawberries or bananas because I love those also. There have been incidences when I was traveling in  a foreign country and ate whatever mysterious food was offered to me. It made me grateful that I did not have any allergies or dietary restrictions.

Maybe I should start considering alcohol as my allergy. Blackouts are my reaction instead of rash or anaphylactic shock.

Mistake # 18- It was autumn 2003. I went out with some friends on a Friday or Saturday to a late night gay club. It was the kind of place that stays open until 3 or 4am. We usually got there a little before 11pm to pay reduced cover charge. I drank a lot. Most likely I drank rum and cokes. My friends said they lost me at some point on the dance floor.

I woke up in the emergency room. I was freezing laying there on a stretcher. I had a hospital sheet on top of me  to try to keep me warm. I was wearing a skimpy tank top and short skirt. It was the kind of top that one does not wear a bra. I had on pantyhose but they were all ripped. The male nurse asked me if I knew where I was. I recognized the logo on his badge. He told me I passed out in the club and was unresponsive. I was alone. The club called 911. My purse was missing so I had no identity on me. They did a drug screen and it was negative. I am not sure if they ever told me if they did a BAC level (I would assume they did) but if they told me the results, I have forgotten it.

He asked me if I knew how to get home. I told him I could get the subway but I did not have any money. He gave me a subway token and let me take the sheet to keep warm. I must have looked like a top prize sitting on that subway seat with smudge mascara, tossed hair, and a white sheet draped around me at 8am. I lost a thin jacket at the club in addition to my purse with cell phone, wallet and house keys.

I had to go to my sister’s house to get my spare set of keys. Then I had to have my locks changed to be safe. My dad was at her house watching TV. He said nothing about my messy appearance. I assume he did not want details.

When my dad had cancer, he went to that same hospital for his treatments. He lived with me his last few months of life. After he died, I found a sheet with the hospital logo. I was not sure if my dad brought it home after one of his admissions or if it was from my ER visit. I kept it and just told myself it was from him. I refused to be reminded of my embarrassing trip to that hospital.