Travel for Tokens

If you have been following my blog, you would know that my local meetings do not give out many sobriety chips. At first I was very frustrated by this. I had to drive to a city two hours away to get my 30 day chip. I got my 90 day chip while on vacation in another city. I found it nice and convenient that I was to be traveling again for my 180th day.

I made plans to have dinner with an old friend. He and I have bickered about a lot of things in the past. When I first got sober, I stopped talking to him because of his comments about alcoholism.  He does not believe it is a disease. It is a choice.  I couldn’t handle that in my first 30 or even 60 days. I think it was near 90 days sober before I unblocked him and started to talk to him again.

He wanted to invite his roommate and roommate’s girlfriend to dinner with us. The problem is his roommate is my ex-boyfriend.  I told him I did not want them to join.  He said they might get upset if they are left out and I said “I don’t fucking care.” This guy was horrible with returning phone calls and text messages. He did not care when that hurt me. And the way we ended things was he called me about some papers and then said “you know that whatever happens, we will always be friends.” We never talked about it. We never had closure. And the last time I was in town, he canceled dinner plans with me to go see this girl. So I really did not want him and his new love joining my evening. I did not want closure with his arms wrapped around her. I could not handle that sober.

Thankfully my friend did not invite them. He and I had a great dinner. We talked and caught up. Afterwards, I felt bad that I seemed to monopolize the conversation with my recovery. He said a few times that he does not think I need to quit forever. I told him I know I do. He kept saying he thinks I can control it. If we had this talk a few months ago, I would have got angry. Instead, I just explained to him that I do not want to drink. I do not need to drink. He came up with his excuses for drinking and I told him that is fine.  I have no problem with other people drinking. I have a problem with my drinking.

After dinner, I started to drive him home. I was planning to go to a meeting. He even looked up meetings for me near his home. I was about to turn towards his street and he asked where was I going. The meeting is straight. “You want to go to the meeting with me?” He said sure. This was the first time I had someone go to a meeting with me.

It was a beginners meeting. The topic was higher power and God. I thought he would enjoy this because we discuss/debate religion and religious issues a lot. I got called on and felt like I was in school and had to write an answer on the chalkboard.  I have never been to a meeting before where they randomly call on people. But I spoke about my feelings of spirituality and using energy and the universe as my higher power. (Maybe one day I will get around to make a blog about my spirituality.) After the meeting, my friend thanked me for what I said. He thought it helped balance out all the God and Jesus talk. I think he might have enjoyed the meeting even if he does not believe everyone in that room has a disease.

There was a few minutes left and I did not see anyone with a box. I whispered to him “I guess no chip.” But then the chairperson asked for a volunteer to pass out chips. A huge smile crept across my face. They started out with 18 months. Then 12. Then 6. I jumped up like it was the lottery. I was the only person in the room accepting a chip. My friend kept clapping after everyone else was finished. It felt so wonderful.

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And then I thought I really hate my local meetings. Why do they deprive people of this awesome feeling of accepting a chip? Only 90 days and yearly chips? That does not seem like enough reinforcement.  Maybe I am just Pavlovian dog.

Mistake 182- Many years ago, I was at a party at the house of my friend that joined me at this meeting. I do not remember much (as usual). But I cheated on my girlfriend with some guy at the party. In most lesbian relationships, that is the worst betrayal. I do not remember much of the incident. The images of it are fuzzy like it didn’t really happen. Another guy witnessed it which is how I discovered what I did. Our group of friends made a joke out of it. I felt such shame because of the betrayal and the fact I had to be told by someone else what I did with my own body. Drinking controlled me. I finally gave up the losing battle of trying to control it.

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Times Square and Sober

If you ever find yourself in New York City and Times Square, and need an AA meeting, there is one on 46th Street between 8th and Broadway. It is actually an Alcoholic Anonymous club! They have 10:30pm meetings which are great if you want to catch a Broadway show first.
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It made me wish I lived in an area with late night meetings. I would make a 10:30 meeting my homegroup with my work hours.

At this meeting, a guy talked about how even with access to a full bar, he would carry his own bottle of liquor around a party as back up. I did that! For me, it was always Bacardi and Diet Coke in a bag. Maybe Malibu. I was always so scared of running out of booze.

Mistake # 171- Even though usually I was a fun drunk, sometimes I could be mean. Especially when it came to my booze. I was at a party for New Years. I had my large bottle of Barcardi for me and contributed a bottle of cheaper stuff to the party. My friends were tending the bar and said they would watch my bottle for me. After midnight, everyone was fairly drunk and the party ran out of booze. That was when I caught some people I didn’t know helping themselves to my Barcardi. You would think they were stealing my first born! I walked over to them yelling “WHO SAID YOU COULD HAVE THAT!” I was pissed off. They got scared and started apologizing. I spent the rest of the party cradling that bottle in my arms. I added some Diet Coke to the rum bottle and just drank straight from there. I might have even spit in it to claim it.

Sober Concert

A friend invited me to a concert in a park. It was free. It was a band I did not know. But I wanted to see her again. We haven’t lived in the same area for about 4 years and she was near the city I am visiting before she moves overseas.

I loved the show. And since it was in a public park, no booze. It is the kind of show most of my friends would suggest sneaking in alcohol. I have become good at hiding my drinks. Water bottles have been very useful for that.

The opening acts were dancers. Some hip hop type dancing. It was college age kids who learned the dance moves in a program from when they were teens. It was one of those programs to keep urban kids off the streets. I was impressed. I got a little teary eyed thinking “those kids are doing that sober. They are dancing and having fun. I can learn from them.”

My friend and I sat on the ground inbetween acts and caught up. I mentioned a few things about why I stopped drinking. She didn’t seem to have a problem with it. I can not remember if she ever saw me messed up but I am sure she heard the stories. Either way, she seemed more supportive than the two who I thought of as very close friends. She even said it must be nice to wake up in the morning with a clear head and not have to plan a sober driver.

Then I spotted a friend JF. I jumped up to say hello. He invited me to come join other friends that were sitting on a hill watching the concert. This is a group of party friends. They are all friends with P and C, my friends that were unsupportive all weekend. I was excited to see them but worried how they would react to my sobriety. My friend and I joined them anyway.

First, I don’t think anyone had alcohol. (Like I said, public park where it was not allowed.) Second, my sobriety never came up with them. And third, I learned that I can have fun at a concert without booze. And I CAN DANCE SOBER! The music was sort of Latino mixed with Brazilian and electronic. I was shaking my butt and moving my hips.

I am not sure how things will be at other events with these friends. But I feel JF would be supportive. He offered me drinks at an event last November and I declined because I was on a drinking break. He said “good for you!” Not like P and C who criticized me for taking a drinking break around the holidays. But it cheered me up to think I have some support in that group of friends.

Oh and I forgot… I went to an AA meeting today. It was in the back of a coffee shop. I thought it was great. I shared about my experience with P and C. I cried. A few people came up to me after to give me advice and share words. I was glad none of them told me get a sponsor or anything about working the steps. They didn’t shove the AA dogma down my throat. They told me to come back to this meeting whenever I am in the area. And for some reason, there was something about that meeting that made me think I will start trying to program more. I will wait until I move out here to get a sponsor. This meeting somehow made AA more attractive.
And they gave out chips. I think I really have resentment against the meetings back where I live for not giving chips except for 90 days and anniversaries.

Mistake 138- The day after P and C’s wedding, I spent it with the best man Playboy, two of the groomsmen and the wife of one of those groomsmen. We had lunch. I was the only one drinking beer at lunch. Then we decided to go to a park. We had all of the leftover booze from the wedding in our vehicles. We had a few bottles of wine and Solo cups. We sat in the park in the late afternoon drinking.

I was friends with the one groomsman. The married one did not seem to like me from the moment I met him. His wife was okay but seemed as if she was tolerating me. I got very paranoid about why they did not like me. My answer to the paranoia or maybe in a way to forget it was to drink more wine.

As the sun was going down, the one groomsman, who I was good friends with, had to leave. The married couple and Playboy wanted to go to a nearby casino. I should not have driven but I did. We all had separate cars. I lost them along the way.  I caught up with the three of them in the parking lot of the casino.

I think Playboy and I started to argue about something before even leaving the park. Whatever the argument was about continued in the parking lot. It continued all the way into the casino. It was something about money I owed him for some booze. I told him if we go right to the ATM, I will get him the money. The three of them were walking quickly like they wanted to get away from me. So as soon as we entered, I got stubborn and walked off to a restaurant. I stopped in the gift shop to pick up some gossip magazine (which I normally never read) to read while I ate alone. I ordered more wine with dinner. I sat there at this table alone, trying to read, and crying while I ate.

I went to my car. I knew I was in no condition to drive. I slept. Playboy came by my car and banged on the window. Then he started to yell at me for being dramatic. I told him I was in no condition to drive. But I was so upset at him waking me up, I decided to leave the casino. I drove 2 hours to my friends’ house. I do not think I was legal to drive but I guess that nap in the car sobered me up enough to not be obviously drunk.

Planning

I was thinking how much planning I used to have to do when drinking. I would have to figure out transportation,  but sometimes I did not plan that too well. I would take only my ID and a debit card or credit card and leave the rest in my wallet at home to avoid losing my wallet. I even bought a cheap, “party” camera to take out drinking in case I lost it. Sometimes I would remember to copy photos from my SD card to my laptop before leaving in case I lost it. I was usually more upset about losing the SD card than the cameras. I am surprised I did not buy a cheap, “drinking” cell phone.

If I was going to a bar alone, which I did a lot, I would bring a book or something to keep me and my drink occupied. I would request a stool or table with light so I could read. I would not be able to concentrate on the book after a few drinks and would usually end up talking to the bartender or strangers next to me. Years ago, I used to plan my nights based on where people I knew would be. More recent years, I just wanted to drink. I did not care if my friends would be out. I am not sure why I preferred bars to drinking at home. Maybe it made me feel less lonely. I think I drank at home more when I had roommates.

I even planned places I lived based on if there were bars in walking distance. I rented one house that was near a beer store but I did not have a car. I would pull a wagon to the store to buy cases of beer. I kept a cooler upstairs in the computer to keep cold beers handy. When my dad lived with me, he had a mini-fridge moved into the upstairs bedroom. After he passed away, I pushed it to the computer room. Yes! It could hold more beers than the cooler and did not need refills of ice.

I would even plan out hangovers. I would never make plans early in the day. I kept Advil in my bag in case I did not make it home and needed it wherever I woke up. Sometimes I kept a travel toothbrush and pair of underwear in my bag for those mornings. I even bought some incense that was supposed to be for hangovers.

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So much energy went into planning my life around alcohol. I still need to do planning to avoid drinking now, but it feels easier. I have to think of backup plans in case I get tempted. I try to plan to fit at least one AA meeting a week. I have to plan to avoid triggers or plan how I will handle them. But I feel great.  This planning has more positive outcomes.

Mistake 113- I was in Santiago, Chile.  I had plans to meet up in a club with some people from a website. I think it was someone’s birthday or going away party. I brought my “party” camera and left my good camera in my room. I also only brought local cash and my driver license for ID in my pocket. I was drinking Sprite and pisco, the national drink (depending if you ask a Chilean or Peruvian.) I remember some dancing. I got very drunk. 

Next morning, I had no more cash,  no driver’s license,  and my camera was missing.  The guy that organized the party emailed me. They found my ID and camera in the bathroom. They said the camera did not seem to work because it was sitting in a puddle of water when they found it. I gave him an address of a place I would be in Argentina and had him mail it to me. I do not remember if I ever sent him money to cover the postage. The camera was ruined and so was the SD card. But I got my driver’s license back.

Sober Soup

Today I am 100 days sober.

I still feel I am treading the waters here. It does not feel like I am taking the plunge into sobriety yet. It seems like a test run. A competition. A challenge. Did I win yet?

I feel I have gotten this far with a sober soup. It is a mixture of different things. Belle’s 100 Day challenge was the broth. I added to that daily blogging, reading other sober blogs, reading my journals, reading memoirs such as Carolyn Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story and Kristen Johnston’s Gutsand reading articles about alcoholism. The support from real life friends and the cyber sober community was like spices added to this soup. It made it work. This mixture kept me from drinking alcohol the past 100 days. (AA meetings were the salt and pepper. I only needed a little bit.)

I feel I have this sober genie sitting inside of me. He sometimes is in my chest. Sometimes my stomach. When I think about having a drink, he punches me. He grabs my esophagus and says “Go ahead but I am gonna make you puke it up and regret it!” He holds a knife to my liver and threatens to rip it apart. He runs into my brain with a napkin soaked in chloroform. I know both booze and that will poison my memory. When I choose not to drink, he flicks his chin up and says “Yea! That is what I THOUGHT you’d do.” He is like a bully but one I need.

I am scared this genie won’t stick around. He is gonna eat all this soup and leave.

265 more days of blogging about mistakes, regrets, and other mishaps from my drinking problem. I have daily blogging to keep me accountable.

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Mistake #100- Was visiting my sister in 2002. We invited a guy that I used to date to go out with us. We ended up at a gay bar. I got wasted and left with some girl. I just left my sister there with a guy that she barely knew. There were some nasty messages on my voicemail when I woke up the next day.

Get Healthy: take 2

I was silly to try to start a “diet” a week before going to see friends. Especially with a kid in the car. Now I know I can not tell another woman how to raise her kid, but my imaginary offspring would only eat veggie snacks, milk and water.

Thankfully my friend was stern enough not to let me drink soda. I told her how I almost got weak in a store on Friday by myself. I picked up a Vanilla Coke and told myself “at least it isn’t diet” but then put it back and grabbed water. I also grabbed some energy flavor stuff to add to my water that is supposed to repress my appetite. Not wonderful stuff since it is chemicals but maybe helpful to steer me from my diet soda and sugar addiction.

And all weekend, I did not bother to question what I ate. Tacos. Pizza. Hashbrowns. Lots of sugar in my coffee. My friend offered me stevia instead of sugar but I thought it tasted like medicine. I really just need to wean off sugar. Maybe even learn to drink coffee black.

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I went to a women’s AA meeting last night. I enjoyed it. Three women spoke about their stories of 20, 24, and 30 years sobriety. That just seems so long. I was inspired but also a bit sad. Will I ever be able to celebrate 20 years? 10? 5 even? Sometimes I get so scared of the thought of drinking but it seems a life of longterm sobriety is as possible as finding Narnia.

I think I will start going to more meetings. I liked that a few women talked to me last night but did not pressure me. I feel I am in pre-AA. I feel I am training. Prepping. I want to stay sober but I am not ready for a home group or sponsor. I want to wait until after I move this August to a more permanent home. I will invest in AA then. I sort of wish there was a website to find a perfect sponsor for me. Like eSponsor.com instead of eHarmony. OKSobriety. mAAtch.com

Sobriety means a change in lifestyle. Getting healthy is a change in lifestyle. Part of me wants to move to Saudi Arabia. Maybe that is the change I need.

Mistake # 98- Two years ago, I was visiting a foreign city. I got drunk at a bar with friends. Made out with a guy I called Player. I wasted the whole next day sleeping off my hangover. I did not get to see any sites. That night, my friend had a party. Player and I made out again in a corner but I do not remember. At a party the next night, I had sex with Player. Then I found out he had a girlfriend. She was out of town that weekend. I was upset but I did not remember the sex. I just figured it didn’t matter. But I did get drunk and sent him many nasty texts.
When I returned to that city again, I avoided seeing Player again.

Memory Lane

I arrived by airplane yesterday to start a roadtrip with friends to visit another friend’s new baby.The trip was supposed to be 4 adults and one child. It will now be two adults and child. I was upset yesterday about the two guys canceling. But I guess things could be worse.

I picked up my rental car at the airport and drove around. I drove to different memorable sights. I lived here for 7 years. I spent most of my twenties here. I turned 21 here. My first apartment was here and this was where I lived when married. It is also where I got my two DUIs.

I drove by the municipal courts and the jail. I looked up at the windows and wondered which one was my cell. I had bad flashbacks of coming here for court dates. I drove by the bus stop that I had to wait at when I lost my driver license. I cried a little and told myself I never want to go through that again. I thought of the woman I once met in AA who said she was sober for years and the one night she decided she could drink again, she got her 4th DUI.

Then I found an AA meeting. It was a small, women’s meeting. I was ten minutes late. But I enjoyed it. We read from the book the chapter “To The Wives.” While I was reading, it made me think of my mom and I started to cry so I passed the reading off to the next person. The highlight was they gave out monthly chips at the end. I GOT MY 90 DAY CHIP!

90 days Sober!

90 days Sober!

It felt so good walking out of that meeting with that in my wallet. I was so happy. But I was also scared thinking of a woman I met in the meeting. She was sober for 16 years. Then some tragedy happened to her family in January. She started to drink again. Just when I was getting sober, she was relapsing. She picked up a white chip right before I picked up this green chip. She also looked very familiar. I think we used to work at the same place. I thought “that could be me.” It scared me to think that no matter how confident I feel in this sobriety thing, relapse is always possible. This disease might go dormant but does not die.

I went to dinner with my friends. I told the two guys they are losers and I am mad at them for not joining the roadtrip. They kept apologizing. I told them they need to find time to go visit our friend and her new baby on their own. They said they would try. I shared with them my green chip. They all high-fived me. My one friend said she needs to get me a gift and she promises it will not be a bottle of wine.

We ordered dessert. I really wanted to order an almond rum cheesecake. I do not think the rum in it would affect me nor mess up my sobriety. But I got worried about ordering it in front of my friends. I wondered if I would have ordered it if I was alone. Then I thought I most likely would not because I would agonize too much about it. I got a coconut 6-layer cake. It reminded me of the coconut cake I had for 50 days but so much better!

I also ordered almond cappuccino. Then I panicked when drinking it because I thought it tasted like Amaretto. I asked my friend “taste this! Is that Amaretto? Is that alcohol?” He looked at me like I was crazy. Then I felt I was acting crazy. I told him nevermind. I looked at the desert menu and saw an Amaretto latte at the bottom with the alcoholic coffees. No, this was almond syrup in here. They would not have done that to me. Man, that would really suck if I lost my sobriety over a screw up on my order!

This morning, I went to another meeting. I was gonna try to get a 60 day chip. I realized one thing I really like about meetings in this area is that they have a lot in buildings dedicated to AA meetings. They are not all in a church basements. Some are in strip malls and others are small houses. I do not have to search and feel lost like I do when searching for the room in the churches back home. Also, they have more times here. They have 10:30pm meetings. They had a 7am, 8am, 9:30, 11am, noon, 1pm and a lot of different evening meetings. I felt more and more I really do not like my area meetings!

This meeting did not give out 60 day chips. I declined to get a second 90 day one. I really enjoyed this discussion. One of the first people to share talked about an accident she caused earlier this week while drunk and she is not sure why they did not test her BAC at the scene. She went to the hospital but got away from receiving a DUI. I shared about my DUIs and how it took me seven years after my last one to seriously attempt sobriety. Unfortunately, she left the room by the time I got to share. But there were many people in that room with less than 30 days who thanked me for my story afterwards and said it helped them. One guy said that he thinks 90 days is a dangerous time. Too much confidence. That made my eyes widen. Yep, that is how I feel right now. I also feel I have tools. But I am gonna keep his words in my head. I am glad I have this blog.

Mistake # 94- A friend was coming through town. She was visiting family but set aside a night to party with me. I was actually closer friends with her husband. He and I were “friends with benefits” many years ago. She did not like me when they first started dating due to my past history with him. But ten years later, she and I were finally friends.

But that night, we both got trashed. I was sore the next day because I wrestled with some girl which I don’t remember. I do not remember making out with that girl’s boyfriend before the wrestling match. And I only slightly remember having sex with my friend. She made me promise not to tell her husband. I kept that promise until 6 months later when I confessed to him during a blackout. He said he was more mad that he had to hear it from me instead of her.