Hi all. I know I haven’t been posting for months but I think that happens to a lot of people who are trying to get sober but not really bloggers.
Since my last post, I did get drunk once. I was at a small, local Burner regional and I got drunk one night on cheap wine. I wasn’t sure why I did it but I think it was related to 1) feeling lonely 2) had a crush on the guy who offered the wine. I had fun but ended up going to my tent for something and passed out early. I wasted one night of a 3 day festival and regretted it the next morning when I had a hangover.
And I survived another Burning Man year with ALMOST no alcohol. I told several people in my camp I do not drink but I was still offered booze in some form all week. I did take a few sips of champagne as it was passed around during volunteer shifts. And I had some champagne at a camp that has champagne parties at sunrise everyday, but it is small amount they give and the 2 cups I had were maybe 3/4 of a measuring cup. Then there was one drink I had on the last day as I passed a camp as my sort of farewell toast to Burning Man.
I sit here now a week later and think about what that means for my sobriety. To myself, I remained sober. I had a tiny bit of alcohol but avoided the amount that would cause me to crave. (Last year when I sipped the passing champagne, I gulped it down and realized I was keeping my eye on the bottle as it got passed around to figure when it would get back to me.) No, I do not think this means I can moderate. But I also don’t think I need to start to recount my sobriety. This is one reason I do not subject to the AA club nor the philosophies there. If I went to an AA meeting now, they would consider me newly sober and I would have to wait for 30 days since that last drink to get a new chip. It sort of erases all the things I learned the last 2 and a half years.
So I’ve decided to think of my sobriety in percents. I would estimate I have been sober 95% of the time since January 2014. I plan to sit down and actually calculate the percentage out when I have time. I can remember everyday I had a drink since I first slip in May 2015. The more as time goes on and I do not drink, that percentage will go higher. I think that is more important than chips or resetting my sobriety clock. I will never get a cake at an AA meeting with this belief but it will keep me sober to the best of my ability.
I am in school now so don’t really think I will have time for blogging. But I feel confident I can have that percent up to 99% by January 21, 2017.
It is Alcohol Awareness Week. At least according to all the flyers posted all over my school’s campus, with photos and a stories of a victim from boozing too much. When I google the event, I find that April is actually Alcohol Awareness Month. Is my school getting a early start? Or is there a separate week or month to focus on alcohol abuse on college campuses? Either way, it is sobering to read those stories.
There was a different one posted in each bathroom stall and on almost every door to each building. A 20 year old fell off a balcony while intoxicated at one school and died. At another school, a guy passed out in the road walking home from a party and was killed when a car drove over him. 18 year old girl was found dead in her dorm room from alcohol poisoning on a different campus. All young people who probably thought they were just having fun, just fitting in, just partying, and not realizing the dangers of getting drunk. It took me two decades to learn for myself.
I have to keep reminding myself I was lucky. Even with all the dumbshit I did or horrible things that happened to me when I was actively drinking, I am alive. I survived. I am here to tell my own stories and not have them plastered on a wall for people to contemplate while they are peeing. (Unless you are reading my blog on a laptop on the toilet.)
I have started to read Sarah Hepola’s Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. I am only on page 12 and so far I love it. It is me. It is my story. It is about my life! Well, it is Sarah’s story but so far I relate to so much of it. I have to force myself to put it down and finish my school work first. But a quote that sounds as if it came out of my own personal journal is this:
I think I knew I was in trouble. The small, still voice inside me always knew. I didn’t hide the drinking but I hid how much it hurt.
I have been making new friends that seem to accept that I do not drink. It is the old friends that have been irritating me lately. The ones that say they are proud of me, but continue to overindulge in bottles of wine. The ones that parade photos of being plastered online. The ones that perpetuate the glamour of getting shit-faced. The ones bragging about all the green beer they will chug this Thursday, as if that is the more important event in the world. I don’t know if I am jealous, concerned, or lonely. But all three feelings make me annoyed.
I am working Thursday night. I wonder how many years it will be that I volunteer to work St Patrick’s night to avoid the parties and Jamesons.
I went to an Oscars party last night. Well, actually, only a gathering with two new friends watching the awards on television. I texted my friend to see what I should bring. She said she was headed to the store to get chips, hummus and wine. I decided I would bring something to contribute and counterbalance the wine. I brought some yerba mate ice teas, a large vegetable platter, and ginger hummus.
The host offered me a glass of wine after I took my coat off. She listed all the choices of reds and whites, and then added she also had beers. I said I will keep to the ice tea. But once my tea was finished, she was a great host and jumped to offer me wine . I declined and asked for water. Sparkling or plain filtered?
No questions until the other friend, who had a few too many glasses of wine, asked “Do you not drink?” I did not bother with jokes that I was drinking plenty, just all alcohol-free. I said no, I quit. They asked if it was a diet or something temporary. I explained that I quit two years ago, with a few slips starting last summer, but I have been completely sober almost 3 months. The host seemed impressed. But the drunk friend asked the questions I might have asked if I was the drunk girl. “Can’t you even have a little bit? Don’t you know how to stop when it gets too much? Are you gonna try again after sometime sober?” She told me how she can’t drink too much and I thought her current state of inebriation was obvious. I do not know how many glasses she had before I arrived, but she was matching her glasses of wine with my glasses of filtered water. She even began adding sparkling water to her wine to make spritzers and slow down the buzz.
I explained to her my slips last summer proved I could not have a little bit, nor should I try to go back to drinking anytime. I can not moderate. I was fine sitting there with my water but I know if I had one glass of wine, I would want the rest of the bottle. I would use too much mental energy telling myself to sip rather than chug and it was a lot easier to just avoid the taste to my tongue. And when the awards ended and she passed out on the couch, I was very glad I quit drinking. The host and I chatted a little bit more about our lives and I was able to drive home.
When I first quit drinking, I don’t know if sitting there avoiding their offers of wine would have been so easy. But I feel I have learned a lot since January 2014 about myself and what alcohol does to my body. I felt I honestly did not want to drink alcohol last night. No acting. No need for award for me.
Here is an example of some of the work SMART recovery has us do. Fill it the pros and cons of both drinking and staying sober. Then mark whether they are long term or short term results.
Copy it yourself and share you answers. I will edit this post to include my answers when I finish filling it out.
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
It feels innocent and
takes me back to childhood
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.
I am adding a P to the recovery acronym H.A.L.T.
And it stands for Prozac.
I forgot to take my Prozac pill this morning. I am not sure if that is part of my problem this afternoon or not. Ever since I got my prescription increased, I have been more senstive to the side effects. I was nauseous the first few days and my appetite decreased.
Today, I am feeling the rest of HALT: hungry, angry, lonely and tired. I rushed out to a doctors appointment after not much sleep only to forget my wallet. I ran home to get it, returned to the doctor, and then find out they do not take my insurance. (Thanks a lot Zocdoc for messing that up!) I called another doctor and can’t be seen for a month. It is for my eyes, so not an emergency, but still frustrating.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream! I wanted to grab a beer.
Instead, I grabbed a bagel and coffee. I am gonna go home and take my Prozac. Then I am gonna go see some friends to combat the loneliness. And tonight I am going to bed early!
The bagel is already working. Take that PHALT!
I find it annoying when a non-alcoholic tries to tell me they know how I feel. “I have done some stupid things while drunk also.” Oh really? Stupid things? Have you woke up in the hospital? Unable to remember how you got there? Woke up behind the wheel with your car in a ditch? In jail? Your few bad decisions are nothing compared to my 20 years of blackouts and depression. Of drinking myself to death because I thought that would bring me happiness. My DUIs will follow me the rest of my life while your one night stands won’t. (Unless it resulted in a child or STD.)
It is not fair for me to judge a person who is only trying to reach out with consoling words. But it fucking irritates me. It is like a person who had the flu comparing their suffering to someone with cancer. I did not only stop drinking. I am struggling with avoiding it in this alcoholphile society. I am struggling with my defects that caused it to be such a problem. I am struggling while you try to patch it with a bandaid of words.
I feel like hibernating. I want to go sleep in a cave where alcohol does not exist. And where there are no people who will toss wishy-washy words of wisdom my way.
I just finished a very short book (31 pages) about addictive relationships. I guess it is more of a pamphlet that I ordered on Amazon. It is called “Addictive Relationships: Why Love Goes Wrong in Recovery” by Terence T Gorski. I first heard about Terry Gorski while reading One Breath at a Time by Kevin Griffin. I now feel prepared to try to continue dating. I want to sum up some of the things I learned from Mr Gorski.
Characteristics of Addictive Relationships:
-Magical or Unrealistic thinking: “My life will be better when I have a boyfriend.”
-Instant Gratification: “He must be gorgeous and turn me on as soon as we meet.”
-Dishonesty: “If I am honest, he will leave me.”
-Compulsive and Obsessive Overcontrol: obsessed with the relationship, it is the most important thing in your life
-Lack of Trust: Don’t try to change their nature.
-Alternating Doubts- I complain about him which then turns to self doubt.
-Isolation- Don’t want to share your partner with anyone else
-Repeating cycle of pain
He talked about how addictive relationships are built on risk-taking. I realize that was the start of almost all my relationships. I have always focused on having “interesting meeting stories” to entertain people and make myself seem more glamorous. “Oh we met while traveling in Argentina”. “He offered me a ride home cause I was so drunk and he SAVED ME”. “We met in boot camp.” “I bought furniture from him online and then asked him out.” All my affairs had the adrenaline kick of risk-taking. So many times I started to date someone and thought I could change them “for the better.”
–Do not have sex on the 1st date. He did not give a time frame of how long to wait. But I am thinking I am gonna self-impose at least 3 months.
–Never have sex out of guilt of obligation. I know I have done this from feeling lack of self-worth.
–Never have sex to change someone. I have done this. I have had sex thinking it would get the guy to like me more.
–Don’t share your alcoholic past on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd date. You will scare them away. But you must eventually be honest about it.
–Build the relationship slowly. Yea I need help on this!
-Have realistic expectations.
-Establish and maintain personal growth first!
I need to stop focusing on finding a relationship and worrying about it. I am meeting a guy today for coffee. I will see how that goes but think I need to stop agreeing to squeeze in time to date. I have a lot of other things I can be doing. Dating should not be stressful.
Tonight I went out to dinner alone. It was a nice Indian restaurant. I ordered my food and continued reading my book Get Sober Stay Sober by Cynthia Perkins. The restaurant was pretty empty on this cold night. There were only two other tables occupied with a couple each. The table closest to me interrupted my reading. They wanted to know if I wanted to finish off their bottle of wine. It looked like a full glass-worth. For free. I told them no thank you. They assured me it was good. I told them I don’t drink alcohol. The man said “neither do I” and they both laughed.
It was very easy for me to turn down that bottle. I felt so proud. I thought of how much stronger I have gotten with saying no to alcohol over the past 10 months.
But I would be lying if I said I didn’t mourn my move. I think I will always wish I could drink. Just like a prisoner sentenced to life in jail wishes for freedom.
At least I have my freedom. And my life.
Whether a person decides to use alcohol or drugs is a choice, influenced by their environment–peers, family, and availability. But, once a person uses alcohol or drugs, the risk of developing alcoholism or drug dependence is largely influenced by genetics. Alcoholism and drug dependence are not moral issues, are not a matter of choice or a lack of willpower. Plain and simple, some people’s bodies respond to the effects of alcohol and drugs differently.
Family History and Genetics