Sober Birthday

I had a birthday recently. My first sober birthday. I did not blog about it that day in attempt for my identity to remain a secret. Might sound paranoid but I am always worried someone I know will stumble upon this blog.

It was nice. I spent the day in a museum. For dinner, I went to a restaurant with a pharmacy theme. They had a couple of non-alcoholic specialty drinks.
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I had the paracetamol. It was nice. Made it feel like a celebration. I had plans to meet some people afterwards but I was tired. I went to bed early. Also, I was worried that not being able to accept birthday drinks from friends was going to depress me. I chose to celebrate on my own.

Next year, I plan to go on a big trip with friends. It will include camping, hiking, and exploring the wilderness. I used to think I would allow alcohol for my guests. But now I am not so sure. If they can’t spend a few days without alcohol for my birthday, I am not sure I want them there. The last few days with my friend getting tipsy is making me appreciate being around sober people.

Mistake 210- I had a birthday party sometime in my early 20s at my apartment. I had a good amount of people show up. Not sure why, but a friend wanted to go to a bar. So I went with her. Maybe she was dating a bouncer or bartender. But I left my own birthday party to go to a bar with her. This was the days before cell phones so no one knew how to get a hold of me. It took them about 30 minutes to realize I was gone. Not sure if I ever apologized for that.

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Deconstructing Celebration Drinks

I posted yesterday how I really wanted to drink to celebrate my class ending. Instead, I got a facial and massage as my treat. While relaxing at the salon, I started to think more about what would have happened if I did go get drunk yesterday.

I would have started with one beer. And it might taste funny by now or might have tasted heavenly. I would drink it slow. Savor it. Be like “finally”. Then I would start to think “this isn’t so bad. Why did I quit!”

After finishing that one, I would ask the bartender for another. (I would have gone to drink at a bar instead of home alone since I was celebrating.) I might even tell the bartender how I quit in January but having just a few to blow off steam. He or she would congratulate me. Agree that sobriety isn’t all that great. And he or she would expect a nice tip as they open another bottle for me.

I would feel a bit tipsy. This good feeling would make me forget all the benefits of sobriety. I would order another beer. I might check to see if I had enough cash for more beer and if I did not, I would pull out the credit card. I might give myself a time limit or a bottle limit but I would soon ignore it to keep that high feeling.

I might not get very drunk. To me, that meant I was able to still walk and not black out. I would probably drink past the legal driving limit but not care. I might have met someone. I might have had fun. And the next day, I might have been proud I was able to celebrate and still remember the night. “See drinking can be fun! Why was I such a baby about the whole thing? It wasn’t THAT bad.”

I would have wasted money and thrown away 5 months of sobriety. I would try to moderate. I might have felt a little guilty at first but drank past that. Basically, one night of “celebrating” would have been opening the gates back to a hell I don’t want to return. Sometimes I hate the dogma of AA and recovery, but I must always remember that all this work and improvement could end with “just one.”

Mistake 163- I spent my 30th birthday in London alone. I was supposed to fly home that day but the flight was overbooked. I volunteered to stay an extra night. The airline gave me a free hotel room. I actually did not mind spending it alone. I knew I could entertain myself. I preferred CHOOSING to being alone than having friends let me down by not celebrating with me. It was the same reason I usually planned my own birthday celebrations because I did not trust my friends to make plans for me.

It was a good day. I spent the afternoon at a museum. I went to some Thai restaurant for dinner. I drank a whole bottle of wine by myself. After dinner, I decided to check out gay bars. I went to several and got a free birthday drink or shot. I sat by myself, drinking beers, and reading my book until the lines started to get blurry. I then decided to go to the nightclub Heaven.

I was drunk by the time I got there so most of it is a blur. But I remember a few things. I got mad because the bouncer would not let me in for free for my birthday. Then I sat down by a wall somewhere outside crying. A guy (or girl?) approached me and asked what was wrong. I told this person how it was my birthday and I refused to pay cover charge. His/her response was something about being homeless so I really have nothing to cry about. This must have motivated me or cheered me up or got me to stop crying because then I paid to get in the club. And once in, I drank lots. I danced but do not remember anything else inside the club. I met some guy. I woke up in his flat.

In the morning, I got the tube back to my hotel. I showered and napped until check out time. Then I rushed to the airport.

I never told anyone about that guy. Usually the story I tell is “I danced and drank until the tube was running again in the morning”. I have always been so ashamed of how that celebration ended. I pray for no more birthdays like that!

Sober Bracelet

I have started to pack up my room and clean out my closet. (Literally. Not a sober metaphor.) I have to move out of my place by May 31. My plan is to rent rooms on AirBnB for the days I work and travel out of the area on my days off. Not a stable life but I can do it for two months. I am going to store the things that I will not need at my mom’s and just keep clothing, books and my laptop with me.

While cleaning, I found a bracelet a friend made for my birthday last year. I spent my birthday in the city I wanted to move to but couldn’t due to my DUIs preventing me from getting a job. Anytime I see anything about that city, or even the name of the state, I am reminded of why I quit drinking. This bracelet is a beaded bracelet with the name of the city. She made it as a welcoming gift. I will now wear it as my sober bracelet. Seeing the name of the city on my wrist will be a constant reminder of what my drinking problem has done to my life.

Mistake 107- The night before my last birthday, I got in a huge fight with one of my good friends. I do not remember if we went out or just got drunk at their place. I was dating his roommate. I think the fight originated with my accusations that he did not want me and his roommate together. I have known both of them for more than a decade. I thought he was jealous.

The arguing was ugly. A lot of cruel words were thrown around and insults were flying. The screaming escalated to my refusal to stay there. I called for a taxi. I went to a hotel I stayed at ten years ago. The price of a room increased. It was $200 a night now when it was $70 a night my previous stay. I then took a taxi back to the apartment. I decided I would sleep in the back of my friend’s truck. But I found my friend sleeping there. My boyfriend was standing outside asking the roommate to coming back inside. He saw me and told me to go up to his room. He didn’t want us fighting out there.

We both returned to the apartment but I hid in the my boyfriend’s bedroom. I kept drunk posting on Facebook about the fighting (not always readable) and stating that this was my “worst birthday EVER!” My boyfriend was trying to play referee. I cried myself to sleep.

So I woke up on my birthday with red, puffy eyes and hungover. I tried to sneak out of the apartment because I had a hair appointment. But I could not find the keys to the truck my boyfriend and and the roommate shared. My friend was past out on the couch. He woke up and threw me the keys which were in his pocket. I felt so horrible during the appointment. I read my Facebook while my head was under the dryer and deleted all my drunk posts. But there were emails of mutual friends wanting explanations. I told everyone I was not sure what happened. I was just too drunk.

My friend did not want to come to my birthday dinner that night. My boyfriend insisted I tell him I wanted him to join. I told him “please join us” but I never said sorry. We just sort of swept the fight under the rug and never discussed it.

On my birthday, the three of us went to dinner with some of my friends. At dinner, I received the bracelet. The three of us went out for drinks after dinner and got drunk again. But we all got along. There are photos of us smiling and laughing together.

One night, I was a drunk, dramatic monster. The next, happy birthday girl.

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.