Pings of Saddness

I am still enjoying my camping trip. We did some hiking yesterday. We went searching for beavers. We didn’t find any but we found beaver dams and houses.  I kept trying to make “beaver calls” which sounded like rabbit sounds with my teeth. It was still a nice day and the beaver pond was pretty.

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We went to lunch afterwards. It was at a bar with a deck. I wanted sun. He wanted beer. I told him I am so glad he drinks Budweiser cause I have no desire to sip it.

We walked around a nearby village. They had wine tasting. I felt a ping of sadness. I really loved wine tasting. I loved winery tours. I loved wine. I wondered if they had any good Shiraz. I made some comment about it sucking that I couldn’t go in there. He said his roommate suggested we check out the wine tastings. My friend told him “she doesn’t drink and I hate wine.” Eh so even if I drank, would it have been fun with someone who doesn’t like wine?

The town was closing down as we walked around. The only things still open were restaurants and bars. And happy hours were starting. It was a beautiful day. I could not help but regret I could not sit on one of the decks, watching the lake, and sipping a beer. I kept saying we should stop somewhere and he could have a beer while I get coffee.  I pointed out a few places but he didn’t seem too eager. We finally found a place only to be told they just stopped serving food and drinks.

My friend said we could go to McDonald’s if I really wanted coffee. But I didn’t.  I just wanted the ambiance.  I just wanted to sit at a table with a gorgeous view of nature and have a drink. I am used to doing that with a beer or wine or rum&coke. I wanted to have that relaxing feeling without alcohol or soda. We headed back to the campsite instead.

We did stop at a store for more supplies. I looked at the beers. Again, a ping of saddness. Local beers. Some IPAs and blonde ales. Why do they have to make the bottles so pretty? I joked around I am gonna start a lawsuit that the pretty labeling encourages underage drinking. “Mommy, can I have this bear soda? It has a picture of a bear on the bottle!” Not until you are 21 sweetie. “Aw schucks.”

Sitting at the camp that night with the fire going, more wishful thinking of drinking. I really wanted a bottle in my hands.  He drank his crappy Buds and I sipped my water. I was too lazy to boil water for tea or hot chocolate.  We made hot dogs and S’mores but I could not shake the desire for beer. I told a lot of my drinking stories to ingrain in my head why I can’t drink.

My friend is wonderful and supportive of my sobriety. We are having a great time and keep making each other laugh. We both try to top each other with bad jokes. Sarcasm just oozes from our mouths. But I wish I could just kick back with a few beers with him. Not even get drunk. Just wish I did not have to keep in my head “NO ALCOHOL! YOU ARE A FUCKING ALCOHOLIC! IT WILL KILL YOU.” That voice can be a bit of a killjoy.

I want to be normal in the sense I want to not DESIRE a drink. It is not always I want to be ABLE to drink. I just wish I hated it. Like I want booze to taste like lobster. I don’t like lobster. I wish there was this pill to make me associate the taste of alcohol with food I do not like. “Eww this wine is like mushrooms.” I know there is medicine that makes you nauseous if you smell alcohol. But I don’t want to make myself feel sick.

Maybe I will pick up near-beer for the campfire tonight.

Mistake 129- I was visiting a friend. I met him once years before and we stayed in touch online.  He lived with his girlfriend. The day I arrived, he won a contest. The prize was a flight and concert tickets for his favorite band in the whole world. Time to celebrate!

The three of us went to a local pub. It was small. A few people at the bar. We played pool and darts. We got trashed! We took over the bar. His girlfriend drove us home.

I told him about a movie in which his favorite band sang the theme song. He never heard of it. So I went to show him clips of it on YouTube. His girlfriend went to bed. He and I stayed up, drinking more, celebrating, and watching clips of the movie and videos of the band.

Somehow, in our drunk excitement, we started to kiss. Then it turned to oral sex. Then we heard some noise of his girlfriend opening the bedroom door. We jumped away from each other and covered up.  I remember her poking her head in the living room and we pretended to be occupied with the videos. I do not remember if she said anything. She went back to bed. I remember him jumping up and repeating “oh my god! I can’t believe what I just did! Oh my god!”

I felt guilty too but I remember feeling shocked. I was blacked out during it. I remember the commotion of stopping because she was walking out, I remember her looking in the room, and I remember the guilt. But I do not remember the actual actions of what we did. I think he even whispered “stop” when we heard her and that was when I realized what was going on. I think I sat there trying to comprehend the scene when he went to bed. I cried myself to sleep.

He drove me to the train early the next day. I tried to ask if she knew without actually talking about the incident. He never told me but he just told me not to worry. We hugged. I grabbed my bag and got on the train.

I have not seen him since. It has been more than 5 years. They have an adorable baby together now. I am glad I did not fuck up their relationship. Blackouts are no excuse for ruining lives.

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Blackouts were so normal

I had a nice dinner last night with a friend.  We have known each other seven years but this was the first time we got together since 2010. We had a lot of catching up to do. But when we first made plans, I warned him I quit drinking. I gave him a brief description of my “bottom”. He told me he had a lot of questions for me about quitting.

He and I used to have a lot of fun times drinking. We both had night shift jobs. On nights off, I would stay at his place and drink 1 or 2 large bottles of Yellowtail wine. Sometimes 3. And by large, I mean the 1.5 liter bottles. Usually we got Shiraz. Sometimes Cabernet. We would drink until sunrise and talk about lots of different things.

He said I used to get mad when he would make me brush my teeth before passing out. My teeth and lips were purple but I would get irritated he encouraged me to clean them. I just wanted to fall asleep.

We did get to catch up a lot over dinner and walking around the city. But it is hard to cram four years into one evening. I felt a large portion of the conversation was about my sobriety. He said he thinks he drinks too much and he is worried about his weight and blood pressure. But he never had a “bottom” to get him to stop. I told him high blood pressure should be a good reason to quit. He quit cigarettes 2 years ago. I told him I think he can quit drinking if he feels it is something he should do.

He, like most people, asked if I am doing AA. I told him I go to meetings and I like the support of the groups, but I am not subscribing to the “rules” of AA. I have not seeked out a sponsor. I did not do “90 meetings in 90 days”. I feel reading and writing daily blogs was a great substitute. (I bet Bill W would approve of sober blogs as part of the program if internet existed back then.)

I told him about sober blogs and the books I read. He wants me to suggest a few blogs for him to get started. I told him to reward himself with little things first few days and then every 10. I shared with him some of the positive outcomes I have experienced. Like saving money, no hangovers, feeling good, and pride to have come this far. I told him he should check out AA meetings but also check out SMART meetings.

We will hopefully get together again soon. It is hard with our schedules. Maybe we can even check out a meeting together.

I am not sure if my friend is an alcoholic.  Only he can decide that. I never thought of him as one. But then again, I don’t think many of my friends would have thought of me as one. I was just a “party girl”.

Mistake 115- He told me a story of one night I was staying with him about 6 or 7 years ago:

I did a scavenger hunt with other friends in the city. I remember part of the scavenger hunt was to find shots in an Irish bar. I remember the team all agreed I would do the shot. I was the one that liked to drink. We had to stop a few places for this game and if the place had alcohol, I chugged a drink. We finally got to the bar where all our friends met on Thursdays. We did not win but I still celebrated.

I got drunk. My friend came to find me. The plan was to meet at the bar and then subway back to his place. He said he found me passed out on a couch upstairs at the bar. Our friends told him he should just leave me there. “Ah she will find her way.”

He got me up and outside. He turned to say bye to some people and then lost me. He found me sitting on the curb. Passed out. He got me up after much work. He said he had to teach me how to walk. “First your left foot. Then your right foot.” After a couple steps, I insisted on showing him I didn’t need help by demonstrating I could run. One. Two. Three. Fall on the ground.

We got to the subway. He said I insisted on reading. So I pulled a book out of my bag, opened it, and read. Then my head would slump down after a few minutes. He would wake me and ask “how is the book?” I would tell him it was really good and go back to reading. Then my head would droop again.  The subway ride was about 45 minutes. He said at one point my head was on his shoulders and I was drooling.

We made it to his apartment. I stripped off my dress in front of him and passed out on the couch naked.

The next morning at breakfast, he asked “do you remember getting home last night?” I told him no. He said I answered “no” like it was completely natural not to remember a 45 minute train ride or the stumbling/walking/running bits to and from the train. Like “no, I don’t know who won the game” or “no, I did not watch the Oscars.” I was nonchalant about my blackouts.  It was just part of who I was. Oopsy daisy.

And my friends were used to me passing out in public places. I am sure if he didn’t bring me home, I would have ended up on another friend’s couch. Or in a strange man’s bed.

Education

I signed up for online courses. Two classes via a community college. I am nervous because I do not know if I have the self discipline to do online classes. Plus, I graduated college twelve years ago. I am worried it has been so long that I do not remember how to study.

Yet at the same time, I am excited. I love learning. The classes are art history and comparative religion. I will enjoy these subjects. And I keep thinking I will do well simply because I am not drinking alcohol anymore.

This is a step towards returning to school next year to further my degree. I want to bring up my GPA to get in a school. When I was in college, I was satisfied with passing. I was not concerned about wanting to continue my education later. I just wanted to get the grades to graduate. I partied too much. I look forward to studying sober and not going to class hungover.

So many frat parties. So many drunk nights. So many one-night stands. I started blackouts almost immediately after I started drinking at 18. I thought that drinking was how I got people to like me. It made up for being a loner and good girl in high school.

Mistake 108- I think it was my first one-night stand with a stranger. I woke up in this guy’s dorm room. He wasn’t there because he was in the shower. His roommate was laying on a bed across the room watching a Disney movie. I think Lion King? I felt lost and scared. I did not know where I was.

When the guy returned, I asked him what happened. He said “you don’t remember?” I told him last thing I remember was being at a Sig Ep party. He said we met there and came back to his room. We had sex. He said then I passed out. A few guys in the dorm wanted to have sex with me after I passed out but he wouldn’t let them. I thanked him. Almost twenty years later, I can remember the shame I felt.

He took me to lunch on campus. All I can remember is he was Russian and a music major. I do not remember his name. I turned the embarrassment of sex with a stranger around to “wow, my first sexual experience with a foreigner.” I just do not remember the experience.

I saw him a couple times on campus. I always avoided him.

New Mug and Sober Triggers

My mom came to visit yesterday. She brought me this gift: Purple Flower Mug

(In case you can not read the picture, the mug says “The Best Things in Life are the people we love, the places we’ve been  and the memories we’ve made along the way.”)

It is a large mug and she knows I like large mugs. Plus she knows I like purple. But the message was the best part for me. Having memories is so much better than blackouts!  And I have a new mug for all my herbal teas.

The visit was nice. She again asked how the “not drinking thing” is going and how I feel. I sometimes worry I talk too much about my sobriety with her but I like having her as an outlet. I can not discuss it at work and my friends on Facebook still seem uncomfortable with it.

The only thing she said that annoyed me was “It is a shame. That is what people do. Meet out for drinks.” I told her I can still go out and I am even willing to go to places with alcohol. I will just order water with lemon. I have to just keep reminding myself I can not drink just like her boyfriend, who is diabetic, has to avoid certain foods. Or anyone with an allergy has to avoid certain things.

I kept trying to share with her some of my drunk stories to stress to her how much I drank. When we used to share a bottle of wine, she would have a glass and I would drink the rest. She seems to block out the times I spent at her house sleeping all day after being up all night emptying her wine rack. She always thought of my DUIs as unfortunate mistakes. Maybe she is worried if she admits I have a problem, it is somehow her fault?

I am realizing that when I do finally get around to working on the 12 steps, I really need to make amends to her even if she does not recognize it. “Sorry mom for all those times you were worried when I was out drinking. Sorry for making you drive 6 hours away to bail me out of jail. Sorry for you returning to that city for my court date.  Sorry for all I put you through.”

After she left, I went to the grocery store. I was stocking up on veggies and ingredients for salads. I am determined to drop weight in the next month. I have a reunion June 7. I also bought some unsweetened tea and large gallon of water. I am going to put lemon, lime, mint, and cucumbers in the jug of water. Then I am gonna drink at least half of it each day. Keep refilling it. Hope it helps.

I walked past the beer section in the store. I glanced at some summer ale. For a brief second, I thought “I could just stop. I could just give up this sober thing. I could always try again later.” But I kept walking. I thought I worked too hard to stop now. This “sobriety thing” needs to be a forward thing. No backpedaling. No breaks. I do not want to think of the self-loathing that would follow if I drank that beer.

I picked up my last item but the sober-drink battle kept floating in my brain. It was not really a battle. Just a lingering thought. Just images of me sitting in bars. Just one drink in my hand.

Then a man passed me. He was wearing a hat from a university I used to want to attend. A university in a city that I was planning to move to until plans changed in January. That was when I found out I could not get the job I wanted because of my two DUIs. They said it did not matter how long ago the DUIs were. My plans for the job and moving there were canceled. That was when I decided to get sober. And seeing his hat was a reminder of why I quit drinking alcohol. It triggered me back to happy, sober land. I do not want anymore plans changed or futures ruined from my drunk mistakes. I am gonna keep being sober and even if my life does not become perfect, it will be a hell of a lot better than where it was going. I actually want to be alive.

Now I am gonna enjoy some mint tea.

Mistake # 105- I graduated college. My mom came to my graduation with my sister and nephew who was a baby. They stayed at a hotel. I joined them to stay in the room one night. My sister and I waited until my mom and the baby fell asleep. Then we snuck out of the hotel. I wanted to celebrate! Two women in their mid-twenties sneaking out like teenagers.

We went down to some bars that were walking distance. (I had a restricted driver license because this was after my first DUI.) We got drunk. We met some guys. They tried to invite us back to their place. We declined because we knew our mom would be too upset if we were not back by morning. We stumbled in the hotel room after last call at 2am. We tried to be quiet but for some reason, drunk people sound like elephants even when tip toeing. We woke my mom and she just warned us not the wake the baby. We slept in until the afternoon the next day while she took the baby out for breakfast and shopping. My sister and I got drunk again that night. Maybe the birth of my nephew distracted my mom from me and my sister’s alcoholism.

90 Days Sober!

I am 90 days sober! Yea!

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But I am not chasing for a chip this time like I did for 30 days. I might go to a meeting before work to see if I will get one, but I do not want to deal with the disappointment when they tell me they only give chips to home group members or people with sponsors. (But there are no rules for AA? Just a desire to stop drinking? Yea right. Do what they suggest or you are not worthy of a sobriety chip.)

I am going away next weekend to visit some friends.  I will have all Friday to myself while they work. It is the same area where I first tried AA in 2002 and then again in 2007. I will go to meetings there to get a chip.

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I feel good. Physically and mentally. I keep thinking of all the possibilities before me without booze in my life. Now can I survive the next 90 without soda?

Mistake # 90- I was traveling Australia and got very drunk at a bar in Airlie Beach. There was a “lagoon” to swim in because the ocean was too dangerous. The lagoon was more of a very large pool. I met a guy in the bar and we decided to go for a swim.

We thought skinny dipping was a good idea. This guy and I were making out in the pool, in the nude, and it started to rain. We ran out of the lagoon and searched for where we stripped off our clothes. We found them sitting in the same pile we left them. My purse with my camera, wallet and passport was still there. But my shirt and bra were missing.

I put on my underwear and shorts. It was pouring rain and drunk me ran around, trying to cover my boobs with my hands, and search the beach for my top. I even went up to the lifeguard to ask for lost and found. He laughed at me. He said it sounds like some kids played a prank.

The guy I was with gave me his shirt to cover up and we went back to his hotel. I kept thinking how stupid and lucky I was that only my shirt and bra were missing. Thank god my purse did not get stolen. I was so reckless. And I was also happy my purse had a plastic-like lining so my stuff did not get wet and ruined.

I also remember giving that guy a fake identity. A fake name and where I was from. I guess I either knew I would never talk to him again or I was so ashamed of my behavior while drunk.

Sober Language

I have always been interested in other languages. I went to an elementary school that had one hour Spanish lessons each week for all grades. From Kindergarten to 5th grade. I only went to that school for two years but I remember learning colors, numbers, and short sentences. “Soy morena.” “La casa es grande.” Maybe that is what sparked my interest in linguistics?

I have some books to teach myself other languages. I took four years of high school Spanish and a semester in college, but I am nowhere near fluent. I have many phrase books in different languages. French. German. Mandarin. Portuguese. Swedish. Thai. I had one for Bahasa Indonesian and was very upset when I lent it to someone who lost it.

Now I am trying to learn the language of sobriety.

I read a wonderful blog about surrendering to sobriety. I can not predict that I will never drink again. But I feel I won’t. I feel I relinquished alcohol. I feel I have more reasons not to drink than to drink. I keep reminding myself of drunk mistakes daily. I translate those mistakes into reasons to stay sober.

I feel I am learning new uses for words. I am now associating abstinence with something other than sex. Relapse is not about only about a returning cancer. I am learning to say “no thanks” when offered a drink. Phrases such as “I can not drink anymore” and “I like myself sober” scroll through my head everyday.

The thing is, if I don’t have sobriety, I don’t have anything.

-Matthew Perry

I was fluent in the drunk language. I spoke in excuses. I verbalized expertise in hangover treatments. I once had someone give me a travel bottle of Advil for my purse for mornings I woke up in a stranger’s apartment. I walked the walk and talked the talk of an alcoholic. No phrase book needed.

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Mistake #65- I was living in a city abroad taking a four-week language course. There were 10 students from all over the world and only two of us from English-speaking countries. Myself and an Aussie guy. The teacher was a young, native speaker.

The weekend after our last class, the teacher invited us all to come out for celebration drinks. The party ended up being only me, my boyfriend, and the Aussie. We all met at a bar. Two female friends of  the teacher joined us. I think he was interested in one and trying to hook the other up with the Aussie. The six of us were having fun. My boyfriend wanted to leave. I did not. I never wanted the party to end. So he left and I stayed at the bar.

We all kept drinking and having fun. I was trying to be wing-woman and get the girls to hook up with the teacher and Aussie. But they both eventually left. The Aussie invited the teacher and I back to his flat. More drinking. I remember the three of us sitting in the kitchen, drinking beers, and sharing music we liked. We were on the Aussie’s laptop and searching YouTube with “oh you will love this band!” or song.

Don’t remember much else but waking up in the Aussie’s bed. Nude. I have no idea what happened. I never asked. My dress was laying on a chair like I placed it there. It did not feel like I had sex. Some people have told me before that during blackouts, I would undress and go to bed like I was at home. I never asked the Aussie. I preferred to believe the “at home” theory. If you say the excuse enough, like repeating words in a new language, it starts to become real.

One Day At a Time

wpid-20140325_042534.jpgSomeone from work texted me asking me to work extra tonight. I replied “I will if someone brings me cake”. I am taking this awards thing seriously. I want awards for staying sober. I want awards for working extra. I want awards for going to the gym! Maybe I need to start finding awards with no calories.

I saved her number in my contacts. As I was doing so, I smiled. I used to have to put “COWORKER” in front of names of people I worked with as a caution to not text or call that person drunk. It felt liberating to think I will never have to worry about drunk dialing again. At least won’t have those worries as long as I stay away from that first drink.

These little moments make me very thankful I am sober. I am enjoying things I am learning from other sober bloggers. I am learning about myself from my reactions to blogs and my own comments. Remembering my drunken mistakes is therapeutic for me. I never want to go back to that life. My brain seems to be equating booze with cigarettes. Ew. That stuff if nasty. (No offense to smokers.)

When reading Kristen Johnston’s Guts, she said the phrase to take sobriety “one day at a time” reminded her of the show with that name starring Bonnie Franklin, Mackenzie Phillips, Valerie Bertinelli and Pat Harrington. I busted out laughing as I read it. That is exactly what I think of when I hear it. Then I think of when I lived with a friend and I was always fixing things that broke in her house, our mutual friend nicknamed me “Schneider.” The friend who owned the house was too young to get the reference. But having these small, happy moments of sobriety make me appreciate the saying more. I even found a magnet with the saying that I hang near my desk. Today is going to be a another good, sober day!

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