Sober Campus and Stories

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.

Busy but Sober and Sober Readings

Once again I am sorry for my lack of updates. But I am still here and still sober. Actually I am almost 9 months sober! I once heard a man in a meeting saying 90 days and 9 months sobreity are some of the most “dangerous” times because we get too confident and let our defenses down. I guess he suggests we stop being vigilant against these disease. I have felt a surge of pride that I have come this far and I am keeping aware of any lows or bouts of temptation. Not sure how much thanks of this confidence goes to Prozac.

I finished listening to Ann book The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol. It was a long “read” but I enjoyed it. It was very informational. She talked a lot about statistics,  society’s relationship with alcohol, the problems drinking causes, growing up with an alcoholic mom, and her struggles to stay sober. One word I learned from it that I loved is alcogenic.
I might try to find a cheap one online to order to keep as a reference.  There were a lot of quotes I liked in the book. Here is one:

Liquor soothes. It calms anxiety. It numbs depression. Ask any serious drinker. If you want to find your off button, alcohol can seem like an excellent choice .

Yes, alcohol was my off button switch. And sometimes it is a struggle to not want to flip that switch again, but I would rather deal with the struggle than deal with the consequences once that switch is turned back on.

I have been keeping busy. I still have not finished my book One Breath at a Time about Buddhism and the 12 steps. I have been working a lot (about 50 hours a week) and busy with my Substance Abuse Prevention class. I did go out with my mom one night and ordered her a beer at the bar. I did not crave it at all. And it was a beer I used to like!

I just received a book from Amazon that I am really liking and think I will learn from much. It is Get Sober, Stay Sober: The Truth about Alcoholism by Cynthia Perkin. The first chapter talks about AA and the pros and cons of it. I really like that she points out going to meetings is not enough. People need to work on their psychological issues behind their addiction. I have been saying that since I got sober. I have been working on my issues with reading and writing but I do think I should still seek a professional therapist. (At least to get a prescription for the Prozac so I do not have to fly to Mexico for more when I run out.) I might be settling in one place after December so that should help me stable and find a good counselor.

I was thinking about my “mistakes” the other day. A lot of people thank me for telling them. I am glad if they help others realize they have a problem and go sober. Also, I am glad I have the list to go back one day to remind me of how bad my drinking got. I still feel I am in the freshmen phase of sobriety but I hope I pass this school with honors.

Mistake 243: I spent the morning hungover. I met up with a friend for a very late brunch. I still felt slightly drunk that early afternoon but started drinking again. Mimosas were a necessity for brunch! 

I got a text message from a guy I had a crush on. He asked me to be his last minute date to a small wedding reception at a restaurant . I agreed. I was excited. I was just telling my friend how I thought this guy was cute and then I got the message. I drove home to get ready. (Already, I should not have been driving.)

I picked him up and we proceeded to the restaurant. It was a Middle Eastern themed place. It was a very nice evening full of lots of specialty drinks and wine. I was very drunk when we left. I basically started my day with drinks and did not stop. I do not remember if he was very drunk but he did not have a drivers license. He never said why but I suspected it was from a DUI. So I drove us back to his place. The next day, he told me how scary the drive was cause I swerved a lot. He said he did not realize how trashed I was. That seemed to be a common occurrence. I rarely realized how trashed I was.

Been a Long Time Coming….

March 24, 2002 Journal entry:

When I think about all the problems alcohol has caused in my life, I seriously wonder why do I continue to drink. It has brought me some good memories, but many blackouts. It has brought me some friends, but ruined many relationships. It has made me feel good, but it is bad for my body. It has caused me to bruise my body and ego at times. It has caused one night stands or the desire to be with someone caused me to drink. I put myself at risk. I have put others at risk. I ruined my driving record and insurance. I’ve hurt others by the things I’ve said while drunk. I’ve wasted many hours being unproductive because of being drunk or recuperating from being drunk. I have missed work or been late to work. I’ve missed class and been late to class. I’ve spend money I couldn’t afford to spend to get drunk. Then I spent more money to get out a towed car, buy new tires I blew out while drunk, and to cover up other mistakes. Alcohol has brought so much misery to my life. I might have drank to have fun, but how much fun it is if I can’t remember most of the night or what I might have done drunk? I think it exacerbates my depression. It’s addicting. It is destroying my life.

And I continued drinking for another twelve years with a few drinking breaks to “prove” I could control it. It is not as if I woke up January 22, 2014 and said “Wow I never knew I had a drinking problem before. Maybe I should quit.” I mentioned in my first blog that I have been considering for the past year of collecting 365 regretful, drunk episodes. Sometimes I wonder if I can write 730 mistakes. Then throw in an extra for leap year.

Mistake #13- The mention of my tires in that journal entry has me confused but I think it happened years before I wrote that. It think I was referring to a time when I was married. Maybe in 1999? I went out clubbing with friends. My husband was either at work or home playing video games. He found me passed out on the couch the next morning. He woke me up and asked me what happened to the car. I didn’t know what he was talking about. He took me outside and the trunk was open. The lock was broken. The bike rack was missing. There were two flat tires. We concluded that I left the parking lot through one of the exits that had the chain hanging across it and the spikes up on the ground to pop tires. I must have drove under the chain! There were scratches along the top of the car. The chain must have pulled the bike rack off and broke the trunk in the process. Not sure how I did not get four flat tires. I was glad my husband was mechanically inclined to fix the trunk and get us new tires for a good price.

Enough

I just looked at my blog name as I signed in and thought “should it be 365 reasons 2 B sober?”

Then I thought no, cause I feel this is a path I am taking to sobriety. After a year of writing down 365 mistakes, then they will become reasons to be sober. I was reading one of my old journals about my thoughts on AA and the 12 steps. I said instead of steps, it should be “guided trails.”

I woke up today and read some more of Caronline Knapp’s “Drinking: A Love Story.” Since it is too tempting to drink wine with it in the evenings, I figured drinking coffee with it in the daytime will be easier. My mom’s boyfriend told me I was drinking too much coffee. I told him at least I didn’t put Baileys in it.

I have been thinking about the word sober. People say if you have not had any booze since such and such date, you have been sober since then. I keep thinking “well I could have a beer and not be drunk so to me that is SOBER.” According to dictionary.com, a definition of sober is “habitually temperate, especially in the use of liquor”. One drink doesn’t affect me. Could I have maybe one glass, not admit it to those that know I am trying to not drink, and still consider myself sober? Yes, I could do that. It would not help my alcoholism.

A part in the 4th chapter of the book really grabbed me.

Enough? That’s a foreign word to an alcoholic, absolutely unknown. There is never enough, no such thing. You’re always after that insurance, always mindful of it, always so relieved to drink that first drink and feel the warming buzz in the back of your head, always so intent on maintaining the feeling, reinforcing the buzz, adding to it, not losing it.

I have chased a buzz so often. Many a time I have said “I need to keep up this buzz. If I start to sober up, it is hard to achieve this level of drunk again.” I could not diagnose what that level was. That level might have been 5 drinks from blacking out. I could not define when I went from buzzed to trashed. Friends have tried to say “well it is because you were mixing. Never have beer AND cocktails.” Or it was because I had shots. Or tequila. Or cheap wine. It was always the booze fault. Never mine.

I have stared at wine bottles salivating. I have been in situations where I did not pay attention to a conversation because I was gauging how much I could drink without looking bad. When was a proper time to ask for another drink? Was I drinking more than everyone else? Or when would they open the next damn bottle! Ms Knapp mentions comparing how much is in your drink to the other glasses. I DID THAT! I would complain if I felt I was being cheated out of booze. And if it was at my house, I always poured myself extra cause “my tolerance is higher.”

Somewhere after a few bottles, the happy joyful me turned into a depressed, jealous, angry drunk. Arguments happened. Sometimes physical fights. I woke up hungover a lot the last few years and the first thing I did was check my Facebook to see if I made any drunk posts. Then I would delete them. Sometimes a friend would email me to see if I was okay because my posts were depressing. I always responded “No was just drunk.” A lot of friends took to blocking my statuses or unfriending me.

I never felt I needed booze. I feel I am not physically addicted. Though reading this book is reminding me that yes, I can have one drink and still feel sober. But I will never stop at just one drink forever. I could go with one drink a day for thirty days. Then my brain will tell me “see, you can moderate.” That whole month, I will be aching for it to end. On the 31st day, my brain will say I have no problem. I have proved it to myself I can drink and “stay sober.” I will drink more than one drink and then another. Then I will want to keep that level of buzz. Then I will get drunk. Maybe not black out drunk that night. But the blackouts will return.

So even if I can have a drink and not feel drunk, I must remember sober is not just the opposite of drunk. Sober means abstaining from alcohol. Sober is enough. It has to be.

I have one real life friend that knows about this blog. I was messaging with him earlier and said “I get happy and outgoing at first and then I snap and become depressed and mean.” He remembers. He mentioned another drunk episode I forgot about.

Mistake #12 We were on a road trip. We were visiting a city that was new to both of us. We were dating about five months but fighting a lot about where our relationship was headed. I think I was worried I was wasting time if there was no future. We went to meet up with my friend’s roommate. We were gonna to have dinner and then an outdoor movie.

As soon as I met the roommate, I thought he was cute. He said he thought the same about me. But I was there with my boyfriend. So what if i thought this guy was cute. Nothing would happen. Then the drinking started. We enjoyed sampling a lot of the local brews he suggested. We were helping the economy!

After dinner, we headed to the outdoor movie. But we didn’t want to go there and let our great buzz die. So we went out of our way to find a mixer. I must have had vodka in the car already. We mixed lemonade with the vodka. My boyfriend and I sat away from the local guy and his friends. But he texted me the whole movie. It was an old movie from the 80s that my boyfriend did not know. So I was enjoying the text messages back and forth with the local guy making fun of the movie and quoting famous scenes. I did not see it as flirting.

After the film, the local guy invited us to a bar. Or club. I don’t remember. I was drunk. I drank most of the vodka and lemonade. I am sure my boyfriend drank a lot too but I was more trashed. The local gave us a ride to the bar. I really don’t remember anything there but my boyfriend told me I ended up kissing the local guy. In front of my boyfriend.

He doesn’t remember much about the night either. He said I got kicked out of the bar. I guess for being too drunk. And then we fought outside. I got hysterical. He said it took him thirty minutes to calm me down. I refused to get in the taxi. A few men have told me I have a fear of taxis when drunk. Actually, a fear of the taxi drivers. I am not sure if I have a repressed, drunk mistake to that story also.

He finally got me in a taxi. We were staying at a friend’s place that was away. I woke up in the middle of the night in the passenger side of my car. My boyfriend was inside the house. I had to pee. I opened the car and my car alarm went off. I ran inside to find the keys to deactivate it. I went pee and then climbed into bed with my boyfriend. I had no idea why I was in the car or what happened after the movie.

I know I lost a favorite bracelet and a cell phone. Mostly I lost my mind that night. I don’t know how he stayed with me another 15 months.

First Temptation: Reading with wine

There are so many blogs about recovery!

I started to read some last night. And one blog would mention another and I would open that page. I kept wondering “should I start reading this blog from the beginning.” Then I would realize some of those blogs are more than two years old. It would take a long time to read each post. But it is comforting. It is motivational to think those bloggers have been sober that long and still blogging. I feel I got hoisted back on my pink cloud.

Earlier in the evening, I was reading “Drinking: A Love Story” by Caroline Knapp. I was at my mom’s house alone. She works far away and near my brother so she stays there when she has to work the next day. Her boyfriend went out for the night. I looked forward to a quiet night of reading the book. But then I realized something was missing: a glass of wine.

In my old apartment, I would spend many evenings reading and drinking. I have not owned a television since 2005. I love reading books. I also spend, or waste, a lot of time online. I watch movies on Netflix or videos on Youtube. I read articles and connect with friends from around the world on Facebook. But once in awhile I would turn off my computer to catch up on reading. I curled up on my couch with a blanket or in my bed. Or I would relax in the tub with a book, bubbles and aromatherapy candles. But I always had a glass of wine with me. I even bought a book tray that goes across the tub with a special slot for a wine glass.

I put down the Ms Knapp’s book and went to the computer. I filled up a large glass with water. I made a mental note to pick up some lemons and limes to flavor my water.  I started to read and click “follow” on blogs that I found interesting. I commented on and liked a few. It started to feel like a cyber support group. (Thank you soberlearning and rfscout for giving me encouraging words not to pick up that glass of wine.)

I enjoy reading how other people overcame struggles. It is an embarrassing malady to have. Too many friends have discouraged my decisions to go sober in the past. It is as if I told them I have an incontinence problem. They don’t understand. They don’t want to be around me with that problem. “Just control it.”

I thought of going to an AA meeting last night. I decided I was too lazy to go. Maybe I will go to some when I get back to where I am currently living.

I spent the time this afternoon reading a journal form 2003-2005. There were a lot of entries where I ended it “I need to quit drinking!” Sometimes I admitted I had a problem but I did not want to do anything about it. I was too scared of what going sober would do to my awesome social life. That was 10 years ago. If I went sober, it would have prevented a DUI.

Today I kept wondering if I could control my drinking. Maybe if I only drank wine in restaurants. Or no more than a bottle a night at home. No more strong IPAs. For now, I want to commit to 365 days without alcohol.

Mistake #11- This is one I would have forgotten if I wasn’t checking out photos on my mom’s computer: My nephew’s kindergarten graduation.

I went out the night before with a friend. I do not remember the night at all. I do not know where we went or what we drank. But I woke up in his bed. And I woke up with my mom calling my phone and asking if I was ready for the graduation. They would pick me up on the way to the school.

I stuttered that no, I was not ready. I might have even mentioned being at a friend’s house. I would meet them at the school. Just text me the address. I grabbed my clothes and rushed to my house. I took a 2 minute shower to try to wash off the stench of booze. I put on a cute skirt and top and drove to the school. My mom saved me a seat. My sister and niece were in front of us. I honestly remember that instead of being hungover, I will still drunk. There is a photo of me between my 6 year old nephew and 3 year old niece and she is pushing herself away from me. I guess she was too young to be an enabler.