Real Me

I was telling a friend how some friends have not been supportive. Some friends seem to avoid me now that I quit drinking. He said maybe they just miss the old me. They had fun partying with me. I was a fun person and that should be seen a good thing. His excuses were pissing me off.

So I am not fun now? Just because I am not falling over drunk, not remembering the night, or waking up with a stranger in my bed, that means I am not fun? I feel that they miss me being the entertainment.  The jackass. The drunk fool. They don’t miss the “real” me. The real me would get suicidal from being so depressed from drunk mishaps. The regret I would feel the next day made me hate who I was and wish for death!  That is what they miss?

But of course, they didn’t know about that side of me. Not many know about my many suicide attempts. Nor all the times I drove drunk. Some know I have 2 DUIs and they share with me their DUI stories or drunk-driving-but-not-caught stories. I put on a great show of being happy most of the time. If I got drunk and depressed, they just ignored it and figured I would be okay once I sobered up.

Yes. I am finally okay. But it is not from sobering after after a night of drinking. It is six months of sobriety after twenty years of drinking.

Now I have to figure how to get people to know the real me. I have to get them to understand how sobriety is the best thing that has happened to me. I want them to see the benefits without shoving it down their throats. The real me is actually pretty awesome.

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Mistake 179- I drove to a club for a costume party.  It was a 45 minute drive. I got super drunk. I was not planning the night out well. I had no backup plan for getting home. Maybe I thought I would sleep in the car before driving (in a sketchy neighborhood.) It was a few months before my second DUI.

I met a guy. I don’t know how or anything about the meeting. But somehow I took him home. He drove my car and his friend followed in his. I woke up with this guy in my bed and his friend on the couch. He even asked how was I planning to get home with as trashed as I was and I told him I did not know.

I had a second date with that guy another time. I got trashed on that date. He asked if I was an alcoholic. I said “no, I just like to have fun.” We never had another date.

Maybe if I did not meet him in that club and have him drive me home, I would have gotten my second DUI sooner. Or might have been dead.

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New friends and new mistakes

Mistake 156- I was new in town and was invited to a party from a friend of a friend. I thought this was a great way to meet new people and make new friends in my new city.

I remember driving there with the plans to leave my car and take a taxi home. I remember bringing a large bottle of Diet Coke and Barcardi. I shared with everyone but I think I drank most of that rum. I met a few people and friended a few. I saw some of the people again at other parties and tried to introduce myself again because I didn’t remember meeting them the first time. Some of the people seemed to avoid me when I met them again.

There was a couple who offered to give me a ride home that night to save me the taxi fare. I was bringing a guy home I met. But the back window to their car was smashed. They had a tablet or laptop or something like that stolen plus other things. This made me not want to leave my car. The guy I was taking home offered to drive me. But he didn’t know how to drive stick. So I drove. He said he had to keep grabbing the wheel cause I was swerving. He said it was the scariest ride of his life.

Excuses, Excuses

I was at a friend’s house yesterday and noticed a newspaper article hanging on the refrigerator. I never noticed it before and I stopped because the photo looked familiar. It was my friend’s roommate. And the article was about her car getting stuck on train tracks and she getting a DUI. A lovely story to put on the fridge!

Her car got stuck on train tracks because she turned on them by mistake thinking they were the road. A cop noticed her standing outside of the car. She appeared drunk. The cop said she was falling over. A train was coming and he was able to get her away. The train hit her car. It totaled her car. She refused the breathalyzer.

I asked my friend about it. He said she wasn’t that drunk. She only had a few drinks and she can handle her alcohol. She was falling cause she was wearing heels. The newspaper made it seem worse than it was. That road it really dark so it is understandable why she turned on the tracks by mistake.

I couldn’t help but think he was just making up excuses. She probably told him these same excuses. When I first met her, she was falling over drunk. And she was barefoot that night.

What if she did not get out of the car? Why did she get out of the car? Thank god no one else was in the car. Thank god no one on the train got hurt. There are so many variables that could have made this a different situation. But excuses seem to push all the other possibilities out-of-the-way. She went to court and received a restricted driver’s license for a few months.

In my fear that blogging about this might “out” more information about me by connecting her story to me, I tried to google it. I could not find her story nor her photo. But sadly, I found that this happens a lot. I found a lot of stories of people getting their car stuck on train tracks while drunk. I found one woman parked her car on the tracks because she knew she was too drunk to drive on a Navy base. I found other stories about trains hitting cars. One girl was so drunk she didn’t even think to leave her car until two guys made her get out.

I think back to all the excuses I used to make. But there is no excuse for all the lives lost from drunk drivers.

Mistake 151- I was in Goa, India. I rented a scooter bike for the week. I went to a party in another part of the state about 45 minutes from where I was staying. I met a couple that got a ride there. We partied all day and night on the beach. I remember I stopped drinking about an hour before leaving the party. But that was still not enough time to sober up. I offered a ride to the girl. Her boyfriend got a ride back with one of my friends. I remember I got lost a little. I concentrated so hard on keeping the bike straight on the road.

We finally got back to the meeting point where my friend and her boyfriend were waiting. Her boyfriend was so happy. Later on, my friend told me the boyfriend was so worried. He kept saying he shouldn’t have let me drive her. If we were in an accident, he would have felt so responsible. He knew I was drinking a lot at the party. I not only put my life at risk, but her life also. And that would affected him too. It would have been a horrible chain reaction. Not to mention if I caused an accident that involved another vehicle and more people.

Alcoholics only think of themselves and live in excuses.

Manual Shift Driving

Mistake 149- A bunch of my friends made plans to go away to a city 5 hours away. A bunch of them were taking a bus. I decided to drive there by myself. Since I had my car, two of my friends asked me if they could get a ride back with me. There was a concert on Sunday afternoon for which they had tickets. I said sure. No problem. We were all going to a house party on Saturday night. I was staying over at the house for the night. I told them to just meet me there Sunday morning.

That party consisted of a lot of drinking. A lot of shots. The kitchen counter tops were covered in bottles, glasses, and sticky stuff. It was a good party. I have no idea what time it was when I finally passed out on the couch.

The next day, my two friends showed up to head back home. I kept requesting for more sleep. But they had to be back for that show. They offered to drive my car. So I  got up and grabbed my stuff with hopes to sleep in the backseat. Yet, neither of them knew how to drive manual shift. I was worried they would kill my transmission trying to drive it so I got behind the wheel. I drove them the long, 5 hours back. I drank a lot of Diet Coke along the way. I really think I was still drunk until about an hour into the drive. I don’t think it was just a hangover and don’t think I legally should have been driving.

Interestingly, I first learned to drive manual shift because I was out with a guy that was too drunk to drive once. I couldn’t figure out his stick shift car. I swore I would learn manual shift in case I was ever in that situation again. Instead of saving me from being the passenger with a drunk driver, it caused me to be the drunk driver more than I wanted.

Big Heart

I went to my first AA meeting since I got my 30 day chip. It was a 7am meeting and I went after I stayed up all night finishing Kristen Johnston’s Guts, watching a movie, doing laundry, and reading blogs. I felt great when I got to the meeting. The mood went down by the end.

I hate going there and leaving feeling guilty for the times I don’t go. I heard: “When I first got sober the only way I made it was to go to daily meetings.” “Work  the steps or this program won’t work.” “If you miss a meeting, you will want to drink.” “You need a sponsor to stay sober.”

Again, I got a list of names and phone numbers of the women in the meeting. Again, I thought “I am not gonna call any of them.” I would rather get to know someone before I would want to think of calling them. I understand the point behind giving out the numbers and I appreciate it. But I honestly would rather call my close friend in Virginia if I feel the need to drink. She knows I have gone sober. She told me to call anytime. Day or night. I guess that makes me lucky to know I have someone to call.

I could not follow most of the people that spoke. It seemed like tangents. All I really understood was that I better go to a meeting or else. The only way is the AA way. I will relapse if I don’t follow their rules. I swear it makes me want to stay sober and NOT go to meetings just to prove that I can. Take THAT! I will show them.

Ok that is stubborn me thinking. I am also tired and about to go to bed.

The one thing I got out of this meeting was thinking about my health. There was one guy sitting across the room that was yellow. He looked jaundice. I kept looking up at his pale, golden skin and thought “liver damage.” And that got me thinking of my heart.

I used to get tested for tuberculosis every year for my job. A TB test is a little shot under the skin in the arm and then have it read a few days later. I had them done for years. Then in 2010, my test reading was positive. This means I was exposed to tuberculosis somewhere. My guess is on a chicken bus in Bolivia. Or anywhere else in South America. My tests will always read positive so instead I need to get chest xrays every so often.

The report from my first xray said no lung problems.YEA! But it then said the words “cardiomegaly.” Enlarged heart.The doctor did not seem concerned. I was. I did what most hypochondrics do and I googled the causes. On webMD I found:

  • Viral infection of the heart
  • Abnormal heart valve
  • Pregnancy, with enlarged heart developing around the time of delivery (peripartum cardiomyopathy)
  • Kidney disease requiring dialysis
  • Alcohol or cocaine abuse
  • HIV infection
  • Genetic and inherited conditions

I had no viral symptoms, no valve problems, no pregnancy, no kidney issues, no HIV, and no genetic or inherited condition. (Oh except I inherited alcoholism from my dad.)  Alcohol abuse must be the cause! Oh my god my heart is going to explode because I was a lush! I overworked one of the most important organs in my body with booze. I was going to have a heart attack at the age of 35. My then-boyfriend tried to reassure me I was going to be okay. It just meant I have a big heart because I was such a caring person. I remember screaming at him “You have no medical background so shut up!”

It did not stop me from drinking.

Next few xrays, no mention of cardiomegaly again. One did mention scoliosis. Maybe from passing out on barstools.

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Mistake # 45- I was at a club with my two good friends. The female (the one I mentioned above that said I can call whenever), was drunk and passing out in the club. Our male friend was our ride. He was always our ride because he did not drink. He was lucky to be born with a liver condition so he avoided alcohol. (Please read the sarcasm when I say he was lucky.) He told me it was time to go home.

I did not want to leave. I wanted to stay and party. Can’t he just put her in the truck and let her sleep? He did take her outside of the club and sat her on the curb next to his truck. He then came back in and demanded I leave. I was stubborn and refused. So he picked me up, threw me over his shoulders, and carried my drunk ass outside of the club and to his truck. He put me down while he fumbled with our other friend to get her in the truck. I RAN back inside the club. He later said I looked like Phoebe from the TV show Friends when she would run crazy-like to scare away muggers. He got our other friend in the truck and came back looking for me. He said he found me squatting behind a guy trying to hide. I told the guy “Don’t let him take me.” My friend said “fuck you then! Find your own ride home.” He left.

I partied. I danced. I drank. I managed to find a ride home. Once I got home, I must have felt guilty. So I drove to my friend’s apartment. I don’t really remember doing that. He said he opened the door and I stood there crying. “I am so sorry” I bawled. He had me come inside while I cried and cried about being such a shitty friend. Then I cried myself to sleep on his couch. He was so mad at me that night but forgave me the next day.

We aren’t talking anymore. I sort of blamed him for my second DUI. Maybe I will reach out to him to make amends one day. Just not ready yet.

too personal

I am starting to worry if I am posting too much personal information and stories. I am trying to tell my stories without causing future damage to myself. I was mentioning to my mom about having a blog and following other sober blogs. Then I started to get paranoid that she would freak out if she knew of all the stories I posted.

I must remind myself I am doing this for myself. I am going sober for myself. Maybe I need to reveal all to fight my battle. I feel like with each post, I am taking off an item of clothing and about to stand nude in front of a room of strangers. Maybe I need to be vulnerable to wake up.

I was reading my “sober journal” I kept after my second DUI. The first month was so much “I am NEVER drinking again” and listing some consequences of my drinking. That list has increased a lot in 7 years. But after about 45 days, I started to write “maybe I can drink and just not get drunk? Maybe I can still enjoy wine with dinner?”

I KNOW that I can not drink alcohol. I can not moderate my drinking. I need to keep reminding myself of horrible things I did when drunk. I need to be more worried about what will happen to me if I continue drinking than people’s opinion of my past.

I need to be personal. This is my journey.

(After writing that, I got a comment on yesterday’s blog that a reader connects with my stories. I smiled and cried as I read that comment on my phone. Maybe I need to be personal to help others, also.)

Mistake #36- Last year, I had a friend come to visit me. I have known her since my mid-twenties. We used to party a lot and go clubbing. She taught me to wear sequin pants to get attention. I always thought she looked like Christina Ricci. She still does.

A few years ago, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I never noticed. I always thought she was sweet girl with a bubbly attitude. She told me stories of manic phases with online shopping and depressed phases with bedroom hiding. I did not know how to react because I guess I was uncomfortable with the disease. But she quit drinking due to her medication. She actually said she quit partying. She plays video games for fun. She described herself as a “homebody.” I still wanted to take her out to meet all my friends.

The first night, I took her to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. I knew she did not make much money at her job so I offered to treat her for the weekend. I even paid for her bus ticket to visit me. Unfortunately, I think that made me think she had to just go along with everything I wanted to do. I invited some of my friends to join us that posted online from a nearby bar. I am not sure if I was trying to show off to my new friends my hot friend or if I was showing off to her “look at all my friends!”

I drank a lot of wine with dinner. My car is a stick shift and she does not know how to drive it. My friends invited us to another bar in another section of town. I was excited to show her that area. I was trying to play “bar tour guide”.  To a girl that did not even drink alcohol anymore.  I was okay to drive over there. (Not sure if I was legally okay.) We hung out at a few bars there and I think I switched to beers. This place had my favorite IPA (at that time). It was a local brewery so I figured I was trying to help the local economy. My friend kept drinking Cokes.

I wanted to show her one more bar on the way home. It wasn’t too far from my apartment. Maybe a 5 minute drive. It is a dark, dive bar. Actually, a famour strip bar. I told her no one can come to town without checking out that place. I said I would have just one drink and we could leave. But then some college boys started to flirt with us. We thought it was hilarous and I wanted to stick around for this entertainment. They had to be 15 years younger than us. I was glad for the darkness of the place. Last thing I remember is ordering a rum and Coke for me and a plain Coke for her and yelling to the waitress “Make them both a double!”

I woke up the next day in my bed with a hangover. I went out and walked to the store to grab a few things while I let my friend sleep. When I came back, she said “so are you mad about your car?”

My eyes went wide. “What do you mean?”

She asked “oh you haven’t seen it yet?”

I rushed out of my apartment and down to the parking garage. As soon as you open the door, my car is right there. And a big piece was missing off the side door. About 6×4 inch panel was missing. I gasped. She told me that I drove home that night and I was doing fine until I tried to drive around a curve in the garage. I hit the wall. Or actually the concrete pillar. She said I hit it, then backed up, and then hit it again. She said she was so scared.

I walked down the ramp and saw the missing pieces of my car laying there on the ground. I picked them up and went back up to my car. The back passenger door had huge scratches across it. I was so thankful that was the only damage. So thankful I did not hit anything else or anyone.

I decided I would try to fix it myself. I bought glue that is supposed to help fix boats to try to glue back on the piece and car paint to try to cover up the scratches. The glue did not work cause I need to sand down where it came off or something. The paint doesn’t really work cause they don’t make my car color anymore. The pieces are still in the back of my car a year later.

When people ask me what happened, I just say “eh tight parking garages” or “oh small mishap.” No one pushes for more information. That was not the last time I drove after drinking.

Long-term Recovery

Today I watched the film The Anonymous People on ManyFaces1Voice.org. I cried  some. It was moving and inspiring.

The thing I really liked was too use the term “long term recovery” instead of saying alcoholic. But how long do I have to be sober to consider it long term? It still feels sort of strange to think this is forever. I gave up on the idea of forever when I got divorced.

It is crazy to think of treating addicts as criminals.  I started reading Orange is the New Black. I love the show but reading the book makes me realize how it is a waste for our society to send someone to jail for a non -violent crime ten years after it happened due to our “zero tolerance” on drugs. I look forward to reading more. And I really look forward to the second season of the show.

I am going out for a friend’s birthday dinner tonight.  I am a little nervous about temptation but feel better after watching the movie.

“The easiest part was kicking it. The hardest part is living it.” – a man in the film

Mistake #32- I went out for drinks with friends.  I was separated from my husband for a few months. I started to date a guy that had a condo near the beach. I was getting upset that he didn’t call me or answer his phone that night. I was a little drunk and decided to drive by his place to see if his car was there. Was he out with another girl? I was jealous yet I was the one who still thought she was gonna fix her marriage eventually.

I got pulled over. I quickly took a sip of mouthwash I kept in my car door.  I read that they can not use results of a breathalyzer if you have mouthwash on your breath due to the alcohol in it. I told the officer I was just on my way to my boyfriend’s house. She asked if I was drinking and I admitted yes but diminished the amount. She asked why my breath smelled like mouthwash. I said I met a cute guy at the bar and I kept some in my bag to freshen up my breath. She had me step out of the car. Her partner said something about real alcoholics drinking mouthwash for the high. I stuck to my breath freshner story. When they asked me to walk on a straight line, I started to cry. I told them I have been having a really hard time being separated from my husband and I was in school and please please PLEASE I can not get a DUI! I walked the line while bawling my eyes out. I did other soriety tests while crying. I must have done okay because they did not arrest me. They gave me a ride home.

The whole ride home she lectured me. She talked about drinking and driving and all the deaths she has seen. I kept thanking her. I cried. I must have seemed such a mess especially with my stories of husband, boyfriend, and meeting a guy in the bar.

I walked into my roommate’s room when I got home and woke her up. I cried and told her I almost just got arrested for a DUI. She hugged me and told me stories about her “almost” DUIs too. I swore I would never drink and drive again. I finally went to my room and cried to sleep.

I got my first DUI a year and half later.