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.

And the Oscar goes to…

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.

9 months

I went on to a 3 day camping festival with some friends. It was a lot of fun. My feet and body are sore from exploring and dancing. I am so glad I got to reconnect with friends. There was a few times I wanted to drop the sobriety thing but I stayed strong.

I have told friends here I am not drinking but they seem to have short term memories. They offer me a beer, I say “no thanks I quit drinking” and the next day they offer me another drink. Maybe they think I meant I quit for the day? I have to ask what was in everything that was offered to me. I even turned down ice cream because I was not in the mood for dairy and later found out someone mixed booze into the ice cream. It seems some people can not live without alcohol but they are not even alcoholics! I never see these people making fools of themselves and they don’t blackout. They control their drinking. It makes me jealous. But I know I will never be able to moderate. I am allergic to alcohol. My body does not react the same. But my body is fine without poisoning it with booze.

I met up with my friends P and C that I last saw in June. They were actually the most supportive people from the whole weekend. When someone would offer me a drink, P would tell them “no she doesn’t drink alcohol anymore” before I could say anything. I smiled. I guess it took them a bit to get used to it. But by the time we said bye to each other, we all hugged. I cried. I am happy that I did not lose their friendship like I thought when I blogged about it in June.

Also they had another friend with them. I have known this girl for a few years and definitely thought she had a drinking problem. I saw her a few times very drunk and sad in the past. She was a depressive drunk. This weekend she told me she has been sober 4 months. I was proud of her. We talked a little about sobriety. She told me she has a sponsor and is doing AA. I wished her luck. I told her she can talk to me about it whenever.

I did overhear about another woman at the festival who did not have a good time. A person said she decided to celebrate her 30 days of sobriety by getting drunk. And I think they said she mixed some drugs with her drinking. She started to have a panic attack, flipped out, and had suicidal thoughts. It made me glad I was sober.

After the festival, I spent two nights in a hotel. I walked around the city in the afternoon. Again I wished I was able to drink. Whenever I used to travel and not have to worry about driving, I used that as an excuse to get drunk. I loved the creative names of some cocktails I saw on menus. But I stuck to water.

I then found an AA meeting. There was an interesting speaker. The only reason I went was to search for a 9 month chip and I was happy when they pulled out the chip box at the end. So I got a 9 month chip! (Even though I had to go to another city/area to get it again.)

My 30 days, 90 days and 6 month tokens are all coins. This one looks more like a poker chip. I see this as evidence that meetings work different in different areas. Especially my area that only gives 90 days and yearly chips.

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Jealousy

Sorry I haven’t posted anything lately. I got back from my trip to Belize and I have been busy. I have been working a lot, reading for my class, and my mom came to visit. But the good thing is that I haven’t had time to really think about drinking. I had a friend text me today to ask how sobriety is going and I told him I don’t even crave alcohol anymore. I took my mom to a show and bought her a beer and really did not feel jealous that I could not have one. I did not desire it at all.

And I haven’t posted because I feel I am struggling to think of more mistakes to write about that I am ready to share or that I have not already posted. Every once in awhile, I will be reminded of a night or event that triggers a mistake I forgotten.

Mistake 241- This night is a bit of a blur. I had a pool party during the day. About 6 guys I know came and two girls. The one girl was visiting from another country. I remember being nervous about the party and whether people were having fun and the food and what they thought of me. I remembering trying so hard to be liked. I was in my 30s but was like a teenager having a party to impress the cool kids.

I remember being super jealous of the foreign girl. She was in the pool in her bikini, flirting and wresting with all the guys. I think there were only 3 guys in the pool. But they kept grabbing her, dunking her, and picking her up. I thought I would be too heavy for them to try to pick up. I didn’t even want to put on my bikini cause I felt super fat around this tiny girl. So I just drank a lot and stayed out of the pool. I had a crush on one of the guys and it seemed he flirted with her the most.

We all had plans to go into the city for dinner with some other friends. It was going to be at least 20 people meeting at the restaurant. I allowed everyone to use my room and bathroom to change. We all made our way to the city. I was drunk by this point. I got more drunk at dinner. After dinner, we were going to a party in another friend’s apartment. Like I said it was a blur, but I think I gave the foreign girl wrong directions. I think I had her and one of the guys get in a taxi and I said we’d meet them there and I got into another taxi with some other guys. I never saw her at the party. I never talked to her again but I just remember having such hatred and jealousy for her cause she was skinny and the guys all were giving her the attention I wanted. It was MY PARTY!

jealousy-is-just-a-lack-of-self-confidence

Mistake 242- I got very drunk at that party. It was a crowded apartment. I remember having some beer, either a 6-pack but more than likely a 12-pack, and I held onto it cause I was worried it would be stolen if left in the fridge. I woke up the next day sitting in a recliner chair. I was curled up with my legs hanging over the arm on one side. I was confused as to where I was and then it slowly hit me. I went to the bathroom and realized I was wearing a pair of thongs that were not mine under my skirt. I asked the hostess of the party and she said she gave them to me cause I lost mine. I later found my thongs in my purse. I have no idea how they got there or how I “lost” them. The other hostess of that party never really liked me after that night.

Just Breath

I had another meltdown at the post office the other day. I was very frustrated by their strange hours (10am to 4pm.) When I couldn’t go there after work in the morning (because I was not staying up another 3 hours), I woke up early in the afternoon to go. I rushed to get there before they closed at 4pm. I did not eat, no coffee yet, and I was tired. When the guy behind the counter told me I did not have enough proper identification, I started to cry.

He was really sweet with helping me and I did find another form of identification that was good enough. There was a woman working that was there that morning when I first tried to come in but found out they did not open until 10. She was not too nice that morning and must have thought I was a nut case this time. I apologized to the man several times telling him I was just tired and hungry. He said he understood. But I don’t think he actually does unless he suffers depression.

I cut back on my 5HTP. I was taking it twice a day but I switched to once a day because I thought it made me sleepy. But I am gonna try the twice a day dose again.

At work last night, I started thinking about something and then got worrying and almost had tears again. I told myself to concentrate on my breaths. Breath in. Breath out. I counted to 60. I felt better. I really need to find time to start meditation. Thinking is my worst enemy at times.

I have been thinking a lot about my future and school. I am trying to figure out where I want to go for my program. I was set on going to one university but that school is making things difficult and I am not sure I want to go through the trouble of establishing residency and then not getting accepted. So I have been considering other schools. But I have an aquaintance that keeps trying to encourage me to go to the school that is giving me the hard time. He claimed I am not being “proactive” enough. That pissed me off because he does not know me well and does not know how much I have been working to go back to school. I keep trying to think what kind of ulterior motive he has. All I can guess is that he wants me to live near him. We met on a dating site and had sex a few times. Other than that, I do not know him. I hate how this is frustrating me. I want to write him “well I am sober now so we will never have sex again so I do not know why you care about where I go to school!” Of course, I will refrain from saying anything so mean to him. But I am on the verge of just deleting his friend link.

Mistake 222- When I first met this guy, we had a nice lunch date. He was nice but I did not really find him attractive. The second time, I was already drunk when I showed up and he kept buying me more wine. I remember it was a dark, strong red wine. Zinfandel maybe? But I took him home with me and we had sex.

Mistake 223- I moved away but was coming through town. He offered to get me a hotel room since I did not have a place to stay that night. Of course he would be staying in the room also. He showed up with snacks and 2 bottles of large wine. I remember thinking I would need to drink at least one of the bottles before we had sex. Now looking back, it almost feels like prostitution.

Mistake 224- Next time I saw him, we met at the beach before I had a flight. I remember he picked a place to eat but my only concern was a place that served alcohol. This place did not. I was irritated. But we had a quick dinner. We caught up on small talk and lives. I said something about wanting to get to the airport early and left. Instead, I went and drank a bottle of wine I had in the trunk of my rental car. I did not want to have to pack it. I sat on the beach, alone, and finished off that bottle before driving to the airport.

Changes in 7 months: I never want to be an annoying drunk again!

My friend and I arrived in Reno and I texted a friend to meet up. My local friend suggested a brewery to watch and listen to some music. We picked a meeting time.

I said to the friend I am traveling with “I am not sure if this guy knows I quit drinking.” I was not really worried. We have met up about once a year the past 7 years and catch up on each other’s lives over drinks. I don’t think he has ever seen me drunk. I was not worry about telling him I am now sober. I, also, was not gonna walk in and make a big production of it. “Hi, nice to see you again.  I am a recovering alcoholic. How have you been?” I just mentioned I did not know if he knew.

My friend started coming up with a bunch of excuses. “Tell him you are pregnant. You aren’t drinking so you can drive me. Tell him you are on medication.”

I was not planning on telling any lies. I would rather be honest with my friend. The way my friend was coming up with excuses made me think he assumes I am ashamed of my problem. But also reminded me of the way I was back in January when I thought of quitting. I got ideas from the book Living Sober Sucks and made my own list of lies. I kept wanting to come up with a medical excuse and use medical jargon to confuse people. It is amazing how in 7 months I now would rather be honest than lie.

Well, mostly, honest. If I do not know the people well or they are co-workers, I just tell them I got tired of drinking. That is the truth but I do no go into details of my disease.

We met up with my friend. He was sitting outside on the patio with some friends. I was starved. But of course the waitress always asks for the drink orders first. Since it was a brewery, it had mostly craft beers. Yet they did have non-alcoholic St Pauli’s Girl on the menu. I giggled and ordered that. I was actually glad I did because it took asking her three times to bring me water for her to do so.  Beer was served quickly. And my burger was quick. My travel friend did not order any food.

I was tired from being on the road the last few days. I was about to tell me friend we should ask for the bill when he ordered his third beer.  I was not really annoyed that he ordered another but I was calculating his irresponsibility. 1) He did not eat before drinking. And 2) he usually drinks Budweiser and lower alcohol beer and here he was drinking craftbeers with slightly higher alcohol content.

After he finished and we left, his intoxication started to annoy me. At first, just little things bothered me like insisting on being right about topics. But what really pissed me off was when  he pissed by the car in the upper level parking garage after I parked the car. Not by a tree or bush even. On the concrete! I was livid. “Why didn’t you do that at the brewery!” He said he didn’t have to go then. Even though just before getting there, he was complaining he had to go. We were in the parking garage! He could have run into the hotel if he had to go that bad. I told him that is such a trashy thing to do. I felt like I was hanging out with such an idiotic drunk. I grabbed my luggage and quickly walked to the hotel. It was so embarrassing. So third world. And I know he is going to go back home and tell his friends that I am a bitch, or controlling, or annoying, or that I flip out easily when tired. I would rather be all that than a drunk!

Mistake 207- I was in Vegas many years ago and met a guy. We were drunk and making out in a casino late at night.  We were near a slot machine when we were getting hot and heavy. I took him to my room. My friend that was staying with me was not there. She was out eating. When she returned, I made her stay in the hallway while he and I had sex.

Mistake 208- Next morning, I realized my wallet was missing. I got upset and assumed I dropped it somewhere in the night. The guy I met kept insisting that I go to security. I thought that was hopeless but I did anyway. Luckily, they had my wallet. (With about $500 in it.) I had to describe what it looked like to get it back. The security guy said “we found it by the slot machines.” That was how I remembered the guy and I getting hot and heavy by the slots. I was so embarrassed. Of course Vegas casinos have security cameras everywhere. A guard must have watched us kissing and groping and anything else we were drunk enough to do in public. Then someone came in to save my wallet when we took off for my room.

Mistake 209- Later that day, after more drinking, a co-worker, that was with me when I met the guy, texted me to see if the “loser” was still with me. I was upset that she called him a loser. So I replied back that he and I decided to get married. This turned into a lot more texts back and forth of her trying to talk me out of it. She called me later and my friend in my room answered to say I was at the chapel. It was a funny, drunk joke until I got back home and my manager called me into her office. She was concerned that I married a man I just met in Vegas. I explained to her it was just a joke that got out of hand. She said she was worried I must have been on drugs at the time. Maybe if I did get married while drunk, I would have been ordered to rehab ten years ago.

 

Give It Time

Just like recovery can not be rushed,  I can not rush my friends into accepting my sobriety. It seems I expect everyone to jump on board this big change and say “good for you” without considering how this affects them. Of course, staying sober for myself is the most important thing in my life. But I am being selfish if I refuse to understand it might take some people time to adjust.

I wrote about my two friends, P and C, back in the beginning of June. They made many comments that were not supportive. Their behavior when I was leaving their place was strange. They did not walk me to the door, hug me, nor say anything about hoping to see me again soon. It felt they did not want me there if I was going to be sober. I was upset and went to an AA meeting to vent. I felt they were going to be the first friends I lost in recovery.

Now I am staying to think maybe they just needed to grieve. Maybe the needed to overcome their loss of a party friend. Maybe they needed to see I really was planning to stick with sobriety and witness me benefiting.  Maybe I have not lost them.

P emailed me today. It was the first time I spoke to him since I left there six weeks ago. He told me about a dream he had with him, his wife C, and me at a festival and then somehow at a tropical beach. It was a long description of this dream. He ended it saying he hopes I have a good time at the festival I am going in a few weeks. I have spent the last three years partying with them at this festival but they are skipping it this year.

I did not know how to respond at first. I couldn’t help but wonder why he had a dream with me in it. Was it because I posted on FB they other day saying I wish more people would support my decision to quit drinking? I kept trying to decipher the meaning and read between the lines. Did he mean he wishes I could drink margaritas on a tropical beach with them? Or they are glad they aren’t going to the festival if I am planning to stay sober?

I finally responded saying I was excited to experience the festival without hangovers and wasting so much time drunk. I told him of some of my plans and I feel this will be a great year there. Then I kept checking to see if he read my response and wondered if he would reply. He finally did:

“Hope you find exactly want you want out there this year!!!”

Maybe I am over-analyzing it, but I felt that this was his olive branch. It was his step towards tolerating my change. It was his way of saying “I still wish you could drink but I am willing to accept your sobriety.” It is not really support, but maybe I do not have to lose them after all. Maybe I just need to give them time.
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Mistake 186- I was spending a day home alone and drinking. I must have been watching movies or wasting time online. There was a farmers market that afternoon a mile from my home. I decided I wanted to go down to there and people watch. I was drunk and was worried if I walked, I would miss the market. So I drove. I drove down around a busy market full of people. I remember having trouble parking but also avoiding certain parking lots that I knew usually had cops. I walked around for a bit and once the stalls started to close up, I went into a bar. I ordered an IPA and read my book. I did not want to lose my “buzz”. After several drinks, I drove home again.

When I moved into that place, one reason I picked the address was because it was walking distance to the bars. But I still was irresponsible enough to drive to them a lot. I put myself and other lives at risk. I am so fortunate I never hurt anyone with my drunk driving.