Unsupportive Friends

I am staying with my good friends P and C this weekend. They just happen to be the last people with whom I got drunk. I was nervous about being sober around them. I was worried about their reaction. And I am now starting to wonder if these are two friends I might have to let slip away.

The first hour or two, there was no mention of my sobriety. I started asking them about their house hunting. Then we talked about my living situation and job. We talked about some events in our lives the past few months.  We talked about my family. I was happy that they did not offer me any of the wine they were drinking. But they didn’t offer me anything to drink. I couldn’t help but feel everything seemed awkward.

After a while of offers of nothing, I got up to get myself some water. Then I sat down to continue the conversation. When my glass was empty, he jumped up to offer to refill it. He kept asking if I wanted lemon or grapefruit squeezed in it. They have a soda water machine if I wanted bubbles. I said no thanks but he insisted on lemon. I guess plain water was too strange.

We talked a few more hours and avoided the talk of my sobriety. Then I mentioned that my reunion is at a brewery. I said that is gonna suck. “Oh yea, cause you aren’t drinking?” Yep. I quit. He squirmed and changed the subject.

Later, after she went to bed, it came up again. This time I mentioned I have been sober more than 4 months. He didn’t seem impressed. I said “actually my last drink was with you guys.” I did not hear a “way to go.” No “congratulations”. It seemed like he was mourning. Like that uncomfortable feeling you get when someone says their grandmom died and you do not know what their relationship to their grandmom was like. How should you react?

I tried to tell him how great I felt. How happy I am. I said I was sad that I haven’t lost weight.

“Booze doesn’t affect your weight. Diet and exercise do.” Really? Booze is not included in diet? He told me how he lost weight by cutting out carbs. Isn’t alcohol liquid carbs? He said their diet is 60% veggies and it helps keep them thin. They also eat a lot of fruit. But they also drink a lot. I guess he is thinking of hops and barley as veggies and grape wine as fruit.

I told him my thoughts of going for a degree in psychology. He asked what would I do with that. I said “maybe become a therapists for alcoholics”.
“That is a lost cause.”
I could not believe he said that. He started to say that alcoholics will never change. I said “I DID!” He responded “but that is you. You are different. You have the strength.”
I was fuming. Then I said I have thought of specializing in pregnant women with addictions.  He laughed. “Oh that is really a lost cause!” He said those people don’t want help. I wanted to punch him.

That was when I realized he is not gonna be a supportive friend. This might be my last time I go out of my way to visit them.

It made me want to crawl back in a shell. This is what a lot of society thinks of alcoholics. Do my friends think I am different cause I wasn’t on skid row?

He told me he has been trying to get his wife to cut back. And maybe he will cut back too. Just for his liver. The way he talked about it, I realized he thinks I cut back. He thinks I am moderating now. I can’t think of exactly what he said but it hinted that he thinks I will start drinking again. This is one of my “drinking breaks” with which they are so familiar.

I showed him the photo of my sundae from my first class flight. He said “that would go better with a glass of free champagne.”

Maybe I don’t have as much in common with them as I thought? Maybe boozing was our common thread? I was their maid-of-honor! Maybe in 10 years when they talk about their wedding, they will mention they lost touch with their maid-of-honor because she stopped drinking.

Now I am sitting here in their living room drinking coffee. She went to work. I woke up at 7:30 when she was getting ready. I think she was shocked. Usually I am hungover when I stay here. She told me to wake up P if he is not out of bed in an hour. I kept putting off taking a shower to avoid making him late for work. It is now 2 hours later. The alarm has been going off forever. He keeps hitting snooze. I took a shower. I have to go through their bedroom to get to the bathroom. I purposefully made noise. It didn’t wake him. Maybe if he wasn’t drinking wine until 2am, he would have no problem waking up. I feel waking him up is a lost cause.

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Mistake 136- When they asked me to be maid-of-honor, they also smiled and said “guess who is the best man!” I guess correctly. He is a good-looking guy that P has been forever hinting he wants me to get with. I once asked him “that guy is a playboy! Why do you want us together? He is not the relationship type.” P agreed but said he thinks we could have fun together. So when they giggled about making me and Playboy their witnesses, I felt they were hoping we would hook up.

And during the wedding rehearsal, Playboy started the charm. “You smell nice.” “You look great.” “Your legs look amazing in that skirt.” I accepted the compliments but thought to myself “No way! I am not falling for your lines.” A year before this, he bragged to me about all the young European girls he banged. Now he is trying to seduce me? He opened doors for me the rest of the evening and held the small of my back as I walked past him.

We had a great rehearsal dinner. The couple showed a video they had made of their relationship. When a photo popped up that had me and the best man with them, P nudged me.

I drank a lot of wine at the dinner. Then I took a few of the bridesmaids to get our nails done. I should not have been driving. One of them even made a comment. I even hit a small curb with my rental car.

I was staying in the same hotel as Playboy and a few of the groomsmen. We all decided to take the groom out for drinks while the bride did a few last-minute things with her family. I was not driving this time. So I drank a lot more.

Back at the hotel, the guys he was sharing a room with wanted to go to sleep early. We had a wedding the next day! Playboy asked about continuing drinking in my room. A wife of a groomsman joined us. We had fun. My mini-fridge was stocked with beer.  I kept saying I need to get to bed. I was meeting the bride early the next day for our hair.

Soon it was just me and Playboy in the room. And his charms worked on drunk me. We had sex. But I remember I was at least coherent enough to insist he use a condom. He tried to tell me he is “good” and doesn’t need one. I busted out laughing and reminding him he once confessed to me how he “bangs” a lot of girls.

I was late for the hair appointment. I was hungover. But I drank mimosas to clear that up. I told the bride what happened and she laughed. When I told her he tried to not use a condom, she said “ew!” When the groom found out, he seemed please.

I felt a little uncomfortable around Playboy the next day. We acted like nothing happened. I remember hoarding some anger at myself for sleeping with him. I let myself down.

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Boozing and Backpacking

I saw a thread floating around on Facebook about traveling backpackers. I laughed. A lot of that pertains to me. I miss traveling.

But the bits about drinking got me wondering if traveling sober well be difficult for me.  It is easy to tell myself “you will save so much money without drinking” but bars do tend to be a natural habitat for backpackers. I used to pick out places to eat in the backpacker areas based on the drink specials. I avoided hostels that did not allow alcohol consumption. If a hostel sold beers, I sometimes had the highest tab by the end of the night. I spent one Christmas Eve getting drunk at an elephant camp in Thailand with other travelers and the guide was shocked that I drank more beers than anyone. Even the German guys.  Beer really was cheapest beverage in some countries. That was my excuse when I kept getting drunk in Czech Republic.

I need to remind myself of the times I put my life at risk by getting drunk in other countries. The times I got lost or went home with strangers. The times I lost my wallet or passport. The time I almost got arrested in Mexico or ran nude in Muslim countries. I never drove drunk in other countries because I rarely drove in other countries. (Though once I drove from Tijuana to San Diego after a lot of tequila shots for lunch. I was so worried the border patrol guard would smell my breath but he was more concerned I wasn’t smuggling people.)

 

in a bar in Istanbul

in a bar in Istanbul

I have a trip planned in August to Portugal. I am a little nervous. It is my birthday gift to myself. I am already planning to spend the day at art museums and then a nice dinner. As of now, I will be spending it alone. I keep skipping the parts of my guide book that mention clubs and bars. In the past, I would go to bars alone in strange cities. I would sit and observe. And drink. I am hoping I will be able to stay strong and sober while traveling.

Mistake 119- I was staying at a hostel in Melbourne, Australia. I bought a bottle of abstinthe that day. I was so excited because it was still illegal in the United States. I remember I did not know how to drink it properly. I was mixing it with juice and some Gatorade type of drink. I got trashed on it by myself. I met a cute Swedish guy somewhere in the hostel. Either in the kitchen or common area. For some reason, I think it might have been by the soda machine. I don’t remember much except we ended up having sex in his dorm room. We were on the top bunk. He had 3 upset roommates. I told some friends about it the next day and everyone said “that is dorm life!” I spent the rest of my stay wondering if any guys giving me strange looks were his dormmates. Never talked to the guy again.

 

 

 

 

Sober Soup

Today I am 100 days sober.

I still feel I am treading the waters here. It does not feel like I am taking the plunge into sobriety yet. It seems like a test run. A competition. A challenge. Did I win yet?

I feel I have gotten this far with a sober soup. It is a mixture of different things. Belle’s 100 Day challenge was the broth. I added to that daily blogging, reading other sober blogs, reading my journals, reading memoirs such as Carolyn Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story and Kristen Johnston’s Gutsand reading articles about alcoholism. The support from real life friends and the cyber sober community was like spices added to this soup. It made it work. This mixture kept me from drinking alcohol the past 100 days. (AA meetings were the salt and pepper. I only needed a little bit.)

I feel I have this sober genie sitting inside of me. He sometimes is in my chest. Sometimes my stomach. When I think about having a drink, he punches me. He grabs my esophagus and says “Go ahead but I am gonna make you puke it up and regret it!” He holds a knife to my liver and threatens to rip it apart. He runs into my brain with a napkin soaked in chloroform. I know both booze and that will poison my memory. When I choose not to drink, he flicks his chin up and says “Yea! That is what I THOUGHT you’d do.” He is like a bully but one I need.

I am scared this genie won’t stick around. He is gonna eat all this soup and leave.

265 more days of blogging about mistakes, regrets, and other mishaps from my drinking problem. I have daily blogging to keep me accountable.

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Mistake #100- Was visiting my sister in 2002. We invited a guy that I used to date to go out with us. We ended up at a gay bar. I got wasted and left with some girl. I just left my sister there with a guy that she barely knew. There were some nasty messages on my voicemail when I woke up the next day.

Mindgames

No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep. Unknown

I have a friend that posted that on Facebook. Then her friends all agreed. I thought “unless you had blackouts like the way most of my nights ended.” She is a party girl. I don’t know if I would say she has a problem or not. But I am happy that I am trying to discover a different life for myself.

I was at the gym last night on the elliptical trainer. I noticed this machine had a television with a plug for headphones. I do not watch much television but I do like the show Scandal. I got excited that I can work out for an hour on this machine on Thursdays while watching the show. But last night I watched a show called Mindgames starring Christian Slater and Steve Zahn. “The show is about two brothers who run a problem solving firm that employs solutions based on psychological manipulation.” They use psychology to change people’s minds. I thought “wow I could really use that company to change my alcoholic mind!” Maybe I will start to watch this show.

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It got me thinking how just staying sober is not gonna be enough. I need to change me. I need to find a way that I can be around people drinking and not be tempted. I need to not get mad at liquor commercials on TV. I need to not be angry that I can not drink alcohol. I am actually starting to forget the good taste of my favorite beers and wine and rums. I need to stay away from even SMELLING such beverages to avoid triggering any desire. Image

I need to start reading more than just memoirs. I need to add self-help and psychology books about changing my thoughts and fighting this disease. I need to start doing meditation. I have meditation books, music, and scented pillow I bought in Nepal. I just need to make the time to do it. I have been interested in meditation for the last two years as a treatment for my mild ADHD. Now I hope to use it to fight my boozer brain.

Mistake #52- Meeting the the friend that posted the quote at the beginning of this post:

I met her online. I can not remember if it was Friendster or Myspace or another social network. But I love traveling and I have traveled a lot to meet cyber friends in real life. So I planned a trip to visit and meet her.

That morning of my fight, I checked in at the airport, went through security, and sat down to have a coffee and bagel. I looked up at the television screen to hear a report on CNN say “Today is not a day you want to be flying anywhere.” Great. There were snowstorms all over the northeast and midwest and most airports were closed down due to weather. It pretty much screwed up flights all over the country because flights were canceled or delayed. My flight was delayed three times within an hour and half. Everyone was scrambling to get their flights changed. I always feel sorry for those people that work at airline counters during such times. I finally got a flight schedule later in the day. But even that was delayed due to mechanical problems.

My friend was cool enough and understood all the delays. Instead of arriving in the late afternoon, I arrived late at night. Her friends were at the bar. She said she will pick my up at the airport and then we will meet up with her friends. Then my bag was lost! So she brought a tshirt for me to wear out to the bar so I will feel a little fresher.

I drank at the airport all day. But when I got to the bar with my friend, I still felt way behind her friends’ state of intoxication. Also, I didn’t know anyone except for my Cyber friend and this was our first time meeting in person. So I drank a lot and drank quickly to feel more at ease and try to catch up. Lots of beers and shots. Lots of shots. I do not remember any of her friends I met. But I got super drunk. I caught up and surpassed them.

I woke up the next day in my friend’s bed. She slept on the couch. She gave me some juice and advil. I apologized for getting so drunk. Since she was a party girl, she understood. I asked if I did anything stupid.

“Oh nothing besides trying to kiss me and get me in bed with you.” She laughed and I blushed. I guess I should add that she and her friends are all lesbians.

Fat Tuesday

My friends in New Orleans are celebrating Mardi Gras. I am celebrating another day of sobriety.

I used to love making lists of party destinations. I wanted to experience the greatest festivals around the world. Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. St Patrick’s in Dublin. Full Moon parties in Thailand. Oktoberfest in Munich. I have been to some and made drunk mistakes while living it up. I now wonder if I could still attend the ones I missed and enjoy them sober.

Mistake #35- I was on a cross-country trip with a friend and we planned to stay in New Orleans for two nights. We stayed with a family she knew in Metairie, a suburb of the city. We were in luck that this was the beginning of the Mardi Gras season. The first night I went to bed early because I was tired from driving. The next night we were going to the French Quarter to celebrate!

Before we went out, I was had lunch alone and was checking Facebook on my phone. It was Valentine’s Day. I noticed that the guy I recently stopped seeing changed his FB status to “in a relationship.” We only broke up the previous week. And in the two months we dated, we never had that status. I texted him asking if that was why he wanted to stop seeing me. He replied “sort of.” I asked if he was seeing her while dating me and he said “kind of.” I was furious.

I went back to the house we were staying to get my friend and get ready for the night. I needed to get trashed. We were going to hit Bourbon Street and I was gonna forget about him. We dressed up fancy and I put on a Venetian mask that I bought that day. It was beautiful and about $25. We began to hit the bars at happy hour. I think we had dinner in there somewhere. We watched mini parades of people playing music. We went to bars that had balconies to get good views of the people.

I began “earning” beads. My fancy black dress was easy to flip down for quick flashing. I drank a lot of shots and would toast to the ex-boyfriend “FUCK HIM” with each one. He was from Los Angeles so I started to bash all Californian men. “SCREW THEM ALL!” My friend said I was pretty funny but she was worried about me cause I kept falling. And I was getting serious about earning my beads.

I woke up the next day in a hotel bed. My dress was laying on the floor next to the bed. My pile of beads (at least 30) was laying on top of my dress. I found one of my earrings on the nightstand. My Venetian mask was missing. No one was in my room. I sort of remember kissing a guy from a local university in one of the bars. I put on my dress and searched for the missing earring. It was a pretty, yellow amber one I bought in Germany. As I was searching, a guy walked in. I looked at him and tried to piece together if I knew him and what was his name. He must have noticed my confusion cause he laughed and said “A. went out to lunch. He will be back soon.” Oh yes… that was college boy’s name. I thanked him. He said something about my huge collection of beads. I gathered them up into my arms. I wrote my number and email on hotel stationery and said “if you guys find my earring, please send it to me.” I had no plans to really stay in touch with this guy. I just wanted my earring. He took the paper and said sure.

I got a taxi back to Metairie. The family was pushing their baby in a stroller on the way to see a parade. The mom laughed and said “oh the days of the walk of shame!” She actually was the same age as me. My friend filled me in more on the night. Yes, I was kissing the college guy in the bar. She wanted to leave and I refused. So she left me there. I told her about the missing earring and she said “you will never see it again nor hear from him. He used you and that is that.”

I felt ashamed but I defended myself with “I used him! I got over one guy from LA but getting under a different guy in a different L.A.”

Sometimes humor is my best defense.

Focusing on the Negative

“Sometimes the past should be abandoned, yes. Life is a journey and you can’t carry everything with you. Only the usable baggage.” ~Ha Jin

(I have no idea where that is from but a friend just posted it and I thought it went well with my blog today.)

A friend recently messaged me I should focus on the positives things about going sober instead of the negative. This lead me to try to explain the pink cloud to him. I have tried to quit drinking in the past and those times I focused on the positive. I felt wonderful. I imagined how great my life will become now that I quit. I thought of all the improvements in my life and the weight I would lose and how my relationships will become perfect.

What happens when all that doesn’t come true?

That overconfidence can be dangerous for recovery.

Alcoholics have notoriously selective memories. No matter how sickening the hangover, how humiliating the drunken behavior, how dangerous the blind-drunk drive home, we seem incapable of recalling consistently or clearly how bad things got when we drank. – “Drinking: A Love Story” Caroline Knapp

I wrote about being on a pink cloud my 9th day of sobriety. After trying to explain it to my friend, I decided to read up more about it myself. I found this website and it’s description of the pink cloud to be interesting: Alcoholrehab.com:

People can feel cheated when the super highs of early recovery are replaced by more modest emotions.

(I actually added that link to my blog because I wanted to save it and I really wish I had the money to go to a rehab program in Thailand. Do they allow scuba diving as part of the program?)

I am writing this blog for my recovery. Some people might read it and see I am worse of a drunk than they are. Some might read it and think my mistakes weren’t that bad. Others might relate to my stories. Some readers might have no problem with alcohol at all and do not understand my blabbings. But I am writing about 365 times that I do not want to forget. Moments that I want to reflect on when I think just one glass of wine will be okay. I have already forgotten a lot of the incidences. Or buried them in my mind. Journals and stories from friends are helping me.

Thanks for reading.

Mistake # 20- NYC costume party: I was finishing a 30 days drinking break. The end to my break was going to coincide with a trip to New York City to visit a friend. People teased me for picking an expensive city to start drinking again. My break was over on Thursday night. No problems. I went out with a friend for a few beers and conversation. She went home at a reasonable hour and I went to another bar. I drank alone until 1am. I drank again on Friday with another friend. Again no problems. Then Saturday, I went to a costume party. I started drinking in the afternoon that day. Beers with a late lunch. Lots of beers. I picked up some beers for “pre-drinking” in the apartment before the party. I was drunk on the subway to the party. I was very trashed at the party. And I continued drinking overpriced rum and cokes.

That night I met a guy that I thought of as a small, internet celebrity. I have his YouTube videos saved on my account. I had a small crush on him. I have no idea what I said or happened, but anytime I have seen that guy since that night, he avoids me. I joked and defended myself by saying that I am not a stalker. Just a drunk.

I woke up the next day at my friend’s apartment laying next to a purple skirt. It was a long, shiny skirt. It had a ripped zipper. I asked him where did it come from? He said he found me at the party passed out on a couch hugging it. He has no idea how I acquired it. The blackouts are baggage I will not miss.

Allergies

Early sobriety has the quality of vigorous exercise, as though each repetition of a painful moment, gone through without a drink, serves to build up emotional muscle. -Caroline Knapp “Drinking: A Love Story”

I read some more of my journals last night. I had to have a tissue box next to me because I kept crying. There are so many stupid things I did. I hurt my mom and others I love so much. But my love for alcohol prevented me from stopping the cycle. I know a lot of people who try to go through life without any regrets. For me, most of my regrets were subdued stupidity. I chucked my regrets off as drunk mishaps. Misfortunes. Mistakes.

I was eating some chocolates and read the allergy warning label on the side of the box.  “This product manufactured on equipment also used in the production of products containing Peanuts and Tree Nuts.” I was glad I do not have nut allergies. The candies were clusters of chocolate and coconut. I thought of the people who are allergic to coconut and felt sorry them. I could not imagine being allergic to strawberries or bananas because I love those also. There have been incidences when I was traveling in  a foreign country and ate whatever mysterious food was offered to me. It made me grateful that I did not have any allergies or dietary restrictions.

Maybe I should start considering alcohol as my allergy. Blackouts are my reaction instead of rash or anaphylactic shock.

Mistake # 18- It was autumn 2003. I went out with some friends on a Friday or Saturday to a late night gay club. It was the kind of place that stays open until 3 or 4am. We usually got there a little before 11pm to pay reduced cover charge. I drank a lot. Most likely I drank rum and cokes. My friends said they lost me at some point on the dance floor.

I woke up in the emergency room. I was freezing laying there on a stretcher. I had a hospital sheet on top of me  to try to keep me warm. I was wearing a skimpy tank top and short skirt. It was the kind of top that one does not wear a bra. I had on pantyhose but they were all ripped. The male nurse asked me if I knew where I was. I recognized the logo on his badge. He told me I passed out in the club and was unresponsive. I was alone. The club called 911. My purse was missing so I had no identity on me. They did a drug screen and it was negative. I am not sure if they ever told me if they did a BAC level (I would assume they did) but if they told me the results, I have forgotten it.

He asked me if I knew how to get home. I told him I could get the subway but I did not have any money. He gave me a subway token and let me take the sheet to keep warm. I must have looked like a top prize sitting on that subway seat with smudge mascara, tossed hair, and a white sheet draped around me at 8am. I lost a thin jacket at the club in addition to my purse with cell phone, wallet and house keys.

I had to go to my sister’s house to get my spare set of keys. Then I had to have my locks changed to be safe. My dad was at her house watching TV. He said nothing about my messy appearance. I assume he did not want details.

When my dad had cancer, he went to that same hospital for his treatments. He lived with me his last few months of life. After he died, I found a sheet with the hospital logo. I was not sure if my dad brought it home after one of his admissions or if it was from my ER visit. I kept it and just told myself it was from him. I refused to be reminded of my embarrassing trip to that hospital.