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.

Quick and Easy

I worked with a woman last night that annoyed me. I should have realized it upon our first encounter but I like to try to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Throughout the shift, I was talking with another coworker about my travels and scuba diving stories. This other woman, who admitted she is scared of public transportation, kept telling me I am crazy and insane. “Oh my GOD if I saw a shark, I would just DIE! Not even shit myself. I would just DIE!” I told her I doubt she would see the shark because I doubt she could even get past the basic skills for scuba diving with that attitude. But when I mentioned any other places I visited, she said “oh I would NEVER do that! Why on earth would you go there?” I know not everyone understands why I love travel so much and the way I travel, but I felt insulted by her reactions. As if since she would not do the same, there was something wrong with someone else wanting to do it.

She was also loud. And she got mad when she thought my clients were listening in on her stories. I think people 3 floors down could listen to her stories.

I know. I should not judge nor allow her to bother me. I just really hope I do not have to work with her again over the next 3 months when I finish this contract. But next time, I plan to ask her to lower her voice.

Our first encounter was in the break room at the coffee machines. We have a Keurig machine and regular coffee pot in there. She entered and complained that no one made a pot of coffee. She was about to return to the main room to ask someone (rather than ask me) when I offered to make her a pot. “Oh you know how?” I guess she did not expect the new girl to know. So I made a pot and I showed her how. She said she doubts she will remember that next time she is here. (She only works here a few times a month.)  I felt she was lazy.

I mentioned that I do not like Keurig pods. She asked if the reason is due to the cost of them. I said “the cost. The waste. Many reasons.” She proceeded to tell me how they are great for single people like herself who only want a cup of coffee rather than making a whole pot. They are convenient. I did not go into a lecture of the waste of plastic nor the risks of the plastic seeping into the cup of coffee and causing cancer. Nor that using the pods is equal to spending $50 per pound of coffee. Again I thought she was lazy. How hard is it to make 1 or 2 cups in a pot of coffee? I just smiled, poured myself a cup, and thought of how society usually prefers quick and easy in so many areas of life.

And it got me thinking of my sobriety. How I want to just have more sober time. How I want to just get over this alcoholic thing. How I want to stop thinking of my problem finally. I want the convenience of not having an addiction. I want a quick and easy solution to this alcoholism.

*pause… went to an AA meeting…*

The first half hour of this meeting, I was bored. The meeting started with a guy saying he did the steps, he is having a rough time now, but he does not want to go through the steps again. The first few speakers talked about “work the steps” and the typical sayings I hear that suggest “do what we say or you will fail.” But then a guy started to speak about taking time to do the steps. And another guy said he has been sober 16 years and has not done all the steps yet. One guy said how back in the 1970s, people he met in AA were hardasses that shoved the steps down your throats. Now he thinks society is too much looking for a quick and easy fix so he suggests taking it slow. Just stay sober today. Another guy said he suggests the first step for the first year and then worry about the rest. He did not even have a sponsor for a year. I was so happy and amazed how the topic seemed to switch to WHAT MY BLOG was about today!

I left feeling good. Better than most of the meetings leave me feeling. I do not feel guilty for not going to daily meetings nor rushing to get a sponsor. There was one woman at the meeting and she gave me her number. She asked me if I had a sponsor and I said “not yet.” She replied “still feeling your way around and getting to know people?” I smiled and said “exactly.” She was the first woman who I felt did not pressure me. I told her how difficult it was to get to meetings because of my work schedule. She said she understood. She told me to give her a call if I ever wanted to go to a meeting together. Wow. Usually the women give me their number and say call if I need to talk and I always think “I have friends to call if I need to talk.” This woman was offering what I started going to meetings for: socializing support.

While I still need to work at staying sober, I need to stop rushing it. Sobriety is not fast food.

That crap is bad for you anyway.

sobriety-1

Mistake # 72- I have a history of rushing relationships. I always said it was because I move around so much. I do not have the time to “take things slow” because I am never in one place long enough. But maybe my alcoholism rushed the relationships? Maybe I have always tried to do everything quick and easy?

This was from my journal July 2006 after dating a guy for 3 weeks. I will refer to him as Tall Boyfriend.

 

Last night I went to [Tall Boyfriend]’s friends BBQ. It was fun. We drank and hung out talking. I got along with everyone. Then [Tall Boyfriend] was feeling antsy to go to bars. I don’t understand the need to go out and pay for alcohol when we had tons of it there? I was comfortable and would have rather just stayed at the house. But instead of large group of us went to some bars. First place was a bit pricey. We all had one drink and then left to another of [Tall Boyfriend]’s hangouts. It was fun. At least I thought so. I took LOADS of photos of me and his friends. But… turns out I flashed the bar at one point. It apparently pissed off his friend. I didn’t realise this until he told me this morning. I asked him why she was pissed. He waited a bit before answering and said “oh I think just because she wasn’t center of attention.” But he seemed to be acting different today. Last night, he didn’t put his arms around me nor his legs over mine while sleeping like he usually does. I asked him this morning if he slept well, and he said “yes, and I know you definitely slept well!” He said I was trashed last night. Yes, I was, but I’ve been worse. The night he met me I was worse! So today we sat in his place while he played online and I did the dishes. I left my car at his friend’s place. My glasses were in my car. I took out my contacts during the night to avoid sleeping with them. So I was blind hanging out at his place. I just felt he was distant. Then when I asked him what time we are going to the marina to watch the fireworks, he tells me after 8 because he has a BBQ to go to that was RSVP only and he was invited before he met me so I can’t go with him. Sounds reasonable. But why didn’t he tell me about this BBQ when I asked him the other day if we were gonna spend the 4th together? To me it sounds like it was someone who was out with us last night and doesn’t want me there. So I feel I have already screwed up by making some of his friends not like me.


We went to his car to take me to mine, but his starter wasn’t turning over. So he got me a cab. He gave me a $20. I told him I felt like a cheap prostitute. I got the cab to my car. Got my glasses. And came home.

Work called and left a voice mail asking me to come work extra tonight. I texted [Tall Boyfriend] to tell him I might go in to give him time away from me before I annoy him too much. His reply was “That’s up to you. I know it sux this bbq was rsvp. what time would you go in.”


I replied back with just “11pm” That was 30 min ago and still no reply from him.

So he went from telling me the other day he was falling for me to pushing me away because… I’m not sure why. Because I flashed the bar and pissed off one of his friends?

I did not see my constant getting trashed nor rushing things as a problem back then. Flashing bars was normal?

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.

One more week until my first milestone!

I know this sober thing is to be taken one day at at time. But I am excited for my 30th day of sobriety next week! It really should not be too amazing. I have done it before. I have also cheated in the past on my 30 day drinking breaks.

In 2011, I met with a friend that was sober for seven months. He did it on his own after spending a night in jail. We talked about my problem. We both just came from a festival where I woke up one night in the medical tent. I had an IV in my hand to rehydrate me. The story of how I got there is confusing. I either fell off a moving vehicle or I was found passed out drunk. I had bruises on my legs. My friend suggested I try to stop drinking for 30 days. He said just do 30 days and then decide if I wanted to continue. I made the promise to myself and him.

After 28 days of being sober, I was invited to join some people for happy hour. I was in a foreign country. I like meeting new people. I did not want to be left out. And as I sat down, I decided that 28 days was a lunar month and that was a good enough dry month. I ordered a few cocktails. I ordered a lot of cocktails. The three people I met drank a lot less than I did. I think they actually left me at the table and I drank until closing time. I almost missed my bus the next day.

I did a 30 day drinking break last year that ended with me getting trashed at a club and blacking out.

I tried a 30 day drinking break last fall that was interrupted by a music festival. I modified that break by saying “well I didn’t say 30 days IN  A ROW.” I got drunk at the end of the festival and made a fool out of myself to a man I loved. We ended the romantic relationship.

Last October, I received some possible negative news in relation to my career. It was an indirect result from drinking mistakes in the past. I did not make a 30 day drinking break then. Instead, I just said “not gonna drink for awhile.” Then I decided “not gonna drink until New Years Eve.” I couldn’t imagine not getting drunk for New Years. I hated 2013 and was looking forward to celebrating a new year. But I thought not drinking for 2 months would be a sign to me that I could control it. I thought it would earn me good karma points.

I did not make it. I drank December 29. Since my last drink before that was October 28, I modified that promise with “well I have been sober two months. That is good enough.” I was in Thailand. I did not want to leave the country without having a Mai Thai.

I drank a lot the next three weeks. Made more mistakes. Put myself in danger. And then I got word that the possible negative news for my career was more real. I felt that was my “rock bottom.” I could not imagine my career ending. It is the most positive thing I have.

I decided to quit. After one more night of getting drunk. I had a bottle of my favorite rum to empty before I go sober. I made one more mistake that night. And three days later, I had my last drink.

30 days will be the first milestone in this new life. I woke up today thinking about it and got worried. I know I can stay sober until February 20th. It is the days after it that scare me. Staying sober until 60 days. Then 90s days. Then complete the 100 Day Challenge. I am still scared to tell a lot of people.

And I woke up mad. I hate not being able to drink like most people. I drank to try to fit in. Will I fit in anywhere now besides an AA meeting?

Then I read a quote I wrote in my journal in April 2012. It was from a biography about Johnny Depp.

I’m not sure I’m capable of leaving behind a personal message. But if I did, I hope it would be that it’s okay to be different from the crowd. In fact, it’s really good to be different from the crowd, and that we really should question ourselves before we pass judgement on someone who is different to us.

-Johnny Depp

So I am different. And this 30 days of sobriety will be different from my drinking breaks in the past. I really need to take this one day at a time. One mistake at a time.

Mistake # 16- The mystery of waking up in the medical tent at that festival with an IV in my arm. To this day, friends from that festival tease me about falling off vehicles.

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.