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.

Dignity

Even though I feel I am hidden from most temptations to drink while at my mom’s house, I do not feel this is a supportive environment. She is supportive of me not drinking, but I think she still believes it only a bad habit. She used to say that my dad could have stopped drinking if he loved his family enough. I told her about my recent argument with my friend about alcoholism being a disease. She asked if I actually believe it is a disease. I use delirium tremens as evidence that it is a medical problem.

Her boyfriend makes me feel uncomfortable. I am in my late 30s but I feel like a teenager here. He scolds me for leaving a glass on the table or my box of spices on the counter. Before my mom arrived Saturday, he told me to clean up my mess. I had a few bottles of sauces next to the stove to make her dinner that night. He criticized me for drinking too much coffee the other day and then makes fun of me for eating organic “crap.” I know he looks down on me for my drinking problem. It is my defect. He does not like me on “his” computer but does not want WiFi in the house. I was typing my blog yesterday and he stood behind me. I had to close the page.

There is a news story now about a drunk woman that tried to make sexual advances on a plane. The plane had to make an emergency landing in Minneapolis. I have a few friends joking that it sounds like me on the video. I know they are only teasing and not trying to be mean, but I am hurt. I guess they view me as the fun, party girl that always drinks too much and sometimes out of control. Sometimes when I admit I had DUIs, people start to share their close-calls and admit how often they drove home drunk but did not get caught. Then they want to toast with a alcoholic beverage to “not getting caught.”

I went to see the movie “The Monuments Men” today. Three thoughts floated through my head most of the movie. 1) I should not have drank all that tea because I had to pee. 2) I wish I brought Advil because my knee was aching from an injury I sustained while drunk last October. And 3), every time they drink in the movie, I wanted booze. They had champagne and wine and toasted with some mystery beverage in cups that I imagined was a good lager. They mentioned whiskey and cognac throughout the movie. I mourned that I will never be able to taste any of that again.

But there was one character in the movie, Donald Jeffries, who was the drunk of the group. There were a few lines joking about it. He was sober. How long? Since this morning. But then he redeemed his drunken reputation by helping save great masterpieces. There was a letter in the movie that said something about going on the mission to save art helped restored his dignity.

That word stuck in my head. That is one more thing I lost. Dignity. My friends laugh at my mishaps. My mom’s boyfriend doesn’t seem to trust or like me in their house. If I go back to drinking, my mom will just see me as weak. I imagine my exes describing me as a crazy drunk. Dictionary.com defines dignity as “bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect…” I do not have self-respect. I struggle for self-love at times. I loved alcohol more than I love myself.

I know that this path to sobriety will not be easy and will come with it’s own problems. But maybe I can find dignity again.

Mistake # 14- Halloween parade: It is my favorite holiday of the year. I made an awesome costume that year. I spent a week creating a bird costume. Then at the beginning of the parade, I poured a bottle of “oil” all over me. The “oil” was pancake syrup with black food coloring. I was an oil spill victim. It was amazing but I was very drunk. I carried a water bottle full of rum and Diet Coke. I had a 2 liter bottle and a small bottle of rum in my bag for refills. My friends were wearing costumes with white bottoms so they ordered me to march in the parade far from them so the “oil” would not drip on them. I was stopped at one point by a news crew for an interview that never aired. I don’t remember being stopped but my friends said it happened. I must have been too trashed to be shown on TV. I do not remember the end of the night. Maybe my friend I was staying with came to meet me? Maybe I took a taxi to his place? I am lucky I was not driving that night. My favorite holiday but I was blacked out for most of it. In fact, I think the only Halloweens I fully remember are ones when I work.

Been a Long Time Coming….

March 24, 2002 Journal entry:

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

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

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

Enough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Temptation: Reading with wine

There are so many blogs about recovery!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drinking Problem and Problems from Drinking

Sometimes I feel all my problems in life are related to my drinking. But I know that I will still have problems even with a sober life. I do not think I ever used booze to hide from my problems. I mostly drank for the taste, the feeling, and the social lubrication. Maybe I was hiding from my lack of confidence.

I started a new job this week. But due to miscommunication between companies and missing paperwork, they delayed my start date. This is very frustrating because I am very broke. (I guess this is a great time to go sober rather than spending money on alcohol.) I can not help but want to blame the delay on my drinking problem. The only paperwork that could be associated with my addiction would be the background check. I was told last week it was cleared but the facility said they did not have the results as of Monday. They had to extend the current employee so I can not start until the 18th.

My background check has prevented me from one other job a few years ago. I started at that facility and was canceled after one day. The guy in charge of approving background checks returned from vacation and rescinded my contract. I guess whoever covered for him while he was away cleared me but he retracted it when he discovered I had two DUIs. I cried and cursed myself and the facility. But I was lucky and found another job nearby starting the next week. It worked out well. So no reason then for me to consider going sober.

There was other paperwork missing from this job. So even if they had the background check results on Monday, they still would have delayed me. I just can not help but think my drinking is the root of all my problems. Most of my relationships were plagued by drunken fights. I would get trashed and cry and doubt the person loved me. I must have seemed very loveable at that point?

Since I have an unpaid week off, I came to stay with my mom and her boyfriend. I already paid rent and moved into a room in a house near my new job. But since I am broke now, I figured I could at least get free meals at my mom’s. The only problem here is her wine rack is a temptation.

I am going to spend my week reading and writing. I am going to continue to try to blog daily. I am wondering if I will be able to keep this up daily for a year. I have been checking out other blogs about going sober. Some only lasted a few weeks. I started to follow a few. I just signed up for the 100 Day Challenge. I also plan to read Caroline Knapp’s “Drinking: A Love Story.” I have 10 years of my personal journals to read. I also just received “Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety” by Sacha Z. Scoblic in the mail. I hope to read that this week. And I plan to reach out to the other bloggers. Maybe I will check out an AA meeting.
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Mistake #10: I was dating this guy for about 10 months. It was a long distance relationship. And I mean very long distance as in across the Atlantic Ocean. I went to visit him and we had plans to travel for a week. It was his 30th birthday at the beginning of the trip and mine at the end. The trip was nice and fun. But on my second to last night of visiting, back at his house, we got into a horrible drunk fight. I do not remember what it was about. We were in the living room and my shouting woke up his housemates.

I woke up on the couch with a wicked hangover the next day. He brought me breakfast and I asked what happened. He couldn’t believe that I did not remember any of the fighting. He said I kept telling him I hated him and I didn’t trust him. I kept saying he did not love me and he had no idea what he did for me to make those accusations. He most likely did not deserve it. It was a little drunk demon running in my mind telling me I was worthless saying those things. He said I puked and then passed out on the couch. (That explained the trashcan he put by the couch.)

I spent that last day not drinking and profusely apologizing. I stayed in his bedroom most of it because I was too embarrassed to face his housemates. We went out for dinner where I drank water. I left the next day to return to the states.

He dumped me via email three weeks later. He said it was because he knew I wanted marriage one day but he did not. I really think the monster that appeared in his living room was why he made his decision.