my Dad

My Dad

Today I visited my dad. Well, I visited his grave. It was difficult to find in the snow. I am not sure when was the last time I went to the cemetery. Maybe 2011? He died ten years ago from cancer.

My dad was a drunk. But he never drank at home. He would go to a bar after work. Then he would stumble in later that night and pass out in his bed. Sometimes he would come home early if my mom asked him to pick up some Chinese dinner from the place next to the bar. On the weekends he would be home watching television or mowing the lawn, but never drinking booze.

I was never close to my father growing up. We actually preferred when he was at the bar. On weekends or the nights he came home early and sober, he would yell at us to keep quiet. We couldn’t talk loud or laugh loud. He would ask if we finished our homework and if we said yes, he would tell us to go to bed. Even as early at 6pm. We grew up with that joke but it still felt like a threat. When he was home watching TV, it meant we could not watch our shows. James Gardner and “Rockford Files” will always remind me of my dad preventing me from watching cartoons.

I knew my dad had many DUIs. It never stopped him from driving to work or to the bar. Both were within a mile drive from the house. He was in a car accident that put him in intensive care when I was a baby. He almost died but it did not stop him. I remember my mom taking him to his DUI classes once a week the summer I was 9 or 10 years old. I remember once seeing flashing lights outside our front window and witness a cop pulling over my dad’s car across the street. I am not sure when that occurred and my mom is not sure either. When I was 20 and visiting my parent’s house, I answered the phone and my drunk dad asked me to pick him up at the police station. I do not know what number DUI that was. I do not know how many he accrued. I am not sure if he ever had a legal driver license when he died.

My dad and I got closer after my parents’ divorce. I would visit him a few times a year. Neither of us drank alcohol at his house or around each other as adults. He would buy big bottles of Diet Coke for me when I visited. He drank regular Coke. Or we would drink ice tea. I went out for New Years Eve once when visiting him and he warned me not to drive drunk because there were a lot of cops out that night.

We got even closer in the six months before he died. I went with him to all his doctor appointments. He told me about a lot of his regrets and worries. He said he was worried what my siblings would do after he died. He said he was not worry about me but warned me to watch my drinking. I do not know if he felt guilty. I think he was scared.

Mistake # 4- I went out with a friend and got very drunk. He and I got in a fight that night. I spent the rest of the night drinking at home and crying. I was hungover and slightly drunk the next day when my brother appeared at my bedroom door. He was driving my dad and I to one of my dad’s appointments. I sat in between my brother and dad in the front of the pick-up truck. I must have reeked of beer. I kept falling asleep in the doctor’s waiting room. The only thing my dad said was “out late?” I think the appointment was an xray or MRI. It was some diagnostic test because I was glad I did not have to write down any information about my dad’s condition. But my dad was mad. I apologized but was never able to get over feeling guilty.

21st birthday

Today I have been driving around the city in which I spent most of my twenties living. I have driven past a lot of memories, both good and bad. I made many drunk mistakes during those seven years. I do not remember if I ever attempted to go sober back then.

Did I believe I had a problem?  Was I under the illusion that I could control it?  Or did I just think it was a part of being young?  I enjoyed my party life style. I thought any other type of life was boring and not worth living. And I was still at a point where the good times outnumbered the mistakes. Or that is what I remember now. Maybe once I start reading through my journals, I will recall more problems than I wish to admit.

I thought of stopping in the 24 hour cafe that I used to go to drunk. Everyone in that cafe was drunk between 2am and 4am. I guess we were lucky cops did not sit and wait to pull over everyone as we left the parking lot. I once took my mom there during the day and she agreed the coffee was great. I felt proud that the place was good even when sober.

The place where I got all my body piercings has been changed to a mobile phone store. I was always sober when I got pierced. Was piercing just another way to fit in with the parties? I think everyone I knew in those days had at least a tongue piercing. I started to get rid of mine in my 30s. Now I only have simple ear piercings.

I am eating at a restaurant that I used to consider as a fancy date place for my ex-husband and I. Restaurants are when I feel I am testing my sobriety.  I am so used to a glass of wine with my meals. And I honestly could have one or two and be fine. For now. But even if I have only 1 or 2 glasses every other night for a month, I will eventually go back to 1 or 2 bottles a night. I ask for a glass of water and return the wine menu to the waitress right away to avoid the temptation.

Mistake #3: my 21st birthday. My first time getting drunk was when I was 18. (I might add that as a separate mistake later on.) I actually think the law in America should be 18 years as the drinking age. If you can join the military and die for your country, you should be old enough to have a beer. By the time I was 21, I gained a lot of drinking experience at frat parties, other college parties, military bases and trips to Tijuana.

I was married at the age of 20. I tried to get in a bar once with my husband with a fake ID. The bouncer recognized it was fake. I kept insisting it was real. He threatened to show the ID to a cop across the street. He gave it back and told me not to bother with any of the other bars along that street cause they will keep the ID. I was mad at my husband for not sticking up for me. He remained quiet by my side the whole time. I began feeling anger at a society that would let me be married but not let me in a bar. We left. He picked up beers from the store and we got drunk at home instead. (Can someone get in trouble for contributing to a minor for getting their spouse drunk?)

So my 21st felt like it was opening doors to freedom. No more trying to get served with a fake ID and fearing it failing. No more having to sit home. I could enter the world of party people legally. I never foresaw all the other fears and problems that would develop over the next seventeen years.

I do not remember much of my 21st birthday. We had dinner. I had wine with dinner. Then we bar hopped. I remember going to the bar where that bouncer turned me away. I got free birthday shots. I drank mixed drinks. I think back than I drank Sex on the Beach mostly. I sort of remember going to another bar. My husband said we went to several bars that night. And then I got sick when we got home. He cleaned it up. It was the beginning of him cleaning up many of my drunk nights.

A lot of people have told me that not remembering my 21st birthday is a sign of a good birthday.

Pink Cloud

9 days sober.

And I am on my pink cloud. I have heard this term to describe the wonderful feelings in the beginning. I have been fantasizing about my sobriety.  I have been contemplating how I am going to announce my 30 days. I have been thinking of how wonderful I will feel when I hit my 90 days. I think I have only gone 90 days sober once in my twenty years of drinking. And I crave the congratulatory remarks when I finally hit one year. I am imagining all the “likes” I will get when I announce it on Facebook.

I do the same when any new relationship starts.

I also keep telling myself of how my life will get better. Of all the things I can accomplish now. I will read more. Exercise more. My biggest passion in life is traveling. I told a friend tonight that I will be able to visit her more now that I will not be wasting my time in bars. She, who has also battled with drinking in the past, said “so you THINK!” A warning?

I do have this blog to keep up. I will put that on my list of goals. And I will travel. My drinking never before stopped my traveling. Ok maybe it has made me miss flights or buses. And I wasted days hungover instead of seeing sights. And I did skip out on a promise trip to visit a friend’s new baby last summer because a party came up that I “could NOT miss.” But I promise to try to visit more friends.

I listened to the audio book “Living Sober Sucks” the past two days. Tonight he suggested not telling most people why I am not drinking. He said to make up other excuses rather than “I have a drinking problem”. He said to say I have to drive (but honestly, that excuse does not work because people try to say “oh just one drink!”) He said to claim I am allergic to alcohol. People are not comfortable with that excuse. I agree.

I have already dealt with people not understanding.  I have had many friends try to convince me I just need to NOT get trashed. As if I could control it. I never plan to black out. I never plan on the mistakes I made. I have met people who don’t believe blackouts are real. They think drunks make up blackouts as an excuse to forget what they did. I guess if you never experienced one, it is hard to believe a person can look perfectly in control and functioning and not realize their brain went to sleep already. I used to joke that I wanted to install a drunk cam on my head to remember my night.

I think if people urge me to drink, I am going to say I have liver damage or a liver enzyme issue. If I start throwing out fancy medical terms, maybe it will sound plausible. And I never know. I might actually have damaged my liver over the years.

Mistake #2- a few months ago: I was visiting friends in another city. I had a flight at 6pm. I went on a lunch date that day. I thought I would leave before 3pm, get my bags, and head to airport by 4pm. Lunch started with margaritas. By 3pm, I called the airline and changed the flight to the next morning. I paid $150 to change the flight just so I could continue my drunk afternoon.  The date by that point included the guy and I sharing a table with a drunk women in her 60s. The three of us went to a jazz bar. I switched to rum and cokes. My date disappeared.  I got mad and called friends to come pick me up at 8pm. (Later the date told me he went to his house one block away to charge his phone and came back but I was gone.) I do not remember much at my friends’ place except them harassing me to tell them the time of my morning flight to set the alarm for me. I do not know if I continued drinking there. Probably. I woke up at 4am still drunk. I was still drunk when I arrived home that afternoon. Wasted that day and money.