Wanna wrestle?

We recently met a few friends out for dinner. We see them once, twice a year. It was a really nice restaurant so I figured it would be a mellow night. I decided going into it that my response to the question “Why aren’t you drinking” (if it came up) would be “I don’t drink anymore.” And when the follow up question “Why not?” would come I’d say “I felt like it just didn’t fit in my life anymore. I do a lot of hot yoga (hydration needed), the hangovers were getting hard to shake, etc.” So basically just be totally honest.

The dinner started well. Not a whole lot of attention was paid to the sober one. As my diet coke’s/teas kept arriving to match their drinks, little rumblings of how it actually probably works well because there’s always a designated driver on hand started. Then the conversation started shifting into how they would all like to quit for all the same reasons as me, but they felt like they might be bored. So we talked about what I actually do with my time these days. This is where things started to get unstable. You know, that moment in drinky time when things can go really good, really bad, or get really interesting. Folks, it got interesting. Had dinner ended it here it would have been perfect. But a decision was made to hang out at the bar at this very, very nice restaurant.

Let’s start with couple number one: Ted and Lucy. Lucy at this point is wasted. She gets help from Ted over to the bar and orders another drink. She requests a round of applause from the bar for my sobriety. I think one person joined her in a clap. She then decides to start asking people to arm wrestle her because despite her size (she weighs 100lbs. soaking wet)  she can kick anyone’s ass. When nobody would wrestle her she started pinching the ass of another friend, Mike, who ran away like a school boy. Before long they were literally running around this very nice, demure bar. Her attempting to pinch his butt and him running yelling “No don’t!”. I thought we’d get kicked out but nope, not yet. When the running stopped she began lifting her shirt to expose her abs (and bra) and extended an open invite to the bar for anyone to hit her in the stomach. She can take it! Mike then lifted her up above his head in a show of strength and twirled her around. Ted whispered in my ear, “I think I’m going to quit drinking tomorrow. Can I kiss you?”.

Couple number two: Mike and Lisa. These two are less eventful but worth mentioning. Lisa wasn’t drinking that night. She never gave a reason. She sat as far away from us as possible and only gave yes or no answers. So much for a sober buddy! Mike drilled me on why I wasn’t drinking. He was enthusiastically curious about it and didn’t argue any points. He mentioned that there were several times when my husband and I were out with them that he was concerned about who was driving home. He also confessed that he had a DUI a few years back and almost lost his license. He had the money to fight the DUI but it scared him into not drinking and driving anymore. I think this explains was why Lisa was sober and cranky.

My husband: He was pretty well lit but well (ish) mannered. When my sobriety came up he supported it with solid enthusiasm.

At this otherwise quiet and elegant bar, we brought a lot of very loud, foul mouth talking. A lot of ribbing about topics like race, gender, religion and politics. A lot of drinks were ordered. Bottles of wine, vodka’s on the rocks, martini’s. I honestly don’t know how anyone was standing. And then I realized, Ted wasn’t standing at all. Ted was asleep. Despite all that another round was ordered and sheer, total shock shot through this group of friends when they were told they were shut off. “What? We haven’t had THAT much to drink!”. Then the insane happened. Another decision was made to go to another bar. “It’s only 9 o’clock!”. Mike had been announcing that since probably 9 o’clock but at this point it was more like 11 o’clock. They insisted on shaming/carrying Ted into this new bar and ordered another round that they didn’t drink. Apparently the ride over and movement helped them realize that they were done for the night.

Lisa and I dropped off Ted and Lucy at their condo. When Ted got out of the car he rolled down a hill off the side of his driveway and into a neighbors front yard. These people are in their late 40’s, early 50’s. You’d think I was talking about kids in their 20’s who just started navigating drinking.

We got home safely. I made myself a hot tea and laughed about the night. I had fun. I honestly had fun. It was entertaining. I was happy to be the DD, and boy was I thankful I wasn’t Lucy. On any other night I would have been Lucy. Hands down. No doubt about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I an alcoholic?

It’s almost the same as asking, “Do I have a valid reason to stop drinking?”. Anyone who quits drinking must be an alcoholic. We can’t fathom anyone voluntarily quitting unless for religious reasons or ….well, I can’t think of another reason. I know there are websites to help give people excuses as to why they’re not drinking when in a social setting. Those are always comical. I personally never stopped drinking because of a medication I was on or because I was detoxing. Our inner desire is to quit otherwise we wouldn’t be asking the question at all. I never ask myself “Am I addicted to laughing?” even in the face of many people saying “You sure laugh a lot.”

At the time I started asking myself the question “Am I an alcoholic?” I really just wanted a valid reason to quit. Please dear God let me be an alcoholic so I can I quit and be done with this! On the other hand, the concept of simply saying “I’m an alcoholic” seemed like total bullshit. I felt stuck. I know people who could quit drinking today and the world would give a huge sigh of relief. I wasn’t in that category. I was in the “Do you hate us or yourself? Why would you quit?” category. I also had a lot of guilt. How would this affect my social life with my husband? How would my friends feel? Would my dog be sad that I wasn’t passing out next to him early and sleeping in super late? Nothing about quitting was centered on me other than I knew I was ready to kiss it goodbye.

Alcoholics don’t put themselves first. Ever. They complain, get pissed off, feel sorry for themselves, feel overwhelmed, overreact, feel alone in this world with their mounds of problems, feel responsible for everyone else’s happiness while failing miserably at making anyone happy, but they will not put themselves first. It’s really not about how much they drink. It’s about how little they put into themselves. My quiz for “Are you an alcoholic” goes more like this:

Do you make yourself a priority?
Do you have any hobbies that you regularly enjoy?
Do you exercise?
Do you make time for yourself in way that makes you feel good?
Do you spend time enjoying your family, warts and all?
Do you feel like you’re good at your job?
Do you smile/laugh on a regular basis?
Have you challenged yourself recently to do something new and exciting?

If you answered YES to most of those questions then you’re probably not an alcoholic and probably not even taking this quiz. If you answered NO to all of them, put the bottle down and start taking time for you. It’s your life to live. Get out of the bottle and live it.

For the record, it’s day 131. Spelled backwards that’s 131.

So, round about day 120 I was feeling pretty messed up. Nothing I could peg really. My self convo went a bit like this:

“I feel ….what’s the word? Blasé? I hate that word.”

“Why did I spend so much on that camera? I don’t even use it.”

“Why does my dog keep throwing his toy on the floor and then stare at me? Honestly dog. Not now….”

“God you’re annoying.”

“Tired of that song. This one sucks, I don’t know why I ever liked it. I’ll try a the new hits station and see what kids are listening to these days. Omg, bad idea. What is wrong with music? Was any of it ever any good?”

You catch my drift here. I lost my mojo. All my vim, vigor and vitality about being sober shrunk up into a stinking pile of stink. I contemplated boozing it up for a week just to remind myself about how shitty it all was and then I could rebound and feel amazed again. Don’t worry, I didn’t do it. I realized that all the feelings I had when I was drinking were starting to creep back in. My old habits started creeping back in. Sleeping in late. Ignoring my responsibilities. Feeling bad about sleeping in late and ignoring my responsibilities. Guess what? I was depressed. I was in the throws of a full out fucking depression. Son of a bitch! And I never swear. But holy shit.

So what did I do? I thought about it.  I realized that I didn’t really lose any friends when I quit drinking. I never had any friends! I had people I knew and hung out with once or twice a year. But not friends. So, ya. That’s pretty shitty right? Then, I got out my shovel and went deeper. I don’t have any friends because I don’t like my life and I don’t want anyone taking a peek at my life. Is that bummer city, or what?  So now, now I’m getting out my rototiller and I’m tearing shit up. What do we have here? Well, I actually do like my life now. Sober. I would like someone to take a peek. I’ve made a lot of progress emotionally in 120 days and I don’t want to go back to square one. I’m depressed because I’ve realized I’m a social butterfly with no social life. I created that by being introvert, keeping everyone in my life at arms distance, and making alcohol my very best friend. It’s on me to grow out of this spot. I’ve worked a lot on the inside and around me. Now it’s time to take the next step and start sharing it with people. I might creep someone people out by trying to initiate new friendships. Kind of an awkward thing, isn’t it? Always has been. Even in school when it was normal to try and build friendships. Anyway, I can do this. I don’t want my life centered around my home, job, and family. I’m ready to expand. I want friends goddamit. Friends I shall have! Wish me luck on my journey. I’ll be sure to pack lots of snacks. I have a feeling it’ll be a long one (that’s what she said).

 

 

 

 

Same trestle, different day

My hands are dangling heavily off the side of the trestle. The warm air rises and finds its way through my toes. It tosses my hair around and long strands reach for the sun. I can hear my friends nearby laughing and yelling, “Jump Katie, jump!”. Everything feels free and easy. Everything. The water runs smoothly. The trees bend down to feel the warm current tickle their branches and tug playfully at their leaves. My back starts to sizzle from the heat of the sun. A true indication that it’s time to take the plunge. The water below is so clear I think I can see a sand bar relaxing at the rivers bottom. I feel safe.

It’s February now. My arms are still dangling over the side but not with as much weight. My hair is held down by a black beanie someone left at my house years ago. The wind carries my scarf up and tickles my nose. The dry cold air is ironically making my nose wet and my eyes water. A voice inside me yells, “Jump Katie, jump!”. I try to look up at the sun but the wind burns my eyes. My head hangs heavy. Nothing is easy right now. Nothing. Tree limbs are being forced into the freezing water by the weight of heavy snow. The water races and crashes, while frigid air pushes chards of ice downstream. I hear heavy footsteps approach. I tilt my head up to see who it is. The waning sun creates a dark silhouette of large, slow moving man. “I hear it’s supposed to be 64 degrees and sunny tomorrow. Imagine that. 28 today, 64 tomorrow. Amazing how much can change in a single day.” I nod in agreement and head back to my warm car. Maybe I’ll come back tomorrow to watch the sun rise.

 

 

Untitled

It was loud. Real loud. The details are fuzzy but I distinctly remember doing a line of cocaine. I shot it back with some sort of really strong drink and lit a cigarette. I was with people I knew but nobody that I particularly cared for. Why was I doing this? Who’s this man I’m talking to? I’m squinting and the room seems hazy but maybe it’s all the cigarette smoke?  

I woke the next morning with the same people.  They were telling me how fun I was last night. They told me I should definitely consider hooking up with that guy on a regular basis. They had never seen me so happy! I had no idea what they were talking about. What guy? Where am I? I tried to tell them I’m happily married and they must be mistaken. I would never cheat on my husband. They laughed and were positively stating I was happy last night. I told them I’ve made a big mistake. I need to go home. This isn’t me. They insisted this was me. This is my happy. I was getting frustrated and my stomach was turning. Why were they so insistent on telling me what makes me happy? I’m mortified. Did anyone I know see me? Who is this man? God, is it someone I know? Is it someone my husband knows? My head is spinning. This isn’t me, this isn’t me, this isn’t me…..

I woke up in cold sweat. Thankful it was just a dream but wondering why I had even dreamt it. What stuck with me most was how insistent these people were that I was happy. It got me thinking about how the people we surround ourselves with will dictate our happiness. Deep, right? I thought so too. I haven’t been around a lot of people since I’ve stopped drinking but my happiness and general wellbeing is better than it has been. Ever. The people I do share my time with bring me much joy and happiness. My happiness has reached new depths. Everything has more meaning. Anyway, it was just a dream. I’m thankful I won’t ever be in a position where I have to wake up the next morning hearing about how fun I was; while inside I’m cringing and hoping I haven’t flushed all my decency and moral code down a toilet. Again.

 

Oh, this old thing? It’s nothing.

It’s not enough. More or less this has been my life motto. It’s not a fun one to tote around. When I quit drinking I was able to clearly identify the signs that I was emotionally sabotaging myself.

  • Focusing on one thing and attacking it relentlessly.
  • Getting angry if I suspected anyone was judging my thing.
  • Noticing my thing in others and being very critical of them for having the thing.

I can attack my thing all day long. It’s mine to beat up, push around, make feel inferior whenever I want for how as long as I want. But if someone else mentions my thing in a negative way, they’re gonna get it. And if I notice someone has the same thing, well they suck and are seriously flawed.

I’ve been feeling pretty footloose and fancy free that I picked up on this self loathing and kicked it to the curb. I got pretty puffed up about it. In fact, I was so excited about it that I failed to notice I was still doing it. What you ask? Yup. I’m still doing it. Attacking a thing is 40 years in the making. It was unrealistic to think that quitting drinking would magically make that stop. I thought drinking cured everything bad, no?

I’ve moved on to a new thing. I’ve broken my habit of beating up the same old thing, which is great! But I didn’t recognize I was doing it to a new thing because I’ve never had an issue with this thing. I have my goodie bag of things I pick on. This wasn’t in there until now. It snuck in! Anyway, sobriety has allowed me to see this in myself and even come up with my own checklist. If I’m doing those three things to any thing then it’s time to regroup. Also, I need a new motto.  🙂