When do you know you’re an alcoholic? or, Blackout hell

31 Aug

1:59 am

I’m still not sure I know what “alcoholic” means, and I would be the first to say, Bup bup bup, not alcoholic, just a problem drinker. A binge drinker. A binge drinker who probably drank on average 5 out of every 7 days last year (always wine, sometimes beer, rarely hard booze), blacked out 99% of those days, and well, has had so many “near misses” as well as “misses” that it’s hard to even go back and revisit them.

Well, I could, and I do, every second of every day.

Let’s see…

Blacking out and screaming at strangers in bars, on the street, on the phone, etc. etc. etc.
Blacking out and having blacked out sex and then, after somehow managing to blame the offending party, getting into a blacked out brawl with him only to come to as I’m hitting the sidewalk — he pushed me down, I broke my arm, and I dealt with it by lying at work (I said I fell down some stairs at a party), not telling a soul (including my family), and putting in nearly 3 years of rehab to correct a shoulder that seems to have been permanently damaged/altered/tweaked
Blacking out and yelling at friends
Blacking out and yelling at cops
Blacking out and yelling at bartenders
Blacking out and calling one of the said bartenders on my phone in a blacked out rage, only to be banned from the bar the next time I tried to drink there and not even remembering what I said
Blacking out and yelling at cabbies
Blacking out and yelling at my CEO — my fricking CEO — at my work Christmas party — my fricking work Christmas party…and topping it off by kicking the door of the cab that he called for me and having my co-workers have to manhandle me and push me into it
Blacking out and being arrested for said yelling at a cabbie that very same night, spending a blacked out night in jail being a screaming mess, a second day (fighting a withdrawal panic attack) and night and then another day and evening in a jail cell with 25 other women waiting for the judge to hear my case
Getting fired for missing work for said two whole days (as well as um, yelling at my CEO and kicking the door of the cab he called for me)
Blacking out a mere two weeks later on rum at a [alternative religious] ceremony in [beautiful island], managing to NOT lose a tooth as I fell, headfirst in my blackout, onto a cement block in an outhouse; screaming at the man who was trying to kiss me as I sat on his lap; having to sport a bruise on my forehead the size of Massachusetts for the next several weeks, after enduring the shame of creeping down to breakfast the following day and forcing myself to look at my host mother and say I was sorry (as well as listen to the repeated admonishments of the house girls, “Il faut se controller” = You need to control yourself)…

Shall I go on? Oh, let’s not forget blacking out and driving up the interstate for oh, at least 45 minutes(?), only to “come to” heading south on a ramp road, crashing my rental car into a pole on the side of the road and demolishing the entire front bumper, including both headlights (two Good Samaritans found me and one, who happened to be a friend of Bill’s, drove me home, scolding me the entire way)…

And what about “exiting” a blackout in ghetto of [cold west coast city], screaming at two dudes whose apartment I had just left (apparently we were hanging out, but did we do anything else?)…?

Or, going OUT blacked out, having no recollection of hours of time spent drinking and dancing, coming to in someone’s bed on the other side of the city, stumbling home still blazing drunk…?

Or, having a three-way whose most memorable turn included being driven home by the nearly 60-year-old Scottish dude who may or may not have had sex with me (I don’t remember)…?

Shall I go on?

I could. On and on and on. The only reason I can write this all down is because I’ve kept endless journals to deal with the emotional aftermath, the self-loathing — I could have killed someone, including myself — and the confusion over where “blackout me” ends and “me” begins.

I think, in my case, the anger stems from a childhood of feeling overshadowed, conforming to a mold, never feeling like I was heard or good enough. (The random sex stems from…lack of self-esteem?) I used to binge eat, which became a huge problem for me to overcome in my early 20s, and that, I discovered, was more a response to anxiety/panic than body image issues. So, I figure, drinking is like binge eating in that it serves a purpose to quell my feelings of panic; and when someone triggers me/pisses me off during a blackout, my deep-seated panic transmutes to anger. Rage, actually.

Or, I just go willy-nilly apeshit. One of the two.

I’m still trying to process it, after all this time. It never goes away.

Ten years now — it’s been since about 2002 that I started drinking wine and doing things like pounding the shit out of cell phones, computer keyboards, laptops (yes, I’ve lost several Mac laptops due to killing their hard drives with a solid thump of my fist onto the notebook’s keypad); drunk dialing 30 calls in a row to an ex; writing crazy-nasty IMs and emails to people, some of whom have written me off (I don’t blame them). Maybe I am the person in the blackout, and everything else is just a subconscious, deeply embedded lie. Maybe not.

In any case, I don’t miss any of that shit, and I don’t want any of it to ever happen again. Yet…how can I forget? And, HOW ON EARTH can I forgive myself, if I manage to forget? All of this, the piles of horrible things I’ve done and said and let happen — they’ll never go away. They nibble at me. Some take bites now and then.

So, along with the sober calm comes deep sadness. I can’t change what happened, what others think of me, whether or not I will be forgiven. I have to move on, hold my head up, continue to strive in my career, and simply evolve.

12 Responses to “When do you know you’re an alcoholic? or, Blackout hell”

  1. facingfactsaboutmyself August 31, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I can relate to so much of what you’ve written here. Thank you. There is sadness in realizing what has happened (what could have been) but perhaps you’ve found a calm place you need to be. But there’s a large degree of satisfaction in knowing this is behind you, that this was your hell, your battle. And you’ve got the scars to prove it. Like eninem says,” it’s been ride, but I guess i had to go to that place to get to this one ” (not afraid).

    • drunkydrunkgirl August 31, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

      Totally! I’ve thought so much about it that sometimes, a lot of it borders on amusing…in a morbid sort of way. What’s done is done, and in the end, it’s almost interesting to me that the human mind is capable of such things… so I tell myself. 😉 What nibbles at me, haunts me some nights, is that even though I’ve processed some of the things I’ve done and moved on, I know for a fact that certain people still hold a grudge. I wish I could take that away from them, but I can’t. I’m not a bad person, and everything I’ve done in a blackout is literally the polar opposite of how I am in my “day” life (a successful professional, excellent student, nice, friendly, conscientious, responsible…) — that’s why it’s hard for me to accept my former friends and even my older brother holding what feels like a grudge. Oh, well… Thanks for reading, and your posts resonate with me, so thanks for writing, too!

      • keepingitreal January 6, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

        You know I read something interesting today …. Everyone is a mirror image of yourself – your own thinking coming back at you. Perhaps the people in your life who hold a grudge somehow see themselves in you and don’t like what they see. May not be about you at all.
        Just a thought.

  2. Just Some Woman August 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Damn. Glad I checked my email. I was feeling like a depressed piece of shit (sober almost 9 months after a 2 year relapse) and there you were like the beacon of light I needed. You have no clue how much you’ve helped me since I found this blog just yesterday. You just did one hell of a 5th step to all of us reading. You asked how you can forget – you can’t, but you CAN forgive yourself. Your post goes a long way towards doing that as you will see.
    Your bravery and tenacity astound me. You go girl!

    • drunkydrunkgirl August 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

      Wow, thanks so much. I will have to even look up what the fifth step is! I’m so glad I’ve helped you…writing this blog is mainly a way for me to “clear my conscience” and vent my overwhelming number of thoughts. But, the more I get to know my fellow bloggers and sober-trying friends out there, the more I realize how much we can help each other just by being honest about the BITCH that is getting and staying sober! I hope one day to let some of this go, but…we’ll see. So far, it hangs over me, day after day (even though, most times I just put it into the back of my mind in order to feel good enough about myself and my life to rock on)… WELL DONE on 9 months! Wow…I honestly cannot imagine what that must be like, but very proud of you. Thanks for posting…:)

  3. Trace October 21, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing.
    I know a lot of my friends can relate to this. Being still in college we are always going out and getting wasted where it got to the point my friend could not sleep without a drink at night.
    I am actually starting a anti-binge drinking online campaign to help university students regarding this binge drinking culture and educate them on places to get help as well sa alternative solutions. Please come and visit us if you can: fringethebinge.wordpress.com

    • Drunky Drunk Girl October 24, 2012 at 4:24 am #

      Hi, Trace,
      GREAT stuff! I’ll def stop by your blog. I’ve often wondered just how much binge drinking is a problem on undergrad campuses these days? We drank like fishes at grad school, and I wonder how bad it can get, especially for younger students? Hmm… would you be interested in being interviewed for a “guest” post about that topic? Good luck with your blog and thanks for your comment.

  4. keepingitreal January 6, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    This is your best post yet. Been reading from beginning

  5. sarcasticgoat June 20, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    I can relate somewhat.
    The thing is, I live with my parents at the moment, and I blackout late at night/early morning hours regularly.
    They don’t know I drink a lot, but they hear me doing things blacked out in the early hours of the morning.
    The only thing they’ve said is that I sound like i’m ‘upset’, yelling and banging things.
    They’ve never seen me in that state, but it’s only a matter of time before one or both of them get up out of bed to come see what I’m so ‘upset’ about.
    That’ll be a weight off my shoulders to be honest! lol

  6. WineByMe August 31, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Great post. Going through my third try at sobriety right now. I feel like this post was ripped from the secret pages of my heart. I’ve always sugar-coated everything about my drinking and did my best to turn myself into the lovable farce. Thank you again for sharing.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 31, 2016 at 9:47 pm #

      Aw, you are welcome. Lovable farce–spot on! Keep going, you got this…

  7. Junie B July 26, 2017 at 8:59 am #

    Hi DDG, not sure if you’ll even see this comment since it’s buried so far back 🙂 I’m not sure exactly what I’m feeling right now, and honestly I’ll probably be experiencing some other emotion in about five minutes, but thank you. I’m reading from the beginning. Even though you wrote this five years ago, many of these words could be mine.

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