Tag Archives: blackout

Happy sober New Year! Or, I do not want what I haven’t got

31 Dec

8:53 pm

(WHAT? Oops! I meant to have this post on New Year’s Eve, but alas, my procrastinating self hasn’t figured out how to set the “self-timer” thingie on WordPress, and I still go in and manually enter the publish time (which I accidentally set for December 31, 2013). Anyhoo, here’s my rant from a few nights ago, and to be perfectly honest, I’m so over it: the event, the thoughts re: the event, and my annoying self. Done. Still…have a read and then let’s all move on, shall we?)

I haven’t been sober for New Year’s Eve in like, a decade or more. And, let me tell you, it’s GOT to be better than last year’s.

I’ve been ruminating a lot lately about my “drinking past,” and frankly, I’m over it! However, some people aren’t, and that hurts.

I called my brother last night; we haven’t spoken for almost three months (not for lack of trying), since his girlfriend’s vicious response to my amends letter–a very heartfelt, honest apology and attempt to make things right (even though, months had gone by before my brother changed his mind and told me that no, things weren’t OK, that his girlfriend was still “very angry” with me).

I’ve told the story before, but in a nutshell, last year I got really, REALLY drunk at their house on New Year’s Eve. Deerunky drunk drunk. Drunker than I think I’ve ever been, EVER. It was the culmination of a long year of basically hitting bottom over and over and over–I felt like the skipping stone that just wouldn’t stop!

Anyway, I ended up blacking out (the flip just SWITCHED) and screaming at my brother and his girlfriend, calling her names; ranting about what a crazy bitch she is (which she is, literally–victim of incest, rape, and severe psychological abuse; but has chosen to hate her way through it), how my brother doesn’t care about me, how they’ve isolated themselves in rural America, how his girlfriend has ruined his life. Blah blah blah. Yelling, crying, rolling on the floor–you get the picture. (There was also a rant about how much I hate Coldplay, which is sort of awesome and I really wish someone had filmed that part.)

The problem is, IT WAS ALL TRUE, what I said. Doh! Sigh. The worst part about getting blackout drunk is that quite often, there is truth to what you say to other people and about other people in your blackout. If you’re me, anyway. In fact, it’s like, I allow someone a completely unobstructed view of my mind, of what’s really inside my head. YIKES. And, not cool, because there are many things that people just DON’T NEED TO KNOW.

I woke up the next day as if from a nightmare. I had NO idea–it was a total blackout, with practically no flashbacks and no ability to even conjure a feeling of what went down, especially the parts related to me yelling at the girlfriend, who actually ran and hid, according to my brother. When I woke up, I remember feeling extremely pissed off, fuming, confused, and utterly unable to remember WHAT was making me feel so sick in my head, so sick to my stomach. Did I have a nightmare? Something happened, I’m sure of it. Was it a dream?

It wasn’t a dream. My brother and I had a painful talk on the stoop after I got up, and then I left. Drove the fucking 6 or 8 hours to DC with the WORST hangover on record (I’m surprised I didn’t hallucinate and drive into the ditch in the middle of West Virginia), and then spent the next, well, 12 months saying I was/am sorry. I finally wrote a letter to the girlfriend, and I got the most vicious reply in return (she wrote me a Facebook mail while drunk; does the word “irony” mean anything?).

Anyway, I’ve tried, kept calling, and I get little to nothing in return. At this point, I’m the one who’s pissed that they’re not budging–they’re continuing to hold a mighty grudge, and not ONCE have they asked me about my drinking, my getting sober, how it’s going, how I’m doing with all this. Not one question. In August, I told my brother on the phone that I had 60 days sobriety, and his reply was an awkward grunt. Oh-kay, then, guess I won’t be bringing that up with you EVER again.

I haven’t brought it up, and I doubt we can truly mend this. I’m pissed at them for not only not forgiving OR forgetting, but for lying about the fact that they did! I know I shouldn’t feel this way, because I was the one who messed up, but come on. When I write a heartfelt letter to the woman and she responds by getting drunk and telling me that I’m a “cunt who will never be loved by any man and that I should die”? And my brother, not even admitting that she sent it, let alone apologizing on her behalf, even just a little?

(To be sure, I’ve talked it out with my mother and uncle, who know the girlfriend, and they’re both on MY side. Just sayin’. I’m not sure why I keep bothering myself about someone who simply isn’t capable of having a normal relationship.)

So, this has turned into a rant, but I’m sorry, I needed to vent it in hopes of setting it free, finally, this year. I have to move on. I don’t want to be there anymore. That place was dark. I want light. I want clear thinking, healthy relating, progress.

Tonight, I’m grateful for all I have, all I’ve accomplished, and all the people in my life who have supported me through a very progressive year! I’m sober, and I’m living in [beautiful island where I now live]. I’m freelance writing/editing, and I’m doing it from wherever I want–this was a big goal of mine, one that I didn’t think I could accomplish even this year, let alone WHILE I was getting sober. I got back to [cold east coast city] for a month or so and re-discovered a possible future life there. I checked the fuck out of [cold west coast city referred to as hotel named in famous song] and have not looked back. There, I was living alone in the Tenderloin, drinking every night, and being miserable. Now, I get to care for dogs, another person, myself. I get to work and live. I have the sun every day, the ocean (one that you can swim in without a wet suit, that is) by my side. I get to dream about the future. I get to appreciate the present. I have choices, and I get to make them every single moment of every single day.

Happy new year, friends. I would not be here, in this place, without the support of my sober blogging community. You guys rock, and have taught me that whatever path you take to get to Sober Land, as long as you get there is what matters.

2013…and 90 days, coming up!

Oh, HI, Haagen-Dazs.

23 Sep

1:35 am

OK. Another thing to NOT BUY. I eat ice cream JUST like I drink: in a feeding frenzy. What, am I going to starve sometime between now and when I wake up? Jesus! I finally get rid of my wine gut (well, it was going going gone before this stupid hamstring thing that has turned me into that “ma’am who walks while eating an apple”) only to replace it with a Haagen-Dazs gut?

Le sigh.

Must calm down. Must not eat to the point where I feel ill. But, damn, was it good. There is something called “too good,” though. Too damn good. And, why is Haagen-Dazs so much better than my beloved Ben & Jerry’s? Sorry, Ben. Sorry, Jerry. You lose.

And, it was coffee ice cream, so I’m up. UP! Oh, Sparkle Tooth? Uh, nope, she’s long gone to bed. At least she’s sleeping safely, under her weeping willow, knowing that her owner is not going to wig out because she sucked down eight glasses of wine tonight.

This is the hour, too, when I loved starting a bottle of red. Perfect time to wind down, be alone, day done, sipping a glass of red. Whiiiiiich always, ALWAYS was absolute bullshit, mainly because I knew I’d be finishing the whole thing, wanting a second and then having to either deal with the disappointment or huff to whatever crackhead store was open at 2 am and buy the Worst Wine on the Planet…that I would so totally drink anyway.

That gnarly motherfucker of a hangover is still fresh in my mind, so I’m going to say, honestly, that I’m SO glad to not be pouring wine down my throat. And, tomorrow I will start again, trying to revise my diet (I have become somewhat addicted/dependent on Diet Coke, and this is NO good; I crave sweets, and my eating is…off, no other way to explain it), hopefully going for a run if the back and leg feel up to it (btw, they feel SO MUCH BETTER, verging on a manageable pain, all thanks to acupuncture), and finishing my final move stuff. I am losing steam; this summer was a trip, having packed up ONCE back in June, moved and shipped to [cold east coast city] for 6 weeks, went to the [beautiful island where I now live], and now…back here. I have two boxes I’m going to ship to said island, and the rest I’m either selling for way cheap or giving away on Craigslist. So, yes, that’s my day.

Oof, feeling ill. See? When I eat a whole pint of ice cream, I feel ill. So, I don’t do it often. It registers in my brain. The way I eat it, when I’m feeling all “grasp-y,” is the problem. But, with wine, it seems (seemed?) that no matter how many mind-bending hangovers I have, no matter how many times I black out and do stupid shit like, ruin a pair of favorite (and expensive: I checked today and the same frame is going to cost me $244 — I managed to snap them in half across the bridge and tear off one of the sides, but the lenses don’t have a scratch) glasses, it doesn’t seem to sink in. Well, maybe a little. Well, maybe a lot.

I like being sober. I am going to bed sober, and it feels like…a relief. I can predict, I can rely on, I can take solace in tomorrow, and in those nights and days of practice this summer that have led me to KNOW that drinking does not fill time, it empties it.

And, outside my window, I hear a party going on, people talking a lot of bullshit against the backdrop of sirens and a dark early morning hour. (Also, the smell of long overdone charcoal, which is just…eww.) And you know what? It’s the last place I want to be. The very, absolute last.

Good night, beautiful Sparkle Tooth (my unicorn, with sparkly teeth, who is pulling my water wagon and sometimes lets me ride on her back…in case you’re wondering).

Falling off the wagon..so YOU DON’T HAVE TO

21 Sep

2:31 pm

For real. The only good that can come of falling off (where art thou, sparkle-toothed unicorn?) the wagon A THIRD TIME is so that you, my dear readers and friends, don’t have to.


I think I just felt overwhelmed by my cravings, the voice in my head, and the resisting. I felt tired of resisting. So, I hurriedly uncorked a bottle and drank it. All of it. I was barely remembering things (didn’t take much, which is scary — what is wrong with my brain if it only takes three (huge) glasses of red wine to black me out?) when I ran (literally, I’m guessing) to the corner store to buy another. I did not finish that one, mainly because I must have passed out. I don’t remember.

Ahh. LOVELY hangover. Yes, I remember this feeling. Oh, yes. Drinking two Diet Cokes and weeping about my upcoming death. I remember this feeling. Stumbling around, finding a demolished pair of (expensive) glasses on the floor, checking my wallet to make sure that nothing’s missing, seeing wine stains on my floor and table. Yes, I remember this! Crawling to the bathroom only to heave myself back to bed. Yes. Ringing bells? Oh, yes. Crouching over my stove as I make ramen, forcing it down because I know I need something in there but nothing fills the hole and nothing will the entire day. Check. Crying some more and whining and wailing on the phone to my boyfriend who, thankfully, thinks nothing less of me and even thinks I deserve better. Yup. MISSING my fucking deadline because I can barely think, let alone write what I need to write. Done and done.

Do you remember that feeling? Is it coming back? Oh, yes.

I don’t even care about the fact that I missed my second 5 weeks (would have been 35 days today) again. What bothers me most is that my brain is simply depressed — not even sad, just void of feeling or thoughts. And, all I want is for the day — and hangover — to be over with. Waiting it out is all and will be all I’ll be doing today.

Wow, drinking really fucks up my mental landscape. What was a lovely painting with serene (pink) clouds has now become a grey wash of confusion, suicidal ideation, and nonsense. ? WTF, drinking?

(And, why do I have a memory of the corner store owner standing next to me, helping me pick out my wine? Was I standing there, in my druken stupor, unable to do it myself? Or, was he just being friendly and helpful? NO IDEA.)

Key points of this latest round?

I realize now that I don’t need to go it alone, that I DO NEED HELP, and that I need to ask for it.

I realize now that I shouldn’t isolate myself to the point of mental breakdown.

I realize now that what I wanted last night was escape — from the obsession to drink, I think, more than the overwhelming thoughts and feelings about life and people, in general.

I realize now that I USE WINE to escape and that one, I need new coping mechanisms, two, wine is my vehicle/tool, and three, there really shouldn’t be anything to “escape from,” if I’m doing it right.

I need help. But first, I need to get through this hangover.

Readers, if you’re thinking of falling off, just come here and read this. I have done it for you so that you don’t have to! It’s like riding a bike — no, it’s like falling off. It hurts every time and the feeling is never different! FUCK THAT BIKE! STAY ON THE WAGON.

Shamanic journeying through acupuncture? Yes, yes, YES!

18 Sep

11:43 am

Wow. Another KUH-RAZY experience during my acupuncture session yesterday!

(Warning: Psychobabble ahead.)

So, I’ve been to acupuncture three times now (with a new, and highly trained, it seems, therapist). Each time, I noticed an near-instantaneous buzzing feeling all over my body, and an immediate “delving” into self — the physiologic calm that acupuncture provides turns on my brain and makes me able to think deeper, more profound thoughts. Thoughts I’ve been putting off — or dreading, and therefore, TURNING OFF.

Yesterday, I realized that I’m a trauma survivor. I know, I know. WHATchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis? Come ON, DDG, give me a buh-reak! Seriously. I grew up within a very volatile, ugly marriage. My parents would yell and scream and sometimes even wield knives (true story). Everyone knew. They’d often tell us to go outside and “play,” which was code for, We’re going to shut the windows and scream at each other now. It was usually my mom screaming at my dad, and it usually happened when we were in bed, “sleeping.” It usually ended with her thrusting our living room doors closed with a loud BANG, and going to bed alone while my dad slept on the couch.

This went on for as long as I can remember (from about 5 to when they finally separated at 14). It was ugly. I would often and regularly hear things like, “Go fuck yourself if you even know how.” When they’d fight at night, I would weep in my bed. Silently. I learned how to cry really hard without making a sound. I was afraid, and I was also ashamed — my brothers slept in the same room (we had no doors on our two-bedroom upstairs), and I never heard them make a sound, so how horrible would it be if I did? Repression was the name of the game.

(I often wonder why kids blame themselves, or at least, internalize their parents’ anger and guilt and sadness when it comes to divorce? Here’s what I now think (thanks to my acupuncture “meditation”): kids KNOW that they represent the connection between their biological (and perhaps even nonbiological) parents. They know that they somehow make up each, and are (or were, LOL) the union between them. Thus, if there is a schism between the two, it’s somehow their fault. Somehow, it comes back to them, and they feel/take on the responsibility to “fix it.” It’s hard to explain, but I definitely KNOW that this is true, on an emotional level, even though intellectually — even as a kid, when we were told again and again that it wasn’t our fault — I might not believe it.)

As you can imagine, this kind of environment came with a lot of not-talking-about-the-elephant-in-the-room, tiptoeing around landmines, and (guessed at) battle lines not being crossed. I spent a good part of my teens feeling VERY ashamed and full of self-loathing (I had entire notebooks of hate poems to myself), and I wonder if that isn’t related to other, deeper trauma, but anyway… The trauma was never properly dealt with, I now believe. It was never confronted, handled, resolved, on the level that I needed it to be. So, I think I’ve spent my entire life putting up that early-learned stance, the one of me crouched, gut clenched, breath held, arms covering my face — ready for the punch. I was never physically abused, but I think emotional and psychological abuse — however inadvertant — can be just as bad. I know it was for me.

As I lay on the table, I realized that perhaps I have been hiding from this trauma my whole life, as a way to “make it” or “live my life,” never realizing that I hadn’t fully embraced it. And, without having fully accepted what happened to me, I was never able to let it go. Like, it now seems that ALL of my jobs, ALL of my romantic relationships have been situations that have helped SERVE my denial, my hiding from the trauma. (Hiding from being overly sensitive? Find a partner who doesn’t seem to notice anything! Not wanting to deal with feeling unloved? Become an overachiever and work yourself to the bone!) And, drinking has not only been a way of hiding from it when it bubbled up too close to the surface, but also a way to *experience* it. Too bad I was digging in the wrong hole.

Digging in the wrong hole? There came a point toward the end (last two or three years) of my blackouts where I was wanting the release, the unguarded expression of what I thought were authentic feelings. I wanted to express my trauma, but I was using booze to do it and that only served to hide myself from it further. On the table, I saw how traumatized I was as little girl. I saw myself on the table, and I saw the little girl (almost as a dream, but more real). I wanted to go and hug her and tell her she had nothing to be afraid of, that she was protected. I felt sorry for her. Which made me see clearly that, for some reason, as a little girl I think I just never felt protected. And I never realized this could have trickled down into every corner of the rest of my life. Yet, it has. Hence, the panic stance that I’ve been carrying myself in my entire life.

It was then that I realized that the “soul retrieval” aspect to shamanic journeying is not such the load of bullshit that I thought it was! Like, I honestly felt that I had been living in two “pieces” my whole life, one being myself, the person who works and lives and loves and tries to make it through life; and the other, the little girl self, the one who has been stuck back there, living in that trauma day in and day out for the past 33 years! In journeying, they say that soul retrieval is about picking up a part of your lost self and fusing/fixing the splintered whole, or schism, within. I need to subsume that girl and make us whole again, I thought. (Have you ever seen “Insidious?” Astral travel? Along those lines.) By doing so, I realized that yes, my trauma can be ended, that it IS over, that I don’t have to keep trying to find it OR hide from it via booze and blacking out.

I felt really sad, very emotional (cried all afternoon), and well, tired. I went to bed at 9 pm and finally dragged myself out 12 hours later. I woke up with a huge headache (that may be a caffeine headache, though). In essence, I felt hung over. BUT, I felt like I really did have a powerful experience of healing that has MADE ME WANT TO DRINK TO BLACKOUT LESS.

This is profound, to me. It makes me see that rehabilitation surrounding booze IS real and CAN work. It flies in the face of “rational recovery,” which basically says that there is nothing behind your drinking besides your selfish, overindulgent hand. NOT THE CASE. I honestly believe, at this moment, that drinking to excess would NOT be preferable to me now, mainly because I no longer need to dig deep to bring out that trauma; I’ve recognized it, and now, I can let it go. Wishful thinking?

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to drink — or even want to — but it does mean that I’ve finally begun feeling the real, authentic shit behind my desire to black out, which in essence, means that I won’t be striving — secretly wanting to simultaneously fill AND empty the void — to black out when I drink. Which means, this desire may have nothing to do with the substance itself. Which may mean that in a few months, or years, from now, I WILL be able to pick up a glass of wine and put it down. Wishful thinking? Maybe. Maybe not.

The science (and art…lessness) of the Blackout

16 Sep

6:29 pm

I was in H&M the other day and overheard this early 20s kid say he’d never had a blackout. His friend saved my day by quickly snapping back, Well, your time is coming.

What are blackouts? And, why are they generally speaking so horrible for everyone? It’s like, almost everyone I’ve known or read about who’s had a blackout has experienced some kind of insane, irrational anger. Rage, is more like it. Coupled with confusion, paranoia, anxiety, and fear, in no particular order. I get that all these latter things come with deep-seated parts of the brain literally being put to bed with extreme amounts of ethanol. BUT, why does the anger come out? Why do normally happy people not only let down their guard and get pissy, they typically become raging, sometimes violent, while blacked out?

Ahem. I’m one of those ragers. I literally turn into one big angry cunt. Who has no rational brain cells working. Why is this? And, am I the angry bird, or is it the booze making me angry? Or, does the booze simply open up the spout that’s always turned off, in a way that makes it rush too much and distorts it? Or, does the booze exacerbate the anger, and make it irrational? Is my fear and anger over many big and small things being amplified by the booze? Or, is that level of anger inside me all the time, just waiting to come out?

I think the booze exacerbates and makes irrational what resides within. Sometimes. Other times, I really don’t know where that level of vitriol, that extreme hatred even, comes from.

I need to find some clinical readings on this topic. It’s been driving me insane for years. Is it me, am I that fucked up? Or, is it the booze? And, WHY does booze do this? Where did that illustrious “all-knowing” being who created humans go wrong? How could he/she/it NOT make sure to put in some fail-safe to avoid me becoming a wino (or depressed and obsessive in the first place, for that matter)? And, once that was breached, how could it possibly have created beings who are capable of such horrific, and irrational, emotions — anger being one — when overloaded on booze? One BIG hit against the god theory and in favor of evolution (which, in case you haven’t noticed, I am) — we were NOT “created” without flaws. Maybe, over time, once the human race has gotten used to consuming alcohol, we’ll become immune to blackouts. But, what about the anger? Why will the “angry drunk” just not die?

And, most interesting to me, WHY IS IT ALWAYS ANGER that is stimulated to come out when we’re blacked out? Is that our primal shutting-down state of mind: confusion, fear, anxiety, and anger? Why is this?

Unfinished business…

16 Sep

5: 26 pm

It’s always going to be unfinished business with certain people.

I have to call my brother tonight; we’ve had very little contact since “the incident” over New Year’s. I totally let out my rage on and against his girlfriend (gf) — unfortunately, it was mostly true. They hold grudges and are in, what I would call, an emotionally co-dependent and (on her part) psychologically abusive relationship. Getting her to forgive and forget is not an option. The last time I called him — or, did he call me? Yes, he called me back — he called me from OUTSIDE a store, in the parking lot. Once his gf got back into the truck and closed the door (yes, he told me that she was sitting in the truck with the door closed), he had to go.

I have to keep calling him, but I honestly don’t want to. Tonight, I will get up the courage to confront him and say, What do you want me to do? I can send a card. I have no idea what to say, how to keep saying, I’m sorry for calling your gf all those things, and I’m doubly sorry I did because both you and I know they’re the truth. I HAVE said I’m sorry, egregiously, to him; I was afraid to make direct contact with her because the way we left it. She refused to see me the morning I left, so it was just my brother and I who talked. THAT was a hard, horrible talk. The whole nightmarish weekend will go down as probably my worst, most insane, most confusing — do I really hate his gf that much? I didn’t think so — blackout on record.

Still. THEY have to learn to forgive, forget, stop holding grudges, and move on, too. They also have a long way to go in terms of HER getting help for her mental problems and personality disorder and HIM learning how to say no, stand up for himself and those he cares about, think for himself, and stop the abuse. I can’t do that, and I definitely don’t want to. BUT, even still, I feel like it’s my fault that she triggered me so horribly, and she’s definitely put the full weight of the blame on me. That is unfair, but that’s why she’s the psychologically abusive partner in that relationship. She acts like a 14-year-old girl, and while yes, I get that she’s the victim of years of abuse and trama on her end, there comes a point — 42 years old, is she? — where one has to say, OK, I choose to engage on a mature, rational level with others and acknowledge what’s going on WITH ME, and not what the world is DOING TO ME. Hard to explain this woman, but let’s just say, no one in my family can really deal with her without booze, let alone with.

It all just makes for sucky Sunday, which is the day I usually reserve for calling family. Ugh. And no, I don’t want to drink. I just want to be able to go along with my days, staying sober, feeling good about that, and not have to feel guilty every single time — still guilty, guilty forever — I think about calling my brother.

I wonder, how much does unfinished business affect us on a subconscious level?

Day 29: Oh, how I do not long to be that drunk kid who fell onto his face

15 Sep

1:30 am

Ode to Day 29: Oh, how I do not long to be that drunk kid who fell onto his face in the subway. DUDE. Thank God(dess) he wasn’t near the tracks. He was at the bottom of the escalator and literally tripped and went SPLAT onto his chest and face. Ouch. Of course, I laughed after I got past him (two other people helped his drunk ass up), mainly because it was one of those falls so utterly lacking in grace that you can’t perform it unless you’re totally shitfaced and your limbs are approximately 95% out of your conscious control.

How often have I done — and not remembered doing — something like that? I cringed and immediately took a reality check: I could have been him and could have done that, and something really bad (breaking my neck comes to mind — I know someone who did) could have happened. I suck in my breath a little at the thought of the absolute possibility.

I remember walking around [cold east coast city] a few years ago, pretty soon before I left (man, that sounds so sad; must get back). I was still drinking and blacking out, but it was taking its toll and I was moving into my serious-problem phase. (That makes me smile — which was what, pray tell? Rage-dialing a recent ex AND banging your laptop to death in the same night?). Anyway, it was dark and as I was crossing the street with the hoards of mainly 20s kids, I saw this 20s kid stumbling, lit as fuck. He could barely stand up, and kept weaving in and out of this wide swath of land that he considered his “dotted line.” He looked like he was in a trance and had no idea where he was or what he was doing. He’d move toward people, nearly fall on them, and they’d back away. Or, just pretend not to notice him at all.

It stands out because I remember wanting to go over to him and like, HELP HIM. I was worried that he might walk into traffic or trip over an open manhole. Or worse, fall into one of those storefront openings in the sidewalk that lead to the shop’s basement level. That could have been/probably was at some point ME. Did anyone help me? Did anyone care? Would strangers just let ME stumble about through the streets of [cold east coast city]? What makes him different than me?

I guess I must never have stumbled THAT badly around strangers in the bar, or outside on my own after my friends took off, or trying to find a cab… I doubt it, though, as I have more than one memory of “coming to” somewhere totally foreign and not in my ‘hood (sometimes not even in my borough). I know it’s happened here…when I got arrested and spent the night in a sobering cell in [cold west coast city], or when I blacked out for hours and ended up getting mugged and losing my glasses somewhere that felt like the Mission but to this day I have no idea where I was in the city, or when…the list goes on.

The point is, it gets worse. Kind of like the opposite of the Dan Savage anti-bullying campaign. It Gets Worse. Hopefully, though, that kid in [cold east coast city] didn’t turn up dead or seriously injured, and hopefully he’s not relying on the “kindness” of strangers anymore after he’s had too much to drink. If you think about it, HOW MANY times have we gone home shitfaced after a night out drinkin’? How many times have I walked, taken the subway, hailed a cab, climbed up seven flights of stairs or taken the elevator to my apartment COMPLETELY blacked out, or at least in severe brownout? Innumerable. Literally. I might as well count backward from 365. Now? Today? Today I don’t even think I’d trust myself in the shower drunk. IT GETS WORSE.

This post is all just to say, I’m consciously glad — finally — that I’m not falling onto my face at the bottom of a subway station’s escalator (which wasn’t even turned ON). Dude is going to hurt tomorrow.

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.

AA is about community, relating, and hope?

20 Aug

1:09 pm

So, I went to an AA meeting down here on Sunday morning (yesterday) at 8 am. Wow. Haven’t been up that early in a long time, actually, and it felt great. Long day, though, of three beaches, a chili cook off, and friends over. 🙂

Anyway, the AA meeting was…good. I mean, I’ve been to meetings before, and my experience has been up and down. The first time it was to women’s meetings in [cold east coast city], the second, to a few meetings in [cold west coast city]. The meetings in [cold east coast city] were awakening and totally refreshing, unless I’m remembering them with rose-colored glasses. At the time, I was an AA virgin. I was a total hot mess, was barely hanging on during my second semester of grad school, and had NEVER gone so far and so bad let alone admitted to or talked about my drinking problem and increasingly horrendous blackouts and hangovers (started to have full-blown, trip-to-the-ER panic attacks). But, I thought the Big Book was ridiculous, and frankly, wasn’t willing to admit that I needed to quit drinking. That was in 2006.

Fast forward to last year, when I tried again to go to AA meetings in [cold west coast city]. They were horrible, just like a lot of social gatherings in that part of the country can be. I’ve lived there for a grand total of 8 years, and I’ve often felt that it is one of the most *superficially* nice places on the planet. When it comes down to it, though, people tend to adopt this holier-than-thou attitude, stay in their cliques, and/or are antisocial. I felt mostly unwelcome — sometimes actively so — at AA meetings there.

Long story short, however, it’s not really about the people or the meeting anymore, it’s about my desire to not drink. The people seemed way nicer at this meeting on Sunday, it really helped to have my boyfriend there with me, and well, most of the ex-drunks were older (like, 50s and 60s and 70s?) so I think the “fresh blood” element worked to my advantage. It’s a small community here, too, so maybe that made the difference in people being less formal and me feeling more welcome. Or, maybe I’ve just grown up a bit and gotten further along on my road toward/of sobriety?

The thing that struck me was not really why or how or whether AA works, or if the 12 steps are beneficial to maintaining long-term sobriety, but how similar these people’s problems with drinking were to mine and how similar the actual progression of the “disease” hit them. It’s the SAME EXACT THING for me, yet I STILL walk around feeling — after over a decade — that I’m the ONLY ONE. The only one feeling this way when I drink, the only one feeling horrible and guilty and *haunted* (one woman used this exact word to describe her feelings of remorse re: her blackout shenanigans) by what I’ve done while blacked out, the only one being reckless and self-destructive and not understanding why but doing it anyway.

I don’t know if I’ll go again, but my desire to quit is as strong as my fear of what will happen if I drink, so…

I had two issues with the meeting:

1. It does seem like every single person in the “room” ended their share (we were supposed to share on “service” and our concept/experience with service — I shared about volunteering in [beautiful island] and my sense of purpose down there practically killing any and all craving to drink) with congratulating AA. Like, they couldn’t stop talking about how great and fantastic and wonderful AA is. I was like, Come on, really? Then again, they talked of their own initial feelings of doubt, arrogance, and self-loathing at the beginning of their participation in AA, so…maybe I, too, just need to “let go and let God.” 😉 NOT!

2. I would not be not drinking if I didn’t want to not drink. I think what is different for me now is the fact that I really don’t want to drink anymore because, frankly, it doesn’t work anymore. It is simply NOT AN OPTION. AA won’t, in my perhaps ill-informed opinion, give you the desire to quit. BUT, what I now see AA as being good if not great at doing is giving you a sense of community, of belonging, of shared experience to help you keep convincing yourself that drinking doesn’t work for you anymore.

In talking with a few people after the meeting, I literally could have been inside their bodies talking about my drinking problem as they were talking about theirs toward the end — that’s how physically, emotionally, and psychologically the same it seems to be for not just us, but everyone who drinks to their end point. The truth is, I am so not alone, so not special, and so…relieved and hopeful to know this. I’m somehow sort of finally convinced that perhaps the confusion, panic/fear, and anger that overtakes me while blacked out is not ME but is, actually, the booze. Perhaps this substance just does the same old thing to everyone? It seems obvious, I’m sure, to nondrinkers, but…well, booze feels intertwined with my personality, my moods, my experiences and therefore, myself. Possibly I can untangle the two and move on with my life? So, yes, I think AA might actually be a good thing when it comes to fighting cravings and “hauntings” that only people who have reached the end of their drinking road can actually particularly relate to.

(We also spent a good amount of time at a chili cook off down here yesterday, and it was hot as a mofo on that beach. Yet, it seemed that quite a few peeps were getting drunk. EVEN IF I COULD DRINK, I can’t even imagine doing so in 100-degree heat…and then having to deal with the hangover and the sunburn? SO NOT WORTH IT.)

Thanks to my readers, I appreciate you guys listening to my ramblings…on day three and finally feeling somewhat not hung over. 🙂

Grateful to be going to bed sober…

19 Aug

1:06 am

So, that’s over. I got the recap from my boyfriend, and apparently, nothing irreversibly horrible happened or was done. Yet, as he explained my bizarre behavior, it once again makes me wonder, what is a blackout? Is it me? I mean, really, is this person me? Is the booze shutting off my brain, or certain parts of it, such that I’m literally no longer me? Or is it turning certain deeper, inhibited parts ON such that I’m actually more myself?

I know I need to just forget and stop saying I’m sorry, but the blackouts and the shit I’ve done during them haunt me. I don’t understand them and therefore, can’t really put them behind me. Plus, when you haven’t really done it — if you don’t remember, it is like it never happened, at least to you — how can you gain any kind of closure?

I know I need to make some decisions and get back to work — what is “work,” though? — but I also need to focus on staying sober. Being around people who are drinking, while not innately bad, just doesn’t make it easier for me to keep on keepin’ on. It makes it that much harder to accept being sober, makes it even more of a pain to continue to resist. I know I need to embrace my fears, indecision, and lack of creativity, which is causing my depression. I know I need to embrace the transitions and changes in my life, a big one learning how to live sober. Like, I don’t know how to approach certain situations, life events, and feelings anymore without booze, whether that be actually drinking it or simply thinking about drinking it. I can’t turn to it anymore to ease my stress and/or insecurities surrounding working as a writer; I can’t turn to it anymore to “fix” my fears and/or uncertainties related to dating, love, family, and relationships/friendships. I gotta start from scratch, and that’s just…well, it’s all just a bit much.

Hence, the four hours of rather painful hiking I forced myself to do today, in my hung over state, through the 95-degree heat.

Anyway, I’m so tired and groggy and feeling like hungover ass, so I’ll sign off. My bf and I are going to an AA meeting at 8 am on the beach tomorrow morning. I’ll def keep ya posted on that…


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