Thursday, June 13, 2013

My story - Part 3 of 3 - Desperation Works Wonders

Pain is a great motivator.  It is usually only after suffering a great deal of emotional or physical pain, that I will be desperate enough to make a change.  I hope this is not always the case, but it is for now.  It wasn’t until I was thoroughly disgusted with myself that I tried to make a change.   Whore.  Thief.  Liar.  Worthless.  Crazy. Bitch.  Slut.  Drunk.  These were the words that raced through my head when I looked in the mirror.  The emotional pain was so great that I started cutting.  I masked the emotional pain by turning it into physical pain.  “You think you can hurt me?  Oh hell no!  I can hurt myself worse than anyone else can.  Just watch me!”  I turned everything inward and took it out on myself.  I wouldn’t punish other people, just myself.  I was drink to numb myself, and then I’d cut to feel.  It was a sick rollercoaster that I was on for a long time.

In order to try and get a handle on my life, I decided that if I could just implement some rules and stick to them, that I’d be ok again.  Control was the name of the game.  I had a plan.  I had many plans, in fact.  I’d only drink after 6 pm (but what if I drank all night until the early morning?) or only drink on the even days (until, that is, there was a reason to celebrate on one of the odd days).  I wouldn’t drink fruity drinks (those are for wimps anyway – pass the whiskey), and I wouldn’t drink alone (who would know how awesome I was if no one was drinking with me?).  I thought I could limit myself to 1 drink an hour.  Unfortunately, before long, I’d be in to next week’s quota (because I’m good at calculations and math like that).  All these plans ended the same way.  Drunk. It wasn’t until I was out of plans that I was desperate enough to make a change.  It wasn’t until a bullet to the head seemed the only choice, before I got desperate enough to do something about it.  My back was against the wall and I was finally beaten down enough to realize that none of my plans were ever going to work.  Drinking was awful and NOT drinking was awful.  I needed to find someone with a better plan.  I needed help (GASP!). 

In the interest of keeping this saga of my life to a 3-part litany and not drag it on even longer, I will summarize the rest by saying that after a few years of trial and error, I found the help I needed in a 12-step group that can be found VERY near the beginning of the Yellow Pages (for those old enough to remember phone books).  The people in those groups had plans.  They had plans that DIDN’T end in drunken debauchery.  Their plans seemed to be working and they seemed happy.  They shared their plans with me and planted a tiny seed of hope that maybe someday, if I kept doing what they were doing, I could be happy too.  It has been a bumpy road in sobriety.  I was under the assumption that once I got sober, everything would be peachy keen.  Nope.  Not even close.  “If you don’t drink, you won’t get drunk, and if you don’t get drunk, your life will get different.”  That is the truth as I’ve experienced it.  Life certainly IS different, and it’s usually better than I could have ever hoped for. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My story part 2 of 3: When Alcohol Stopped Working.

When alcohol stopped working.

I can’t pinpoint EXACTLY when alcohol stopped working.  Alcohol is a sneaky little bastard that would work well for a while, then quit, then work again, and then quit again.  A typical night drinking would start with having a few while I was getting ready to go out.  It was cheaper to drink at home, and the booze provided the social lubricant that I needed.  By the time I’d leave my apartment, I’d be at that stage of JUST before the buzz hits.  I’d get to the bar, meet up with friends and order my first Jack (Daniels, never Yukon) and Coke, or Jack & Dr Pepper, or Jack & rootbeer. Hell, Jack and anything brown and carbonated just to water it down a little.  I was always mostly a whiskey girl.  When the goal is to get drunk, whiskey got me there the quickest.  I had a lime vodka & Mt. Dew phase (affectionately called Swamp Water at the local bars), but to a “real” drinker, that’s just embarrassing.  If you are a drunk like me, you get the humor there.  If you aren’t a drunk like me, don’t feel bad about not finding drunk-humor funny.  Our sense of humor is the only thing that gets us from one moment to the next sometimes.

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program.  

I’d be at the bar bullshitting with people or singing (I used to fill in with a band and had a friend that owned a karaoke business that I worked with for a few years).  The bar scene was my element.  I LOVED the bar scene.  LOVED. IT.  I probably still would if it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t drink anymore and if you want to smoke, you almost have to leave the planet to do it.   The bar scene fed my need for “approval sucking” (read part 1 of this post if you aren’t sure what that is).  I could sing my ass off and revel in all of the compliments and free drinks that it got me.  If I wasn’t singing that night, my big boobs, low-cut shirt, and flirtatious behavior was enough to get free booze.  Approval equated the number of free drinks I got.  I was having a blast!  And then I’d have one more drink and the scales would tip.  Carefree and flirty started spiraling downward toward shameful and slutty.  The drunken haze turned into a fog and no matter how fast or slowly I’d turn my head, it seemed like it took my eyes a few extra seconds to catch up.  I’d usually find my way to the bathroom and as soon as I saw myself in the mirror, the internal character-assassination would begin.  What am I doing?  How did this happen again?  I hate myself.  I’d have another drink to see if I could drink away those feelings, but it was too late.  I drank too much and got past the point of fun.  The only thing left to do was have another drink and go home with the nearest guy that seemed interested.

And then the morning would come, and the shame would set in as I would try to silently gather my belongings so I could sneak out without waking whoever was next to me.  I just wanted to get out without having to make awkward small-talk.  Get out before the other person could witness my shame.  I always hated the drive home because it gave me too much time to recount the events of the prior evening.  Every soul-sucking detail.  I always envied blackout drinkers; they don’t remember the demoralizing things they did the night before.  I always did.  I knew exactly what type of disgusting human being I had turned into and alcohol was no longer making it all go away.  Drinking was awful, and NOT drinking was awful.  It’s a special kind of hell that alcoholics work themselves into.  This hell usually leads to jails, institutions, or death.  For the lucky few, they find sobriety.  I am one of the lucky ones, and in my next post, I’ll tell you how I did it.