(This blog was entered in my first blog site created, I have decided to consolidate my entries. This was written on day 228 of my alcohol sobriety journey. Currently, I am on day 467)
“So did you have a problem?” The typical response I receive when I tell people I don’t drink. Clearly, there must be something wrong with me if I can’t kick back and have at least a glass of wine a couple times a week. What does a “problem” look like? How do I quantify that? “So you never drink?” “You haven’t had even a little since you quit?” Nope, it’s my normal now. In fact, now that I look back, I had a problem.
By definition I was a “heavy alcohol user”. SAMSHA defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking on five or more days in one month. So, if someone drinks once a week in a binge drinking fashion (four drinks for women in about two hours), they are defined as being a heavy alcohol user. I know of SEVERAL heavy alcohol users.
However, during my drinking years, I drank well over the definition. Yes, I had a problem.
I’d start my evening by cracking open a Stella, or opening a bottle of wine while I made dinner. By the time AJ went to bed, I was feeling pretty good. In hindsight, I don’t think feeling foggy, tired and rundown classifies as feeling good. I’d possibly start a piece of art or watch a movie, still drinking. I might have to restock the fridge or open another bottle of wine. Some nights I would leave about a half glass in the bottom, so in the morning I could tease myself about not having finished an entire bottle. Then I discovered box wine. It lasted a lot longer, and I really had no idea how much wine I was drinking per night. Most nights.
Another fight, I’m crying, I’m screaming, I’m puking, I’m trying to cut myself, I’m yelling, I’m crying more, I’m passing out…..”good morning, baby”. I can’t tell you how many times I ended my nights like this, only to have everything swept under the rug like it didn’t happen. After a few dust bunnies get piled up, it doesn’t take long before something comes out. My relationships were atrocious. I overlooked so many things. I could feel my intuition screaming at me, but I would stay. Alcohol not only allowed me to brush off any emotions and the hard shit we all need to release, but it would drown out my intuition. Alcohol is loud and it has a sneaky way of taking over.
My friendships weren’t much better. I’d wake up wondering the next day if my friends still wanted me to be around. “I said WHAT?!” I would reread text conversations and cringe. I once was at Lazy Gators and I was being fed (multiple) super strong “Adios Amigos”. It’s half pina colada, half strawberry daiquiri and a test tube of Bacardi 151. I ran into a bachelor party, asked the groom why the fuck he was getting married yelling “Don’t do it!, Don’t do it!”, took their volleyball, chucked it over into the lake, and got charged for a ball. My drinks were free, probably because I was half-naked, wasted and overtly sexual. We left, I passed out on the boat and as soon as we walked inside I puked in the kitchen sink. I woke up with my pants changed, and couldn’t find my phone, license or credit card. When I found the phone, I had several missed messages from random numbers. It’s a wonder I was ever invited anywhere.
To wake up without a hangover, every morning, is the most amazing feeling ever! I used to roll out of bed, my head pounding, eyes heavy, my stomach upset and my mouth a disgustingly dry pit of regret most mornings. I began to remedy these hangovers with the inherited knowledge “the hair of the dog that bit you”, be it a beer or a bloody mary. I guess I had a bit of a problem.
I would do some CRAZY shit! I look back at things I did when I was drinking that could’ve ended very badly. Dangerous things, stupid things, irresponsible and unhealthy things. And, I did them often. Just getting in a car and driving after a few drinks is dangerous, yet how many people do you know that casually go to happy hour for 3-5 cocktails in a couple hours, then drive home? I left on tour with guys I met in a band (granted I got to know one member pretty well before said trip), I ended up in Wichita and had practically strangers come pick me up. I would have strangers in my hotel room (at least I didn’t drive home, right?), strangers come over to my house, wake up in strange places. Waking up in a stranger’s house, that’s always fun. The next morning awkward hangover goodbye, sometimes complete with selfish sex and more regret. Or texting your exes while you’re out, or worse, having them over for sex that you’ll feel terrible about in the morning.
It was a cycle I didn’t really see any way out of. I was around it all the time, people who drank constantly, that was what I did in my leisure time. It was what I did during my work time. I had to cut the cycle and get out of the environment that was enabling my behavior. I had to quit bartending on the plaza. I had to stop going to bars.
Thankfully, my boyfriend at the time was sober. I was blessed that he was someone who would help to support my transition. There was no blurring of anything with us sans booze. I could see right through him, but that’s another story. I am forever grateful to him for helping me with that first big hurdle. I also attracted friends who wanted to quit drinking, cut back, had been sober for years and those who cared more about their bodies than to party. I broke the chain.
“Did you have a problem?” Yes, I used to, but now I get to tell my story of how I found my way out of the dark.