Posted in Addiction, C-Haze, Sobriety

Bah- Humbug

Today is my birthday. I’m 39 years old, and it also happens to be 3 days before Christmas. I absolutely hate this time of year. HATE IT. I hate Christmas, I hate everything that comes with it, and this year I hate it even more than I usually do, because it’s been a shitty year.

Because of my absolutely HORRIBLE mood, I have a fantasy of undocking my laptop from my home office, leaving, and finishing out the workday in some bar somewhere, drinking vodka and chain smoking. Interestingly enough, I actually quit smoking 3 years ago, so NO idea where that part of the fantasy is coming from.

So, because I’m now so freakin’ responsible and don’t do dumb sh*t like try to work from a bar while guzzling vodka and chain smoking, I wondered if maybe my (albeit broken) mind was simply telling me that I should get out of the house. Maybe change my scenery for a bit. So I thought, “Maybe instead of a bar, I could go somewhere cool like Panera (or insert other neato coffee shop here).” They don’t have vodka (or any alcohol that I’m aware of), but they do have free refills on Pepsi, right?

Then I realized, that in order to leave the house and show myself among the public, I need to shower.

Screw that.

So now I’m back at square one. It’s my birthday, I hate Christmas, and this year has sucked.

I am, however, sober.

Bah-Humbug.

Posted in Addiction, C-Haze, Recovery

I was always the best at drinking

One of the things I always excelled at was drinking. I think that’s why it took me so long to really understand that I’m an alcoholic. The horror stories I’d hear from others- on the rare occasion I could be bothered to attend AA meetings- didn’t sound like anything I’d experienced. That’s part of the reason AA and I never gelled.

I’ve never had a DUI. In fact, I’ve never been in any legal trouble at all. I’m college educated, and I make good money. I work for a Fortune 100 company, I’m financially stable, and I’m in no danger of losing my job. I have been steadily employed without exception since 1996, which happens to be the year I joined the workforce, at 17.  My drinking caused me to miss work exactly one time in my life, and that was the week I finally decided to quit. My children are well-adjusted, well-rounded honor roll students. I’m happily married, and my alcohol abuse has never jeopardized a relationship or caused one to end.

Most people didn’t even know I had an alcohol problem until I started blogging about it. In fact, just this week I got a text from a friend I’ve known for about 11 years now, expressing her surprise to learn that I’m an alcoholic, despite the fact that I used to see her daily at the height of my drinking.

I always took immense pride in what a good drinker I was. I was never the sort of drunk who got crazy at parties. I always held my liquor very well, and with the exception of my husband, people could rarely tell that I was completely out of it. Even he didn’t know a lot of the time. The only outward clue to my excess was when I happened to be out and about with friends. People who had the pleasure of physically seeing me drink can attest to the amount of alcohol I could put down and still remain standing.

I wore it as a badge of honor. People would say, “How are you still conscious? You just killed that entire bottle of vodka!” and I’d beam with pride, like I’d just accomplished something really amazing.

About a year before I got sober, I remember overhearing my oldest daughter on the phone with a friend of hers. This friend has a mother who’s a mean drunk, and she was venting about what it’s like to live with an alcoholic. My daughter was sympathetic.

I’m so sorry you have to live with that. I can’t even imagine what it must be like- I’ve never even seen my mom drunk before.

Ironically, I was a good 3/4ths of the way through a bottle of vodka at that exact moment, and was completely fucked up. I almost choked on my drink- I found it absolutely hilarious that I could hold my liquor so well that I could be (and regularly was) three sheets to the wind, and those who knew me best, didn’t have a clue. At the height of it all, I’d go through 4-5 bottles of vodka in a week’s time.

It was my secret weapon, and I loved it the way I imagine others love their life-partner or their very best friend.

Many people don’t understand just how awkward a being I am. Naturally anti-social, I do not like going out, and I hate large crowds. I’m painfully shy, and I have really bad social anxiety. With the exception of just a few people- and I’m related to almost all of them- there really isn’t anyone I feel completely at ease around. Alcohol was the perfect solution anytime I had to go somewhere or do something that made me leave my comfort zone.

That’s how it started with me. When I drank, I felt the way I imagine “normal” people feel when they’re out in public. I didn’t have panic attacks, and I could relax and even have a little fun. Initially, I didn’t even keep alcohol in the house. There wasn’t any reason to. I was in my element when I was at home, so I was at ease and comfortable. I would only drink when I went out, and that didn’t happen too often.

It wasn’t until after my first marriage collapsed that I started drinking daily, and drinking at home. I wanted to move past my divorce as quickly as possible. My divorce was an ugly one, as my ex-husband physically assaulted me after we’d separated. Since the incident was both violent and involved his breaking into my home at night, I became fearful anytime I was at home. Even though I immediately moved to a new place, for years afterwards, I was scared- especially if anyone came to the door unexpectedly. Since I was also an anxiety-ridden mess anytime I went out anywhere, I soon became a walking, talking nervous breakdown just waiting to happen.

… And not a single soul knew about it.

Alcohol gave me the courage I needed to be able to move forward, and when I wanted to hide, it helped me do that too. Throughout this entire time, I excelled at my job, I raised my kids, I finished school, and I developed relationships with other people. Yet I remember very little of it, because I was drunk the entire time.

Somehow, I managed to do what I had to do to survive, and on the outside, it even looked like I was thriving. The problem was, I wasn’t present. I was blacking out at night, so I couldn’t remember much the next day. Sometimes it was entire conversations that I didn’t remember. Other times it was movies or TV shows that I’d watched, but had no recollection of. It was trippy to log on to my Netflix account and see all kinds of stuff in my “Recently Watched” queue, having no idea what they were, or why they were there.

Finally, my health started to nosedive. I gained an unbelievable amount of weight, and developed all kinds of digestive problems I’d never had before. My skin became dry, brittle and extremely itchy. My entire body ached, and I started getting weird infections with alarming regularity. I was retaining a ton of water, and my liver enzymes were elevated. After being warned by my doctor that I was well on my way to liver disease, I stopped seeing him.

Then my daughter got sick. Really sick. Hospitalized in the Pediatric Intensive Care unit sick.

That’s when I knew I had to make a change. It wasn’t possible to escape my life and still be present in the lives of my daughters or my husband. Even after I finally admitted that I had a terrible drinking problem, I still didn’t stop right away. I couldn’t. Instead, I tried to moderate. I tried to pick 3 days a week I wouldn’t drink. It didn’t work. I tried switching from hard liquor to wine. It didn’t work. I tried only drinking on the weekends. It didn’t work. I joined Weight Watchers, only to use my points-allowance for the entire week in a single drinking session, every night.

I notice for the first time that while the consequences of my drinking were more subtle than what I was hearing at AA, I was still suffering them. I wasn’t losing a job, or my home and my kids, but I had missed out on so much life. I had never felt that void before, but I felt it then.

I had to get help.

I found a treatment program, and worked it aggressively, even as I looked down on the other people in attendance. They were rough-looking men and women with bad grammar and criminal records. Some of them had no teeth. I just knew I was better than they were, as a “successful” (wink-wink) white collar professional.  I managed to stay sober for a couple of weeks, until a work-related trip out of town. I relapsed. That’s when I realized what a complete and total bitch I had been, and that my ego could cost me my life. Maybe those people I was in recovery with were rough around the edges, but they were managing to do something I had never been able to do: Get Sober.

So, with my pride in check, and with my tail between my legs, I tried again.

This time it stuck, and here I am.

SOBER.

I’m still weird and socially awkward, but I’ve decided I’ll take that over where I used to be any day of the week.

Thanks for hangin’ in there with me while I spew.

Until next time…

 

Posted in Addiction, Alcoholism, C-Haze, Recovery

A disease. Full Stop.

Achieving sobriety is one of the most difficult things anyone with an addiction can do. It’s worth it, but it’s not easy. Ponies, rainbows and unicorns do not suddenly fly out our asses when we stop using. The country song- as I like to joke- does not play backwards, and we don’t automatically get the wife, the kids,  the truck and the dog back, just because we’re sober now.

When the time came for me to quit drinking (ha, ha – “when the time came”- more like, “when my ankles were so swollen they looked like softballs ate them, when my liver physically hurt, when I could no longer function at all, and death was surely imminent…”), I knew I needed help, and treatment was imperative. Thankfully, if I have to be an addict, the 21st century is the best time to be one. We have choices now, and recovery is no longer one-size-fits-all.

I didn’t do well in AA, as the dialogue around addiction being a disease just doesn’t work for me. I’m not saying it isn’t a disease, I actually think it is one. It took me a long time to understand why this disease rhetoric set me off, since I don’t disagree with the theory. In the meantime, however, I really just needed to find treatment, and I wanted a program that didn’t follow that particular script, despite the fact that I didn’t understand why. That’s how I fell into Smart Recovery (you can Google it), which is the opposite of AA in many ways, but has the same goal in mind: TOTAL ABSTINENCE.

I’m not an addiction expert, but I’m certainly not ignorant on the subject either. Obviously, I’m no social worker or substance abuse counselor, but I do have an impressive Alcoholism Resume- yes, it contains less college classes and more on-the-job training, but experience is experience.

All of this leads me to how I finally came to understand why I’m so often completely turned off by this “addiction is a disease” conversation.

<Deep Breath>

Until very recently, I had plans to drink again.

I went through the steps of physically quitting, and while I stopped consuming alcohol, it was always with the understanding that I’d pick up again. Maybe not today, but someday. Even as I was actively doing the work in recovery, I did it with the idea that I was merely changing my relationship with alcohol, not ending it. It wasn’t a fearful notion; I wasn’t thinking, “Oh no! I just know I’ll fall off the wagon some day!”. Quite the opposite, it was something I wanted, and I wanted to make sure I did it the “right” way (without criminal charges, jail, dancing on tables and/or swimming naked in some random stranger’s pool, preferably).

I did eventually realize I was nuts to think I could ever have another drink, but what took longer to understand is why I was so invested in the idea of trying. It was an obsession. It’s not simply because addiction is a disease. Even if it is a disease, that’s an over-simplified answer, and that’s what made me crazy. It’s like something you tell a kid when you don’t think they’re old enough to know the truth.

I deserve better than that, so I went on a quest to figure it out for myself.

It took a minute, but now I finally understand why it burns me so bad when addiction is referred to as a disease. It’s because all too often, the conversation ends right there.

She had to stop drinking because she’s an alcoholic. That’s a disease, you know.

Full Stop.

“No!” I want to scream. “There’s so much more to it than that! There’s so much more to me than that!”

Getting to the root of it, I realize that I believed if I could just drink like a normal person, it would mean that I don’t have to suffer a life of being labeled “Diseased” or “Alcoholic”. My fear was that people, once they knew, would stop seeking to know me further, thinking they’d already learned everything worth knowing.

That I’m an addict.

Full Stop.

Here’s the thing: I do have a disease. It’s called alcoholism. It isn’t curable, but it’s manageable, and managing it is an important part of my life. But please, don’t let the conversation stop there. I want to talk about it, and I also want to talk about other things too.

I’m a mother, and a daughter. I’m a wife. I’m a professional, and I like to draw. I used to play the piano, and years ago, I sang opera in Europe.

I want to be seen as an entire person, not just as this disease.

Someone who’s real, and silly, and complicated…

… and can’t drink.

 

 

Posted in Addiction, Alcoholism, C-Haze, Personal, Recovery

The Universe and the letter

I am not a religious person. My “higher power”, if I had to choose one would be The Universe. I don’t believe in God, not in the traditional Christian sense, but I tend to believe in order among chaos, I believe in Karma, and I know that whatever’s out there is bigger than I am.

I also believe that if we pay attention, The Universe is regularly sending us signs that provide most of the answers we seek. We’re free to ignore them, of course, and we often do just that, to our own detriment.

I’ve had a really tough time with my sobriety lately. There are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which has to do with the fact that I am my own worst enemy, and I apparently enjoy sabotaging myself in the face of success vs. failure. There’s more to it than just that, though.

This disease is crafty, and it wants to win. It has a powerful ally in its corner, and that’s my brain. It’s kind of perfect, actually, because nobody knows me- my insecurities, my fears, my triggers- better than my own brain does. So when the disease wants a drink, it doesn’t fight fair, and can be really hard to beat.

A couple of weeks ago when I got my blood test results from the doctor, as grateful as I was to find my liver function is normal, they provided ammunition for the disease to use against me. Since then, my brain has been barraging me with a series of attacks, telling me that because my drinking hasn’t ruined my health, and because I’ve been successful in quitting alcohol altogether, the whole thing must have been a false alarm. I’m not an alcoholic. I can drink responsibly, just like everyone else. I just needed to take a break for a while, and now that I have, my relationship with alcohol has changed, and the problem no longer exists.

Over the past couple of weeks, my resolve has started to waiver. I started seriously thinking about having a drink. I started wondering if maybe, just maybe, I’m not an alcoholic. Maybe I was just a binge drinker going through a bad time. Never mind that this “bad time” lasted a full decade. Or that I have tried to control my drinking in every possible way thousands of times: I tried switching from liquor to wine, I tried only drinking on the weekends, I tried not drinking at home, and only drinking when I’m out at social gatherings. I tried to moderate, hoping to stop my consumption before I became a slobbering, blacked-out mess.

Nothing worked. Nothing. Nothing.

Finally, I had to get some help and quit drinking altogether. My liver function may be normal now, but it wasn’t five years ago, and I’m willing to bet it wasn’t normal the day I quit drinking. It’s normal today because I’ve actually stopped drinking and gave it some time to heal- not because I don’t have an alcohol problem. The fact that I drank to the point of elevated liver enzymes to begin with is indicative of a problem. That I continued drinking for years after I realized I was developing a fatty liver, and that I still obsess over alcohol- something “normies” don’t do- are also indicators of a problem.

Knowing all this logically and believing it, living it day in and day out, is not the same thing. The bottom line is that underneath it all, I want a drink. Currently. Present tense. I want a drink.

On Friday night, I was up against a tough deadline at work. After working 12 hours straight, I was tired. About an hour before my workday ended, I started craving a drink.

I wish I could tell you I valiantly fought the urge, but the truth is, I didn’t.

I was moments from walking out the door, getting in my car and driving to the liquor store, when my phone rang. It was my husband, on his way home, just calling to chat. I quickly blurted out, “I think I’d like to have a drink tonight. I’m going to go to the store.”

He replied, simply, “Ok.”

I then asked, “What do you think? Do you think I should?”

No, I don’t. This is just the Salesman trying to work you, trying to get you to break down. Don’t let him. You don’t need to drink tonight.

For once in my life, I listened. I decided I would not drink that night, and I didn’t. It doesn’t escape me, however, that had my husband not called at that exact moment, I would have bought a bottle of vodka, and I would have drank.

The Universe put the answer right in front of me when I needed it most. I paid attention that night, and I wish I could say that was the end of it, that “I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes…” (I love a good, random Ace of Base quote), but that’s not the case.

The next day, I was still thinking about having a drink. We’re making plans for Super Bowl Sunday, and I thought, “I can drink with friends. Nothing crazy, just a normal amount.” I never claimed I wasn’t a hard-headed stubborn fool.

At dinner last night, I broached the subject with my husband. I told him I’d like to try drinking in moderation, and wanted to know his thoughts. He said, “I’m not sure what I think about it. I guess my question is why? What is the reason for drinking after all the work you’ve done to stop?” I had no answer, except, “I’d like to see if my relationship with alcohol has changed, after all the work I’ve done.” He responded that drinking to see if I could really do it in moderation doesn’t sound like a great reason to him.

Since I don’t disagree, and had no answer for that, we sort of dropped the subject and continued on with our evening. I didn’t stop thinking about drinking, though.

Later, just before I went to bed, my husband handed me an envelope that had come with the day’s mail. It was handwritten, and was addressed to me. I could tell from the return address that it was from an old high school friend of mine. This friend and I follow each other’s online updates, but haven’t actually spoken in years. Opening the letter, this is what I found:

Hello, Friend!

I just wanted to say that I’ve been reading about your sobriety, and I honor your efforts to stay that way… and have hope that you have the strength to see it through, and that your family is there to hold you up when you’re weak.

All I could think was, “Holy shit.”

I read and reread the note a hundred times. I then placed it back in its envelope.

In that moment, I knew.

The Universe placed yet another sign right in my path, telling me the answer, and I heard it- felt it, even- as clearly as I’ve felt anything in my life.

I will remain sober.

So here’s to friends and family, the people who prop us up when we can’t or won’t do it for ourselves. Here’s to The Universe, for providing a steady supply of answers, whether or not we choose to hear them.

Above all, I’m grateful for family, and I’m grateful for that support system I can’t always see, that reveals itself at exactly the right moment, when I need it the most.

Posted in Addiction, Alcoholics, Barack Obama, C-Haze, Elections, News, Politics, Race, Relationships

Charles Barkley, Politics and a Blow Job

As we’ve all heard by now, Charles Barkley was arrested in Arizona recently on suspicion of DUI.

He ran a stop sign, and when questioned by the officer that pulled him over, he claimed he did it because he was in a hurry.

Why?

Because his “hot” passenger (his term, not mine), was about to give him a blow job.

Simply put, the poor guy was anxious- thus his need to hurry.

Huh.

This is the same guy who has his sights set on the governorship in 2014.

I wonder if his political career has ended before it even effectively began.

I don’t think his DUI would cause him any long-term consequences… certainly not all the way through 2014…

… But…

I do wonder what his… uh… blunt confession (to say the least), about breaking the law and jeopardizing others because he was on a mission to receive oral sex might do.

We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. I’ve always been a fan of Charles Barkley… mostly because he is outspoken and real.

Hopefully he will handle this most recent embarrassment forthrightly, making no excuses for his very dangerous actions.

If he does that, perhaps we can look forward to calling him Governor Barkley in a few years…

… Otherwise, he might just have been shut out.

Posted in Addiction, C-Haze, Funny, Humor, News, Politics, War on Terror

The New Yorker, Obama, McCain and Crack Pipes

I am one of those that got offended by the New Yorker’s most recent Obama cartoon.

It was completely disgusting.

The artist claims this nonsense was supposed to be satire, not ignorance… and it certainly wasn’t meant to be cruel.

Really? Perpetuating false stereotypes is supposed to be funny?

Huh.

I guess I don’t get it.

I do wonder though… Instead of poking fun at things that aren’t even real- like Obama’s fictional Muslim roots, or his wife Michelle’s unfounded militant personality- why not talk about some things that are true?

For instance, here’s a little “satire” about Cindy McCain…

She’s a recovering drug addict… and not just an addict… but… *gasp*… a criminal

She was caught stealing pills- percocets actually- from a non-profit medical relief organization… and hey- it wasn’t just any ol’ organization…  

It was the one she founded.

None of us heard about it when it actually happened because she has more money than God and was able to make it all go away.

She merely had to agree to close down her non-prof org and spend a little court-ordered time in a swanky rehab facility.

It was more of a court-ordered sabbatical really.

Are we laughing yet? 

No?

Hmm… well how ’bout this one then…

Did y’all hear the one about how John McCain cheated on his first wife- not only with Cindy (she was Cindy Hensley at the time), but countless other women as well?

Seems he had a hard time keepin’ it in his pants.

This, in spite of the fact that Carol McCain had faithfully waited for her hubby-dearest for five-and-a-half years while he was a POW in Vietnam.

Ready for the punchline?

It seems that while John McCain was locked up overseas his wife was in a horrible car accident– she broke both her legs, shattered her pelvis and ruptured her spleen.

She was physically scarred from the accident and due to surgeries that ultimately saved her life (not to mention a full six months in the hospital) unfortunately found herself a full four inches shorter than she used to be.

Gone was the beautiful former swimsuit model countless men had lusted after… McCain’s wife was instead (at least temporarily) confined to a wheelchair and had a catheter.

Plus, she’d gained a few pouds.

So what’d our fabulously moral Johnny boy do?

Wait for it, folks…

He left her for another woman.

Hee hee!

Oh wait- still not laughing?

Did I even get as much as a chuckle outta ya?

No? Well alright, I’ll try one more time then… perhaps this one’s a bit funnier…

Did you hear the one where Senator McCheater applied for the marriage license to tie the knot with new-love Cindy a full month before his divorce from wifey numero uno was even final?

HA, HA, HA!

I mean, that’s funny, right?

Ok- maybe not… but hey- at least it’s true, and in my opinion it’s about as flippin’ hilarious as a cartoon of Obama in a turbin… fist-bumpin’ his gun totin’ wife… with an image of a burning American flag in the fireplace.

And hang on- is that Bin Laden’s portrait hanging over the mantle?

Mercy.

I have a hard time imagining any publication running- in contrast- a cartoon featuring Cindy McCain strung out with crack pipe in hand wearing prison stripes behind bars… all while begging her hubby to wait for her- and for the love of God- please remain faithful!

Or something like this…

As poor taste as this is, at least it’s true.

Why do Barack and Michelle Obama keep getting so much shit for things that are not real- his “ties” to the Nation of Islam, his “relationship” with Farakhan, Michelle’s “hatred” of this country- while Cindy and John McCain get to skate, completely unscathed and untouched by the legitimately ugly skeletons in their own closets?

The McCains certainly leave much to be desired in the morality-slash-integrity category.

Perhaps the Obamas should consider themselves lucky.

It seems that due to the lack of real ammunition against them, people are having to fall back on merely making shit up.

Harty har har.