When i was 25 years old, i tried to become an alcoholic.
During a period that lasted a week, i woke up, showered, dressed for work and sat in the recliner in my living room while i drank two glasses of wine with a purpose. And by “with a purpose” i mean that i did it even if i didn’t want to and i did it for a specific reason.
i forced myself to gulp wine like medicine (or poison) before driving to work because i wanted to be a real alcoholic.
Some alcoholics cannot live without alcohol, they get the DT’s if they don’t imbibe and can drink almost constantly and not get overly drunk. i
was am not this kind of alcoholic. When i was active in my alcoholism, i could go several days, even up to a week, without a drink. i did not wake up with cravings, i did not eat hand soap at work or hide bottles in the bathroom.
But once i had one glass, i would not stop until i was physically unable to have another.
My ‘problem’ was that i didn’t think binge drinkers qualified as alcoholics and i desperately (and ‘desperately’ is really the perfect word here) wanted to become one.
Why? Simple. i hated who i was and i hated my life and i wanted something to change. Anything to change. Change for the worse was still a change. i hoped to become a skid row bum with a red nose living in my clothes and sleeping on benches because at least that was different than what i was living at the moment.
The good news is this story has a happy ending. i learned that binge drinkers are alkies like the rest and found a way out of my hell. The bad news is, it took me 23 more years of suffering to get there.
After college, i was obsessed with a girl who was almost as beautiful as i thought she was and who didn’t like me nearly enough to quell my obsession.
One night at a bar, i drank way more than i should have. Then i had one more. Then another. Then the idea threw up in my brain that i had to see this girl.
i didn’t decide to drive drunk that night. i never decided to drive drunk. Rather it was a compulsion that overcame me and swept me away like a tsunamitini. A smarter alcoholic would have chosen to drunk dial but i’m nothing if not the stupid alcoholic so i chose to drunk drive the 1½ hours that separated Tracy and me so i could wake her at 3am and declare my love for her. Yes, well, i’ve already admitted to being the lowest common drunkard.
Somewhere around Hour-1, with 75% of the trip behind me, i fell asleep. i woke up less than a minute later to see my car barreling directly at a guardrail. i slammed on the brakes and hit the metal barrier head on. i was not wearing my seat belt.
i remember looking at the accordion front end of my car through the broken windshield. i remember taking my foot off the gas and the car shuddering to a stall. i remember seeing the cracked glass in front of me like a jagged spider’s web and understanding i had bounced off the windshield rather than burst through it.
After the long moment it took realization to seep through me, i found a way to tie the hood down with my jean jacket and drive the car to the next exit where God was nice enough to place a 24-hour truck stop that sold shock cords. i attached these to the hood and drove to a friend’s house rather than Tracy’s place.
i almost drove my car into a ditch approaching his parking lot, because i fell asleep again.
PS i was able to be fully reimbursed for my car because i told the insurance company that i’d hit a deer.
What about you? Have you ever driven drunk? Care to tell us about it in the comments?
i’m a walker. During my drinking life, when in the middle of a binge, i would often simply stand up, step away from the table, leave the room and walk off looking for adventure. If it wasn’t my night, i would find it.
One night i went to a party at a friend’s house and over stayed my welcome so much that he insisted i spend the night in his guest room. At about 2am he put me down for the night and went to join his wife in the bedroom down the hall. Then i got the urge to walk.
i snuck out of their apartment and walked the dark streets of their neighborhood until i reached a larger and infamous suburb west of Yeaman City. This was not the kind of place you walk after dark, and especially not at 2am when you’re drunk.
A group of young people was hanging out in a deserted public square and, me being me, i approached them and tried to drunkenly befriend them using my bad Yeaman accent. After blabbering with them a few minutes, one of the gang pulled me aside and whispered it would probably be a wise decision on my part to cut the conversation short and call it a night.
So i did.
i got about three minutes away when i did my inventory. Keys – check, sunglasses – check, pen & notebook – check wallet … my wallet was missing. i’d nearly gotten away free and clear but some time during our exchange one of the group had liberated my billfold.
Not just angry but drunk angry, i stormed back to group and started telling them off for being so badly raised that they would take advantage of another person that way. So they did the normal thing and kicked my ass.
i was knocked down, kicked, punched and my neck was scratched when someone tore off my gold chain. The flurry of blows lasted only a matter of moments before another loitering group came over and shooed my attackers away.
As i left the scene, i was humbled and sad and a little lost. Especially when i touched the back pocket of my jeans. My wallet was there– i’d had it the whole time. It had never been stolen and was, ironically, the only thing that remained of my excursion.
Hello, my name is Al and i’m an alcoholc.
i’m sure i’ve told this story here on these pages somewhere but as this came up in my 8th Step work (Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all) and i also can’t be bothered to search through my posts to link to it, i’ll just retell it as briefly as i can.
One Friday night here in Yeaman, after the weekly cocktail party where i work, i followed some of my colleagues to a Scottish pub for the pre-after party. i was not drunk, i was totally shitfaced. i spoke very rudely on the underground, embarrassing my friends because i didn’t think anyone spoke English in the subway car, until a young woman standing nearby informed us in no uncertain terms that she did.
At the bar, i went to order a beer and noticed the barmaid was attractive (i was single at this time), so i decided to say something out of the ordinary, something edgy, to catch her attention and stand out from the crowd. i don’t remember what i said. The next thing i do remember is the barmaid was in tears, my coworkers were leading me outside, and the furious barman/owner was telling me i was barred for life.
Jumping ahead to tonight… At the meeting, a young lady in her mid-late 20’s was celebrating 5 years of sobriety and was talking about how she had lost everything (her job, her apartment, her family) to her disease before realizing she needed help.
When it came my turn to share i said:
When i was drinking, i felt like a broken toy. Like those toys under the bed in the evil kid’s house in Toy Story where the heads are on the wrong bodies. And like them, i knew i was beyond repair. That was my destiny. i had to accept the fact that i was alone and living in the dark and there was nothing i could do to get fixed.
The most amazing thing for me when i entered the program was realizing i was not broken by nature. That i could be repaired. All i had to do was to follow the steps. And as i took those steps and followed the advice, i slowly came out from under the bed and into the light.
As i spoke, i glanced up at her and saw she was crying. She was not crying because i had humiliated or hurt her, but because my words resonated with her.
If anybody tells you that using is better than recovery, they’re full of Schlitz.
Over the Christmas holiday, i saw an excellent documentary called Pearl Jam Twenty by Cameron Crowe, which describes the rise and rise of Pearl Jam. The band was formed from the ashes of the seminal grunge band Mother Love Bone after their sadly gifted frontman, Andrew Wood, died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Andy’s story and the film touch on Kurt Cobain’s suicide which brought back this Blast from my past.
Mother Love Bone – Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns
In 2005 i saw a different movie. The film, Last Days, was made by indie director Gus Van Sant and is loosely based on Kurt Cobain’s final days before his death. i attended the last showing one Friday night after my company’s cocktail party and passed out while i watched it. i was brought back (one shoe missing, sprawled out with my legs slung over the backs of the seats in the row in front of me) by three burly staff members during the end credits. They asked me to leave, i found my shoe, put it on and walked away.
i walked away again early January 2011, when i walked into my first AA meeting.
i’m the one who walked away. Many artists i admire tripped, then fell and were left behind but i, i walked away. While my voice may not be as loud or as powerful or as pure as some of those who have passed before me, it is mine and it is still here so it falls on me to say what they cannot. And i tell you, “Walk away. Just walk away and don’t look back. Walk away now, while you can still walk.”
Time for a…
Blast from the Pabst
When my son was, let’s say 12 (and we’re saying that because i have no idea how old he was), he belonged to a theater “club” that met every Saturday afternoon. The community center was 20 minutes away on foot, and after lunch i would walk him there, come back home for an hour, and then go back to pick him up.
One Saturday, my daughter (and if 12 is the age we’re going with for my son, we’re stuck with 10 for my daughter) decided to walk with me. As we approached the center, she wanted me to hide and surprise my son by showing up alone. i agreed and dutifully waited behind a bush to watch the scene play out.
My son exited the building and was obviously surprised to see my daughter unaccompanied. As they passed in front of my hiding place, i heard her explain that “Dad drank a lot of wine and fell asleep on the sofa, so I came to pick you up by myself.”
And he believed her; after all, why wouldn’t he?
As telling as this story is, the footnote to this story occurred about two months after i went into recovery. i took both of the kids to a teen al-anon meeting at a church here, then waited for them in a cafe. When the meeting was over and we were riding the subway back home, i asked my son what he thought of the meeting and he said he felt that he didn’t really belong there. While other kids told traumatic stories of their parents’ drunken escapades, he said i’d done a rather good job of keeping my drinking from spilling over onto them.
i’ve been sober for over 19 months (still not long enough) and in that time i’ve tried to make up for my down time with my children. i find that i’m more present in my sobriety than i was when i was drinking, and that i have more energy to spend on them and more patience to accord them. i like to think we’re close (my son now lives with me and i have my daughter almost every weekend) and i see they are beginning to trust in my recovery. They are relaxed around me. They make jokes about subjects that could be sensitive considering my drinking life and my bottom, but they feel safe.
i want to be the perfect father. i will never ever be the prefect father. Right now, though, i’m a better father than i was, and my children need that a hell of a lot more than they need perfection.
They never stopped loving me, but now they can look up to me.
Tonight i was reminded of my University career (i graduated from a State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and an Additional Major in Psychology). My drinking problem became apparent very early on in my studies, but College is great camouflage for alcoholism.
In my Senior year, i toyed with the idea of going to Grad School for a Masters so i had to take the GMAT (?—GSAT? who can be bothered to remember this crap?). The all-day test started at 8 on a Saturday morning and was rigorously timed like all the official tests.
The night before the exam, i planned to finally crack the study texts i’d bought months before, but a party broke out in my apartment instead. i got drunk on Lambrusco and have vague memories of walking around my apartment barefoot, wearing a jean jacket with no shirt. Then i remember hurling an empty bottle of wine at the wall over my bed. The glass shattered and sprayed the sheet like the dregs of the wine. i took off all my clothes and passed out on the broken glass.
Somehow i woke up in time for the test, with the blood stains on the sheet from the cuts on my back indecipherable from the wine stains. i didn’t have time to shower, but i made it to the exam center before the start of the test. i think the only way i was able to survive that day was that i was still drunk in the morning, and at lunch i must’ve done something to stave off the hangover (probably popping Tylenol as it couldn’t hurt you back then, like everything else we didn’t know) because i survived the entire day.
i decided not to go to Grad School and don’t remember what the results of my exams were. Except Logic.
There was a Logic section in the test and i scored in the 95th percentile.
Just goes to show you, Alcoholism defies Logic.