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.
- Wake up in the morning.
- Realize i’m alive.
- Feel sad about that fact.
- Sit up, put my feet on the floor, my elbows on my knees, my face in my hands and wonder how it ever got this hard.
- Wait for the courage to rise.
This was my daily routine for so many years it’s embarrassing. Consistently, the first thoughts that crept into my waking mind were like roaches: gross, depressing and impossible to get rid of.
Since becoming sober, i wake up in a neutral mood. Usually, my first thought is a simple question, “Do i work today?” If the answer is ‘No’, i feel good. If the answer is ‘yes’, i don’t feel bad.
Last Saturday, i was having lunch with some AAers (and that victory is a whole ‘nother post) after a meeting and i mentioned this crap to a friend. He told me that his therapist told him that the first thought of the day is great way to judge where your head’s at. (FWIW, the friend’s first thought was “How do I get out of my marriage”!–he’s now divorced.)
So, this is my challenge for you. Over the next couple days, try to capture your first thought of the morning. Take your mental temperature first thing when you wake up, and share it here with us if you can!
My big ass bottom is no longer a shock to any of my regular readers, but what you might not know is that i love it. Why? Because without it i wouldn’t be here.
When i was drinking, i was very cavalier about my drinking problem. True story, i used to take the AA test hoping for a higher score. When i say i was a practicing alcoholic, i honestly was literally practicing to be a better one. i started the Bar None blog as a way to revel in my alcoholism, i elected myself Functional Alcoholic Slurperson, i embraced my disease as the one thing that made me unique.
The Miracle Is Around the Corner wrote a wonderful post about Step 1 in AA and reading it i realized i took that step when i admitted i could no longer be cavalier about my drinking. This is entirely thanks to my big ass bottom. Even if, Higher Power forbid, i take up the drink again, i’ll never be able to do it with the same carefree attitude i had before because of where my big ass bottom dropped me.
To those of you with tiny little bottoms, allow me to tell you how much i admire them and heap all kinds of props on your wee bottom. i have the luxury of never being able to go back to the shit storm my big ass bottom made of my life. But those of you who don’t have that excuse… i respect you enormously because you’re stronger than i ever was and i pray out loud right now that you will stay on track and never know what it feels like to have a big ass bottom.
A quick disclaimer.
While i attempted to pen this post with a certain degree of levity, i do want to acknowledge very clearly that for those in my entourage, there was nothing at all even remotely amusing in all of this. This is especially true for Celeste E Hall and my son who found me the next morning and had to call the EMTs, as well as dear friends who were called in from out of town to be at my bedside in case i died.
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.
The Three Asshole Rule
When you meet your third asshole of the day, it means you’re probably the asshole.
Heard in the rooms last Saturday
My drinking life (because it was too long to be just a career) was a series of alarm bells going off constantly, beginning with the very first time i ever drank.
- At 18, the first time i ever drank alcohol, i peed my pants and drove drunk
- At 25, i fell asleep driving drunk and drove my car into a guardrail on the freeway
- At around 40, after waking up from a blackout on a subway platform, a stranger knocked me unconscious with a metal bar and left me for dead
There were lots of warning bells throughout my drinking, yet somehow, i was able to hit the Snooze Button each time an alarm rang. That worked until it didn’t.
- At 47 i binged on red wine and spent 10 days in the hospital after i attempted suicide
Finally i had my wake up call.
What about you? Care to share with us any signs about your drinking you chose to ignore? Leave a note in the Comments Section!
Years ago, when i was still drinking, on a Friday night much like tonight, my kids and i were in the living room watching TV. Suddenly and without the slightest warning, a loud crashing noise, like a body falling from a hiding place, tumbled out of the bathroom. We all looked at each other, unsure. We were the only people in the apartment.
i ran to the bathroom to find a shelf my father had hung months before over the door was now on the floor. The paint cans it had once held had opened during the fall and vomitted their oily white lacquer all over the blue walls.
i stood there in a daze for the longest time, just staring at the devastation, incapable of understanding. Here was a disaster that was in no way my fault. It was not the result of a binge and i wasn’t even the one who’d placed the shelf. A bad thing happened that i could not have foreseen or prevented no matter what i’d done.
This event crystalized a general apprehension i’d always felt vaguely lurking in the dark places of my mind. Except now i had a word for it. The Shelf of Damocles was the term i assigned to all of the bad things that were waiting to besiege me when i least suspected. i feared the shelf and the omnipresent threat it represented.
Last week, after i noticed i’d stopped waking up suicidal, i also realized the Shelf of Damocles no longer hung over my head. Yes, of course bad things will continue to happen to me for no reason– i have not yet mastered control of the universe (though i haven’t given up trying). But i’m not afraid of bad luck anymore.
Because there is no problem i can have that sobriety cannot solve .
There was a time i would wake up in the morning and the first thing i would do was put my feet on the floor, my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands while i let the sadness wash over me, drown me, pull me deeper.
i would start off my day on the wrong side of the bed, no matter what side it was i woke up on.
Today, i realized i don’t do that anymore. This sadness that was my “default” position is so far in my past that i’ve forgotten about it. Mind you, i don’t jump out of bed with a song in my heart—i’m not insane—but i get off on the right foot and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
One of the many great things about being sober? The darkness fades so much, i sometimes forget how lost i was.
Today at lunch i poured myself a glass of wine. It was the weirdest thing.
Those of you who read this blog regularly know that in “Yeaman” a bottle of wine waits patiently on the tables of the restaurants where i have my business lunches 3 times a week.
Usually i have no problem ignoring it and will even pour a glass for others at the table before setting the bottle down and forgetting it. Well, today i poured a glass for 2 of the 3 clients i ate with… and then poured one for myself without even realizing it!
Now, i wasn’t tempted to have a single sip because my life is immeasurably better now than when i was a drunk, but it goes to show that old habits are hard to shake.
P.S. Concerning my previous post, this situation was all the more ironic in that, when i met the clients i lunched with, i explained i’m a teetotaler! Eyebrows were definitely raised…