I’m dating myself. Does anyone remember Bartles and Jaymes “wine coolers?” I think it was the first time alcohol companies started aggressively marketing to young women.
My first job back in the day was at a grocery store chain. I worked in the meat department. No, I wasn’t a 16 year old butcher. I was the kid who steam cleaned all the equipment after the butchers had gone home. A good job if you are trying to quit eating meat. I’m not going to tell you how bad the meat grinder smelled after just one day of use. They gave me that particular job because I worked well without supervision. As I go on you will realize I probably needed more supervision.
Okay, back to the sickly sweet, fruity tasting wine coolers. Not only did they come in a nice 4 pack of glass bottles, they also sold them in plastic 2 liter bottles! This is where I came in.
I had the run of the store and nobody questioned anything I did. I got a good idea. (In my 16 year old brain.) I went out onto the floor and grabbed 2 two liter bottles of 7-UP and carried them back to the small walk in refrigerator at the end of the butcher shop. Then I went to the warehouse part of the store and stealthily took 2 two liter bottles of wine coolers.
The walking fridge had a drain in the floor into which I emptied the soda bottles. I carefully transferred the wine from the 2 liter bottles into the 2 liter bottles of 7-UP. At the end of my shift I would carry it down to the front of the store and pay the cashier 99 cents for two liters of wine coolers because that was the price of the 7-UP.
Looking back, I think it was a pretty ingenious way to start my alcoholic career driving home and chugging my pilfered wine.
I only lasted about a year at that job. It’s another funny story. I got fired but not for stealing wine coolers. I knew a kid who worked alone in the dairy department and our freezers were next to each other. We spent a lot of time talking. But this kid was a real wise ass. To the point annoying as fuck. He said something to me and I impulsively wrapped his head with the strapping tape I had in my hands. He tried to get it out but it was hopelessly stuck in his long hair. As he started to freak out the store manager walked through the swinging doors and wanted to know what happened. That was the end of my butcher career but not the end of my drinking. I guess I was pretty determined there.
They say every alcoholic has to hit “rock bottom” before they can quit drinking. I didn’t hit mine with a bang. My experience was fairly banal. I hit bottom softly like a feather floating down to earth. Of all the stupid things I’ve done when I was drunk and wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t drunk, it was something as simple as a hangover that brought me down.
It wasn’t just one hangover; it was six hangovers in 12 days. My new thing was “control drinking.” I would pace myself through 12 beers so I wouldn’t do anything stupid. The problem with pacing myself was I never felt drunk but I did get the full 12 beer hangover the next day, all day and night.
Last spring I was just coming out of a long depression and I went on a kick. It went something like this. I would control drink 12 beers and not feel anything, spend the next day and night with the worst suicidal 12 beer hangover and the next day I would be sober until I drank again that night. I did it for almost 2 weeks.
The last night of drinking I couldn’t control my pace anymore and I got that feeling and by the end of the night I did something stupid. It wasn’t major. It was just crossing a line I wouldn’t have crossed if I wasn’t drunk. It was something simple and had no consequences but I feel dumb about it so I’m not going to write anything here. Besides, it was the hangovers that made me want to quit.
I’ve had worse hangovers. I’ve had hangovers that lasted 3 days before. I never drink that many days in 2 weeks. It was drinking every other day and hungover every other day. Finally I couldn’t take the suicidal thoughts and the fear of acting on them and the guilt that comes along with that knowing from personal experience how suicide can fuck up a family for generations.
It was a sober day and I was fighting the urge to buy more beer, remembering how awful I would feel the next day. I still wanted to drink. I’m not sure how I did it but I finally broke the cycle. I didn’t know it would be a long term thing. I’ve read that hangovers are a bad reason to quit drinking because the memory will fade and you will drink again. I’ve also read you have to do whatever it takes to stop drinking. It’s the memory of the torture I put myself through with absolutely no reward. I put myself through it mentally every time I think I want to drink.
It’s working so far. That was my rock bottom. I went out with a whimper, not a bang. I didn’t do anything stupid I would regret. I didn’t get arrested, I didn’t kill myself, obviously. I just had a hangover. Actually several, but very boring compared to other rock bottom stories I’ve heard over the years.
Maybe the memory will fade. Maybe I will trick myself into thinking it wasn’t so bad. I can think of 2 reasons I might start drinking again.The first one is stupid. I would meet a woman who wants to go for drinks. I would be too embarrassed to admit I am an alcoholic so I would lie and just say I’m not much of a drinker and just go with it. The second would be much worse. I’ve never had anyone extremely close to me die. I don’t know how I would react to it but considering my past behavior, I would probably go straight to the bottle. Maybe I wouldn’t but if something ever happened to my daughter I would definitely give up.
Not my first drink. My first drunk. I was 6, that made my cousin about 9. It was the high school kids across the street. They scored a bottle and thought it would be funny to get a couple of the neighborhood kids drunk. They called us in the front door of the split level ranch. When we saw the bottle we knew exactly what it was. We were excited about what was about to happen.
The first sip burned but in a good way. It made me warm and soothed me. The high school kids were right, it was funny; to them. I think there were 4 of them. I don’t know, it was so long ago and I was drunk. They stood in a circle around us and laughed their asses off as my cousin and I rolled on the floor fighting over the last sip. That’s how much we liked it. We were on the floor, both clutching the bottle, laughing. There was about one shot left in the bottle. I was smaller than my cousin but I won and claimed my prize.
Our parents were calling for us to come home because it was after dark. The older kids threw us out the bedroom window telling us not to say where we had been. We rolled across the grass laughing, got up and ran around the house and across the street.
This is when I experienced my first blackout. This is another story our family never talks about with our excellent communications skills. My cousin and I pieced it together through the years. We were at the bottom of the steps laughing our asses off; obviously drunk. Our parents were yelling at us asking where we were. We never ratted any of the older kids out, even though we owed them no allegiance. I made it to the second floor deck and fell backwards through the railing. The story goes I just missed hitting the pavement and landed on the edge of the grassy marshland, unhurt. My cousin got into the house and puked all over the kitchen floor.
We got into a lot of trouble. I remember my cousin having to stand in the corner supporting a broomstick across his outstretched arms. I got off easy and only had to stay in my room for a few days. Maybe they felt bad for me because I almost died. I don’t know why we were punished. It’s not like we went and bought the booze ourselves.
My cousin and I turned out to be the biggest drinkers of all the kids in our family. That was probably the start of our careers. Not that we didn’t have plenty of opportunities to drink other than that. There was a game in our house where the first kid to bring an adult a fresh beer was awarded with a big swig. Real bright.
My two girlfriends came over and helped me relieve some stress. I’ve been seeing them about once a month for a year now. I talked them into coming over twice this month because I needed to calm down. I met the older one on a dating site and she brought her younger friend with her. It’s very businesslike. They come over during the day, we talk a little, have sex and they leave. For the longest time I wasn’t sure if they were faking it to make me feel like the man. Today they were talking to each other and said, it doesn’t compare, they can’t do that for themselves at home. Sex is the only safe drug I have and it is better than any other. My brain is buzzing now and my whole mind and body are calm.
The situation with them is fine but I need something else too. Somewhere along the spectrum of today and a real relationship. I know I can’t handle a real relationship. I need to find someone I can hang out with for a night once in a while.
My case manager texts me on Mondays and calls me on Wednesdays. If I don’t respond then she calls the cops for a “Wellness Check.” That is where they cuff me and stuff me and bring me to the psych ward. They don’t care if all the neighbors in my large apartment complex see me handcuffed, searched and stuck in he back of the wagon. Even better they just drop me off at the psych ward and leave me to find my own ride home if the hospital decides I don’t need to be admitted. It’s fun to be treated like a criminal just because I have a mental illness.
Before my therapist went on maternity leave, I had her calling on Fridays to do the same thing. Ostensibly it was a therapy session but she was trying to get me off the phone as soon as she started talking to me. “How are you feeling? Are you taking your meds? Okay, talk to you same time next week.” I don’t blame her; I was her last call on a Friday afternoon and she just wanted to get on with her weekend.
A couple months ago I missed one of these calls. I never put my phone on mute but for some reason I had on that day. I was in the other room and I heard the vibrating noise but didn’t know what it was. It clicked and I rushed to my phone but I was too late. Before I could finish listening to my therapist’s voicemail, my case manager was calling. Then she texted me. I had to hang up the phone and text back I was okay. If I didn’t hear my phone I would have had a cop, “cop knocking” at my door. You know how they do it. Banging really loud and announcing to the whole neighborhood they are the police and why they are there. I”m tired of this shit.
I have a little time before I go to see my daughter. I hope she still likes me. I’m sure she does. My mind just blows things out of proportion. I’m always worrying about something. I was talking to my friend who has three daughters. As soon as I told her what was going on with my daughter she said, It’s puberty and it sucks for the child and the parent. That is what I knew anyway but I always make things worse for myself. I will feel better after I bicycle there.
I started an epic story for my Wednesday post but I don’t think I will get it done in time. The more I wrote the more I thought of to write. It’s not like I have to post on Wednesday, it’s just that I have every week since I started this blog. I think my first post was on that day.
I biked to my daughter’s house today. I got a pretty good sun/wind burn on my face. It doesn’t take much and it was the first time I sat out on the beach this year. It was almost 90 degrees outside. I’m using the AC for one of the few times.
My daughter is fine. I just get it tied up in my head one way and can’t get it out. I spend too much time alone.
6am. I just reversed my sleep schedule by falling asleep before midnight. I must be tired from riding my bike yesterday.
A few nights ago when I wasn’t sleeping I signed up for a dating site again to maybe meet someone. It was the same as I remember. I can click around and it tells you who is online at the moment. I send a bunch of messages and don’t get any responses from the women I think are compatible. Everyone is way too serious on there. I send humorous messages so people know I’m not taking it seriously or trying to get married or something. If I’m not serious enough that is the end of the conversation. People are so rude, they just stop talking to you if you don’t say the perfect thing.
I did see someone from my town who seemed normal so I was talking to her for a couple nights. I was making her laugh but she didn’t really like me. She likes to go out for drinks and I just can’t do that. I tried to get her number to text but she didn’t want to and I realized I can’t go out on real dates anyway. It’s only been 3 nights and I am done with it I think. I don’t know who really meets up on the site. All the men want sex and all the women don’t want sex. Some women I see say they are looking to get married and they are in their 40’s. You can’t find your husband on a free dating app. Good thing it is free and I didn’t waste any money on it. It just made me realize I’m not prepared to date anyone. I just want to hang out and talk and do some low key activities. I don’t want to go out party every night or even on the weekends. I don’t need something spectacular going on all the time.
I finished my Wednesday post. I didn’t proofread it. I just finished typing and hit publish. I feel like I left out some important points but it was also getting too long for anyone to read. The title doesn’t make any sense unless you know the name of the town Telluride is a contraction of the phrase, “T’ ‘ell ‘U’ ride.” It is what they would tell the gold miners back in the 1800’s because it was such a long trail with no supply stations and it led to the middle of nowhere.
Just like that, I ditched the online dating. I’m in no condition to meet someone new. I am doing the bare minimum keeping up with my place. There is cat hair all over the floor and already this morning I said, fuck vacuuming.
Before my therapist went on maternity leave, one of the quality of life questions she would always ask me is if I was doing my laundry. I would always lie and say yes. On the last day we talked I decided to tell her, no, I’m not doing my laundry. She asked me how it was getting done. Like I have a maid service or something. She works with mentally ill people every day and she couldn’t fathom a person wouldn’t wash their clothes. I”m glad she took a few months off. She can be dense sometimes.
I have never hit the “pink cloud” phase people at AA talk about. It doesn’t matter how long I go without drinking, I never get that feeling my life has magically transformed. Maybe it’s my drinking style. I never drank every day. Instead I would get get really drunk on the weekends without thinking about booze on the days in between. I didn’t know until it was too late that is another form of alcoholism called binge drinking. I always thought you had to drink every day to become dependent on alcohol.
Binge drinking is defined as having 5 or more drinks for the average size man and 4 drinks for an average size woman in one sitting. If you are doing that on an typical night out you could be looking at some trouble later in life. Your blood alcohol content has nothing to do with how much you actually weigh. It is determined by how much you “should” weigh based on your height. That is because it doesn’t matter how much weight you gain, your body never makes a larger quantity of blood to make up for it. The idea that a larger man can handle more alcohol is a myth. The only reason they can handle more is because they have a tolerance. Having a tolerance is another major red flag for alcoholism.
I am sitting here in my 3rd or 4th month without drinking and I am still waiting for that pink fuzzy cloud to surround my brain. I’ve read stories of other alcoholics feeling it as soon as one month sober. I’m not sure if that can be true. A lifetime of problems aren’t just going away because you stopped drinking for 30 days.
My depression has lifted but not because I stopped drinking. It was the opposite. My depression dissipated first and that is how I was able to put the brakes on my drinking. I’ve had longer periods without drinking but I’ve never experienced the “miracle” they tell you to sit back and wait to arrive.
It is only 10am and I’ve already written on here and also did two book reviews. I’m usually just waking up at this time so I don’t know what made me so productive. Just a couple days ago I was struggling to write anything. I only had my usual 2 cups of coffee. Any more and my mind is ruined for the whole day. I learned that the hard way. Now I’ve bought myself some time to write about more interesting topics. If I can think of something.
Wow. Right after I wrote that I got incredibly depressed. Like I have to go to bed depresssed. But there was no sleeping. My schedule is upside down. I have to pull a 24 hour day to make it to 5am and fix it. After I came out of it I had bad anxiety and paced around until 5pm. That’s when I feel safer. I am always afraid they are going to break the door down between 9 and 5.
9pm. I planned on being drunk when I posted this. It may still happen. I don’t know. Seriously, I had it all planned out. All the way down to the detail of how many beers I was going to drink per hour. My attempt at controlling my drinking. I started writing this at 9pm for two reasons. One is that was the time we used to get to the bar when we were partying a lot. In our minds the alcoholic was the guys falling off the barstool when we came in. We couldn’t be alcoholics, we have it under control. ( even though we partied until the sun came up). The second reason is later in my attempt to control drinking I would buy beer at 9pm. That way if I nursed it, by the time I ran out of beer the store would be closed and I couldn’t buy anymore. So I would just go to sleep after the beer was gone.
I’ve actually been doing this since Thursday when I was at my daughter’s house. I was pointedly uninvited from today’s party. It’s the best of the year. And it’s my favorite holiday. I’ve never been a patriotic, celebrate America type of guy. I just like fireworks and partying in the summer. That’s why I was uninvited. Last time I was there I drank most of the Jagermeister and got really drunk. It’s a bad idea for me to be at a big party. A band, a bonfire, beers. A bad combination for me. I can drink and have a good time. My problem is I don’t stop until the beer runs out. Anyway. I was both anger and despondency. But it’s turned inward on myself. I’m pissed because it’s my fault I can’t go.
It was on the ride home I gave myself permission to drink. It only took a second. It was a thought of reaching into the cooler at the store and pulling out a potent six pack. Then the dopamine rush. The tingle in my brain. The plan was set in action. Everything I did was because I was going to drink on Saturday night. (This sucks. I can hear fireworks all around me but can’t see over the trees) Yesterday I listened to an audio book for the first time. It was to take up most of the day so my mind was kept busy away from thoughts of drinking. Today I made it to the food store so I could stock up on a good meal. Get my belly full before I started drinking. It was dinner that did it surprisingly. I had my once a month rib eye steak and mad a full dinner out of it and while I was doing that I did a 180 and decided I wasn’t going to drink. (Or at least try not to) Every thing turned into a treat. I ate a can of Pringles and 2 chocolate caramel bars. Hopefully I didn’t celebrate too early.
That’s my new addiction If I quit drinking. I will eat. I’ve already gained some weight. Better than smoking. I’ve done that and it’s awful. Some people pick up a serious habit after they quit drinking. I’ve seen people fire down 2 cigarettes in a 5 minute break. I can’t start smoking again. I was horribly hooked. Oh well, I’ll get fat. I’m not really unhealthy. I”m just addicted to everything.
11:02pm This is the time I would assess my situation. The store closes in half an hour. Last call for alcohol. If I bought a 6 pack of double alcohol beer at 8 I would be out by now and would buy another 6. That’s why I have to wait until 9. I’m doing pretty well tonight. I just rested in bed. No pangs. I think what made my decision for me was the hangover. Now if I drink it takes commitment. Not only commitment to drinking all the beer but also a commitment to an all day hangover the next day. And I mean all day. Until the minute I sleep again. All this time hearing a voice telling me I’m worthless and should kill myself.
Of all the stupid things I’ve done while drinking that could have been my rock bottom. Who knew it would be something as mundane as a hangover that made me want to quit. It was the repetition. I did it 14 days in a row. Really drunk. The next day deathly hungover. Over and over again. I just couldn’t take it on the last day. How could I do that to myself?
I don’t know what makes this holiday so special. I made it through my last birthday no problem. Same with Memorial day. It was the summer holidays I drank on the most. I think it was having it put right in my face. People talking about the upcoming party as if I wasn’t sitting right there. Knowing why I’m not allowed. And deserving it.
The witching hour I didn’t even use the shut down as an excuse to drink. That’s pretty good for someone who doesn’t need an excuse to drink. I never had to drink every day. That doesn’t make a difference though. I usually go periods of time without drinking and then drink heavily. So I have to watch out. Tonight was pretty weird. I can be stubborn when I put my mind to it. I don’t remember backing out when I made such a detailed plan to drink. I always follow through.
I’m good, but it’s easy now that the store is closed and there is no way to get booze. I just don’t think about it. Plus the bar is shutdown so I didn’t have to go through that period of knowing the bar will serve me until 12:30am. I had to stay away from that place. After a manic month in there drinking like I was rich and putting it on my credit card. It took me forever to pay that off.
I don’t think I need to type anymore. I’m going to cram my head into the pillow and listen to the t.v. until it is time to go to sleep. I’m still surprised. I don’t reverse course like that. I fully believed I would be writing some fucked up shit while drunk. Since I found out about it I’ve been scheduling my posts for after they are written. Yesterday I wrote a “review” of the book I listened to but it won’t show until Wednesday. I didn’t want to do that Here. Either way I wanted to post when I was done writing and see what came out. Also I don’t think anybody will be reading on the Holiday weekend. that’s another excuse to drink. I’m “special”. I”m the only one at home alone while everyone else is out having a good time, right? Good Night.
[Post Script] I made it through the night but still woke up feeling hungover. My anxiety was out of control. Enough to activate my “fight or flight” response. That lasts forever. I usually drink to take care of it. This week was the perfect storm for drinking. I took care of everything so I felt I could use a reward. I saw my daughter for the day, I cleaned my apartment, I did grocery shopping. I even got laid so that was out of the way. I also felt slighted for not getting invited to my favorite event of the year. Seeing my daughter cuts both ways. I am so happy she is a good kid and part of my life but after I see her I go home alone and I am not part of the family. When she was born the plan was to stay a family. I used to drink after every visit. I just couldn’t handle the fact that I fucked up my life plan. She really is the most important thing in my life. Without her I would let everything else go.