Drunk on D

I admit, since moving to Texas, I’ve struggled with my depression like never before.  One would think that things would be getting better….I no longer have to work in cubicle hell, I’m able to stay home and homeschool our daughter, like hubs and I always talked about.  I can devote hours and hours to things I care about, like my drawings, and the garden I planted.  Yet I find myself so deeply depressed some days, I can barely get out of bed.  The good news is, at 6 1/2 years old, my daughter is old enough to feed herself with the fruit and vegetables we always have around, and she entertains herself with reading, playing with legos, computer games, etc. The bad news is, she’s 6 1/2 years old….old enough to see my struggles and to know something is wrong.  It breaks my heart when she approaches me and gives me a comforting pat on the arm.  

My life took a seriously craptacular turn when *I* was six, and the events of that time and the years that followed left me with a seriously weak foundation from which I’ve done nothing significant with my life.  I’m filled with self-loathing and regret.  One of my biggest motivations, one of my ONLY motivations right now, is to help my daughter build a better foundation for her future than the one I had.

Towards that end, I’m on yet another new medication, but I’ve really come to believe something I read some months ago.  Depression could be less about a “chemical imbalance” and more honestly just our body’s reaction to being fundamentally unhappy.  So many of us are unhappy, often about things we seriously have a right to be unhappy about, but we take these pills to numb that unhappiness and make life liveable.  Then we say things like “depression lies”.  Well, yeah, sometimes it does, but sometimes, isn’t it spot on?  Depression tells me, “you’re a failure”.  My husband argues with this, as would many who love me, but, really, haven’t I failed to meet most if not all of the goals I’ve set for myself over the years?  Yeah, I’ve done some neat, even terrific things. I went to Paris, by myself, not speaking the language, and had a fabulous time.  Still my favorite memories/actions.  I’ve managed to keep from drinking alcohol for coming up on nine years.  I’ve been cigarette/nicotine free for over ten years.  I’ve got a husband who loves me, and an adorable and smart daughter.  But there’s still something missing.  Something very big.  And it often sits on my chest like that elephant in the COPD commercials.  I’m “happy” when I work on my artwork, but otherwise, life seems a bust to me.  I’m fortunately still able to laugh on occasion, but most days I’m operating on auto-pilot.

Before I’ve described depression as living at the bottom of a 20 foot hole.  These days, I feel as though most days I’m about 5 to 10 feet down.  Some days, it’s 20 feet.  And, at least a couple of times a month, I feel like I’m two or three feet from China.  On those days/nights, I don’t sleep, at all, and stay in my ultra large bathroom, curled up on my chez lounge, crying into a pillow so as not to wake my husband.  Everything I think of leads to tears, and I feel like my brain is on fire from a chemical compound made of ultra-negativity and self-loathing.  It’s horrendous.  

The other night, during one of those “digging to China” moments, I pulled out my tablet and started to work on some self-portraits.  A couple of days later, I pulled out my tablet to draw, and happened upon my work from a few nights before.  I was startled by what I saw.  I hardly recognized myself, and barely recalled having drawn them.  It’s like I was intoxicated, and drunk dialed one of my ex-boyfriends.  Mortifying.

Image

Thankfully, I haven’t been that low in a week or so, but it’s disheartening to know it will probably happen again.  Maybe I need to keep the drawings going, as a way of tracking this.  Maybe try to draw myself when I’m NOT feeling that way.

I hate feeling drunk.

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Poor Penn State

Yes, let’s go on and on about how the football program and the University itself is being punished for its inaction and enabling of a child rapist (enough with the “child sex abuse” crap. Children don’t have sex, they are RAPED). Let’s talk about what this does to Joe Paterno’s legacy (note to Paterno family: “SHUT UP”). Let’s not talk about child rape/abuse and what it does, not just to the victims, but to everyone.

I’m going to take this opportunity to delve further into the pool (swamp?) of my abuse. I’ve been trying to talk about it more in therapy. And after a lengthy absence from blogging, what better way to break the silence than to talk about something light and sunny, like a six-year-old being forced to perform oral sex?  Yeah!!!!

Honestly, I can’t remember the first time it happened. We were living in Alaska, my step-father being stationed at Elemendorf Air Force Base. When I was 18 and told my mother about what happened, I had to ask her how long the babysitters, twin sisters named DAWN AND DIANE VAN NESS (screw them), had taken care of us. My mom said they had been hired pretty much when we moved there, so I can only assume it started when I was six. I clearly remember the last time it happened. But I digress.

Dawn and Diane were the older sisters of my friend, Heather. They lived down the street. They would take turns babysitting for my brother and I. They’d take me to my parent’s room and lay down on their (king size?) bed. I remember the black and brown patchwork bedspread. They’d strip off their clothes and lay back, and make me get on my knees by the bed and perform oral sex on them. They’d take my step-father’s leather belt out of the closet and whip me with it and threaten me with more beatings if I said anything about what was happening. The leather was brown, and cracked, and there were flat metal brads on it, and holes punched through, so it looked like swiss cheese. It didn’t feel like cheese when it hit me.

I remember one day, filling my hard, orange suitcase with socks and underwear (?), because I was going to run away. I didn’t, of course, but the suitcase was still packed when my mom was packing me up for a summer in Oklahoma with my grandparents. “Where are all your underwear?”  I was afraid to tell her what was going on, so I told her I had attempted to pack for Oklahoma on my own, and presented the suitcase. She bought it.

This was my normal. So normal, in fact, that when a visiting female family member asked me to put on my mother’s pantyhose and perform a strip tease for her in the basement, I did it. Then we lay down on the couch and made out. She told me to rub her crotch, and I did as I was told. I *think* that only happened once, but my memories of Alaska are a blur, so I could be wrong.

When we were preparing to leave Elmendorf for Medina Air Force Base in San Antonio, one of the twins decided that I should experience what they had experienced all those years, so they “treated” me to some cunnilingus . I remember staring at the ceiling, trying to pretend I was elsewhere. We moved to Texas when I was 9.

I’d say within a year of moving to Texas, my brother started hitting me. If I didn’t do his chores for him, he’d hit me. If I didn’t give him the remote for the tv, he’d hit me. If he was driving me somewhere and couldn’t see past me in the passenger seat when looking right, he’d backhand me. The physical abuse lasted for roughly 5 years. After that, he was just verbally cruel. As I’ve said before, I confronted my brother about all this 17 years ago, and he’s asked my forgiveness, and I’ve given it to him. I love my brother very much, and I consider our relationship healed. I know he still struggles with guilt, and hope he can forgive himself some day.

Lastly, there was the other family member, a male, who, on at least two occasions, pinned me to the ground and kissed me on my neck and maybe my chest, over my clothes. Where exactly he kissed me isn’t as clear as the memory of his erect penis on my leg. Again, we were both clothed and it didn’t go any further, but it shouldn’t have happened at all.

So, that’s it. From age 6 to age 15, I had five different people sexually and/or physically abuse me in one way or the other. So let’s talk consequences, okay?  Let’s talk about how child abuse affected me. Obviously, I can’t, and wouldn’t dare, try to speak for all victims of child abuse.

So let’s talk about consequences…

  1. Prior to hitting puberty, I thought I was gay. I had no sexual feelings towards girls, but, since I had engaged in sexual behavior with girls in Alaska, I assumed that meant I was gay. It wasn’t until I hit puberty at age 12 that I realized that wasn’t true. When I was 14, “Something About Amelia” came out. I didn’t have a father abusing me, but it was the first time I really realized what child abuse was, and recognized, at least in my head, that I had been abused and it “wasn’t my fault”. NOTE TO BEN AFFLECK AND MATT DAMON: While I loved “Good Will Hunting”, getting a hug and being told repeatedly that “it’s not your fault” is nice, but it’s no magic bullet.
  2. I remember coming home from school at age 12 and taking shots of Glenlivet. I would later become a raging alcoholic, complete with drunk driving, attempts at promiscuity (thankfully, unrealized), blackouts and midnight vomiting.
  3. A pattern emerged in my relationships…I let the other party take control, and it usually was to my detriment. I had a few friends, good people, who I still think of fondly and even have some contact with, though it freaks me out, but more often than not I associated with people who didn’t treat me very well. Why should they?  I had been taught in word and deed for 9 formative years that I wasn’t worthy of decent treatment.
  4. I retreated into a fantasy world. I spent most of my evenings shut in my room, pretending I was anybody other than myself. While this was a savior then, it has proven to be harmful to me in later life.
  5. I had no confidence, and no willingness to take risks, so I did the safe thing after high school and stayed within Texas to get my degree in Radio, Television, and Film. No USC film school for me, or driving cross-country to try and break into Hollywood. After college, I moved to that mecca of entertainment, Enid, Oklahoma, and worked at a crappy TV station for a crappy boss.
  6. I was only asked out once in high school, and he stood me up, further devastating my already weak self-esteem. I went on to date just a few men, all of whom treated me, not abusively, but poorly. I was there to service their ego. Josh was the one exception to that, but he was far from a healthy relationship.
  7. I became someone who could rather easily be defeated. I’d offer some fight, but eventually would acquiesce to the notion that I’m cursed…that I somehow deserve all these bad things happening to me. The abuse, the schizophrenic boyfriend who committed suicide, being ignored or mistreated by men, failing at any pitiful attempt I made to try to break out of the “safe” cubicle-dwelling career I’d settled for, etc.
  8. I put on a ton of weight, first after Josh’s death, then again after a back injury. I’ve told myself for years that the injury was to blame for my weight, but, let’s face it, I had surgery years ago, my back is 95% better, and I still “eat my pain”. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I use my weight as a shield. The world largely (no pun intended) ignores, dismisses, and ridicules the fat. If I’m fat, I have an excuse to not take more risks, not put myself out there, and I can blame it on everyone else because THEY are the assholes who judge me for my appearance. How convenient.
  9. I’ve battled depression and PTSD for 25 years, went through cutting myself and anxiety attacks and still find myself talking about myself in a far more hateful way than I would ever talk about someone else, with the exception of pieces-of-crap child abusers who should die in a fire.
  10. Did I mention I have anger issues?  Of course, like any sane person, I hate child abusers, but I also have moments when I feel hatred towards anyone who’s never suffered setbacks, or who suffered them and managed to not let the setbacks defeat them.
  11. I still struggle with anger and resentment towards my parents, not as much for being unaware of the sexual abuse happening in Alaska, but for deliberately turning a blind eye to my brother’s bullying when I went to them and pleaded with them to help me. Even now that my brother has acknowledged his abuse, my parents have yet to come to me and tell me they are sorry for not only not putting a stop to it, but for turning around and calling me a liar.  I still have trouble asking people for help, and I expect no one to protect me.  I’m working on letting my husband in, but it’s hard.
  12. My emotional problems have caused great distress for my loved ones, specifically my husband, who deserves much better than what he got. And now my daughter, my sweet 4 1/2 year-old, is already showing signs of being hypersensitive about my moods. I’m currently in bed with a head cold, but when I told her “mommy is sick”, her first words were, “okay, mommy, well, let me hug you and kiss you and that will make you feel happy again”. She now won’t compliment someone else without reassuring me that she loves me, too.

I’m working through all this. Talking more openly about everything that happened, in a therapeutic way. I hope to get clear of this before I do any more damage to my daughter. I know it will be hard to convince her she’s lovable and valuable if I think her mother is crap.

I pray for other victims of child abuse…that they find a way to overcome their trauma, and have peaceful lives, and don’t let this cancer that is child abuse spread any further.

And screw Penn State, or any other organization, that lets this happen to children.

Whitney Houston, we have a problem

I can’t really say I was a fan, per say.  I’ve never bought one of her albums or really gotten into her songs, though I know many of them.  In fact, “I Have Nothing” has been an earworm in my head since I heard of her death.  I did appreciate, however, the beauty and strength of her voice, and know that many people in her life loved her very much and are devastated by the loss.

That being said, troubled people die prematurely all the time, most of them without the talent, success, and money that celebrities enjoy.  I know, I’ve said before that what is viewed from the outside is merely superficial, and we can’t really know what’s going on in someone’s life to understand their suffering.  I only refer to these things because the average citizen doesn’t always have the means to seek treatment for their ailments.  And non-celebrities don’t get eulogized on national television when they succumb to their demons.

It can be argued that Whitney Houston’s death affects a larger group of people because her music affected a larger group of people.  But, come on, folks, she wasn’t working on the cure for cancer or anything.  The truth is, in our celebrity-obsessed culture, we weep at the premature death of a singer, but don’t even notice when hard-working, well-meaning doctors, scientists, nurses, engineers, teachers, etc. pass away.

Sadly, what needs to happen will never happen.  As a society, we need to ask ourselves why there are SO MANY people who are so unhappy they seek chemical relief.  Not just singers and actors, but cops and garbage men, crossing guards and dentists.  Only about 5% of alcoholics and drug addicts live on skid row.  95% have homes, careers, families.  I know when *I* quit drinking, I found it cathartic to tell people I was an alcoholic, for I had lived with a great deal of shame at the double life I was living.  I was living a lie, so telling people the truth about me was therapeutic, yet I’d often be told by the person I confided in, “Alcoholic?  You?  You’re not an alcoholic!” I didn’t fit the image of a homeless drunk drinking whiskey out of a paper bag, so I couldn’t possibly have a problem.

Too many people are expending too much energy trying to convince everyone they are okay.  The pressure gets to you.  And we as a society, though we can be sympathetic, love to see people fail, especially those as public as Whitney Houston.  We LOVE to feed on the corpse of a dying person/career, then we LOVE to “forgive” the person who claws their way back.  Everyone watched Robert Downey Jr. torpedo his career, go in and out of rehab, and jail, and we ate it up.  As an addict myself, I know the fact that he’s been sober for something like 10 years, well, I cheer that, certainly, and it makes me appreciate his talent all the more.  I’m rooting for him.  When Charlie Sheen went off the rails, people couldn’t turn away from the car crash.  People made jokes about it, yet what we were watching was a mental breakdown.  The man was showing signs of being very, very sick.

We don’t connect with each other.  We don’t show love for each other.  We instead compete with each other, try to best each other.  We like to watch other people fail or act crazy, because it makes us feel better about ourselves.  How else does one explain the success of reality television?  Think anyone would watch any of the Housewives, or Jersey Shore, or The Bad Girls’ Club if healthy, loving, supportive people were on them?  If there were no back-stabbing, narcissistic, addictive behavior to feel superior to?

So I’ll take a cue from Ghandi.  I’ll try to be the change I want to see in the world.  To those who have commented on my posts, either in person or on this blog, I thank you for finding my words valuable enough to reach out to me.  I thank you for listening when I needed to give voice to my pain. It’s truly been helpful to me to be able to share these thoughts and feelings with an ever-widening audience.  I still have to work on being open and loving *in person*, but, baby steps.

Whitney Houston died far too young.  I feel such pity for her daughter, and hope she makes it through this difficult time.  But there are so many people who struggle with many of the same issues.  We rely on chemicals to make us feel good about ourselves and try to convince others we’re okay when we could expend that energy making ourselves stronger.

We don’t love each other enough, and we don’t truly love ourselves enough. And that’s the biggest tragedy.

Dreams & Nightmares

I’ve been waking up a lot lately.  Actually, thanks to the sleep study I had recently, apparently I’ve always woken up during the night, just enough to disturb my sleep, but not enough for me to be aware of it.  Now I’m aware of it.

For the last several nights, maybe even a week now, I’ve fully woken up about three or four times a night.  I wake up, then look at the clock to see how much longer I have to sleep.  It kinda sucks.  Maybe my sleep apnea is getting worse?  By the time my doctor got around to prescribing a CPAP machine for me, my insurance had changed from an HMO and it’s no copay durable equipment provision to the cheap ass HSA my employer forced everyone onto (after announcing record profits).  Now that machine would cost me over $600.

So I’m hoping Breathe Right strips for $3.99 will help. Insurance fail.

I’ve been having weird dreams, too.  I don’t remember all of them, but I’m having the drinking dreams again.

I’m just so damned bored.  Nothing excites me.  Well, actually, the season finale of Leverage excited me, but it’s on hiatus now.  Besides, I shouldn’t have to count on a weekly television series to excite me, no matter how hot Christian Kane is (or Tim Hutton, or Aldis Hodge…that show has some FINE men).  I don’t know if this is lingering depression, and that the second med my doctor put me on isn’t doing the trick, or if it’s just general satisfaction.

There just seems so little for me to get excited about, and I feel bad for not getting more satisfaction out of my family.  My daughter makes me laugh, and I look forward to seeing her, but that’s not really enough.  Truth be told, I think I’m looking to get high.  I wonder if my Jim Beam-soaked brain just can’t get the synapses poppin’ anymore without chemical assistance.  I can’t tell you how much that sucks. because I know the path drinking will take me on.  And I shouldn’t miss my gallbladder attacks or my fractured disk because those problems afforded me Hydrocodone.

So that leaves food as the only substance left for me to “get high” on, but I’m desperately trying to change that, too.  But that’s a whole other post.

I dreamt I was in front of the school, naked

I’ve been a bit uneasy lately about this blog.  I started it when in the deepest throes of depression I’d ever seen, and specifically shared it with my brother and my husband, because they’ve been my biggest supporters.  But I’ve become aware that other people I know have been reading it, too, and have commented to me about it. 

So my anxiety has become two-fold…I’m exposing myself to people I wouldn’t necessarily expose myself to and some of these people know some of the people I’ve mentioned in previous posts.  Though I’ve changed or omitted names when I felt it necessary, some will be easily identifiable.

I really want to continue this blog.  I’ve found it helpful in many ways.  When I recently entertained the idea of drinking again, writing about some of the things I did while drunk proved sobering, pardon the pun.  I drove drunk, wrecked my car, and attempted to have sex with a stranger. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, people?!

It’s taken me weeks to get here, but I’m suddenly feeling far more exposed than I had when I started.  And I haven’t even talked about the abuse I experienced as a child.  I want to talk about it, too.  There’s a huge gap in my memory from that time.  I remember bits and pieces, but have blocked the rest.  I consider the events of that time period to be the key to why I am the way I am, so I feel there’s value in exploring it.  I know that, sadly, there are many others who have been abused, too, so maybe my story will resonate with someone who went through the same thing.   Yes, I’m seeing a therapist, and we’ve talked a bit about these issues.  Maybe it’s time for me to go deeper with her.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll just write about my ex-boyfriends.  I’m sure when I look at my history with men….my sad, comical history…I can squeak out more than one paragraph.  Maybe even two.

And I’ll give every one of their full names, date of birth, email address, and secret hidden fears with which to torture them.  Muwah-ha-ha.

8,000+ characters about addiction

The day before Hurricane Katrina hit, I turned to my husband and confessed that I had been slowing killing myself with alcohol, and that I finally knew I’d never have anything I wanted in life as long as I kept drinking.  He asked me if I was ready to quit, and I was.  Three weeks later, he confessed that he wasn’t all that convinced I actually was an alcoholic.  That’s when I realized…he hadn’t noticed all the nights I got up in the middle of the night to vomit, and he hadn’t realized the number of times I’d started blacking out each week.  I was up to three.  I’d wake up on the couch, knowing I had gotten mad at him for something, but not for the life of me remembering what.

My paternal grandfather was an alcoholic.  He died alone in a squalid apartment set over a liquor store in Oklahoma a short while before my older brother was born.  My step-father, who’s been married to my mother since I was four, is an alcoholic.  Still very much practicing.  Oddly enough, I hadn’t noticed his drinking until I was about 14.  That’s the year my brother ran away from home, one of his complaints being that my step-father drank too much.  In the counseling session I was forced to go to with my parents, the counselor asked me what I thought of my brother’s accusation.  I stated I thought it was bogus….that I hadn’t hardly noticed his drinking.  In a rare moment of honesty, my step-father stated quietly, “you haven’t been paying attention”.

After that day, I started paying attention, and noticed the pattern.  Come home from work, drink.  Have a party, drink.  Go out with friends, drink. Wake up, drink. That’s just how my family wound down.

I, myself, started as a teenager.  I vaguely recall coming home at 13 and taking swigs of Glenlivet in an effort to get buzzed.  It didn’t work.  I hated the taste.  When I was 17, my step-father would pick up wine coolers for me, hand me one in the car and “race me” to see if I’d finish the first one before he had driven us home.  It was a game.  When I went away to college, he suggested I develop a taste for Everclear, since with it’s potency, I could consume less, save money, and still get buzzed.

For the record, I received absolutely no advice about sex (I was still a virgin), money, my studies….but how to get a cheap drunk…I was covered.

I didn’t start drinking heavily until I moved in with my college sweetheart/would-be ex-husband, Jeff.  It was mostly beer, a 12 pack of which I could knock out in a day in a half, if not less.  I didn’t really hit the hard stuff until I graduated from college and moved to Oklahoma, alone, Jeff having moved back in with his parents, signalling the beginning of the end of our relationship.  Jim Beam, the preferred bourbon of my mother and step-father, would become my roommate, along with an amazing amount of diet Coke.  My drinking wasn’t yet affecting my job or relationships, but I was well on my way.

After Jeff and I parted, I met Josh.  We fell very much in love, and it was unlike anything I’d had before.  Very sweet but passionate.  And we had that thing where we just “got” each other.  But it wasn’t too long into the relationship, when HIS demons reared their ugly heads.  His family’s drug of choice was, well, just about anything other than booze.  Ecstasy, LSD, marijuana…all were commonplace amongst he and his friends, even his mother.  I met him through his mother when I went to work for her making videos for the local schools.  I was extremely naïve about just about everything at the time, though I did think it was odd that when her kids would come over after having a bad day, their mother’s solution was, “have a bong hit, honey”.  The alarm bells should have gone off then, but I was smitten.  By the time Josh tried to enter rehab, the drugs had fried his brain to the point of schizophrenia.  After a month in a mental hospital in Norman,Oklahoma, he *should* have gone into rehab, but our co-dependency took over, and he moved back in with me. Al-anon meetings helped a little.  His moving out helped more.

He struggled with his anti-psychotic medication.  The first time he met my parents, he spoke of seeing a live chicken running around under my coffee table.  Great first impression.  Of the people in his life, only his brother, sister-in-law and paternal grandmother were sober people.  His mother got him high, so he’d jump on the furniture.  His step-father gave him drugs, then he’d be screeching about aliens trying to program him through the television.  The bravest I’d been in my life up to that point was the day I stared down the family drug dealer, Josh’s step-father’s best friend, and chastised him for selling Josh a bag of weed.  I knew that Josh was ultimately responsible for whether or not he got high, but to have so many people close to him NOT supporting him in his sobriety was just killing me.

Josh, in his saner moments, would sometimes comment on my drinking.  I didn’t see the connection.  I still don’t, actually, not because I’m not an addict, but because at that time it hadn’t become a preoccupation.

After Josh put a cigarette out on his forehead, I convinced him to give the anti-psychotic meds another chance.  He went to see the doctor, who wanted him hospitalized immediately.  “Check yourself in or I’ll do it”.  I wish the doctor had committed him.

Later that night, he called me and asked me to pick him up.  I told him he needed to stay there to get the help he needed.  He called his mother.  She picked him up and got him high on the way to his brother’s house.  That night, in front of his brother and family, Josh’s mother made him promise to stop being a burden to everyone.  The next morning he awoke, had a bowl of cereal, smoked a cigarette, then found his brother’s car keys, opened his brother’s car trunk, pulled out a shotgun his brother had attempted to hide there, sat under a tree, wrapped his lips around the barrel, and made good on his promise.

I had begun studying the bible a few months prior to Josh’s suicide.  A few months after, while recovering from Josh’s death at my mother’s house in Texas, I came to a fork in the road.  I walked away from my bible studies, and chose the path lined with empty Jim Beam bottles.

I stayed on that path for the next 10 years.  I gained 75 pounds.  I lost it.  I moved back to Oklahoma, then back to Texas, then to California. Then I hurt my back.  I gained all the weight back.  I started drinking tequila and waking up on the floor of my living room, bottle in hand.  I didn’t go on a single date.

Finally I met the man that would become my husband.  Shortly after we got married, the San Antonio Spurs won the 2005 NBA championship.  I had gotten so drunk that night, I barely remembered it.  The next day I was so hung over I went into work late.  All my co-workers, who had teased me for years about being the lone Spurs fan in a sea of Laker “fans” (read: when they win), had expected me to be so hyped and happy.  My head hurt too much.

Parenthetically, I had not been able to bask in the 2003 championship either, not because of a hangover, but because my beloved cat had died in my arms a few hours after the win.  By the time they won in 2007, I was pregnant with my daughter, and a basketball contest seemed far less important to me.

We got married in May 2004.  We had not realized that my husband had ADHD.  Like you wouldn’t believe ADHD.  His mother had been told as much when he was a child, but had not done anything about it.  He just thought he was incredibly forgetful and stupid, but I knew something was wrong with him.  He was much too smart to be that dumb.  He went in for testing, and started getting treatment for it.  I joke that if marriage is a path you walk together, that first year he kept forgetting where the path was and I was too drunk to find it.

Katrina hit in late August of 2005.  I called up my family and announced I was an alcoholic that weekend.

After deciding to quit, I sought out help.  I knew I didn’t want to do AA.  I know they’ve helped many, many people, but it didn’t seem like it was for me.  But I worked with someone who I knew was in AA and had been sober for a long time, so I’d go down to his office and we’d chat.  He was incredibly sweet and helpful.  I also reached out to my step-mother, who’d been sober for over 20 years.    I’ve been sober 6 ½ years now, and am really coming to appreciate something both my co-worker and step-mother told me.  It doesn’t necessarily get easier the longer you’ve been sober.  Yes, the physical cravings have subsided, but not the psychological ones.

I hate parties, but used to get through them by drinking.  I realized this a month after quitting when I had a full-blown panic attack in the middle of an office party of 300 people.  If you believe the folks on Madison Avenue, it is not physically possible to have a good time with friends unless you have a libation in your hand.  Hot day?  Have a cold beer.  Not me.  Tense at work?  The office manager is hosting a happy hour at the bar across the street, wanna come?  I wish.

I miss the high soooo much.  But that’s the rub.  It’s been long enough since I’ve had a drink that I miss the high, but don’t vividly remember the vomit, the blacking out, the crying, drunken fits I’d have when I’d destroy something in my home because, inevitably, in my intoxicated state I’d be unable to operate it (at least two cd players gone, thank you). I have to remind myself of the time I got so drunk I drove my car off the road onto a railroad track and had to have my front passenger tire replaced the next day.  Or when I was so drunk and lonely, I decided I’d knock on my neighbor’s door, someone I didn’t even know, to see if he’d have sex with me.  Thankfully, he wasn’t home.

I’ve noticed some people I follow on Twitter commenting about their sobriety lately.  This got me thinking about reaching out.  While I haven’t been truly, truly tempted, I did mention to my husband, semi-jokingly, that I’d like to start drinking again, only he can monitor me.  Yeah, because addicts aren’t liars and I wouldn’t EVER be deceptive about how much I had to drink.

By the time I quit drinking, I had gotten up to almost a fifth of bourbon A NIGHT.  I know I don’t want to go back there.  When I first quit, I’d often have dreams about having fallen off the wagon and wake up feeling terrible.  I’m starting to have them again.

Though I never did AA, I do appreciate the notion of taking things one day at a time.  To think of not having a drink for the next 30 years is murder.

I just need to not drink tonight.

Reminder

This morning I was reminded that I’m not alone.  Wait…I think I mentioned that in a previous post.  Yeah, there are eleventy-billion 20 foot holes out there.  So, to be clearer, I learned the name of one of my fellow mine-shaft dwellers.  Her tweet regarding a particularly painful post (ooohhh, alliteration!) was retweeted by two of my favorite tweeps, @wilw (Wil Wheaton) and @jerilryan (Jeri Ryan). So I read it.  You can read it here.

What especially caught my eye was the reference to self-harm and the memories it brought back.  I used to self-harm back in college.  It’s been twenty years since I took a knife to my arm, but you can still make out tiny little scars on one of them.  These memories stir up some sadness and anger.  Sadness that at 20 I felt so lost I thought that would help, and angry that there were people close to me who saw the cuts and believed my extremely-stupid-in-hindsight-like-lying-to-my-mother-about-smoking-when-she-could-smell-my-nicotine-stench excuse that “the cat scratched me”.  Wait, what cat?  I didn’t have a cat living with me at college.  And what cat leaves perpendicular lines on ones shoulder?  A very tidy cat.  OCD cat.  One that uses a t-square.

As I said, it’s been 20 years since I self-harmed.  With a knife, anyway.  I quit self-harming with bourbon 6 years ago.  I still self-harm with food, but I’m working on it.

Kudos to you, @thebloggess, for sharing that with the class.

Oh, and she lists “the Texas hill country” as her turf.  Shout out to my homies in Kerrville.  Give love to my mom when you see her in her gold Prius tooling around town.