Hi All. My brain has been like mush for the past two weeks or so. I do have a couple posts knocking around in my head, but I am too lethargic to write them out. I'm not depressed or anything, just sluggish...
Here is something I wrote for Eight Years Later this past summer...
Nine years ago, when I was a couple months into my pregnancy, my husband and I attended a benefit at a local bar. We had started telling people that I was expecting so it was a very happy day, being out, seeing friends and live music and getting hugs and congratulations on our news. And there was another thing: I was at an event where I would typically be hammered and there I was, sober as a judge and happy as hell. I remember that day very well. I remember feeling at ease talking to people, able to hang out watching music without needing a bracer. I recall thinking to myself, "This is pretty good. I'm not nervous at all, I'm clear, I'm going to remember everything. Why did I never try this before?" Sure, there had been times when I was responsible for driving myself home, but I was always a little resentful because I had to stop at two or three drinks and would spend the rest of the time planning what I would be drinking when I got home. This was different. The option to drink was off the table. It was liberating.
After the babies came, there was a period of a few months where I was so busy I didn't have time to drink. When I did, I sometimes didn't finish the beer I was drinking. I thought I was cured! But as soon as things got easier and I had a little more time on my hands and a little less worry about the babies, the drinking came roaring back.
I have recently started going out a little bit. A party here, a concert there. It's like it was that day nine years ago. Gone are the party jitters and the need for that bracer. And that age-old question of who is going to chauffeur me around? Ha! That would be me.
The best part about going to these parties are the little games I play with myself, like the one called, "Who is the Alcoholic?" where I look around and identify all of those who I think are...you guessed it...alcoholics. I know what you're thinking: I want to find out where all of the sick and suffering alcoholics are so I can feel really smug about the fact that I am sober today. No. It's not like that at all. When you are a recovering alcoholic who believes in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, you acknowledge that you are just one drink away from going right back. A smug alcoholic is a doomed alcoholic. Anyway, "Who is the Alcoholic?" is where I sniff out My Peeps. I still feel a deep kinship to them and I am just naturally curious about and interested in them. I am also still friends with a lot of them so there's hugs all around when I first get there.
The other games are, "Who is Pulling Constantly off Their Beer Bottle?" or it's close cousin, "Who Is Sneaking Another Drink When No One Is Looking?", "Who Thinks She is Dancing Like a Sexpot?" and "Who Is The Hottest Mess?" These games are where I identify who has taken my baton in the never-ending relay race of alcoholism. Again, I am not being smug or holier than thou. This is where I tell myself, that's where I was and I can go right back if I am not hyper-vigilant. I also can tell myself, "That doesn't look like fun. That looks like work. And stress. And fear. Yes, fear. Fear of not being fabulous, not fitting in, not being the best, not being noticed (in the case of the Dancing Queen), being noticed (the frantic drink-sneaker) or just plain old not getting enough alcohol.
Let's be honest. I had done a bit of romanticizing of the Good Old Days earlier in the summer. But I had done it through the eyes of Old Me. And the Old Me walked around with beer goggles. There is nothing like the omniscient point of view to straighten out a skewed view of past events.
So I'm feeling very grateful for my sobriety. I'm happy to be free from the ties that once bound me.
Just a quick story about something that happened this past Sunday evening: I am driving down the main street of my downtown area, which is fairly quiet around that time of the day. As I am driving past the liquor store, I see a four-year old boy with big sunbleached wavy blonde hair climbing out of the back seat window of a big SUV parked in front of the store. He is hanging his little body out the window like Tawny Kitaen in the Whitesnake video as I pass by, so of course, I am gasping and cursing. So I pull a U-turn and go flying back toward the store and pull in next to him. He pulls himself back into the car where his sister, close in age with the same beautiful hair and hello! no shirt is sitting. They are both loose in the car. Mom pokes her head out the liquor store door and yells at her son to stay in the car and then disappears back into the store.
I roll my window down and talk to the kids, telling them to stay seated in the car. I am aware that any minute, Mom could come out and tell me to mind my own fucking business. I know when I am not doing my best job as a mom, the last thing I need is some perky mommy-type giving me advice or the stink-eye, but I was terrified that this child was going to fall out of this giant SUV and smash his little blonde head on the pavement. I looked over and a liquor store employee was stationed at the door, watching what was happening so I gave the little boy one more order to stay seated. He said he would so I pulled away, putting it in my HP's hands.
Could I have done more? Should I have stayed and faced down the boozy mom? And when does it stop? Do I deputize myself and hang out at liquor stores busting moms pulling up with their kids in the car to get a fix before the store closes? But as I drove away, I decided to go around the block and do another drive-by. By this time, Mom had gotten into the car and pulled away. I stayed behind them at a distance. She wasn't driving eratically, but she was riding the brakes a bit and taking the back streets.
I know, I know, I sound like a stalker but I was compelled to follow her because I find drinking moms, well, compelling. I was there. And if I'm feeling comtempt, it's coming from a place of deep identification and contempt for what I have done in my past. It's that glaring mirror. I could easily be back there if I don't constantly watch my step. I wasn't at the driving the kids while intoxicated stage but I was heading in that direction. I definitely drove to the store in the bag without the kids. If I ever went back out, I could land right in that position or even worse, since the disease progresses even while I am not drinking. Going back out could find me in an unfamiliar, dark and dangerous place.
It's good to be sober...