This shame and embarrassment thing doesn’t really suit me. I’ve been experiencing said shame regarding feelings I have in the present that are irrational and make no sense. One thing I’ve started doing to combat that shame is by being completely transparent with my partner and saying what I’m feeling to him no matter how crazy it might seem. We were walking around the drugstore yesterday and there seemed to be an employee stocking the shelves on every single aisle we walked down causing it to be very difficult to find what we needed. There was also a man singing in full voice as he shopped and I was appalled that he had the audacity to be happy and that he was invading the shared sound space of the store and forcing us to listen to him. Didn’t he realize this was MY drugstore and that I was trying to shop?? These two things combined drove me to a place of unjustified anger and anxiety. My typical response would have been to remain silent and retaliate when spoken to by my partner. He would wonder what the hell was wrong with me and I would feel justified in my pouting and lashing out because OTHER people were to blame (the shelf stockers and the man singing). I would behave like an asshole five year old boy until the feelings finally subsided. Instead, I said to him, “Everything is really pissing me off right now. People are in the way. That guy is singing. It’s all really fucking annoying and it’s making me nuts.” He said, “Yeah, it is annoying! I agree. But it’s not a big deal. We’re fine.” Two things happened here. First, I realized that the two things bothering me were indeed slightly annoying to someone outside of myself. The fact that he was able to relate brought me down a bit. Second, the suggestion that it really wasn’t a big deal or worth allowing it to disrupt my serenity gave me enough to grab hold of to completely come down from the edge. This all sounds stupid, I know. But I’m not going to be ashamed about how my brain and emotions malfunctioned. I couldn’t help it. But I could help how I reacted to it. And that was a victory.
For the past three weeks, flashes of instances from the past 6 years keep popping up in my head and I do this thing where I cringe and quickly change the subject with myself. I’ve even audibly said, “NOPE. NO,” when I suddenly recall one of the ridiculously stupid things I’ve done in the midst of my alcoholism. As soon as I remember something I’ve done, I immediately try to shove it back down. So I’m going to list some of the things I remember doing in an effort to just let them see the light of day and air out so I can move on from them. Or at least TRY to move on. I know a lot of this will be dealt with more formally and in greater depth as I work the steps.
- Before my current job, I worked a really low paying gig and was broke all the time and sometimes on the way home I would stop at a bodega around the corner from my apartment and I would put beers into my bag in the back of the store and then walk to the counter and buy one beer so I didn’t seem suspicious.
- After a really heavy night of drinking alone in my room, I woke up and crawled my way to work where I received a text message from my former roommate telling me that we really needed to talk and that my behavior the night before was unacceptable. I apologized to her and told her that I was going through a lot and didn’t mean to act out. But to this day, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT. I don’t remember anything other than drinking in my room and then waking up in my room in the morning. The fact that there is a whole chunk of time where I apparently left my room and did something unacceptable is totally horrifying. I never asked her what happened. Instead, I alienated her and pushed her away and severed ties because it was easier to erase her like a coward than to actually face reality.
- I’m three weeks sober and I’m still finding bottles and cans hidden places as I finally have begun organizing myself and cleaning neglected spaces.
- I’ve woken up in the morning and had drinks in order to prepare myself to go to the gym with my partner in order to keep up appearances that I was fine and maintaining normal routine activities. I have run and circled around on the elliptical completely wasted at 9AM.
- I’ve gone home at Christmas to a family that thinks I am still sober from the last time I got sober (at least I think they think that but maybe they know otherwise) and purposefully came without presents so I would have an excuse to borrow the car to leave in order to Christmas shop and also purchase alcohol. I would drink small paper cartons of wine in the car parked outside of their house and then would rush inside with my gifts (and more wine) and run to my room in order to wrap the gifts and drink more wine. Then I would go to the bathroom and brush my teeth and try very hard to get rid of the smell. I’d make a cup of coffee thinking that would mask the odor. I would hide the empty containers under the lining of my suitcase and then once I got to the airport to return home, I would go into a public bathroom before going through security in order to dump them.
- I’ve blacked out and walked in my sleep on several occasions. I’ve woken up and have found prepared food near my bed that I don’t remember making. One time I found a glass with raw eggs in it. I’ve gone into the kitchen and found coffee grounds all over the floor. Others have found messes caused by me throwing up in places other than toilets.
- I often drank beer at the laundry mat while waiting for my clothes to wash/dry. I returned home drunk but tried to time the laundry doing so it would be complete right around the time that drinking became acceptable. I would buy more beer on the way home, bring it inside, open one, and then make sure those I lived with saw me drinking it as soon as possible so they would think that I just started and that the smell of beer was from that “first” beer and not from the six beers I had before I got home.
- I would drink roommates liquor at night and then would get to the liquor store in the morning when they opened to buy replacement liquor and would pour it into their bottles bringing them back to the level they were at before I drank from them. I would replace top shelf liquor like Absolut with cheap stuff like Georgi. No one ever noticed. And if they did notice a change in taste, they certainly never said anything.
- If I had to attend some social function or event after work, I would prepare by drinking at my desk starting an hour before it was time for me to leave. I would arrive at the function, drink a socially acceptable amount while already drunk, and then drink after the event as well.
- If I was in a position where liquor was limited and I was drinking at home with my partner, friends, etc. or if I was at their home, I would advocate for myself to be the designated bartender and would mix everyone else’s drinks with very little alcohol so I would be able to pour myself more than them without it being noticed. They would say, “This goes down so smooth! It’s like there isn’t even alcohol! These are dangerous!” Well that’s because there wasn’t very much in it. Or, if there was an abundance of liquor, I would make everyone’s drink very strong so they would be more intoxicated and less likely to notice how hard I was hitting the bottles.
- I would purchase alcohol and drink it in public restrooms prior to attending scheduled events where I was expected to act in a leadership role. I would get more specific but I don’t want to yet.
- I have alienated and rejected most of my old friends because they knew about my prior sobriety and problem with alcohol and if I were to have kept them around, they would not have allowed me to drink the way I have been. I replaced them with others who didn’t know about my prior alcoholism and recovery. So essentially I have started relationships with new people and have been lying to them from the beginning about who I am and where I come from. I have deceived both the old friends and the new. I have no idea how to untangle the web of lies and worry I will have no one left in my corner once the dust settles. I have very few actual friends left.
- I have had drinks on city busses and trains on several occasions.
- I have spoken badly about other people regarding their own drinking and have accused others of being an alcoholic in order to draw attention away from my own drinking. I have called into question how drunk another person is while I was extraordinarily drunk myself.
- I have stumbled down the street totally wasted to receive a 60 minute Chinese Gongfu Tui-na massage. I have had Chinese women walking on my back while I was totally drunk. I’m not sure this is necessarily a bad thing but I list it here because it is fucking WEIRD. Who gets a deep tissue massage while drunk at 10PM at night?? I do.
I’m sure there is more. I think I’ll keep editing this post as I remember other insanities. But here is the point: I’ve got to get rid of the shame. I have a disease. It isn’t my fault. And if I’m going to get better, it’s time to put it all out there, acknowledge the chaos, make amends when it’s time, and move on.
I am SO RELIEVED that I don’t have to do those crazy things anymore.