Asides

OMG OMG YOU HAVE TO GO TALK TO PEOPLE WHILE SOBER…. OMG OMG THAT COULD MAKE YOU DIE

Last night I faced my first social situation that included people other than my BF. He had written a play over the course of a ten week class which culminated with a presentation for invited guests featuring single scenes from each student’s play. It was an event that I assumed would be low stress and one that I should have little to no problem handling. He invited some of our friends to attend as well and the plan was to grab a bite to eat afterwards. Easy peasy, right? Not. A. Big. Deal. The people he asked to come are people I already know fairly well and there should be no reason for being apprehensive about seeing them. But if you’re anything like me, it obviously cannot be quite that simple. As the day of the event approached, I became increasingly paranoid.

I did everything I could while sitting at work to minimize my irrational fears. But while Anderson Cooper (my logical brain) kept trying to talk me down, the ticker tape of insanity kept scrolling across the bottom of the screen. It read: ….OMG OMG YOU HAVE TO GO TALK TO PEOPLE…. OMG OMG THAT COULD MAKE YOU DIE MAYBE…. OMG OMG NO YOU WON’T DIE BUT YOU MIGHT GET EMBARASSED BECAUSE YOU COULD SOUND DUMB…. OMG OMG WHAT IF THEY ALL DRINK.. OMG.. SHIT.. OBAMA APPROVAL RATING AT 62 PERCENT.. OMG HUH? WAIT, WHAT?…OMG MAYBE I SHOULDN’T GO… OMG KIRSTIE ALLEY REGAINS ALL 60 POUNDS SHE LOST AND UNREST IN THE MIDDLE EAST…… and so on and so forth.

I told myself to shut up. Then I asked myself, “What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen?”

And then I answered myself, “You really want to know the answer to that?”

“No, not really, “ I replied to I.

“Too late,” me said. “Here’s what’s going to happen. You are going to walk to the theatre space and on the way you are going to encounter horrible things like rain and crowds of people also walking to places. You’re going to get all sweaty and disgusting because it’s so humid outside and your hair will start to curl and look absolutely disastrous. You’re going to look at yourself in the reflection in the elevator doors as you ascend the 15 stories to doomsday and you are going to attempt without success to make yourself look presentable. When you walk in the room, everyone is going to look at you and scream obscenities because you look so terrible. Out of courtesy, they are going to ask you questions about how your day was and what was going on with you. Because you’re still mentally foggy and often get tongue tied, you are going to reply to them by saying something terribly embarrassing like, ‘I don’t know what my life so I stupid alcoholic hahaha I stupid dumb man shit fuck sorry I like gorilla so do you have banana? and need to pee BYE!’ Then you are going to run out of the room as they throw their shoes at you which is a really big insult in some countries. You are going to cry in the bathroom, splash water on your face, and sneak back into the room as people give you death looks and wonder who invited the incompetent addict. Then more small talk after the reading where you might say, ‘These is good plays, huh!’ while everyone rolls their eyes. Then you’ll go to the restaurant where everyone will order sake or draft beer or chocolate martinis while you sip Thai Iced Tea in the corner of the booth and slump down in your seat hoping no one asks you any other questions or notices you are there. And as they all get more and more drunk, they will completely forget about you. You’ll excuse yourself to the bathroom but no one will notice or care. When you get back, they will all be gone having moved on to another location without bothering to tell you. You’ll make the commute home wondering where your boyfriend disappeared to. That’s what your night is going to be like if you stay sober. ENJOY!”

Some takeaways here:

  • I am currently a nauseatingly insecure human being that needs a lot of work.
  • In addition to being insecure, I am simultaneously arrogant and my ego is out of control. Why I even had the thought that this night would be all about me, I have no idea.
  • My imagined sober self talks like a caveman.

I had worked myself into such a tizzy that I honestly considered not going. My BF has been amazingly understanding and although he might not like it, he would let me out of this if I really needed to avoid the situation. But I made the decision to proceed as planned because if I never allowed myself to feel uncomfortable, how would I ever get comfortable? You get sore from lifting weights but get stronger. You run further and for longer periods of times when training for a marathon even though it hurts and is uncomfortable but your endurance improves. You do strange impossible things that feel foreign with your fingers when first learning the piano but eventually muscle memory takes control and it’s a breeze.

I HAVE TO GO THROUGH THINGS. Not around. Not over. Not under. THROUGH.

I got to the reading, small talk was had, I didn’t sound like a caveman, people seemed happy to see me, and the discomfort and apprehension slowly faded. At the restaurant, everyone other than me and BF had something alcoholic to drink. I had Thai Iced Tea. People sipped their sake slowly like total assholes. CHUG THAT SHIT I thought. But it’s their sake and they can do what they want. Someone asked me why no cocktail and I said, “Because the Thai Iced Tea here is amazing!” This satisfied them. The guy next to me finished his sake and then ordered a beer. ATTA BOY I thought. IT’S ABOUT TIME. I made note of these thought processes and reminded myself that this is why I can’t drink. The conversation was easy and enjoyable. No one got trashed. No one suggested more alcohol or another stop. And after some hugs and promises to connect again soon, we were on our way home.

“Let’s pretend I had some drinks tonight,” I told the BF. “What would have happened is this: I would have had my few drinks but would want more. I wouldn’t have listened to what anyone was saying because I would have been so consumed with getting something else. And right now as we sit here on the train, I’d be obsessively checking the time because we’d have to stop at the liquor store. Or 7-11 if it was closed. And I’d go home and have that extra drink or two or three. But I didn’t have those drinks and this night was awesome. I feel so free. I can do anything and not think about THAT.”

He seemed proud if not still slightly confused. It’s hard to get normies to fully grasp what goes through our heads. But he’s working on being there for me as much as he can.

We were out late and I woke up this morning EXHAUSTED. But I had a smile on my face. I had a good time with good people. I felt something I haven’t felt in a long while. I felt connection and joy. I felt cared for and valued as a friend. And I really can’t wait to hang out with my friends again.

Something clicked last night. I’m really doing this.

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THE BEGINNING. AGAIN.

I’ve done this all before.

I’m sitting at the office on a Monday morning sipping iced tea from a clear plastic cup while repeatedly marveling at how closely the golden brown color tries desperately to be whiskey. My mind independently repurposes the actuality of my beverage with what it COULD be in my imagined paradise of never ending intoxication in a world void of hangovers and responsibilities. I know for a fact that iced tea wishes it could be whiskey. I wish it could be, too. Iced tea, however delicious, would give anything to be as cool and carefree as a glass full of Bulleit and I don’t blame it for aspiring to such beauty. I’ve spent the past six years flooding myself with beautiful alcohol in what appeared to be an attempt to actually become it. Or at least get as close to its calming perfection as humanly possible. Obsessive wandering of the mind and for what? I should be working. After all, this is the first Monday I’ve been on the job without feeling deathly ill.  I didn’t even drink whiskey and somehow that’s what tea is making me long for. I could switch to lemon lime seltzer but the mere taste of it immediately fills my mind with thoughts of vodka sodas and makes me seriously question whether or not I’m beginning to feel the tip of a buzz even though I know there is nothing buzzworthy in my cup.

Last Monday I sat at this same desk with my head in my hands trying not to vomit. I had the kind of hangover that makes you literally question whether or not you might die. It’s difficult to describe this kind of profound illness to someone who has never experienced it. In fact, it probably should have its own name altogether. There exists an overwhelming sense of doom and anxiety that makes any task completely impossible to execute. You repeat phrases to yourself rhythmically and rock yourself back and forth while you wonder if you might be losing your mind. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what do. I don’t know what to do.”  My pulse was racing and I kept my hand over my chest as if that might keep a heart attack from showing up. I left my desk and took refuge in the handicap stall in the men’s restroom where I realistically weighed my options and assessed the likelihood of being able to make it through the day. It quickly became apparent that this one was too bad to endure upright. I had already missed several Mondays this year as a result of my Sunday night binge drinking and I knew this was not going to go over well with management. Still, I made my way from the restroom, gathered my things, walked to the office manager’s desk, and told her that I had just started vomiting in the bathroom (I hadn’t) and that I needed to leave immediately.

While walking to the train, something entirely unexpected happened. After years of hiding, rationalizing, downplaying, and avoiding, I seemingly became possessed. I opened a blank text message to my boyfriend and typed:

I’m sure this comes as no surprise to you but I have a problem with alcohol. I’m tired and exhausted and can’t pretend everything is okay anymore. I need help and need to be sober.  And I need your support. Desperately.

I waited for what seemed like days before he finally responded:

Absolutely. I’m there for your. Whatever we need to do.

I sobbed on the train the entire way home, went to McDonalds and ordered disgusting grease saturated breakfast food, walked the rest of the way to my house, and climbed into bed for one of the most miserable 8 hours I’ve ever endured. He eventually arrived at home after his work day and I sobbed all over again in his arms. 

It has been one week since my last drink. I haven’t sought help other than opening up to my thus far supportive partner. I haven’t gone to meetings. I’ve only been able to find the courage to read blogs, articles, and message boards online. I’m hanging on by a thread and know that I need to start doing the work again. Did I mention I’ve done this before? I don’t have the energy to tell you about last time because I’m too busy dealing with this time. Maybe later. I hope there are some readers to be had out there. I could use the encouragement.

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