People can be really funny when they’re drunk.
They can also be obnoxious, annoying, morose, belligerent and dangerous. Just to name a few descriptors.
When I drank, any number of moods or personas could emerge. I think I typically vacillated between maudlin moper and make-out artist. Although I couldn’t tell you for sure, as I blacked out so many times.
Now, I’m just content to be in whatever mood I’m in, without having alcohol to amplify it.
And that’s a good thing.
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Tags: alcohol, alcohol abuse, Bohemian Rhapsody, drinking, drunk, drunk driving arrests, drunk humor, getting drunk, party
Last year, an Apple employee lost an iPhone prototype in a San Francisco bar. Recently, according to a report by CNET, another iPhone prototype was lost, again at a San Francisco bar.
Both times that I heard the news, my first thought was, “D’oh!“
My second thought was, “Was the Apple employee drunk when it happened?”
My third thought was, “Jeez, how many things have I lost while drinking?”
The answer to that one: probably too many to count.
But I’ll give it a shot, anyway. Here’s an incomplete compilation of things I’ve misplaced, left behind, dropped, abandoned or just plain lost while under the influence:
- A Canon digital camera = $300
- A Coach handbag = $150
- Cash in said handbag = $120
- A major piece of the bumper of my (at the time) 2-year-old Volvo S60 = $250 (insurance deductible)
- Various earrings, necklaces, bracelets = undetermined $
- Down jacket = $75
- Cashmere sweater = $110
- Timex watch = $45
- Various books/magazines = $50
- Various shoes = $82
- Ten pairs of cheap sunglasses = $99
- Contact lens = $5
- Chili’s gift card = $25
- Various cocktails, glasses of wine, mugs of beer = $600
- My dignity = priceless
Amazingly, I never lost my car keys, though there were plenty of times when it definitely would have been better if I had.
Considering that my drinking career spanned three decades, I’m sure there’s much more that could be added to this list. Plus, I didn’t even count the hundreds of hours I lost searching for things I’d misplaced in my alcoholic haze. When I dropped that Coach bag, for example, on the streets of New York City, it ended up in the hands of some sort of identity theft gang. By the time I woke up with a horrific hangover, my driver’s license and major credit card info had been transmitted across the country and used to set up new charge accounts with six different retailers in Minnesota. That one took many, many days to straighten out.
The last few years that I was drinking, I would make very strategic decisions about what to wear or bring on a night out. If an accessory was valuable, it was verboten. For example, I would deliberately not wear my charm bracelet that tinkled with silver mementos that I’d collected on various trips over the years – what if I should lose that wristful of memories in a drunken fog somehow? It was unthinkable. So I stopped wearing it, except during the day.
I stopped buying good sunglasses, watches and purses. It was just too risky.
The other day, though, I found myself in the Coach store at an outlet mall. There I saw the perfect little black bag. On sale.
I bought it.
I intend to have it for a long, long time.
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Tags: alcohol, alcohol abuse, alcohol-free, alcoholic, alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, drinking, getting sober, loss, lost, sober, sobriety
I just “stumbled” across this short film while perusing my Twitterfeed.
I’m sure there are folks who may be offended, and I’m sorry if they are. I know portraying a baby with alcohol isn’t politically correct, but damn if this video isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. I’ve been chuckling in my cube all morning – and forwarding it to my fellow AAs.
It made me think back to all the times I’d gulped down drinks like the toddler in the film, staggered through a bar, and knocked over furniture/plates/glasses/etc. For some reason, seeing drunk adults behaving badly in person or on screen makes me wince. It’s not funny to me because it cuts too close to the bone. Been there, done that.
But there’s just something disarming about the juxtaposition of the child with the alcoholic behavior that makes it comical. Obviously the baby’s not drunk, and the director’s not suggesting we let our kids get liquored up, nor am I (see my last post). I think I enjoy the video because it’s so obviously surreal, and allows me to laugh at myself – and perhaps to recognize how childish and silly and irresponsible I became when under the influence.
Or maybe I’m overanalyzing. Maybe it’s just damn funny.
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Tags: AA, alcohol, alcohol abuse, alcohol and children, alcohol humor, alcoholic, alcoholics, drinking, humor, party, travel, trip
Along with the rest of the country, we’ve had a serious cold snap here in central Texas, with record lows and – surprise! – snowfall that actually accumulated and stuck around for more than 30 minutes.
Now, I was born in Michigan and lived there till I was ten, when we moved to Colorado to live for four years before we ended up in Virginia for my junior high and high school years. Thus, I’m no stranger to cold weather, but living in the Lone Star State for almost 20 years has made me a bit wimpy when it comes to the cold.
When our city called a snow day yesterday (we had a whopping 3/4 inch, folks!), I enjoyed watching my friends’ Facebook updates with pics of their kids rolling about in the snow, many of them for the first time ever. My daughters were at their dad’s house this week, so I had to be content watching Daisy frolic in my powdery backyard.
It made me think about my childhood in Michigan, when my sister and I would get all bundled up to play in the snow, and stay out until we were nearing the early stages of frostbite. When we came in, my mom would make hot toddies for my sister and me, to warm us up.
For those not familiar with the drink, it’s made of hot tea with lemon and honey and whiskey.
Yes, my mom served me alcohol at the ripe old age of eight.
It wasn’t a one-time thing, either. We got hot toddies on a regular basis during the Michigan winters, and the tradition continued when we moved to Colorado and would go night sledding at a hilly golf course near our house.
When I look back and think about this, I’m appalled. I know that in some cultures, kids enjoy sips of wine and other alcohol at dinner. But we live in America, which has at best a troubled relationship with booze. What’s more, my family has a long and full history of alcoholism: both of my parents and at least one grandparent on each side suffer(ed) from it, along with myriad aunts and uncles and cousins, from what I’ve heard. So it seems to me it wouldn’t be the wisest thing to serve up this sweet concoction to your little ones. No matter how well it worked to warm us up. What was she thinking? Why not hot chocolate?
I don’t blame my mother or my father for my alcoholism, any more than I could blame them for my scrawny legs or poor eyesight. Yet in pondering this and subsequently writing this post, I came to realize that I harbor some resentments around this issue. Obviously I have work to do. And hot chocolate to buy — for my girls and me.
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Tags: alcohol abuse, alcoholic, alcoholic family, alcoholic parents, alcoholics, alcoholism, children of alcoholics, drinking, hot toddy, life, relationships
All those martinis and glasses of vino really added up.
So what’s a gal in recovery to do when she’s out with a group and the bill comes, and someone suggests they divvy it up evenly? Even if I’d sipped a single bottle of Perrier ($4.00), while they’d downed a round of pricey cocktails ($12 a pop) and two bottles of even pricier Pinot Noir?
I’ve felt awkward, to say the least, pointing out my teetotaling when totaling the tab.
Luckily, I wasn’t subjected to this sticky situation when I recently visited my two best friends for a girls’ weekend back East.
During a trip to NYC, the three of us took our friend (and hostess with the mostest, since she let us stay in her comfy Upper East Side apartment overnight) out to a neighborhood Italian restaurant. When the check arrived, my friends – who’ve been undyingly supportive about my sobriety – quickly noted that I hadn’t ordered drinks or wine, and tallied their increased share accordingly.
I can’t tell you how thankful I was. It spared me the discomfort of having to pipe up and make note of the fact that I didn’t drink. Even among friends, I’ll admit, that still can feel weird. And like many alcoholics, I suffer from financial insecurity, so I’ve been known to pinch a penny or two. The times that I’ve gone ahead and paid for much more than my fair share haven’t numbered too many, I’m happy to say. But when I do that, I end up with a lot of resentment. And as AAs know, resentment can be the death of us.
I’m wondering if this is a common experience with my fellow alcoholics out there – and if so, how have you handled it? Or is it just not that big a deal?
Just sign me:
Penny Pinching and Teetotaling in Texas
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Tags: 12-Step Program, AA, alcohol, alcohol-free, alcoholic, alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, bar tab, dining out, drinking, getting sober, girlfriends, girls' weekend, not drinking, recovery, sober, sobriety, travel, trip, wine
I’ve got a thing for poetry, which means that today finds me especially happy, for April is National Poetry Month.
I’m also happy because it’s spring, and absolutely lovely in my neck of the woods these days. During times like these, when life feels so damn good, it’s easy enough to cruise along and let things slip. Like going to AA meetings. Working my program. And maintaining conscious contact with my Higher Power.
I was reminded of this last part at my morning AA meeting today, where the discussion centered around Step 11. I’ve only been praying and meditating haphazardly, so this morning’s discussion was a good kick in the pants to get me doing it on a more regular basis.
Now, being the geek that I am, I had already planned to share a poem with the group, in honor of National Poetry Month. Amazingly enough, the one I had chosen also fit the discussion topic. Huh. Go figure.
Thus, I’m happy to share this poem/prayer of thanks, from one of my favorite writers. It is a wonderful expression of the gratitude that I am feeling today, for many things.
i thank You God for most this amazing
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
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Tags: AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, giving thanks, gratitude, happy, life, National Poetry Month, poem, poetry, recovery, sober, sobriety, thankful
I wasn’t reassured when I first heard those words, “You are not alone,” uttered as a reassurance.
To be honest, it kind of creeped me out. It sounded like something The Smoking Man would tell Molder on “The X Files.” As if aliens or (even scarier) the government were constantly watching me, tracking my every move, examining my every thought. Chalk it up to an overactive imagination and too many pre-teen afternoons spent with old issues of “Fantasy & Science Fiction” on my grandmother’s sunporch.
The phrase was meant, however, to let me know that as a newcomer to sobriety and the Alcoholics Anonymous program, I was going to be okay. That my case wasn’t unusual. That there were many others like me out there struggling with alcoholism. And that I didn’t have to go it alone — there were plenty of resources at my disposal, if I just knew where to look and whom to ask.
I posted earlier this week about my difficulties seeking and asking for help. And on Friday, I did something very alien to my control freak nature: I let go of everything and asked for all the help in the cosmos. I took the Third Step and surrendered to my Higher Power.
It was quite a lovely experience – my AA sponsor and I had a picnic and took a hike in a nearby state park. The afternoon was bright and hot, and the park very serene and empty — except for an amazing array of flora and fauna that seemed to be greeting and guiding us. (There goes my overactive imagination again…) A Texas spiny lizard scurrying along the rocks paused to watch us as we first embarked on the trail. Then I spied a magnificent red-tailed hawk watching from its perch in a nearby tree. A. and I both stopped and stood looking up quietly. It flew off when I moved closer to get a better look (with thoughts of snapping a picture, because of course I had my camera with me). But it wasn’t the last we saw of it.
As we continued on our journey, we saw shy turtles, a brilliant cardinal, a pair of woodpeckers, and a bevy of butterflies fluttering from blossom to blossom among flowering trees. We reached a bend in the path, which led us up a hill. At the top was a clearing with a smooth-barked tree — I think a crepe myrtle — just beyond. At this spot, by what A. & I shall hereafter refer to as “The Third Step Tree,” we stopped and sat to say the Third Step Prayer.
God, I offer myself to Thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always.
And then, we just got quiet.
I listened. I looked around. I lived in the moment.
A. & I saw that hawk again — or at least we figured it was the same one, circling overhead, making lazy loops in the big Texas sky. Standing there in the sun, I didn’t feel alone at all. I felt connected, part of the universe, happy and loved and reassured.
I was not alone.
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Tags: 12-Step Program, AA, AA sponsor, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, connected, feeling alone, getting sober, journey, life, nature, recovery, serenity, sobriety, surrender, Third Step, Third Step Prayer, you are not alone
On Tuesday, I went to an AA meeting and collected this chip to mark my second month of sobriety — 60 days of not drinking.
When I type that, the length of time seems so…short…minor…insignificant. Yet it also seems huge, and like an eternity.
At this particular AA group (one of several I attend), each person who has a sobriety “birthday” that month writes it up on a chalkboard in the meeting room. There are names up there with dates in the 1960’s, before I was even born. To have 40+ years of sobriety seems unfathomable to me. I can’t imagine going to a meeting in 2048 and getting a 40-year chip. I’m not sure if such a thing even exists. If it does, what does it look like? Hmmm….I’m thinking platinum, with two ginormous, diamond-encrusted “A’s” in the center. Yeah…something to make even the most blinged-out rappers envious.
Now, I know it’s just a number, and I know that no matter how many hours or days or years or decades of sobriety each of us AA’s has, we all start each new day in the same place. “One Day at a Time,” right?
But I have to admit that with every addtional day of not drinking that I have under my belt, I seem to become that much more determined not to screw up my “record” thus far. I don’t know why I feel that way, or if it’s even a good way to look at it. After all, I’ve heard “Progress, not perfection” enough times, and I don’t want to set myself up for a big fall, if I should ever fall. But this idea is working for me right now, so I’m gonna go with it.
So I’m determined to keep on collecting those chips. ‘Cause damn if I don’t want the entire set.
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Tags: AA, AA 2-month chip, AA birthday, AA chips, AA meeting, alcohol-free, alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, milestone, not drinking, recovery, sobriety, sobriety birthday, sobriety date
Today, I am thankful for:
my Polish grandmother’s pierogi recipe.
my family, even with all their angst-inducing nuttiness.
my sense of humor, which helps me deal with the above-mentioned family.
my friends, who also help me deal.
my daughters and their exasperatingly, exhilaratingly different personalities.
sprigs of rosemary fresh from my garden.
the lovely aquamarine of the lake just outside my window.
the chocolate milk that lets me turn my regular coffee into “mocha.”
having met and loved B., no matter what happens.
my wise and wonderful sister.
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Tags: AA, AA meeting, alcoholic, alcoholic family, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, being thankful, dysfunctional family, family, family gathering, giving thanks, holiday, recovery, sobriety, thankful, Thanksgiving
I heard this story (or something like it) at an AA meeting the other day. Back in the day, it was the sort of thing that would have inspired a fair share of derisive eye-rolling on my part. And now? I think maybe it’s a little corny, but a nice enough reminder to count our blessings and give credit where it’s due, whether you’re an agnostic or an angel aficionado.
A visitor to Heaven is walking down a hall with his angelic tour guide, who stops in front of two closed doors.
The angel opens the first door for the visitor, who beholds a hubbub of activity. Inside an enormous room that seems to go on forever, an infinite number of angels are busily opening mail, answering phones, typing on computers. Not a single one sits idle.
“These angels are in charge of receiving all prayers and requests,” says the guide. “They toil around the clock.”
“Wow,” says the visitor, taking it all in, amazed by the multitudes at work.
The angel smiles and gently closes the first door, then moves over to the second door. She turns the knob and slowly reveals the room beyond.
The visitor sees it is just as enormous as the first room, but instead of a bustling throng, there is but one lone angel, sitting still at a desk.
“Why isn’t this angel working? Doesn’t she have a job?” the visitor asks, puzzled.
“Oh indeed, she has a job,” responds the guide. “She’s in charge of receiving all the thank you’s.”
I’ve sent out an ungodly heap of requests these past few weeks. So today, I made an effort to send out some thank you’s.
Just doing my part to keep an angel off the dole.
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Tags: AA, AA meeting, Alcoholics Anonymous, angel, angels, being thankful, blessings, giving thanks, grateful, gratefulness, recovery, sobriety, thank you
Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jaywalking. He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings. Up to this point you would label him as a foolish chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession. You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within a week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jaywalking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs.
On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jaywalking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man would be crazy, wouldn’t he?
You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it? We, who have been through the wringer, have to admit if we substituted alcoholism for jaywalking, the illustration would fit us exactly. However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. It’s strong language — but isn’t it true?
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Tags: AA, alcoholic, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, drinking, getting sober, jaywalking, life, passion for jaywalking, recovery, sober, sobriety, The Big Book, trouble
You’re coming to visit today, and I’m equal parts happy and anxious.
Your granddaughters, who get to enjoy your company for a few days each year, are giggling and giddy with anticipation. They’ve made a “Welcome Opa” sign, decided which board games you’re going to play and in what order, and have even set aside some of their hard-earned Halloween loot to share with you. This makes me happy.
My big sister K., whose home was first on The Opa Comes Stateside Tour, tells me you were drinking openly — but also having furtive, late-night drinks — while there. This makes me anxious.
I know you’re not on the wagon anymore, and I don’t think you have been for several years now, though it’s not something we’ve talked about recently. I sent you that email a few weeks ago about my being in AA, along with my request that you respect that.
At this point, I’m not sure what “respecting that” might entail…maybe just being okay with my not having any booze in the house and not bringing any in, not overdoing it if you drink when we go out to dinner, stuff like that… I’m hoping you’ll help me in this way, because I’m feeling quite protective of my sobriety right now. It’s a delicate, precious thing, and I want to keep it at all costs. I’m going to be quite the fixture at AA meetings this week, of that much I am certain.
Speaking of AA meetings, knowing that you were in the program in the past, I’m kind of tempted to invite you along to one with me, but I’m not sure if that’s okay to do. I’m kind of fuzzy on Sobriety Etiquette. Since there is no “Dear Abby” for recovering alcoholics, it’s a good question for my sponsor.
I also want to ask about your alcoholic history. I remember spending my childhood seeing you passed out on the sofa downstairs, reeking of booze and cigarettes and urine. I recall the shame of my junior high and high school years, when I couldn’t have friends over for fear of being tragically embarrassed. I met my dates at the curb and had them drop me off there, too. No hanging out in the living room or sneaking a kiss at the door. It was just too dangerous.
I want to know how you were able to stumble through 15+ years, inebriated and irresponsible and mostly uninvolved in my and K.’s formative years.
I want to know how long you were in AA, and how many times you tried to get sober. And why you aren’t now.
I realize this all sounds pretty accusatory and angry. Clearly I still have work of my own to do. I know this. But I also think that knowing more about you might help me understand my own thoughts and behaviors and inclinations.
After all, I love that I inherited your bright blue eyes and your way with words and your sense of humor. But when it comes to drinking, I do not want to be like father, like daughter.
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Tags: AA, AA meeting, AA sponsor, alcoholic, alcoholic family, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, dad, drinking, dysfunctional family, family relationships, family visits, father-daughter relationships, life, Like father like daughter, not drinking, recovery, relationships, resentment, sober, sobriety
I woke up this morning, the day after Halloween, feeling different than I had on the day after Halloween in years past.
I felt a little woozy, with a funny taste in my mouth. No throbbing headache, though. No unquenchable thirst. No shaky hands.
See, I hadn’t toured the neighborhood last night with a plastic cup o’ wine in my hand while my daughters rang doorbells and gathered loot. I hadn’t sat on the porch refilling my glass from a bottle of cabernet while I waited to hand out KitKats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I hadn’t gone to a party and helped myself to drink after drink, late into the night.
Instead, I had enjoyed the evening sipping nothing more than a Sprite and a few glasses of water. Oh, and eating about a dozen pieces of various kinds of chocolate candy. Well….maybe two dozen.
But a candy hangover beats a cabernet hangover any day.
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Tags: AA, alcoholic, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, candy, drinking, Halloween, hangover, party, recovery, sober, sobriety, sugar, wine
It can be pretty frightening to walk into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for the first time. Or for the second or third time, for that matter.
At the very first meeting I attended, there were all sorts of scary creatures. Weary-eyed old men. Worn-out women. Sullen 20-somethings. Holy-roller housewives. Flip-flop-wearing frat boys.
Equally scary were the stories I heard. Tales of arrests, violence, drug addiction, neglected children, lost jobs, broken homes…you name it.
The thought of standing up and telling these people I was an alcoholic (which would mean admitting I was just like them) and then sharing some bit of my true self was fearful beyond words.
I didn’t go back to another AA meeting for a year. When I finally did venture out again, I only attended two meetings before I decided, yet again, that I had nothing in common with these alcoholic creatures and there was nothing at AA for me.
I wasn’t down on my luck. I hadn’t “hit bottom.” I wasn’t haggard and in bad health. I wasn’t religious. Heck, I wasn’t even really an alcoholic. After all, plenty of my friends told me I didn’t have a drinking problem – I just went a little overboard sometimes.
I talked myself out of it. Again. And again. And again. I could control this thing. I was a successful career woman. I was a mom. I was a multitasker. I could manage.
Until I couldn’t.
Two weeks ago, feeling nervous and very afraid, I walked into yet another AA meeting — about 13 years after I sat through that very first one, the one where I saw all those frightening creatures.
And there they were. Again.
The old men. The weary women. The young ones. The housewives.
But something was different.
I had come to realize that I was just like them. I was an alcoholic. I was out of control. I wanted what they had. I would do anything to get it – even if it scared me beyond belief.
And so I went to that meeting, holding within me the one requirement for AA membership: a desire to stop drinking. I was welcomed with open arms and hearts.
Turns out it wasn’t so scary, after all.
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Tags: 12 steps, 12-Step Program, AA, AA meeting, alcoholic, alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, fear, Halloween, life, people, promises, recovery, scary, sober, sobriety, Step One, Third Tradition