Friday, December 3, 2010


- At 10:30pm (or so, as I was wasted and don't remember the exact time of my last drink), I will have been sober for 7 days.

- I told a room of about 100 people that I'm an alcoholic.


I look back at last Friday's texts. There was some guy I thought would be good for a lay. But it was 7:30pm and I was half into the bottle of wine and knew I wouldn't be able to "get it up" to party unless I had some of the good ol' whiskey. I busted over to the liquor store at 8:30pm because they close at 8:45. Got the gold, already very tipsy. Texted back and forth with this guy, who wanted me to go cab out to a bar across the street from his place in Arlington - he was even going to pay. But I couldn't find the mojo (I was about to get my period and was trying to force it). So, I downed about a quarter of the bottle, told him I'd take a shower and be on my way. Still, couldn't find the inertia to get in a cab and go over there. So, I texted that I'd cut my leg shaving. I suggested he come over. He had had 3 cups of coffee and was about to drive over. Shit, I'd have to have a cut leg. So, I told him I hadn't cut my leg but come on over!

"I'm sorta confused between the bloody leg lying and invite - I'm not starved for women and it doesn't sound right - I'm gonna pass.. Wish you well"

It wasn't that this was some monumentous statement. It wasn't anything but me being crazy ol' me again.

But for some god awful reason, I woke up at 5:30am on Saturday and couldn't go back to sleep. I was lying cross-wise in my bed, looking out the bedroom window. For weeks, for months, for years now, I've been telling myself I have to stop this. I have to stop drinking so much. I have to get back into the gym. I have to stop smoking. I have to stop. Stop. Stop. And for the past weeks it's been stronger inside me.

Sure, I've been hungover at work. Hell, probably 300 days of the year for 6 years I was hungover to some degree at my old job. But now, now I've got some really kick ass job doing some really up-the-ladder stuff and I had already - in the 7.5 months I've been here - called in "sick" twice and suffered 2 days of hiding a supreme hangover. And it wasn't going to go unnoticed for long. So, I'd been telling myself over and over, I have to stop this. In August, I switched up and decided no more whiskey during the week. I had spent an entire day in a training, sweating, feeling sick, needing a gallon of water, and blushing profusely every time I had to or wanted to speak in front of the group. This does not a leader make. Nor does it make a normal person.

But switching over to wine didn't stop the crazy. Instead, it was an entire bottle a night. White, on the warmer days - also didn't stain my lips as much. Red, cheap red when it got cooler. I was getting the shits, the runs, the drippy piles in the toilet. "Eh, must be a bad bottle of wine. I'll buy a slightly more expensive one tonight." I was struggling to wake up, feeling like dry heaving in the morning, I couldn't brush my tongue with my toothbrush without gagging and thinking for sure I was going to toss my coffee -- no, not food, couldn't eat until at least 9am.

Still, when I was at work, I was a highly functioning employee. It didn't necessarily affect any of my product, but it did create a double-layer of shame and insecurity. I'm working with executives who manage and strategize for the whole agency. Completely out of my element. And the people who put me there, or got me there, thought I could handle it. And I could (can), to some extent. But I was regressing, feeling more obvious about how hungover I was, thinking they all knew how much I was drinking. And I know they knew. How could they not?

How could anyone not?

A major turning point was the photo. The group photo from Thanksgiving. Me and 6 of my friends, smiling above the turkey success and pot luck beauty. No, I wasn't belligerent. No, I wasn't wasted. In fact, I only drank about 2 glasses of wine that night (because like most who hide their drinking, they drink few in front of anyone, and a ton on their own). But, my face. My bloated, cherub, fat face. Where had my eyes gone? Where had the nice, soft wrinkles and crow's feet gone? Where had the definition in my cheekbones gone? Who knows what was going on inside this sack of flesh! A few days my liver had ached - mostly after a weekend of a whole bottle of whiskey. But the shits. The runs. Clearly, a bodily sign to my brain in denial.


So, there I was. 5:30am on Saturday. I went back to sleep after an hour of swearing I had to do something to change. When I got back up, I spent the morning scouring the AA websites. I'd done this a couple of weeks before, and answered more than my fair share of yeses to the "Are you an alcoholic?" quizzes. Yet, for some reason, this time it hit me. I kept reading and I started crying. Crying and crying and crying. Not bawling, but sobbing. Sobbing hard. The hardest and longest cry I've had in years - and the most sober cry. The cry lasted all weekend, and is still hanging out behind my eyes waiting for more opportunities. But between that, I sent an email.

There was this guy. I can't even remember now how we found each other.... alas, the gmail search answers all. We met on a dating site, but never actually got around to meeting in real life. We started exchanging emails about 2 weeks after I moved here. So, for 7.5 months I've been chatting on and off with this guy as we traded bdsm stories (he was starting to explore more and I was trying to find outlets in DC) and sex tales. And, I recalled that during one of our infrequent chats - maybe the 100th in planning to meet up - that he invited me out for drinks. That he didn't drink, but I could.

So, I saw him online, in the midst of all my sobbing (tissue box next to me) and pinged him:
Me: I have a non-sexy question for you.
Him: Shoot
Me: You mentioned to me once that you used to drink but don't anymore. Are you in AA?
Him: Yep, almost 2 years
Me: Is the hardest step actually going to the first meeting?

I had found the meeting page for DC AA and was planning on going to one for beginners that Tuesday. It was Saturday, and I was a wreck.

Him: Perhaps. Are you ready?
Me: It's on Tuesday. I'm ready now. I'm not sure that I'll be ready again on Tuesday.
Him: Where are you going. Who are you going with.
Him: It's a great thing you are doing. It saved my life.
Me: XYZ Place. If I'm interpreting correctly. (They really need a direct link that says "Newbies here")
Me: I'm going with myself.
Me: Thanks and I'm glad.
Him: Chat me

We chatted for a while. He said he would meet me there if I wanted. I said okay. Then, I asked if I should toss all the booze in my apartment. He said: Do it. Now. And tell me when you're done.

Me (as ever the documentarian, I took photos and sent them): 1 flask washed out.
dumped, washed out, recycled: 3 wine bottles, 1 whiskey.
trashed: a George Washington blended whiskey package with shot glass (couldn't think of anyone to gift it to ATM). thanks for the support.
Him: That is Fucking awesome. I am really happy for you. Fuck yeah.

He told me to check in with him that day. And he checked in with me. Then, he said to ping him when I woke up on Sunday. Instead, at 8:30am, he pinged me on my phone that there was a meeting at a place closer to me that day.

I got up and checked. I made it to the noon meeting. I almost threw up all over myself just walking up the 24 stairs to the door. When I got there, I was in shambles. I was terrified. I was shaking. I was still crying. A guy greeted me and welcomed me and told me where the meeting would be and where the bathrooms were. I headed for the bathroom as I started to cry. Sent my friend a text from the stall that I was freaking out, it was weird. He told me to go to the meeting. Someone came into the bathroom, and when I came out, she said, "Are you Lola?... Yeah, I know it's weird, but someone told me a new person was in here..." I started to cry. She asked if I was safe, did I want a hug, I nodded. She gave me her number and took mine down and said she'd been at the earlier meeting but would call me later. (A typical scene for a newcomer: all kinds of people - usually same-sex - give you their numbers -- to call if the newbie thinks they might drink, if they need to talk to someone, if they need support, whatever.)

This woman is now my sponsor. She met me at three other meetings, and I went on my own to three. This last one, I finally got to meet my friend. After 7.5 months of flirting and then not flirting and just chatting, after being available for my break-down, after encouraging me to get to a meeting. We finally hugged and saw each other in real life. It was pretty damn cool.

And weird.

It's all weird.

I've told only a couple of people - mostly those that are far away from me (distance) or not too close (personal). It's only day 7. But I'm aiming for the 90 meetings in 90 days. I figure, a normal person could do it. Hell, normal people don't even drink a whole bottle of wine and top it off with a quarter of whiskey. So, 90 in 90 hopefully won't be too far of a stretch. That said, it's a complete restructure of my life: get up, go to work, go to a meeting, come home, read, sip tea, go to sleep. It's also a total restructure of my body. I'm exhausted. My eyes are tired and light seems brighter than before. My head aches often. My appetite is totally wack. My libido seems to be off on a vacation. My liver ached a lot on Sunday, but now it's quiet. This whole week has been sleep punctuated by sweaty tossing and turning and then chills. I'm not sleeping well, or enough. And on Tuesday, when I was thoroughly wiped, I wanted to bail on the meeting and sleep, but my friend told me to muster the energy. And for some strange reason I did and could. It wasn't the most amazing meeting by far, but it was a place to go and people to listen to, and another step in the process.

So, it's Friday. I'm sober. The headache is coming back. I'm exhausted and it's 10:30pm. No matter, I've got nowhere to be, no one to see, and nothing important except for this recovery. Tomorrow's a bright and early women's meeting. I'll see my sponsor and thank her again. It'll be 7 of 90, but as they say, one day at a time.


Anonymous said...

I haven't been reading for a while... And I'm sorry about that... But at the same time I've been glad to read this... You probably know about this book, but I remember I found it very interesting when I read it...

I want to embrace you very-very tightly.

Love you always,


a said...

Just reading this now.

Good for you. I know you can do this. You're the woman who has endlessly managed to impress me with her strength and power of her personality. I'm lucky to know you, and if you ever need an ear, please, never hesitate to reach out.