Friday, December 01, 2006

DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!...or not.


Father Jack Hackett, World Famous Irish Alcoholic



If you're an average recreational internet user, I have probably been drinking for longer than you've been alive. It's not that I'm SO FECKIN OLD (even though I'm getting there)....I'm just a raging alcoholic and became that way at an age when people shouldn't even realise OTHER folks have problems of this nature. This isn't something I'm proud of, or something that's at all easy to admit, but it's the truth, and it's something I had to come to terms with in order to do something about it. And I had to do something about it, because if I didn't, it would kill me.

I was, for a very long time, PROUDLY the world's highest functioning alcoholic. I went to school tipsy, I aced exam after exam tipsy, I travelled tipsy, performed music tipsy, got into grad school on scholarship and graduated tipsy, gave speeches and presentations tipsy, and worked....supervising other people, even....TIPSY. And most people never had a clue. I was unmedicated for anxiety and mostly unmedicated for depression (and wrongly medicated when I WAS...seeing as I wasn't DEPRESSED but bipolar), so I went about medicating myself the best way I knew how. And it worked. So I kept it up. After a long while however, when my tolerance raised a bit too much and my stress level did as well, I started to slip up. Got in trouble at work....serious trouble, that given my profession, I'm lucky wasn't more serious. Began making a public ass of myself a bit more often than before, which also got back to my job. And then there were the health repercussions, which were many and some of which were severe. I had gone off the bottle a few times in my long career as a drunkard, but never longer than the time it took to carry a baby. Any time I attempted when not preggers crashed and burned in under two months. Until the summer of 2004, that is, when I decided to give it up for good.

'For good' in this case meant just under two years. This summer, stress and pain (the latter probably mostly as a result of the former) led me back to the drink. And fucking hell did I make up for lost time. Due to the fact that I WAS so bloody stressed (for a couple of reasons I'm not getting into here) and that I was on sabbatical from work to recover from surgery, there was nothing to stop me from going out damn near every night and getting blind drunk. This was no longer the functional alcoholism I'd kept up in my previous life. This was Paris Hilton in 20 years....next stop, BOWERY.

Nothing in this world has quite the emotional effect of waking up in the afternoon with a head full of sand, fully dressed and covered in bruises you've no idea how you got, in a bed you don't remember falling into....and not having the foggiest idea of how you got from the bar to the apartment you're lying in, or what bar you were drinking at, for that matter....or what exactly happened last night after 9pm. Nothing that is EXCEPT for having that happen 5 times in the same week. I have been an alcoholic for years, sure, but I have never been THAT kind of out of control drunk, and it scared the shit out of me. The other things that scared the shit out of me were the amount of alcohol I had to consume to GET that drunk (50 Cent might be Mr 9 shots, but me, I'm Mrs 20 shots...of Jamesons, that is) and the fact that consuming that much booze had started me regularly vomiting large quantities of blood. Not good, not good at all. You don't have to be the Surgeon General to figure that out.

I will skip over the descriptions of fights I got into during my Summer of Inebriation, the places I can no longer show my face in (it takes a lot to embarrass me, but when I find myself screaming off key renditions of 'The Rare Ould Times' with foul words randomly placed in where I feel they are necessary, roaring inappropriate things about 'the filthy fuckin' Yanks' in any bar in the USA, and uttering words about select individuals that would sound far more at home on the tongues of Mel Gibson or Michael Richards, that is enough to embarrass the ever loving shit out of me), and the people I've offended, because that's only going to make me feel worse about myself. Besides, the emotional and social implications of being a slobbering drunk wear off, or at the least, you can drink them off. The physical, however....and of course, the LASTING EFFECT being a drunk has on your REAL friends, family, kids, etc....the ones who are too good to be scared off right away...are a little harder to remedy. I saw just how hard in the case of my grandfather. A drunk like me till about my age, he sobered up just a few years older than myself and stayed that way for another nearly 50 years. He'll be dead 9 years this Christmas week. His kids STILL aren't over the way he was. His own father died of drink at 60. Of the two of them, it often seems like Great Grandpa had it easier....although he never got to see grandkids, retirement, or experience sobriety at all (from what I hear, he was quite a bit like Father Jack, if also a bit better looking) At least he didn't have to spend the rest of his days hearing and seeing the damage he did to his family. But me, I'm a masochist. I'm willing to give it a shot. I've already heard enough from enough of them....what're a few more words? I can combat them a lot better sober.

So tonight I went to my first AA meeting in YEARS. Don't really know how well my relationship with AA is going to go, seeing as I'm pretty much Atheist and they're all about the Higher Power, but at this point I'm willing to try anything. I've been weaning myself off the drink for the past few weeks, and the last two haven't seen me take one single drop. Last time, though, it wasn't this difficult to keep up. Maybe it's the season. Maybe it's because I'm well and socializing again. I don't know. All I do know is that I need help this time and I'm not afraid to ask for it. I think this is what they call taking the first step....

4 Comments:

Blogger Billychic said...

Whatever you need to do to be healthy and happy, I'm behind you 100%. I'm proud of you for taking the steps necessary if you feel that you can't drink anymore, and I wish you all the best with it - and I'm always here for you.

That said, I'm glad that you and I had one good drink together before you quit - perhaps it's good that we didn't get shitfaced together, otherwise NYC may not have been the same afterwards.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Maritza said...

AA is not for everyone but it's an excellent first step (been there, done that and not interested in going back). I didn't like the "higher power" thing either but found the best help through myself and a therapist. Do whatever it takes.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Maritza said...

AA is not for everyone but it's an excellent first step (been there, done that and not interested in going back). I didn't like the "higher power" thing either but found the best help through myself and a therapist. Do whatever it takes.

5:55 PM  
Blogger NYCbeauty said...

Hey woman,
You are so courageous. Not just for fighting the fight. For doing the work "inside" to find out why. For taking responsibility for what your addiction did to yourself but others as well, but most of all for saying it in a public forum like this where people (as we both well know) can be so cruel. I marvel every day at how you choose to educate people with your life stories and heal yourself through writing them over fearing the stupid comments of others. You are to be admired. And that, my friend, I do. xo jw

4:38 PM  

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