I’ve tried will-power. I’ve tried the Last Call program (see my review, below). I’ve tried mind games, tapering off, metering my intake, switching to just beer, and nothing has worked.
An important step in learning not to drink alcohol has got to be realizing what it is you’re actually putting in your body. To save some money, I was going to buy some 190-proof Everclear, but the shop owner talked me into getting an imitation brand – same proof, more booze. Nothing in this world could possibly be worse than no-name-brand imitation Everclear. Popped the cap off, too a whiff and WHOOO! that stuff is STRONG! Smells like rubbing alcohol mixed with jalapeno juice, gasoline and red pepper.
For a week, I put about 150 mL of that crap into a measuring cup, filled the rest up with diet coke, and choked it down. Once I went back for more, took a swig right from the bottle, and gagged & sputtered for a good 30 seconds, which might not sound like a lot, but not being able to breathe as poison eats your insides out, not knowing if it’s going to stop, can sure put things into perspective. Not to mention waking up choking on my own reflux, repeatedly, all night long.
So now I know the enemy, laid bare, naked and uncovered. Not so tasty without the hops, crushed ice & lime juice, or 7 years of soaking in an oak barrel, are you? Like seeing a prostitute in bright light. EW! Is THAT what I f’d last night?! I need a shower…
Not only that, but I’m just plain burned out on the stuff. It used to make me happy, at least for a little while, and my hangovers lasted until maybe noon the next day. Now, I skip the whole happy stage, go straight to zombie mode, and my hangovers last a day and a half. If I drink on Sunday, I don’t dare drive, much less try to go to work, on Monday. I feel like PacMan. The more you play, the less effect the little dots in the corner have. Now they don’t even slow down the bad guys.
So I’ve been doing a light beer every day or every other day, just to keep from going through a really painful withdrawal. I have a therapist. Kind of pissed at her. She spent a good 10 minutes trying to talk me into going to AA. I finally told her no, let’s just try this first. She actually wanted me to do 90 meetings in 90 days; has no idea of my social paranoia. I don’t do meetings; I can do therapy, but don’t tell me to go to a group of alcoholics, give them my name, have everyone hug me and tell me I’m still a good person. I will punch them in the face. The therapist gave me a directory of all the AA meetings in the neighborhood. I burned it in the gas grill.
I’ve been having nightmares about college. I hate college. It took me years & years & years to convince my parents that it wasn’t my thing. They always said it was never too late, I could always go back & get “my” degree, like someone is sitting around waiting to give it to me, already with my name on it. In the dream, I’m always confused, can’t find the dorm, or my books, forgot to go to class, can’t remember my schedule. But why now? Why have nightmares about college, a vivid dream of being lost & reacting with rage when someone teasingly took my pillow, threatening him with a gruesome death – I haven’t wanted to kill anyone for weeks…
Then it hit me: it’s the stupid AA meetings. It’s college all over again. I don’t want to go. I will not go. if they make me go, I’m going to go nuts, kill everyone in the building, buy a huge bottle of whiskey, and pass out in the tub so I’ll drown in my sleep. I have another session with the therapist in an hour. Session number two, and my wife is coming with me. If she mentions AA again, I’m leaving. I don’t know if I’ll get drunk out of shear rebellion or if I’ll just bitch & moan about it the rest of the day, but I’d rather DIE than go to a meeting. And if I have to stab someone (or myself) to get them to take me seriously, so be it…
I’ll update this later. I doubt anyone is reading this anyway, but it helps me to express myself. I’m not a social drinker. I drink alone. I hide it. I’m scared of people, mostly in groups. Paranoid of being put into the center of attention, of being called on. And I don’t know how to say No without violence. Maybe the therapist can help me with THAT, before I choke her to death… or maybe I’ll do what I always do, swallow my emotions, be kind, wave goodbye, and pound the steering wheel all the way home as I cuss & swear I’ll never try to quit again… dead by 50, no doubt…
Update 8/30/13: Well, I’ve made it three weeks without getting drunk. I had a lite beer today, as I did yesterday, but not the three days before that. So, a beer a day for a few days, then a few days not, then a few daily beers again. The therapist says that making it one month is important, because our brains work on a 1-month rhythm, just like a menstrual cycle. Probably has to do with the phases of the moon, but in any case, after 30 days my cravings should go way down. After three 30-day cycles, they should be gone for good.
I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned some relaxation techniques, and they really do work. One is I imagine I’m in a place, any peaceful place that I care, but I have to imagine it in all five senses. My special place is on the beach. I can hear the ocean, see the waves as they crash onto the shore. The sun is setting and the sky is lit up with a blazing sunset. There’s a crisp, salty air as the night cold moves in. I hear seagulls chirping nearby, and my feet are sinking slightly in the sand. In the chilly night, my wife is hugging me, with her head on my chest as we enjoy the time together. We have to leave soon, but not yet, which makes it even more special.
Other stuff I already knew. Slow breathing helps. So does progressive relaxation, which I’ve been doing for years. We’ve talked about issues I have with my dad, she confirmed something I already knew, that he’s got OCD, and I’ve learned to pity him rather than feel like I’m under his control. And I also quit coffee. I’m back on e-cigs, but I did quit coffee, because I figured if I don’t get hyped up on caffeine, I may not need the booze to crash later. So far, so good.
I want to tell you that when I start taking care of myself, and stop jumping up to help anyone who comes in my cube with an emergency, when I walk slowly on purpose or take my time & breathe before I check my email, well, people don’t like that. I could sense it the first day after therapy. My coworkers have lost their slave. Oh, I still do the job all right, but I do one thing at a time, and I don’t rush like a crazy person because you know what? It doesn’t matter. In a week, day, year, ten years, NOTHING I do at work will matter.
My wife is still getting used to me being up and lucid at night. The family likes it, I think. The therapist kind of ticked me off the last session. I brought my sweetheart with me, and I think she sees her as bossy and she might even be competing with her, because my wife knows more about me and psychology than the therapist does. But I’ve been a good student, I’ve done my homework, I’ve learned what I need to learn and practiced it.
That’s all. I have to go now. I really think this is going to work this time. I really do.
I made it 30 days. Then I got upset. I can handle one or two bad situations, but four? I kind of lost it. I got a citation from the city for having broken appliances, rusty cars, trash & building materials on my property. They gave me two weeks to clean it up. The only problem is, none of that is true. The only thing I could figure is there was some stuff left over from the swimming pool in the back yard – a ladder, some pipes in the ground by the deck – and I was appalled that it was still a violation, since it’s been there for months, and enclosed by a 6-foot wooden fence. The inspector said the complaint was called in, so I’m suspicious that my nosy back-yard neighbor phoned it in. Jerk.
I drank, I got mad, I took that PVC pool ladder that I had made & hurled it at the back fence, yelling obscenities and don’t remember much else. The next day there was crap all over the yard. Now whenever my 14 year old son has a friend complain about someone, he says, You want me to throw a PVC ladder at him? I cleaned it up all right. Threw it all away. And I still don’t know if that’s enough. They won’t tell me exactly what to do, so for the last two trash days I’ve had all seven trash cans filled with sawed up old wood and PVC. Now when I replace the pool with a big new one next year, I’ll have to do all of that over again. Or can I? Maybe I can’t build anything myself any more. Maybe I’m not supposed to have any privacy. Maybe I’m just supposed to go to work, come home, sleep, wake up, repeat. And that’s it.
So there are four things that are bothering me, and I cannot change. My neighbor will probably never leave. My dad’s OCD will make me do things like spend all day yesterday in church watching my parents get a 50-year-anniversary blessing from some big shot priest with a big white hat. My job is slowly killing me and I’m shackled to that cube for another 15 years minimum. And I’m sick of having a car that leaks and rusts and breaks and doesn’t even have locking doors.
I’m late for work. Noone will notice. Oh, I went back to a beer-a-day again. Drank 375mL that first day, then one of those smaller ones (200?) the next, then a beer, and that’s been almost a week. Got a therapist meeting this afternoon. Maybe she can help, but I doubt it. This will be my fifth session and I just don’t know how I’m going to change anything. I put the word out to an old boss that I’m interested in a transfer, and I’ve been looking at new cars in case I magically get rich, but I certainly can’t do anything about my OCD father, but at least we’ve paid our dues for a while, and my neighbor is at the very least afraid of me, if he was home while I was throwing stuff at his fence.
That’s all for now. Struggle, struggle, struggle, then a painful death. My life, abridged.