Life After Booze

It’s been almost six moths since my last drink.  I would first of all like to apologize because it seems I only write something when I feel bad.  When I feel good, I typically am busy doing something else besides feeling sorry for myself.  So, although I tend to paint a pretty bleak picture here on my blog, life can be good.  Sometimes.

I no longer crave alcohol, per se.  Those of you who have kept up with my struggle know that I was drinking heavily, daily, trying to wash away my reality after my daughter ran away to Mexico and my wife got breast cancer.  That was the lowest time of my adult life and I just couldn’t bear to face the day.  I went through the “Last Call Program” which turned out to be a total rip-off, I tried tapering off, cold-turkey, herbs, you name it.  I think I finally just got tired of feeling like shit all the time.  So I’m clean.  But, I do still crave escape, some kind of solace, some way to take a break from this tired old world.  And here’s the reason why:

FREEDOM

I can’t even remember all of the stories, both national and personal, that lead me to the conclusion that I am a ward of the state, oppressed, submissive, demoralized and living in constant fear that some government entity will one day take away everything that I have ever worked towards.  There are one or two times in my nearly five decades on this rock that I was happy to see a cop or a fire-fighter, and dozens upon dozens of times that I have been scared of them.

It’s all over the news.  If you’re a simple rancher with cows on the same land that the government wants to use to build a solar farm, you’ll be confronted by trained & heavily armed government SWAT teams who will take away your livelihood and put you in jail.  If you dare speak against the sitting president – especially if you’re not black – your Facebook and Twitter posts will be used to try you as a subversive terrorist.  If you have a beautiful patch of land in Colorado, and the government finds out, they will bankrupt you with legal fees until you have to settle for barely enough money to pay your lawyer.

Personally, I’ve had many similar, though not as newsworthy, experiences in my own life.  I had to scrap my plans for a building in the back yard because of the assholes in the code enforcement division giving me hell over getting permits and the futility of trying to explain that I was a homeowner that actually wanted to build something myself.  Or the time I got a letter from the city that the scraps of PVC pipe in my back yard, behind my six-foot privacy fence, constituted visible waste, which I had to clean up immediately or face prosecution.  I’ve all but given up on building my own car because I’d have to do it in the dark of night to avoid the piercing gaze of the homeowner’s association.

It’s like the America today is full of all these power-grabbing, omnipotent, self-appointed guardians of righteousness, and they will do anything and everything to make you comply with what they see as how you live your life.  I can’t grow my own pot, I can’t distill my own whiskey, I can’t do much more than change my own light bulbs without hiring a professional.  It’s like they make these rules that fit 99% of the people out there, and people like me that want to change our own oil or build our own structures are rebels that must be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  It didn’t used to be like this.  People used to have common sense.  People used to become police, firemen, IRS agents – OK maybe not the IRS – but they used to actually want to help.  Now they just want an excuse to use the power they’re drunk on.

So I am living in constant fear of the Authority.  Any moment, dozens of armed men with automatic rifles and bullet-proof vests are going to drag me outside in my underwear and cuff me in front of my kids for not having the proper papers.  And I’m not even Jewish.

That’s another think I’d like to bitch about.  I feel like wild game, and I’m in season.  I’m not part of any protected class.  I’m the most despised, hated person on the face of this earth, because I’m not under any special category: I’m not female, I’m not Hispanic or black, I’m a middle-aged white Christian male, which means I must be super-privileged and never earned what I have and everyone believes that I don’t deserve anything but should have my property and wealth confiscated and distributed to illegal alien Muslim drug dealers, because it’s OK to offend me, insult my religion, call me all kinds of names, but don’t dare draw the word Mohammed on a napkin or you’ll be arrested faster than you can say Praise Jesus.

At the risk of getting fired, something that is constantly on my mind and haunts every waking moment, I will give you another insane example of rule-making gone amuck: let’s talk about flashlights.  Where I work, there are areas that could have explosive gasses and so, logically, spark-producing electronics are forbidden without written permission and an air sample.  But the letter of the law, the company make-one-mistake-and-you’re-fired rule is written such that even a pocket flashlight is deemed an extremely dangerous device and if you have one in your possession, EVEN IF THE BATTERY IS OUT, and even if you wear a daily-calibrated LEL meter that continuously checks for an explosive atmosphere, even though you may be walking in one of those units but OUTSIDE the danger zone, well, the rule is “no flashlights” so your ass is gone.  You get 15 minutes to clean out your desk and you may never, ever return, plus the rest of the companies are told of your reckless behavior so you’re blackballed on every other site’s list and you end up on food stamps or begging under a bridge, which is just where they want you anyway: helpless and dependent.

I used to think that here in the USA, if you do what’s right, work hard and don’t intentionally look for trouble, you could be safe, successful and secure.  I don’t feel that way any more.  Now the only way to be successful is to play politics, say the right things, act the right way, dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s, find out what the company likes and play their game, fake your way to the top, OR, screw all that and be a victim.  If you don’t work, or you’re a minority, well, then you can depend on the government to help you out; food stamps, medical care, free cell phones, whatever you need, because poor you, you can’t be expected to help yourself.  Victims are noble, self-motivated workaholics are evil.

So on this beautiful Easter weekend I can thank my GOD that against all of this prosecution, all of these dangers, this government of, by and for the rich and connected, I have the assurance of a Savior that is still (barely) legal to worship and who loves me and protects me and is in control of all of those who would do me harm, that want nothing more than to count the likes of me as sheep for the slaughter, because without Him I would be without hope and beaten down, scared and cowardly, head down, submissive and quietly obedient – or maybe I’m already there.  Maybe I AM scared of anyone with a badge or government seal, maybe I AM fearful of the Authority, and maybe I’m just so sick of waiting to get hauled off, fired or shot for an unintentional clerical error that I’ll just beat them to the punch, become the criminal that they think I am anyway, and have a little fun before I go.  Maybe I’ll be a bad guy, because they don’t have to follow the rules, they can have guns, drugs or booze, they’re the only ones that can do whatever they want, because they just ignore the rules, and in America, that’s now the only way to be truly free.

I’d like to ask God to bless America, but I honestly don’t think there’s much left to bless.  And besides, in a few years it’ll inevitably be illegal to say God anyway.  So let’s just say Thank America for letting me live.  For now.

Last Call program review (www.drinklessnow.com)

If you Google “stop drinking”, this is the first site that comes up.  I found it one morning, hung over and feeling guilty, and after checking it out on other sites (forums, user comments), thought it was a good product.  Pricey ($800+) but worth it if it works.  This will be my story, experience with the program, an unbiased review by a desperate alcoholic who does NOT want to go to AA or any other therapy.

(CONCLUSION: Bottom line, in case you don’t want to read the whole thing, is that the program DID work for me at first.  I was able to stay sober for 30 days or so, but I gradually started drinking again and now I’m back where I started.  I think the program gave me hope; maybe it’s a placebo, maybe it works on other people, maybe I’m just not meant to be anything but a stammering drunk.  I am slowly making progress, though, but it’s now been so long since my last dose that I can’t attribute it to the program.  Anyway, details diary-style are below…)

The package arrived in a plain brown box, with lots of little bottles in it:
Last Call package picture
Last Call package picture

You’re supposed to take 4 droppers full of the “Sobrexa”, 6 times a day (!) for the first week, and 4 droppers full of the “Kalmaro” 3 times a day “as needed”.  The Sobrexa is supposed to re-program your brain so you don’t have that alcohol craving; the Kalmaro is just some calming herbs.  How do they taste?  Something like a mix of honey, cough syrup and grass.  I found that squirting them in water makes it a little more palpable, maybe like semi-putrid, flat rootbeer.

Week 1: I’ve been taking the dosage, as perscribed, but so far no affect on my cravings. I still come home from work and want to drown out any memory of my life. The instructions say that it takes usually 3 weeks to kick in.  The Kalmaro works great; gives me a kind of relaxed feeling all over.  So, we’ll see…

I also decided since guilt is what’s driving me to drink, I’d better address that too (see my other post The Husband Drinks) so I just ordered a couple of books on dealing with guilt.  I have to say one thing, I’m impressed with the quality.  I’m extremely sensitive to vitamins and perscription medicine.  Most synthetic (read: cheap) vitamins make me feel “high” or they hype me up and then stop working after a week or two.  I don’t feel that way with this product at all.  Either it’s doing nothing at all, or it’s doing it gradually.  Like good (read: expensive) vitamins that don’t have mega-doses of a few ingredients, but include the whole complex, so your body doesn’t use up all of its trace mineral reserves, but builds everything up slowly, evenly.  That’s the feeling I get when I take this product.  And I’m getting used to the taste, too… putrid flat rootbeer is an aquired taste…

Week 2:I think this stuff is starting to kick in.  I’m a couple of days into week two.  Yesterday I felt on edge all day long; kept realizing I was all clenched up, needed to remind myself to relax.  I called and ordered three more bottles of Kalmaro (at $30 a piece – holy cow!) because I’m almost out already.  Now it’s Saturday, and that usually means by lunch time I’ve already downed several shots of whiskey, but actually, I’m in a really good mood and I’m not “thirsty” (my code word to my wife that means I’m going to go buy beer).  So, I still feel a little hyped up, but hopefully that will wear off, and we’ll see.  I am determined to get through the full 8 weeks even if I think it might be making me a little crazy.  It’s definitely not doing nothing at all…  for weeks 2 thru 8, I’m taking 4 droppers full, 3 times a day instead of 6, per the instructions…

I tracked my drinking over the past few days:
Last Call package picture

On the 12th, I took a half-day off and promised my wife I wouldn’t drink until late, so that’s the only day I didn’t drink as much. Hoping I could keep that up, but from the looks of the bottle, I drink just about the same amount every day. Takes me 5 days to finish off 1.75 liters, so that’s 350 ml, or a fifth & a half per day. My goal is zero; I’ve had enough of forgotten evenings, morning headaches and remorse. I would be truly happy to never have a drink again…

Update 6/20/12: For the last few days I have switched from whiskey to the “Four Loco” type drinks.  They’re 12% alcohol 24-ounce cans, so that means I went from roughly 12.7 oz of 80-proof whiskey (5.1 oz of alcohol) to 24 oz of 24-proof malt liquor (2.9 oz of alcohol), so I’m moving in the right direction.  Last night I drank one, but I wish I hadn’t.  It’s like the program is taking all the fun out of it; felt good for a few minutes, then I felt like crap.

“Getting drunk: I love the journey, but hate the destination” 😉

Update 6/22/12: Sober day #1! 🙂 I didn’t have any alcohol at all yesterday for the first time in weeks.  Just the thought of drinking booze makes my stomache churn.  Even though I went through a horrific evening – stayed up until 2am pacing while my wife & daughter were in the ER getting my granddaughter checked for suspected sexual abuse – I still managed to restrict my coping to puffing on an e-cig and taking droppers of Kalmaro.  It’s still too early to call this program a success, but progress is progress. (I cannot tell you how incensed I am at the idea that someone would abuse a child who’s not even two years old yet; if it’s true, I hope the guy has lots of time in jail to rethink his life.)  I’m running on empty today, with few hours of sleep, it’s Friday, and along with the recent stress I have more than enough excuse to just get totally wasted and not much energy to fight it.  God willing, I can stick to the program, despite the huge hurdle He just put in front of me… expecting visits from CPS and a detective in the next few days and some REALLY angry suspects… I feel like a bowling pin… Set me up, knock me down… Set me up, knock me down…

Week 3: Well I’m on day 5 of week 3, and haven’t been able to stay 100% sober yet.  One day, yes, then small amounts every day since, except for last night.  I stupidly bought a 12-pack at the store expecting it to last a week, thinking I had all this self-control and will-power now; today there are two beers left and my head is KILLING ME.  I don’t crave alcohol as much, but I still can’t handle having it in the house.  The family drama didn’t help matters, and my stupid ecig broke, so I really had no other way of calming down, and once I got a good buzz on I just kept getting one more, just one more, until I fogot who I was and passed out… God forgive me for being such an idiot!

Update 6/29/12:I have to say I’m a bit disappointed.  Today is day 2 of week 4, and I honestly don’t feel a thing.  From what I understand, that’s not unusual, but I’m starting to think that this was a rip-off.  I can’t control my drinking at all; no change what-so-ever.  I am on the same try-to-quit-switch-to-beer-cut-back-get-stressed-buy-whiskey-give-up roller-coaster that I’ve been on for the past year.  I desperately hope that I’m just a late bloomer; any amount of stress drives me to drink, and with 4 kids, there’s ALWAYS stress.  The jitters I mentioned earlier were temporary; they went away after a couple of days, and may have to do with the fact I haven’t had any nicotine in a week (ecig broke).  I may end up in a detox hospital after all … just a little bit less rich than I was.

Like I said before, I will go ahead with the program, the full 8 weeks, and give an honest report of my experience here, good or bad.  This might still prove to be the magical cure I’m hoping for, or maybe there just isn’t an easy way out for me.  We’ll see… hope to bring good news next time…

Update 7/5/12: I’ve completed 4 full weeks of the program now.  I can’t find the words to express how monumentally depressed I am, how despondent I am over my lack of progress, how engulfed I am by my own ineptitude and lack of will-power.  If anything, my drinking has increased; I can’t control it.  If I’m not asleep or at work, I’m drinking.  It’s taken over my life.  Yesterday, I had the day of for Independence Day, and I did everything I could, sit on my hands, play with the dog, go for a walk, bang my head against a wall, and I could not, would not, did not make it past 11am without my first drink.  I totally suck.  I’m afraid of what lies at the end of this program.  If I survive, after 8 weeks, it’s going to be a crushing blow if nothing has changed, if I’m still a hopeless fool with a great job, great wife, family, house, cars – I may have all of the depression and stress that’ll fit inside my empty skull, but I have all of the worldly treasures too – and I’m still drowning away my health and what little happiness remains inside me.  I pray to God He would save me from this body of sin and death.  So far, no good.  Sorry guys.  It’s looking more & more like a total waste of nearly a grand… I’m halfway through my how to escape toxic guilt book, and I’m going to order another one, Kick the Drink, it’s supposed to be real good, but I’m barely holding out any hope for myself.  I’m just so trapped.  I don’t really feel like I have a say in my life, I’m stuck on a ride that won’t stop, and unending downward spiral that I can only helplessly watch, falling deep into despair while I watch my hopes, dreams, and happiness fade into oblivion…

Sorry to be such a downer, but that’s how I feel.  God help me…

Update 7/8/12: Nothing like a little near-death experience to motivate you.  Friday night I hit the bottle, hard, threw up, my wife almost called 911, I was unresponsive, I spent the whole day Saturday drinking water, taking headache pills and praying for death, and so far, 5pm Sunday, no alcohol.  My hands stopped shaking a few hours ago, and I’m about to take some Benadryl; I figure, if I’m asleep, I won’t drink.  I don’t know if anyone is reading this or not.  The Sobrexa and Kalmaro seem to be helping, but I’m staying sober today out of sheer will; I do NOT want to be a drunk any more.  I want to feel happy and motivated and enegergized, like I used to be.  I have done nothing all day except pace back & forth, smoke my ecig, drink Cokes, eat junk food and repeat to myself, I can do this, I think I can, I know I can, I’m going to kick your butt, you stupid brown bottle of crap!

Be careful what you ask for.  God works in mysterious, painful ways.  Judging from when my son got delivered by a friend a couple of years ago, unconscious and unresponsive (ended up in the emergency room horribly dehydrated) I must have been at a BAC of around 0.3.  Wasn’t quite as bad as he was (0.4%) since he had been sitting by the pool all day in the summer heat drinking Vodka.

DAY 0: Last thing I remember is my son came to visit, and my wife brought the bottle of whiskey out “Do you feel like sharing, Mark?”  Next thing I remember is waking up with a horrible headache the next day with a vague recollection of having thrown up.

Day 1: My head & heart were pounding all day.  I took pills all day long and drank about 10 bottled waters, scared my heart was going to explode.

Day 2: Woke up, took my Sobrexa with shaking hands.  That, along with some Kalmaro and new resolve, got me through the day without any alcohol

Day 3: No more shaking hands, puffing my ecig like it’s going out of style, alot of pacing, back to work, actually got a faint glimmer of hope that I can kick alcohol’s ass!

Day 4: Well, I’m not sure how I feel today.  I feel … empty.  I haven’t had a drink since my near-death overdose on Friday, and it’s Tuesday night now.  I just don’t know what to do with my time if I’m not buying booze, sneaking a drink, planning my next “dose”.  I don’t crave it as much as I did yesterday.  It won’t be a problem to stay home and not get a nightcap.  “Just one” should be tatooed on my hands, with a circle and a red line through it… No more, Mark, no not one…

Day 5: (7/11/12) I hate my job.  I’m stuck in a cube working for a large corporation that every day adds to its unending list of rules.  I feel like I have a sword thrust in my side.  Someone said, Why don’t you take a vacation?  like that’s going to solve the problem.  Here, let me pull that sword out for two weeks, and then I’ll shove it back in again.

I’m still sober, though it’s still early in the day, anything can happen.  I think my cravings are dissipating. I’m starting to get mad that I don’t have the time or money to do anything else but go to work, which is an improvement over just laying around waiting to die.  I think I can make it to the weekend… I think I can I think I can I think I can… WOOO-HOOO!  chug chug chug chug – NO MARK NO MORE CHUGGING!  I got the Kick The Drink book in the mail yesterday. 300 pages??? ugh.  I’ll be retired before I read that whole thing.  My wife reads fast; I gave it to her for now.  She says it’s real good, I should read it.  I should.  Just like I should stop drinking, spend more time with the wife, spend more time with the kids, spend more time visiting my parents, spend more time with the dog, and if there’s anything left over, be sure and sleep 9 hours a night – after all, you don’t want to get stressed out – it’s not healthy!

Day 7: (7/13/12) I’m beginning to think that maybe this stuff is actually working, though it’s not the magic potion as advertised.  It’s an herbal thing; takes a long, long time, and the change is gradual.  Not like a powerful pill from the pharmacy.  My drinking has gone like a toddler starting to walk: up, up, up, STANDING! CRASH! recover, then repeat.  *sigh* it’s an endless struggle.  If I can make it though the weekend, where I have all day long to ponder how easy it would be to buy a beer while my wife is napping, and still resist, then I’m going to have to call this program a success.  Today is day 2 of week 6, if you’re keeping score.  And yes, I’m completely sober, at the end of the day it will be a full 7 days 🙂 The ecigs help – a lot.  Stay tuned…

Update 7/15/12: I am not proud of myself today.  It’s Sunday and I have an enormous hangover.  Just couldn’t take it any more.  My daughter came over with her car spitting & sputtering.  Dummy (her baby-daddy-boyfriend-fiance) thought it was the intake gasket, so I said I’d fix it while she was here.  Spent all day Saturday taking it apart, cleaning & putting it back together again; didn’t fix the problem.  The best I can say about it is, at least it’s not worse.  I couldn’t handle it.  Not only did I buy & drink copious amounts of whiskey, but I lost control, threw a fit & broke my space heater (it’s bent all to hell), scaring the heck out of my wife & kids, but I took a sleeping pill to calm myself down and could have easily died.  Thinking about it now, I almost wish I had.

So, I would have to say that the last call program sucks.  Maybe it works for some people, but I have larger issues.  I need to be in a mental hospital before I kill myself…

Update 7/17/12: Today I am officially a non-drinker.  This morning I poured $20 worth of whiskey down the sink (boy that stuff smells bad when you’re not drinking it!).  I’ve had it with this crap.  Sure, the TV makes you think everyone is having a blast as busty young women serve beer on the commercial to groups of happy, laughing friends, but that’s not reality.  In the real world, it turns you into a fat, lazy, stumbling, stammering fool.  I’m done with embarassing myself; I’ve had it with this shit.

Sorry for the cussing.

I’m told it takes 7-10 days for the alcohol to completely get out of my system, and after that I’m home free.  I’ll wait until then to make a conclusion on the last call program; for now, I made a decision that I WILL stick with.  I just don’t want to drink any more.  Ever.  And fuck you, alcohol, for making me think you could solve all of my problems!  Fucking liar!

(sorry again … it just sort of came out…)

7/19/12: Still sober 🙂 Feeling the effects of withdrawal a little, but not too bad.  Alcohol created this void, and it wants me to fill it with more booze, but I’m not going to.  It feels good to wake up and not have a head full of regret and pain… but I’m a little shaky and expect to be that way for the next five days or so.  Went out to eat last night, my son had two margarita’s, they were on sale for $2, and I was not tempted at all.  The only time I felt weak was at night when I got tired & felt the thirst… but I’m OK, I really am …

7/22/12: Still sober 🙂 Sunday Morning and my last whiskey bottle is in the recycling bin.  Woo-hoo!  I made it through six full weeks, but I ran out of Sobrexa.  It’s $120 for two more bottles, but I can’t affford it, besides I think the program worked already.

7/25/12: Depression has set in as my mind grieves the loss of an old friend turned enemy.  I have trouble forcing myself to go to work (actually, I always have trouble doing that, but more so lately) and when I get home, I don’t want to do a darn thing.  I stare at the clock, puff on my ecig, and force myself to eat something while I wait until it’s time to take some Benadryl or something to make me sleep, .  I’m sober, and not longing for alcohol, but wishing my old energy & drive would come back.  It’s been over a week now, so at this point it’s a mental problem, not physical.  I didn’t make it 8 weeks, but I did finish all of the bottles. I guess I squeezed the droppers too hard & took too much or something.  Anyway, the program works, it’s not a scam, at least it worked for me.  Scroll to the top where I put my “conclusion” so people wouldn’t have to read the whole thing… and thank you to everyone who has encouraged me over the last couple of months…

7/30/12: I’m not an alcoholic.  It’s starting to irritate me that people can’t understand that I’m not hooked on that drug any more.  It’s been drilled into our culture that drinking booze is normal and if I stop, then something must be wrong with me; I’m supposed to be miserably for the rest of my life, pining away for the poison that used to bring me such pleasure.  Bullcrap!  All it ever gave ME was headaches, hangovers and embarassmment.  It’s been nearly two weeks since my last drink, and the ONLY reason I’m keeping count is so I can tell people how long it’s been, so maybe they’ll believe me that I really did quit and am actually happy about it.  My daughter even suggested a new church that had an addict’s club.  I said, Why should I go there?  I’m not an addict any more.  I could teach, maybe, but I don’t need to be around a group of people that are talking about how miserable they are without drugs and how they have to take it one day at a time and avoid temptation and exercise self-control.  Once I stepped outside, I could see the cage I was in, and I really, really don’t want to go back in again.  It doesn’t take self-control to resist something I don’t want.  I have no problem in the world resisting boiled pig snout, because it doesn’t tempt me, and it’s the same way with alcohol.

Update 8/16/12: Still sober, almost a complete month, if you don’t count last Saturday.  Last Saturday I found the whiskey bottle that my wife had hidden from me in the closet, and I drank it.  Not sure why; it made me feel horrible.  I guess it’s just a habit, I wanted to see if I could control it, see if it’s actually possible to drink just a little bit, then stop.

NOT!

I started out OK, but just kept going back for more, just a little bit more, then what the heck, let’s finish it off so it won’t tempt me any more.  Golly, that was a bad hangover.  Lasted the entire following day.  I learned that I can’t control alcohol; once I get a buzz, IT controls ME.  Lesson learned: if it’s in the house, I will drink it, period, so I will never buy alcohol again, because if I do, it’ll take me where I don’t want to go…

8/19/12:  Extra credit.  It’s what the world rewards.  I can do perfect at every task at my job, finish jobs flawlessly and never miss a deadline, but if I don’t go the extra mile, if I don’t participate in two company-sponsored community events, if I don’t donate time or money to a company-approved charity, if I don’t reach my “stretch goals”, then I get an average score; not an A+, not an A, but a C.  Other people who do mediocre work, but do extra credit, get the big raises, but doing your job just isn’t good enough.

What good has ever come from having good credit, not being in debt, and driving the speed limit?  Self-centered jerks all around me have new cars, bigger TV’s, and zoom around me, making me feel like a pathetic loser in what shouldn’t be a race, but we all know, traffic IS a race, the workplace IS a competition, and to the rudest go the spoils.

It’s the same way with marriage.  So what if I always take out the trash, go to work every damn day, never miss a bill payment, and spend every spare moment helping out around the house; as far as the world is concerned, that’s a C-average performance.  Want romance?  Well, then you’d better come up with some extra credit: flowers, weekend hotel, date nights, gifts, vacation days; otherwise, it’s just a “thanks” and a good nights rest.  Alone.

And finally, it’s the same way with alcohol.  If I kick the alcohol habit, if I sacrificially give up and work so hard on adjusting my mind and body to NOT consume poison, what thanks do I get?  None.  Zip.  Nada damn thing.  “Well good.  You SHOULD stop drinking.”  No reward.  No bonus.  Nothing.  It’s actually an embarassment to admit that I ever had the problem in the first place.  I’m left with just painful nights of stress and depression that I longer know how to deal with.  The one thing, the only selfish, rebellious thing that I ever did to assert myself, to declare my independence from everyone’s expectations, is to drink alcohol, to say Fuck You to the world as I raise my shot glass in anger, and there’s nothing to take its place.

I don’t want to drink; I don’t want the guilt, remorse, headaches, fatigue, and all the bodily harm that comes with it, but I’m about to go back to the store for a thick shot of liquor.  I don’t know what else to do.  I’d love to be a selfish jerk, get raises at work, cut people off & run them off the road as I zoom by in my sports car, and get laid more often than a rooster on steroids, having absolutely no remorse or even knowledge that I’ve hurt someone else, be a big bully & care about nobody but me and getting what I want, but that just isn’t me.  I’m the nice guy, that doesn’t even finish last, because I’m never even in the race.

Church is that way too.  I can’t stand church any more.  I have never been and will never be in the “in” crowd.  I have always been a loner, silent and ignored, in school, at work, at church, and it will never change.  When a close relative was sick recently, I prayed, and was going to donate, but before I could, the holy righteous church members had already given, and the poor girl was miraculously healed because of the prayers of the faithful; there was a Thank You For Your Prayers! post on Facebook, and I didn’t even have to read the list to know I wasn’t on it.  I never am; I’m invisible to everyone, even God, it seems.

I can’t think of what else to do to make all of the “should” voices in my head shut up.  I am tired of spending hours and hours and hours, waiting for some attention, some adolation, someone to recognize me for my good behavior and sacrificial living, but it doesn’t work that way.  To quote a movie line, “I’m tired of being poor.  Let’s be assholes and get rich.”  But I can’t.  I’m not an asshole.  I’m just a nice guy that one day everyone will lament as they lay me in the ground, the first, last and only time anyone ever garners me any attention, as they make grand speeches and show off their finest suits, and give everything I have to someone else, because “He would have wanted him to have that…”

8/20/12: Well, that went as expected.  Two malt liquors, abandoned by my wife (who seems to have decided to just leave as soon as the can or bottle opens up instead of waiting for me to start showing signs of being drunk), woke up with a hangover & new resolve.  Looking at my calendar, I made it 4 weeks before my first slip, and then I’ve had slips on both of the previous weekends.  I’m going to order two more bottles of sobrexa; maybe I SHOULD have (gosh how I really hate that word) finished up the two last weeks after all (if you remember, I ran out of bottles, but figured I was cured after 6 weeks … guess not …)

8/26/12: I’m sorry.  I wish I could report over 45 days of sobriety today, but I can’t.  I fell into a bit of a relapse, so I ordered two more bottles of Sobrexa.  Pricey stuff, but since I only finished 6 weeks of the program, I’m going to give it another couple of weeks.  I modified my conclusion above.  Somebody pray for me so I can start being myself again… it’s 8am and I don’t want to face the day… starting to wish for death again… life is just too overwhelming…

8/28/12: OK I took my last drink ever (again) and I’m committing (again) to never drink again (again).  Anybody still believe me?  I used the excuse of “I’m back on Sobrexa, this is my last chance” to go through a bottle of Jim Beam over the weekend; it wasn’t as bad – the wife didn’t have to leave with the kids, she even said she had a hard time telling I was drinking – but I managed to depress myself immensely as the whole weekend was shot.  I was supposed to fix my car’s air conditioner (it’s horrible driving in 95 degree Texas heat with no a/c) but just couldn’t get up the gumption to do more than piddle around.  Looks like for the first time since I bought her brand new, I’m going to pay someone else to fix her up.

9/5/12: Went all day & night yesterday for the first time in a week without a drink.  I’m so mixed up now.  I don’t know what to do.  I’ve gone through one Sobrexa bottle, I’ve got one left, but when I get home, I’m hot, I’m tired, I’m stressed out, and I want to just drown out the world.  It’s the only way to point the finger skyward and say FU to the world.  Ugh… hope to have good news next time…

9/15/12: Updated conclusion above.  It’s 9am and I’m already tipsy.  I don’t want to quit drinking; I think that’s part of the problem.  When I stopped for 30 days or so, nothing changed.  Sure, I didn’t have the BAD side effects of drinking – the headaches, nausea, guilt, embarassment – but nothing GOOD happened either.  I didn’t really see anything in it for me, you know?  I’m not sure what I was hoping for, but I just felt empty, like I do now, and I eventually went to fill that emptiness with booze, like I’m doing now.

So, I would hope that this program works for someone else; for me, it just bought me some time.  Maybe I’ll try something else, maybe I’ll get sick and die, maybe I’ll get in a car wreck or fall on a pitchfork, who knows…  Good luck to you all…

Update 11/23/12: Happy Thanksgiving to all… nothing has changed… I go through a large bottle of Jim Beam and several beers or liquors a week.  Just had a physical, and my liver is still OK, but I’ve given up on giving up.  I’m so depressed, I feel jealous when I see a funeral.  I’m just trying to make it through life, overloaded, overwhelmed, overtaxed, overburdened and just plain tired.  Just one day at a time… Jesus, I’m ready whenever you are… The sooner the better ………..

Update 12/13/12: My heavy drinking started when my wife got cancer.  I could not imagine why God would give such a loving, beautiful creature such a horrible, deadly disease.  She (we) made it through surgery, chemo and radiation, and she’s fully recovered, got her hair back & all, and now she has diabetes.  Then just as I was wondering what God had planned for me next, He hit my wallet: first the dog ate a bottle of my wife’s medicine ($600 vet bill) then the car that I just bought for my daughter ($3000) burned up its transmission ($3000) and with Christmas just around the corner, I’m going to have to leverage my credit card to make it.  I DID have some company stock (sold it) and I DID have some savings (spent it), but now I’m back to timing my bills to when the paychecks hit the bank.  And all of this happened after my computer died & I built a new one ($1000) and I finally bought an amp for my bass ($900) that I am forcing myself to keep, lest I send it back and bring on even more woe-is-me depression.

Anyway, my wife and son have inspired me.  First, my son has taken a passion to something called Bar Starz.  It’s a work-out system where you do pull-ups, muscle-ups, planks, and all kinds of stuff.  He’s only 13, and he can hang upside down from a bar, do the “human flag” from a pole, upside-down pushups, all kinds of crazy stuff.  Meanwhile, I’ve gotten a pot belly and the doctor keeps changing my meds to try & get my blood pressure under control.  Then my wife has attacked her diabetes with a vengance: she has medicine, but she uses the blood kit that I bought her several times a day, she measures all her food, exercises with a pulse monitor as she works out every day, and her numbers are slowly coming down.  It’s a total role reversal: I used to be the one with the big muscles and the “atheletic heart” but not any more.

So, I did manage to do a few things.  The first thing I did is put my favorite picture of my wife up in my room.  It’s in an antique-looking frame, and she’s 18 years old, holding our oldest son in her arm.  She has long, brown hair, beautiful eyes and the same sweet smile that she wears today.  Every morning I blow e-smoke rings at it and think, I can’t let her down.  I have to change.  I just have to.  That, and the fact that my blood pressure is spiraling up out of control, plus having her & my son show me up, I started going to the gym.  It’s been less than a week, but I’ve gone Monday and yesterday.  It feels good to be exercising again.  AND, most importantly, I have NOT bought any whiskey in 2 or 3 weeks.  I drink the equivalent of 4-6 beers at night, usually the cheap-n-nasty 4-Loco crap.  I know it’s still too much, but I wait until my job is over, we’re home for the night, and I allow myself to indulge just once a day – well, maybe a noon-time beer on the weekends – and I don’t go nuts, I don’t scare the kids, I just feel the buzz & watch TV.

I’m not perfect; never claimed to be.  But, this is an improvement, and at this point, I’ll take it for what it is – a step.  Maybe not out of the woods yet, but I can see the meadow… sort of…

12/16/12: Relapse.  Depression.  I can hear my blood thumping in my head.  Word of advice: NEVER mix dark Porter beer with whiskey.  Owwww…

12/19/12: My new plan?  Every day on the way home I buy a 4-loco drink.  12% alcohol in a 24oz can.  It’s the only booze in the house. I take it, hide it in my room, and don’t drink it until I know I’m home for the night.  Just knowing it’s there for me calms me down.  I don’t care if the corner store people think I’m a drunk.  For some reason, those drinks affect me differently than whiskey does.  Maybe it’s the sugar.  But no matter what I’m doing, like yesterday I was trying to finish up a kitchen project (build a face cover for the trash compactor), but as soon as the drink hits my stomache, I turn into a zombie.  I go, sit in the front room and watch TV.  I’m buzzed but not crazy.  I don’t want more & more & more like I do with whiskey, and I don’t go nuts & punch walls or scream or talk to my kid’s friend on the Kinect pretending to be his “evil brother”.  Then I sleep, and boy do I sleep.  I wake up and it takes a minute to remember what day it is.  It’s not much progress, I know, and far short of my goal of sobriety.  I don’t care; it works for me.  It’s probably throwing me into mild sugar shock.

I dread the holidays.  I’m at my worst when there’s a whole day or more of nothing to do but think about drinking.  Maybe God can give me some strength to make it through the celebration of His Son’s birth without throwing the tree into the Nativity scene.  I started listening to Bible studies in the car.  I don’t know.  I never know.  One thing I’m sure of is I’m probably wrong almost all the time.  But I’m OK with myself if I can just stay OUT OF THE LIQUOR STORE for a while.  Don’t know why that’s so hard for me to do… I’m so sick of the mind games I play with myself.  Whiskey is cheaper per ounce of alcohol and if I measure it… I can control myself this time… All evidence and a dozen empty bottles to the contrary…

God bless you, whoever you are, reader.  I pray you would have more strength than I do.  And Merry Christmas!

2/6/13: Not much to report.  I have to say, I’m beginning to understand how Christian gay people feel.  I am ashamed.  I sneak the bottles into the house, hide them in my room.  I throw the empty bottles in the trash instead of recycling them so the neighbors don’t know.  I’m nervous around church people and feel like I can’t attend because I’ve got this huge problem.  And yet, I don’t want to quit.  I like it.  I’m drawn to alcohol and look forward every day to my secret sin.  I am, for all the cliche it evokes, in the closet.  I keep waking up swearing that was the last time, then spend the afternoon watching the clock until I can leave work and go get drunk again.

I am so sick and tired of apologizing, of feeling ashamed, of feeling unforgiveable.  People expect the world out of me.  Everyone loves me.  I do everything I possibly can to please everyone around me, at home & at work, and drinking alcohol is the only way I can shut myself off, shut down, go into my own little world, make myself unavailable so I can have a few hours of peace.  I’m really on the fence here, lately.  It’s clear that alcohol is going to be a part of my life; even if I manage to quit, I’ll have to deal with the temptation for years.  But it pisses me off that everyone expects so much out of me, and to maintain this level of performance without a crutch, a help, a distraction – it’s ridiculous!  I feel like joining a Drunk Day Parade, with a Jim Beam T-Shirt on a whiskey float, demanding the right to be respected, damn it, because I’m sick of this closet shit, of people looking down at me, judging me, for doing something that’s totally legal; just because it’s not THEIR problem, they can point the finger right at ME.  I don’t judge gay people; it’s a sin to have gay relations, just like it’s a sin to drink to excess, but unless I have no sin, I can’t judge anyone else.  And that will never, ever happen, and if it does, I’ll have the worst sin of all – pride.

Update 5/5/13:

Good news! I’m off the whiskey!  After a particularly bad episode in early April, after which I noticed on my cell phone that I had talked to someone from work and couldn’t for the life of me remember what I said, I decided to make a change.  Since April 7th, I have not had any hard liquor, not a drop.  So how did I manage to stop drinking the good stuff and ruining my life?  Here’s what my plan was (and is):

Step one: Only beer.  If I want to drink something, I have to go to the corner store and buy it, and only what I plan to consume.  No 6-packs, or kegs, or cases, in the name of saving money.  I’m not going to quit.  Tried it.  Been there.  Done that.  Doesn’t work.  One 24oz beer a day, or I’ll feel deprived.  Just doing that is a huge improvement over coming home and guzzling hard booze every day, then barely being able to function at work.

Step two: I don’t go into the liquor store.  Ever.  I can’t handle the temptation.  Just like if there’s more beer in the house I’ll find an excuse to drink it, if I go to the liquor store I’ll see myself as giving up again and go back to old habits.  No event is so joyous (or painful) that it justifies getting drunk on whiskey.  If I want alcohol, I have to go buy it from the corner store.  Period.

Step three: I promised to forgive myself.  The goal is only one, 24oz light beer a day.  Some days are worse than others.  I’ll come home after a hard day and just want to switch myself off; get so buzzed I can’t hardly walk.  So some days it’s two 24oz beers, others its a Four-Loco or some cheap “high gravity” stuff; It’s OK.  I can make a mistake, I’m allowed.  Every day is a new day; every day starts over, and I don’t beat myself up over drinking too much the night before.  As long as it was in a can, and it came from the corner store, it’s OK.

Step four: I started exercizing again.  I’ve been working out at the gym in the mornings; it’s the only time I can really call my own.  I’ve tried stopping at the gym on the way home, but I’m always tired from work and sometimes I have to work late.  Getting up at 4:20am was rough at first, but I did it.  And it makes me feel good about myself, and by the time I get to work at 7:30, I’m relaxed and ready to go.  At first it was awful, dragging my lazy butt to the car, half-asleep, then coming home barely able to move & getting ready for work.  But as I get better at it, and I don’t have a hangover, and I don’t let my pulse get over 130-135, it gives me energy instead of draining me.  Haven’t lost any weight, but I think my muscles are stronger … a little.

So a typical day goes like this:  I get up, splash water all over my head (so people will think I just took a shower), head to the gym, do 20-30 minutes on the elliptical machine (pulse around 125-135), then two sets each on four random weight machines, come home, shower & go to work.  Then on the way home, I buy a beer (or two if it’s been a rough day) at the same convenience store (I know they probably think I’m an alcoholic, but I don’t care), say hi to the wife & kids, lock myself in my home office, playing a video game, drinking my beer, and puffing on my ecig, until the stress of the day is gone, dozens of zombies are dead, and I’m ready to relax and be with my family.  If I feel the urge for more beer than I bought, I either check my BAC & then go get some, or lately I’ve just been taking Benadryl to make me sleepy.  An hour after that and I’m asleep…

That’s it.  I know I’m not perfect.  I know I still have a problem.  But I’m improving.  I’m not drinking half as much as I used to, and my kids never see me go crazy, my wife never has to take them away for fear of their safety, and the worst that happens is I stumble a little on the way to the bathroom, or fall asleep in the recliner.  Maybe someday I’ll be totally sober, but not today; today I’m happy that I’m better than I was yesterday, and that’s good enough for me.