Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The stupidest thing I've ever done

If the headache creeping up the back of my neck is any indicator, I'm gonna feel just awful tomorrow.

I have been a sober alcoholic for almost 15 years. I am not "born again" about it, I neither preach to or disdain those who do drink. Enjoy with my blessing, it is just not an option for me. You don't have to hide the liquor around me, I am truly not dangerous that way. If I was diabetic, I wouldn't eat candy; I am an alcoholic, so I don't drink alcohol. It's that simple.

It was a long hard fight to give it up, I won't give you details. If you have gone through it, you don't need my description. If you are not an alcoholic who has quit, you could not understand. It is a test of will that rivals anything else I have experienced. I have had a few trials in my life. I have come through them and become a measurably better person because of them, at least measurable to me.

This week at work, has been another trial for me. Nearly everyone has had those kind of times at work. The severity and frequency of these "tests" depends on where you work. I put in extra time last weekend to help fix a problem, not created by me. I have worked 32 hours since Monday at my regular job and a few extra on side jobs. In 2 hours on my "side jobs", I make more than I do all day at my regular job. Oh, I am a self-designated "Techno-Geek" and rather proud of it. I work in a call center (a small one), in the field and sometimes (big sigh) I get to climb Towers.

Peter is a personal client, who has rapidly become a friend. He is an Author and generally smart guy, who is just fun to talk with. If I had more time, I would go hang out with him just for the hell of it. I just don't know enough people that smart. The project for today was twofold: assist him in getting used to the interface on his new computer, remove a DVD recorder from the older computer, and install it in the new one. Even though I was pretty exhausted, I was looking forward to it.

We were nearing the end of the DVD installation, things were fairly disorganized. Peter always has something interesting for me to drink, last time it was pomegranate soda. This time I stuck with water. Peter is a piler. His desks are piled with manuscript and pictures, and he makes no lame excuses about his filing system, he is humorously aware.

I was bent over his new Dell, cursing inwardly at the annoying clips that are so common on cheaply manufactured cases. Peter and I were either bantering or I was instructing him about something. I was not paying attention, I was worn out, I was bent over at the waist swearing (silently) at a computer case. I reached for my glass of water and took a large, thirsty swig.

It was Peter's Vodka on the rocks.

It was down my throat before I felt the sting, realized what had just happened. It was Stoli's. I could smell the vapors even as I was saying "what was that.." I didn't need to finish the question.

I would like to think I can describe anything, but I can't find the words to describe the mix of feelings that rushed over me right then. I was devastated and confused, and all at once I was drunk. I wasn't very drunk, mind you, I had less than 2 ounces of watered down alcohol in me. I was surprised at how much effect it had on me - it had been 15 years (almost) since I last touched the stuff. but compared to being stone cold sober for all that time, I was plastered.

Me, I was a happy drunk, all those years ago. Folks bought me drinks because I was funny, and I played the guitar and sang. I had always enjoyed getting toasted, and I never got violent or weepy. When I played at parties, the hosts would let me know when they wanted everyone to leave and I could play three or four ballads and have the partiers falling asleep all mellow and no one fought about car keys, etc.

So now what? I have to admit there was a fleeting second when I felt the urge, to go for more. It made me smile that such a thought had entered my brain. I truly do not wish to go down that road again, ever. I turned my thinking to more practical things like; "I had better get some food and lots of fluids in me soon" and "will I be able to drive?"

There was still a couple or three "Uh-Ohs" lurking in my inebriated head. I had doubts about my ability to resist, it is a powerful drug. I had a bit of a pep-talk with myself in the car, "Self" I said, "There is no effing way you are going down that road again". I was successful in that; I didn't stop to get more booze, I got my ass home and ate dinner.

The 2nd Uh-oh isn't so easy. I blew it. Accidental or not, I blew 15 years of sobriety with one mistake. It doesn't matter that it was less than 2 ounces, and I was only woozy for about 15 minutes. It doesn't matter that I will have no more. I blew it.

I am proud of the way I handled it. It would have been easy to slide into that hole, again, but I didn't. For years after I quit, I kept a bottle of Chivas in plain view; there is no point in saying you quit, if the site of the bottle is enough to put you over the edge. I don't know what happened to it, most likely I gave it away. (and NO April, Jack Daniels is not whiskey, it's Diesel fuel). My big question is, "Do I have to re-start the clock?" In all fairness to anyone who has gone through it, it's day 1 again. I'll have to think about it.

Geez, I'm gonna feel like shit, tomorrow.

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