How did I get to this point? Who would have thought, 10 years ago, that I would be here today? Me, the successful entrepreneur. Me, the student with an almost perfect GPA. Me, the world traveler, foodie, and wine aficionado?
But here I am.
To quote the Big Book from AA:
We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
I was a high functioning alcoholic. I never hit rock bottom. I never ruined an inportant relationship due to alcohol. I never lost a job. I never got a DUI although I’m very lucky. I never did anything that I seriously regretted while under the influence of alcohol. But almost daily I woke up in a “mind fog”. Many mornings I checked my phone with a sense of dread - embarrassed at what I had text to friends or love interests the night before.
Two years ago, I was in a hair loss study that took regular blood work. The doctor told me that my liver enzymes were high and that I needed to stop drinking, yesterday. I tried. I never lasted more than a few months before I thought I could return to drinking, in moderation. The problem is that moderation doesn’t exist for me. I drank for effect. Drinking turned into a binge almost every time.
This year, 2017, I largely limited my drinking to weekends. Usually Friday night with friends, with Saturday and Sunday to recover from my hangover and general listless feeling.
The turning point for me was my 10 Year High School Reunion. I held it together during the reunion itself, drinking enough to feel confident, talkative and comfortable - but not enough to lose control. After the reunion, my date and I went with a group of former classmates to a second bar. I held it together there, just nursing one beer. But we finally made it to the third bar - where they serve my favorite cider from Ireland. I started ordering ciders like I was dying of thirst, two at a time, letting myself go and really enjoying the live music.
At some point in my inebriated state I text a guy I’ve been talking to for a while. There was some mutual chemistry and I invited him to come meet me at the bar. I don’t remember texting him. But I remember him arriving. I remember spending most of the night with my arm around him, kissing him without inhibition.
Who was that guy? That guy wasn’t me. I’m one of the most insecure, conservative, inhibited guys sober. Even showing intimacy and affection toward close friends and family makes me feel uncomfortable. Yet here I was - in a straight bar, no less - exchanging PDA with a guy who I had never met before. What a horrible first impression.
The rest of the night was a brown out. I remember bits and pieces, but I don’t remember details. Apparently at some point I called - and then cancelled - an Uber because I saw the charge on my credit card the next day. My date offered to drive me home as he had only had one drink. But first we went to get tacos, where I proceeded to very dramatically fall on my ass in front of everyone.
I don’t remember the tacos, but I do remember falling. I also remember him driving me home and very passionately kissing me.
The worst part? I don’t even know if I like him. Sober me hasn’t even met the guy. I don’t know if there is chemistry. I don’t even know if I want to go on another date with him. How do you tell someone that without offending them? “Sorry I was only making out with you because I was drunk. I was a total hot mess. Sorry”.
Fortunately, two weeks later, he’s still talking to me. And we’re going on our official first date tomorrow.
The next day after my reunion, as I was nursing a wicked hangover, I contacted my sober friend who had been inviting me to AA for a while. And went to the next meeting with his group. It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. But it was also freeing. People were very nice and welcoming. I felt accepted. I felt like they got me. I felt like I could be open and honest without being judged.
At my second meeting I asked a guy to be my sponsor. I really like him. He’s been sober for 6 years and he’s pretty similar to me. Smart. Agnostic. Similar background and story. He was a high functioning alcoholic too. Only child. Divorced parents. I don’t know him well enough to be as open and vulnerable as I need to, but I feel like we are slowly making progress. It feels weird that he’s giving me so much of his time. That he truly cares about helping me. Even though he doesn’t know me from the man on the moon.
I’m more insecure and uncertain than ever, but I’m also hopeful for the future, that I can make intimate and meaningful relationships with like-minded people without having to drink.
For my recovery I’m doing a combination of AA and the 12 Step Program at my local Buddhist temple. I am also going through a variety of books.
- The Big Book
- Mindfulness and the 12 Steps: Living Recovery in the Present Moment
- One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the 12 Steps
I’m working hard to keep an open mind, follow the program without being too skeptical and seeing it through without taking shortcuts.