I’m still not sure I know what “alcoholic” means, and I would be the first to say, Bup bup bup, not alcoholic, just a problem drinker. A binge drinker. A binge drinker who probably drank on average 5 out of every 7 days last year (always wine, sometimes beer, rarely hard booze), blacked out 99% of those days, and well, has had so many “near misses” as well as “misses” that it’s hard to even go back and revisit them.
Well, I could, and I do, every second of every day.
Blacking out and screaming at strangers in bars, on the street, on the phone, etc. etc. etc.
Blacking out and having blacked out sex and then, after somehow managing to blame the offending party, getting into a blacked out brawl with him only to come to as I’m hitting the sidewalk — he pushed me down, I broke my arm, and I dealt with it by lying at work (I said I fell down some stairs at a party), not telling a soul (including my family), and putting in nearly 3 years of rehab to correct a shoulder that seems to have been permanently damaged/altered/tweaked
Blacking out and yelling at friends
Blacking out and yelling at cops
Blacking out and yelling at bartenders
Blacking out and calling one of the said bartenders on my phone in a blacked out rage, only to be banned from the bar the next time I tried to drink there and not even remembering what I said
Blacking out and yelling at cabbies
Blacking out and yelling at my CEO — my fricking CEO — at my work Christmas party — my fricking work Christmas party…and topping it off by kicking the door of the cab that he called for me and having my co-workers have to manhandle me and push me into it
Blacking out and being arrested for said yelling at a cabbie that very same night, spending a blacked out night in jail being a screaming mess, a second day (fighting a withdrawal panic attack) and night and then another day and evening in a jail cell with 25 other women waiting for the judge to hear my case
Getting fired for missing work for said two whole days (as well as um, yelling at my CEO and kicking the door of the cab he called for me)
Blacking out a mere two weeks later on rum at a [alternative religious] ceremony in [beautiful island], managing to NOT lose a tooth as I fell, headfirst in my blackout, onto a cement block in an outhouse; screaming at the man who was trying to kiss me as I sat on his lap; having to sport a bruise on my forehead the size of Massachusetts for the next several weeks, after enduring the shame of creeping down to breakfast the following day and forcing myself to look at my host mother and say I was sorry (as well as listen to the repeated admonishments of the house girls, “Il faut se controller” = You need to control yourself)…
Shall I go on? Oh, let’s not forget blacking out and driving up the interstate for oh, at least 45 minutes(?), only to “come to” heading south on a ramp road, crashing my rental car into a pole on the side of the road and demolishing the entire front bumper, including both headlights (two Good Samaritans found me and one, who happened to be a friend of Bill’s, drove me home, scolding me the entire way)…
And what about “exiting” a blackout in ghetto of [cold west coast city], screaming at two dudes whose apartment I had just left (apparently we were hanging out, but did we do anything else?)…?
Or, going OUT blacked out, having no recollection of hours of time spent drinking and dancing, coming to in someone’s bed on the other side of the city, stumbling home still blazing drunk…?
Or, having a three-way whose most memorable turn included being driven home by the nearly 60-year-old Scottish dude who may or may not have had sex with me (I don’t remember)…?
Shall I go on?
I could. On and on and on. The only reason I can write this all down is because I’ve kept endless journals to deal with the emotional aftermath, the self-loathing — I could have killed someone, including myself — and the confusion over where “blackout me” ends and “me” begins.
I think, in my case, the anger stems from a childhood of feeling overshadowed, conforming to a mold, never feeling like I was heard or good enough. (The random sex stems from…lack of self-esteem?) I used to binge eat, which became a huge problem for me to overcome in my early 20s, and that, I discovered, was more a response to anxiety/panic than body image issues. So, I figure, drinking is like binge eating in that it serves a purpose to quell my feelings of panic; and when someone triggers me/pisses me off during a blackout, my deep-seated panic transmutes to anger. Rage, actually.
Or, I just go willy-nilly apeshit. One of the two.
I’m still trying to process it, after all this time. It never goes away.
Ten years now — it’s been since about 2002 that I started drinking wine and doing things like pounding the shit out of cell phones, computer keyboards, laptops (yes, I’ve lost several Mac laptops due to killing their hard drives with a solid thump of my fist onto the notebook’s keypad); drunk dialing 30 calls in a row to an ex; writing crazy-nasty IMs and emails to people, some of whom have written me off (I don’t blame them). Maybe I am the person in the blackout, and everything else is just a subconscious, deeply embedded lie. Maybe not.
In any case, I don’t miss any of that shit, and I don’t want any of it to ever happen again. Yet…how can I forget? And, HOW ON EARTH can I forgive myself, if I manage to forget? All of this, the piles of horrible things I’ve done and said and let happen — they’ll never go away. They nibble at me. Some take bites now and then.
So, along with the sober calm comes deep sadness. I can’t change what happened, what others think of me, whether or not I will be forgiven. I have to move on, hold my head up, continue to strive in my career, and simply evolve.