The bottle has found its way back into my hands. Down my throat. Into my marriage. As it ALWAYS does, when I let it. This was a choice I clearly made. The bottle didn’t jump into my grocery bag, into the “juice” to help make it go down faster. I picked it up clear as day. I placed it into the grocery basket and quickly covered it with my tote bag. Just another shopper. Surely people buy vodka at noon in workout gear all the time. Like every other third day. In a hat. Looking down. Making small talk as the bagger places the big fat bottle into your cute little tote….AGAIN.
Obviously I am no stranger to this scenario. Unfortunately, I have lived this the last 3 weeks or so. My grand excuse, which kinda has some validity, is anxiety. I had an interview. Right. Many many folks go through an interview each and every day. We all need money to survive this crazy world. To get in the door, magic words need to zing off the paper and capture attention. Then, the smile and enthusiasm must come through as pressured questions are fired at you during an interview. Pressured answers swirl around the mind. Yes…leadership. Of course I’ve shown it this way. Motivation..of course its just an internal quality. What would I do in this situation..well, let me tell you. I am fucking marvelous. Enough said.
No call backs. Only rejection emails. Thanks..yada yada yada. But, my mind won’t stop the nonsense of obsessing about what I should have said. I did think the interview went well. I wasn’t qualified in some ways, but perhaps overqualified in others. So, I was okay with the outcome I thought. My mind continuously reminded me day after day, night after night, of better answers. For fuck’s sake why didn’t you say you are a mandated reporter. Geez, its obvious you could handle a fire in the galley. Did you say that..NO! Without warning or cause, these thoughts bombarded me. It was tooooo much.
So down the liquid went. The courage I have now in social situations is amazing. Look at me talking you up, making promises, suggestions. Then the next day left wondering what I might have said. Did I make a lunch date? Oh shit. Am I supposed to be somewhere, return a call? Black out drinking has become my specialty as of late. The anxiety this causes only steers the anxiety ship further into deep waters. The self doubt depths I am in now is horrendous. I can’t touch bottom. Floating in ambiguity is so painful. Why do I allow my ship to reach such treacherous waters? Why don’t I reach to shore sooner?
The bottle is mesmerizing. Problem solver guru of sorts. Ensures confidence. Promises success with its secret power. Secret. Super secret plan.
My footsteps are so heavy right now. Full of guilt. Shame. Disgust. How can I be here again? Seriously. I’m working out. I’m painting. I’m cleaning the house. I’m paying attention to my cat. Alone. I’m alone. Unstructured time has always been my enemy. For whatever reason. Its not the right time to figure that piece out. I just know it doesn’t work for me. But, its my reality right now. Home alone, with a lot of time on my hands. What to do? What to do?
Pass the tissues please as I sit in an AA meeting and raise my vulnerable shaking hand to say I am a newcomer once again. Tears fall. I fumble my name just a bit. I am told I am in the right place. Smiles of reassurance abound. Familiar faces greet me with a hug. There wasn’t a sigh of relief per se. But a deep breath out, allowing the thought of recovery in. Okay. Just maybe I Am in the right place.
I look around and wonder what I actually contribute to this world. My job. My marriage. The few relationships I barely can hold onto. To the blogosphere. Doesn’t feel like much. Doesn’t feel meaningful. Doesn’t feel necessary.
Yesterday we were on a busy freeway heading grocery shopping. We travel a bit to save money. We sat in silence during the 25-30 minute drive. My head cocked out the passenger window. My body language spewing…closed off. He drove pretending to look around. Commenting on a “site.” We have driven this same path every 2 weeks for years. Nothing new to see. Just trying to fill space. Meanwhile I’m trying to hold back tears.
I’m an alcoholic. Through and through. Had some amazing bouts of sobriety. But occasional slips..really relapses..have been more of the norm over the last year. I got caught w a bottle in my bag during dinner last night. I would have told you I was acting normal. Better than normal. Jovial. Inquisitive. Alive. Red flags I suppose. My husband knows me so well it’s actually scary. He said he could tell from the way i walked to the bathroom at the restaurant (to take a hearty swig) something was off. Unbelievable.
As we shuffled seats so I could watch the baseball game on the same side of the booth, he swiftly grabbed the bottle from my bag and slammed it on the top of the table. Next swift move was to flag anyone and get our bill. The meal not finished. Once paid up, he stormed out and left me to follow like a pathetic drunk. Which I did. Full of shame.
Our communication has been wrought w tension. I have voiced he no longer seems to want to listen. He seems to have invoked a “positive mentality.” A mindset change. So, nothing is that bad. Nothing should cause stress. Or anxiety. In his 48 years of life he finally reached out to a therapist. Basically because of my last mixed manic episode. He was traumatized. So, I guess he is learning how to protect himself. Probably a bit of codependency work. By the way this revelation of seeking therapy slipped out during an argument. Otherwise I’m not sure he was going to divulge this information. Honestly, it really hurt me he didn’t want to share that w me.
I know what the real reason behind the drinking is, but I chose to use the bathroom remodel is stressful routine. You…you..go off to work while I have to listen about all the problems the contractor is facing. Believe me there are many. Our plumbing is a mess. Then, I come home and hear about mishaps. I have to get up at 5am to get to the gym, mostly for a shower. Do you not know I need sleep. 6 hours of sleep per night is not enough. On and on I yell. Louder and louder.
The truth of why this bottle is in my bag today and yesterday and the day before is because I am ferociously lonely. I lost friends due to the episode. Some who didn’t know about it at the time, have now also fallen off. Texts and calls go unreturned. Or I get, maybe next week..after this deadline..we will definitely go for a hike. Weeks go by. People just don’t think of me. Or remember me. Or want to hang out w me. Its painful. I don’t understand why. I’m willing to look at it. But, in the interim I am a lonely mofo.
Following suit w the new positive mentality pilot I keep things locked up. Its not my husband’s fault. He deserves to figure out his survival too. But, I have no one to talk to. No support. So I feed myself w liquid courage. Super justified right!
Its awful. The secrets. The lies. The shame. The denial. Its no way to live. I know this. I believe this. Yet here I am.
Nothing to offer here. Not even to myself. So, yesterday on that highway. We were cruising along. Traffic had stopped but I think my husband was lost in his own mind. For a split second I wasn’t going to warn him. Hoping I would careen through the windshield and it would be over. Epitome of selfishness. But, he didn’t deserve to get hurt. Much less the folks in front of us paying attention. So I yelled…honey! and we swerved a bit. But collision averted.
We made our way through the day w few words said between us. Remember that book, how to make friends and influence people ( I apologize for not giving proper respect)? I need the cliff notes. Don’t even want the influence piece. A bit of guidance. A hint of hope. Something. I used to think I was a good person. But, now I wonder.
I tell ya. Loneliness is going to kill me.
Dear devoted husband,
I had forgotten the fear that is instilled in you once I drink. You micromanage and follow me around the house terrified there are still secrets. I have battled this disease of alcoholism for a very long time. I do it for me, but I also do it for you. I don’t want you to have to endure me as a monster. Ungrateful. Bitter. Hateful. Throwing daggers of rage directly at you when it truly has nothing to do w you. My demons are big. I’m so sorry it impacts you this way. You feel unsafe in your own home because of the wreckage I cause. It feels unfair. Why should you? Why would you continue to support me after all I have put us through?
I appealed to you in my collapse. If only you could understand my chaos. My self loathing. The roller coaster of bipolar. I reveal the suicidal thoughts. The desire to escape. The uncertainty I can carry on like this. You could probably never understand the way I want you to. But you stay by my side always, through it all. As the alcohol collided with my intense anger I said many things I did not mean. I sincerely regret. You laid in bed with me as I cried it out. Stuttered and stammered to get my painful words across. I couldn’t bring myself to announce the plan I have been mulling over for the past week. The incessant suicidal chatter that is intrusive, never stops and is convincing. I instead rest on your shoulder. I let the tears run wild down my cheeks. While there is a sense of freedom in an emotional explosion, picking up the pieces is another story.
I try to contain my defensiveness as you ask me where I’m going in our 1200 square ft house. I stand up and you flinch wondering if I’m going to sneak a drink. I put my hand on the doorknob and you say..are you really going to get coffee or are you going to drink. Please don’t drink. My self loathing increases w each question. What a fool I am giving in to the false promise of alcohol. What a fool I am to continually test the limits. If you said you couldn’t love me anymore I wouldn’t blame you. Sometimes I hope you do, so I can release this guilt. So I can jump and end this nightmare. But no. Over and over you profess your love for me. All of me.
I must contend with the guilt. With the roller coaster. With the fear. Because you do.
Hi. My name is Rhonda and I’m an alcoholic. I’m also diagnosed with bipolar I w psychotic features. I’ve played medication roulette for years. Had several hospitalizations in the last 3.5 yrs when I had to face my demons and truly get help. I relapsed last night. In a big ugly way. I so desperately wanted an escape from the madness of my mind. I could no longer handle the anxiety and suicidal chatter that was plaguing me. I have a full time job that is testing my ability to stay sane. A few days ago I was in tears at 8am as I sat at my desk and surveyed the scene. By 4pm I felt invincible and of master importance. Being thrown around the roller coaster is exhausting. Holding all the stress, anxiety, overwhelm, uncertainty and fear behind my mask becomes too much. The burden that is me becomes too heavy.
Instead of picking up the phone, going for a walk, or jumping on the treadmill I drove straight to the liquor store. As he put the bottle in the black plastic bag I knew I was digging my grave. Thoughts of washing all my medications down with this forbidden poison flooded me. Ashamed of making such a purchase, knowingly and willingl giving up sobriety, I barely looked at the man behind the counter. I wonder what he thought of me.
The voices in my head were rumbling. My head was pounding. I took my first sip and almost gagged. But, the rest went down a little too smoothly. I am not a dainty drinker. Much like everything there is an underlying frenzy to how I move in the world. Swiftly I filled my body with what I was certain was medicine. It was going to help me calm down, relax, want to be in my shoes. The talk of a true alcoholic. The misguided thought process of a desperate soul seeking peace. Respite. Escape from the doldrums of mental illness.
The reality is I do not handle alcohol well. It’s like a chemical reaction. An explosion of pain, hate, and anger erupts. I point fingers. I yell, scream and stomp around. You would probably never believe what kind of monster I become. The words I spew are evil. I don’t find peace. I don’t find respite. I create a storm swirling around me so powerful things go flying in the air. My poor husband an innocent bystander and receiver of the evil words. It’s not pretty. Soon enough I am on the floor sobbing. Begging for forgiveness. Trying to explain I need an escape.
When will I ever learn? Alcohol is my enemy. It can never be my friend. It can never “help” a situation. I know others who have 20+ years of sobriety and some of the same issues I do. They manage to stay sober. I know it’s possible. People do it everyday. I’ve done it and I’ll do it again.
So here I sit. Starting over once again.
It doesn’t take long for me to search my memory bank and remember myself pre-diagnosis of bipolar. There is a small window of time that I felt I had reached my best self. I had overcome bulimia and sought treatment for my alcoholism. In my new found sobriety my teeny tiny world began to open up. I was no longer consumed with secrets and lies. I could wake up in the morning. I could remember what I did and or said the night before. I dove into exercise and my job. I picked up my long lost tennis racket and began to play competitively. My marriage was no longer on the rocks. Life was a breeze. I had forgotten the depression that plagued me throughout my teenage years as I really didn’t have a name for it back then. I had forgotten the suicidal thoughts I experienced in college. I forgot about my now husband, then boyfriend, hospitalizing me within months of knowing me. I simply believed I was a new and different person. Probably. Most likely. Cured.
So, I either didn’t see or refused to see the depression coming for me within 3 years of my new found lust for life. I pushed that much harder at my job, in my obsession for tennis, and in my physical training. Meanwhile I had to pull over to the side of the road often to allow for panic, anxiety and all out sobbing. I hid from my husband and people who really knew me. I could fake it at work and around the court. Until I couldn’t.
I will never forget the collapse in my mind. A good friend started stalking me, in a good way, and I fessed up. Amongst other things, she told me to get some Vitamin B12. I didn’t know why at the time, but that snippet of advice was all I heard. Dutifully, I stopped at Walgreens to get my vitamins but somehow emerged w vodka as well. My drink of choice. I sat in my car and cried uncontrollably as I downed this liquid nightmare. In a moment of pure desperation I called my husband and told him where I was and I didn’t want to be doing what I was doing. He called my friend.
When I arrived home all I could do was cry. I was stunned. I couldn’t explain my behavior, my thinking, my pain. All I knew is I could not be a depressed alcoholic again. In another most desperate moment, I locked myself in the bathroom and nearly ended my life.
I don’t have to tell you what followed. Emergency room visit. Hospitalization. Leave of absence from work. I but a shell of my best self. I chased that best self for many years. Riddled in shame and sometimes disgust at myself because I couldn’t get there. Seemingly couldn’t get there.
I would say just in this last two weeks I had a breakthrough. Instead of chasing, i’m adapting. It’s okay I can no longer get up for 5:30am bootcamp. I can go at 5:30pm. It doesn’t make me less of a person. It’s okay I sometimes miss my hiking group because I can’t muster the energy, or my anxiety is high. I am trying. Sincerely trying.
My best self is ever changing, like the tides. Some days I am stronger than others. Some days I can dance and forget my “troubles.” And other days the best I got is getting from the bed to the couch. I no longer need to compare myself to yesterday. The current is going forward and I’m going with it. Best is relative. In fact, I think I’m going to practice being myself, whatever that means in the moment, and always strive for better, whatever that means in the moment.