I’m in Costa Rica on vacation with my family, which is exactly as decadent as it sounds. I was lavished with mimosas from sun up to sun down. Spotted dolphins swam by. The food was subpar, but the champange in the mimosas made it all worthwhile, but then every night starts to sputter and skip. The beast was small but he was there.
In reality I was torn between leaving my husband, being single or finding another man. Torn is quite the understatement. My head felt like it was going to explode - I didn't know then but I know now, that money cannot buy happiness. We were sick with disposable income at the time, but too much was never enough. Not the trip to Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, not almost all of the Carribbean. I was using money to fix problems and vacations to hide my drinking. Who didn't drink excessively on vacation? It starts and ends at the airport bar. Even my ex-husband who I consider a true social drinker, would get wasted on vacation, starting early at the airport bar. Is it a vacation if you don't get drunk at the airport bar? I couldn't wait to drink. I was restless, irritable and discontent even in Costa Rica. Apparently, nothing made me happy.
Turks and Caicos was a bucket list vacation; sadly Hollywood discovered this gem so it is now priced out of the market. Turks and Caicos is to die for. Is there a word to describe the beauty? There were coves of blond sand and copses of trees. A faint din from the waves, the smell of the barbeque. It was the vacation of my dreams but I drank my way through it. I barely remember the most expensive vacation of a lifetime. The alcohol just never stopped. It helped me to forget the tiresome tasks of everyday life.
Drinking was so much fun in the beginning. I was prettier, funnier, a little basic and not so outside the mainstream. It gave me liquid courage. I felt I was desired by men everywhere, at times too many suitors to count, and I always picked the wrong ones. I walked with impunity through life, too arrogant to care about the less fortunate. They just needed to work hard like I did. Even lame dates were tolerable because of the alcohol - are you sad? Nurse your disappointment which some coronas. Feeling happy? Celebrate with a lobster and bloody marys.
Then suddenly, I needed whiskey glasses to get through the day. I just wanted to sip til the pain wore off. Buy everybody a round, you'll be the hottest commodity in the bar. I was trying to manipulate people with money, all. the. time.
The amount of money didn't change my low self esteem, the smarts didn't change that, my success - nothing. I was constantly seeking validation from others. My self-esteem could fit in a thimble. I'm discovering that the brain of addict is inherently different, leading to an overall lifestyle and attitude that you will carry with you regardless of your addiction. My ex is a video game addict, different addiction but the personality traits are the same. Our focus is on the addiction, not living itself. Addicts are insecure, overly sensitive, terribly impulsive, impatient, secretive, defensive and easily aggravated. I, along, with every other addict, feel a perpetual state of unease. A low-frustration level leads to more problems than I can attend to here. In short, our brains are a crowded shitshow.
My drinking was a problem as early as high school and after the alcholism simmered on hold for twenty years, suddenly I would lose track of my drinks, have brownouts, and have a life full of stink and regret. Stir in bipolar and the alcohol escalated the madness irrevocably. I laughed off signs of alcoholism because I didn’t blackout...that little exemption would keep me drinking for years. Besides once a person admits they have a problem, don't you have to DO something about it.
But it obviously was fun for a while. One of my favorite stories, I refer to as Bosnian Mountain Time. I left the house innocently enough - just wanted to check out the local pub for happy hour. Almost immediately, this blond woman is super interested in me. We had fun playing music, getting to know each other. She was harmless, what did I have to lose? We told each other we would leave at 9:30 Eastern Time, then nine-thirty central time, then Pacific time, then Bosnian mountain time - which doesn't exist.
The local pub is a nice break between the bullshit at home and the bullshit at work. Once you get to know the regulars, its pretty fun hanging out with everyone. But, its only fun if you can stop when everyone else does. When you can stop at happy hour. When you can stop period. Its only fun if you don't get an ankle bracelet.
All of my relationships – my mature brain knew it was over, but I always backslid due to people pleasing. My girlish heart always got sucked back in. Then when I felt guilt or shame over that, I continued with the people pleasing. It didn't feel good to be weak, but once my parents were gone, weak was not an option. No time for the weak and the wicked - I didn't have a choice. My parents were my rock, my biggest advocates, my best friends. I should've focused on them more. But they were both drunks themselves. Between the drunkards loop (repeating everything over and over again), the fights, and tears, I escaped to reading in my bedroom - which further separated me from my classmates.
But, a funny thing happened today. A guy said to me, no one is put together as well as you. My older daughter once said to me, I can’t be good at everything like you. I was told I was intimatidating – which is known as the likeability penalty. I had the characteristics of a man in my bold agression, obstinate behavior, and arrogant attitude. Guys don’t like that. In fact, I disliked being called pretty. One, I didn’t feel pretty and two, I thought my brain was more attractive than anything else I could offer a guy. I was too shy to kiss a guy, afraid of my own shadow, and I was egotistical at the same.
The younger generation values smarts, with a clarity I never possessed, that I didn’t need to put up with bullying I've expereinced in my life. Sober is now sexy, brains are now fashionable. I don't need to be embarassed anymore. There are many people who can drink in moderation and develop no problems, social, moral or otherwise. I am not one of those people, maybe you aren’t. Maybe you're reading this because your spouse is an alcoholic. No matter what the reason I hope it helps.
I drank to drown out the voices, the fights, pretty much any minor inconvenience and any uncomfortable feelings. The voices were both real and imagined. I wanted freedom from internal conflict. Drinking seemed to dissolve the caste system in high school. Anyone would hang out with you when you were using. They were my people. I was the only girl; I was even left out at home.
Now I have taken control of my life. I've been sober a few years. Getting sober is not for the faint of heart, it's worth it. There is an unexpected excitement in living sober. In fact, it's just exciting to be alive. It's always five o'clock somewhere.
About the Creator
I am an aspiring writer currently writing a book on the Sober Revolution we are in the midst of, a book about essays that will change the way you think, and a novel about a serial killer. I am also working on a book of poetry.