Hi, My Name is Dani

April 28th was 6 months since the last time I consumed alcohol. I’m still not entirely sure that I will never drink again, as I do miss an occasional glass or two of wine, but I know I’m not ready to test my strength and my ability to hold a boundary with consumption just to find out if I can control it. I assume I will somehow know when/if the time comes that I will be ready, otherwise I guess I just won’t ever drink again.

This is one boundary I will no longer mess with. It took a very long time and A LOT of stupid decisions for me to realize that I was powerless to alcohol. I’m very grateful to the handful of people who held me accountable and helped me to gain an awareness of how powerless I was.

Some people may not see my past use of alcohol as being a problem. I didn’t drink every day. Not only did I hold down a job, but I climbed the ladder in my job. I hardly ever missed a day of work. I’ve been known to have a beer or glass of wine when out for dinner with a friend and leave it at just a beer or glass of wine. Based on this information I seem like a pretty responsible social drinker.

Until you take a look at what a normal drinking session of mine looks like:

16 years old, at a party with 2 friends. I drank too much and got sick. One of the friends I was with that night had a car (that’s how we got to the party). My car owning friend suggested I drive us back to my house (30 minute drive) because since I got sick I must be the soberest among the 3 of us. To very drunk 15, 16, and 17 year old teenage girls this made perfect sense. So in my very drunken state I drove all 3 of us back to my house. I have no idea how much longer than 30 minutes it took us to get to my house, but I do remember that my backseat navigator had me drive in a really big circle before she passed out in the backseat. Shortcuts, not always so short. The next morning we had to examine the car to make sure I didn’t hit anything the night before because none of us had much memory of what happened after we drove in the big circle. Luckily there was no damage to the car. Oh, did I mention I didn’t have a driver’s license nor did I really know how to drive her stick shift car?

20 years old, at a small town bar in a neighboring town with 2 friends and my girlfriend. I shared 3 English bulldogs (if memory serves me right) with a friend. After that 4 of us went my to our (my gf and me) apartment. We were going to make some drinks but we discovered we had no ice. I had one of my friends take my car to run up to the store to get some ice. That’s right, I had been drinking and I wasn’t going to drive. However, my friend had also been drinking and she didn’t have a driver’s license. While she was illegally driving my car to get ice, we didn’t want to wait for ice to start drinking. So, what was our solution? Body shots of Tequila, of course! The ice arrived at my 3rd shot of Tequila and I don’t remember the next 7 that followed. I’m told I did 10 shots of Tequila in about 30 minutes. I didn’t even weigh 100 lbs at that time in my life. My girlfriend at the time and one of my friends both had to force me to get sick. I was completely blacked out and about as limp as a wet noodle. I’m told my GF held my head (sort of) while my friend stuck her fingers down my throat. I’ve often wondered how dangerously close I was to death that night. But by the grace of something bigger than me.

Several drunken nights in my 20s. None of us have time to cover all of them. During my 20s there was no such thing as just having a couple of drinks. What was the point of drinking if not to get drunk?

When I was 30 I got involved in what I consider to this day to be the greatest love I’ve ever experienced in my life. With such great love comes such great heartache. It was complicated at best. I didn’t drink much when I was involved with her and I only got completely intoxicated twice. To this day I regret her seeing me in such a crude drunken state. She had never experienced someone who had been as intoxicated as I had been the night she saw me. I had mixed alcohol with intense emotions of heartache and anguish over our relationship. My behavior scared her that night. She couldn’t stay she had to get home. I wanted so badly for her to stay with me that night, but she couldn’t. When she walked out my door I became so enraged. Alcohol induced rage is never pretty. I started kicking my apartment door, and then I started punching my apartment walls. Somewhere in between kicking and punching I threw a floor lamp at my patio door and shattered the light bulbs in the lamp. I didn’t realize she had come back in during my fit of rage, she must’ve heard me. I was punching a wall when I felt her touch me. She startled me, when had she walked in? Her touch always had a way of calming me down. I don’t remember much after that other than she wrapped a bag of frozen peas in a towel for my hand and she got me to bed. I certainly didn’t deserve her love after that night, but she forgave me and continued to love me after that. I swore to her I would never put her through that again and I didn’t. I was about 32 years old when that happened.

34 years old. A small high school reunion of sorts. There was about 15-20 of us who got together one night. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in nearly 15 years. I was the one who brought us all together. We started out at the bar we used to hang out at as teenagers. Then the party moved to a friends house. I was, once again, beyond wasted. I have little flashes of memory of thinking I was dying. I don’t know why I thought that, but in the flashes of memory I have, I was completely terrified. Not only was I drinking that night, I also smoked pot, at least I think it was pot. Until this moment right now I had thought I had been slipped something at the bar, but maybe it wasn’t pot I smoked that night. I have no way of knowing what was in my system other than alcohol that night, but what I do know is I was F’d up! I woke up the next morning on a couch with few articles of clothing on. Being a lesbian it took me only seconds to conclude I had not had sex, at least not with a man. I got dressed, found my phone, shoes, glasses and needed to get outside and back to the bar where my vehicle was. When I opened the door, to what I thought was going to be my friends driveway, I discovered a hallway with many other doors. Okay? I must be in an apartment building and not at the house I thought I was at. But who the hell did I know that lived in an apartment in town? I found the door to outside, when I opened it I found myself looking at a lake. Well shit, I wasn’t even in the town I thought I was in. So where the hell was I? I had to pull out my cell phone, open Google Maps in order to find my location. I was about 20 miles from where I thought I was. I was lucky enough to get a hold of my ex. I walked towards the town I my vehicle was in and she drove out to pick me up and bring me the rest of the way. I was so confused and scared that morning. When I was talking to my ex I just broke down crying. Why was I where I was and how in the hell did this happen to me, and what in the hell happened? It was an early mid November Minnesota morning, the temps were pretty chilly and I had no damn coat. What was my deal with never having a damn coat in cold temps? I have many unanswered questions from that night and I quite honestly don’t care about the answers. Needless to say I have not organized a second gathering. Maybe after another 15 years.

34-35 years old. I was at my ex’s apartment hanging out with her and her new boyfriend. I was drinking wine that night. I had brought two bottles with me. One for myself and one for my ex, she liked that specific kind of wine and she couldn’t find it at any liquor stores in her town. At no point during the time we sat chatting on her patio did I ever have to get up to refill my glass. My ex and her BF took care of it for me. It wasn’t until my glass was empty that I realized I had drank both bottles by myself. Again, I don’t recall much of what took place that night. I was told we walked to the bar and then I walked back to my ex’s. They had taken my keys. I asked for them back so that when I woke in the morning I could go home. They made me promise I wouldn’t leave and they foolishly believed me and handed me my keys. I don’t remember leaving the apartment. I do remember feeling sick and pulling off into a parking lot so I could get sick, but I noticed a cop was parked in the lot so I had to keep going. Yup, threw up all over my lap. I have a flash of memory of driving on the shoulder of the road when I thought I was in my lane. I was on the phone with my ex at one point and I realized I didn’t have my glasses, which seemed to explain why I couldn’t see well. Somehow I made the 45 minute drive home in once piece. I was so intoxicated though, that I remember parking when I got home, I sat my hand down on my lap, and I couldn’t figure out why the hell my lap was wet and cold. Yeah, I had driven 45 minutes home with vomit on my lap and forgot I had done it.

35-36 years old. Drinking started to become a much more regular thing in my life. I was doing happy hours with co-workers, I was doing day drinking on patios at 10am on Fridays with co-workers, and I was doing co-workers. Yes, not my proudest couple of years. I’ve written about my inability to set and hold boundaries around my drinking limits during this span of time. I would set a limit of 3 beers and no more than that if I had to drive. I would drink my 3 beers plus another 6-9 and then drive my drunk ass home. Most times I had no recollection of driving home (20-25 minute drive). I’ve had flashes of memories of driving home. One time I sort of came out of my blackout long enough to realize I was driving down a freeway weaving in and out of traffic going 90 miles an hour. I assume this wasn’t a one time occurrence. Just because I don’t remember, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. This drinking and driving behavior became a weekly routine. I would set limits and I would blow right through them. At a party with co-workers one September 12th night I allowed myself to become so intoxicated that I took part in a threesome. It was me, another girl, and a guy. It had been 19 years at that point since I had been with a guy. I’m not gonna lie, that fucking hurt! There are many words I’ve used to describe that night, gentle is not one of them. I left a lot of myself in that room that night, the biggest was my dignity. I also took a lot out of that room that night…shame, guilt, regret, resentment, disappointment. It’s not like I wasn’t familiar with all of the things I took out of that room, but I took them to a whole new level. I have done many many regrettable things in my life, but that one comes very close to the top of my list of regrets.

After having had sex with 2 co-workers and making out with another one and regretting all of it, I was done drinking, right? Nope, not quite. My therapist and a family member thought I should’ve been done drinking long before September 12th even happened.

I had to redeem myself though. I had to prove I had control of my drinking. Once I shook off the shame of the party. I began setting limits again. And I began breaking limits again.

June 10th 2016, 36 years old. A co-worker and myself met a previous co-worker at a bar we frequented. So often in fact that we no longer had to ask for a beer, they just brought them to us when we walked in. We were on first name basis with more than one bartender/waiter/waitress. Anyways, we started off in the parking lot at 10am with shots of Apple Pie. Bar opened at 10:30am and we started drinking beer. It was after dark before I left the bar that night. Not only did I break my 3 beer boundary, I broke other personal boundaries I had set. I drove home intoxicated again, and somehow made home without incident again.

I woke the next morning and it was like a switch had been flipped. I was done, I couldn’t keep doing it. Sooner of later something terrible was going to happen. Was that what I needed to happen before I would stop? Was it going to take a DWI? Was it going to take me hurting or killing myself? Or was it going to take me hurting someone else? When was I going to get my wake-up call? Did I have to hit rock bottom before I would realize I had a drinking problem? I didn’t want to find out where rock bottom was. I had fallen far enough down, I didn’t need to hit rock bottom nor did I want to.

I didn’t drink again until October 28th 2016. That was my farewell celebration for leaving my job of nearly 8 years. All of my co-worker friends joined me at the bar we frequented. My plan was to not drink at all, that was the boundary I set for the night. Then my boundary moved to just one beer. I mean how could I not have one beer with these guy? We had been through a lot of shit together. In some ways we had become a very messed up dysfunctional family. One beer turned in to two beers because the waiter just brought me one when my first one was empty, and it was a free beer. The waiter did this twice. He then started turning on the charm. Claiming I was his favorite one out of the group. How could I turn him away? After my 3rd beer I realized I was drinking too fast, especially considering I had finished beer three and I wasn’t even going to have beer one. I slowed WAY down at that point. I only had 2 more beers after that, I ate twice, and I hung out for about 3 hours after I finished my last beer. I was very proud of myself for not getting drunk, for pacing myself, and for being okay to drive home. But even with as proud as I was of myself, I still didn’t hold the boundary I had set with drinking. I had no choice but to admit I had a problem.

That was the last time I drank.

Hi, my name is Dani and I have a drinking problem but I’m 6 months sober.

Thank you!

 

 

 

 

A Dark Place

A Dark Place
  • Eating
  • Hydrating
  • Sleeping
  • Bathroom Breaks
  • Showering
  • Getting Dressed
  • Getting out of Bed
  • Talking
  • Laughing
  • Working
  • Feeling
  • Thinking Logically

These all seem like pretty easy everyday tasks, right? For many people the answer is yes, but for some of us the answer is “not always” or “no”.

There is a place, a dark place. It is almost like a parallel universe. From the outside looking in everything appears fine, but on the inside, it is a universe where darkness lives. The weight of the darkness is paralyzing and suffocating. It sucks the happiness and life from your body, mind, and soul. The air is thick and breathing is difficult. The people here try to fight it, they try to over power it, but it’s useless, at least that’s how it seems in this place.

This place creates a numbness, within the people here, that is so incredibly painful. People who have never been to this place have no idea how painful numbness really is. It is like you are completely void of any emotion except hurt, sadness, agony, despair. This place causes people to feel utterly alone in the world, both the inside world and the outside world.

This place is indescribable. It is dark, it is heavy, it is suffocating, it is without hope, it is dense, it is painful, it is a private hell built for each individual person who has been there; though all of this is true, it doesn’t come anywhere near describing what this dark place is or what it feels like to be there.

Some people are lucky enough to pass through once or twice, but others aren’t so luck. Some people are regulars who have the misfortune of frequenting this dark place. While you are in this place it feels like you will be stuck there for eternity, there is no escape, this place has become a permanent residence. In time people will escape, but it feels more like a trick because this place allowed us to escape, and many of us know it is only a matter of time before it comes back for us. During the reprieve these people try to make the best of the time they’ve been given, knowing that at any moment the darkness will come calling, and never knowing how long they will be captive to it next time around.

This dark place has a name, it’s called Depression. If you’ve never visited this dark place you can’t begin to imagine what it is like. It’s not just a bad day. It’s not just feeling a lack of energy. It’s not just the feeling people get on a gloomy rainy day. It’s not something a Vitamin D supplement will cure. It’s not just a lazy day.

It is like having your heartbroken everyday. It is like losing a loved one everyday. It is like the sun has been destroyed and everyday for the rest of time will be gloomy and rainy. It is like your best friend moving to a different state everyday for the rest of your life. It is like putting your pet down day after day after day. It is like a private hell in which there is no escape. It eats at you. It brings you further and further away from goodness and happiness.  It messes with your emotions and reasonable thinking. It tricks your mind in to believing you aren’t worthy of anything good in the world.

People with chronic/clinical depression know what needs to be done to help keep this dark place at bay, but depression is a tricky little bitch. It never sends a warning or an invitation. It shows up anywhere at anytime and often for no reason at all. Once it’s got it’s grip on you and it’s pulled you into the dark place it doesn’t matter how much you know about how to help yourself, it doesn’t matter how badly you want to help yourself, it doesn’t matter how desperately you want to get up and move, to eat, to get fresh air, to sleep, to talk, to laugh, to shower, to function. Depression does not care! It is debilitating and it has a hold on you until it’s ready to let you go.

This dark place, called Depression, is very real. If you’ve never experienced all of the above, I hope that you never do. All I ask is that you don’t dismiss others who are struggling with depression. Depression, as well as all other mental health disorders, are very serious. Please respect those with it, be kind and compassionate. Don’t tell them to just “get over it”, don’t tell them “everyone goes through this” don’t belittle them, don’t tell them they are lazy, don’t make them feel worse than they already do. Just Love them and be supportive. Sometimes that might mean from a distance, but check in with them daily with a phone call or on social media. Don’t drop by unexpected, the house is probably a mess and this will cause the person to feel more shame. Let them know you care and that you’re there, without judgement, if they need you.

You never know when you could be the light in someone’s dark place. No one likes to feel alone.

For those of you who are all too familiar with this dark place, know that you are not alone. Know that sooner or later it will pass and you will have better days, even when it doesn’t feel that way…especially when it doesn’t feel that way!

You are lovable. You are worthy. You are more than enough. You matter.

-Dani