Taking Responsibility ……

So I’ll bet you read the title and thought this would be a Ninth Step kind of post. Or maybe I did my searching and fearless inventory and am taking responsibility for some newly discovered dark thing about me.

No. No. Alas, no.

What I write about is this kind of responsibility one should not take. Taking responsibility for someone else’s shit.

Yes, I’m an alcoholic and addict. But don’t we all have someone in our lives who, too, is an alcoholic or addict? And don’t they do to us what we did to others?

What I’m getting at is when a loved one relapses. I go to that “I should have seen it coming” place. I scrutinize the events and interactions leading up to the other person’s relapse. I put the days after they started using under the microscope. Many “aha” moments are enlarged there. The sleepy, glossy eyes. The fingers in the mouth — this person ALWAYS puts their fingers in the mouth when they’re using. Like a baby who rebels against sleep just as much as he or she wants it.

Somehow the whole feeling “duped” thing is something I’m taking responsibility for. Why am I responsible for being duped? Why isn’t it HIS responsibility for lying? That’s right. It is his responsibility.

And I can’t make him take responsibility for that. I can’t make him stop using. I can’t make him admit to using — been there, done that.

I put myself under that microscope as well. I squint and enlarge and probe. Was I in denial? Or was I giving a heaping, happy, healthy , loving dose of “benefit of the doubt?” Here I am going back to that place…….. I should have seen it coming. Or maybe I did see it coming but didn’t.

So I’ve been doing all of these things. But I’m going to stop. Just for today. Just for today I’m going to sit and be with me and accept that things are the way they are and that I’m powerless. Of course, I’ll have to see what happens when a counter-intuitive train of thought comes clacking and rattling into the station at top speed. I often get into a positive, powerful “just for today frame of mind” and unwittingly hop on these trains when they arrive. I have the power to watch them thunder past me, papers and dust flying in their wakes. I don’t always execute that power.

Good night.

First Sober Concert

Sober for two weeks, I went to my first concert.  I felt vulnerable. I felt naked.

Why did I take on such a big drink fest so early on?  I had the tickets already and was determined not to miss it.  I had seen Guns N’ Roses before.  And this wasn’t even the full band!  It was Axle Rose and Bucket Head and whoever else.  Waiting for my ride to arrive, I paced.  I was usually getting “started” now.

(I get up around seven 
Get outta bed around nine
And I don’t worry about nothin’ no
Cause worryin’s a waste of my, time)

In the car and en route, I was thinking I’d be drinking now – yep. Open container law et al.  Approaching the city the concert was in, I thought that we passed a store I would normally stop in for a refill.  In the concert hall, I passed concession stands with long lines waiting for some golden sudsy splendor.  A lump grew in my throat and threatened to strangle me as it expanded.

I shoved my hands in my pockets and fixed my eyes on the floor  – or the little I could see of it in this teeming mob.

(The show usually starts around seven
We go on stage at nine
Get on the bus at eleven
Sippin’ a drink and feelin’ fine)

A big scoreboard/clock/advertising thingy hung above the floor seats of the arena.  I stared at the clock.  7:41PM.  In five minutes, I vowed, I would get a beer.  7:46PM.  In five minutes, I vowed, I would get a beer.  People giggled in front of me, swilling theirs.  A man had a pint crammed in the back of the waistband of his jeans. Yukon Jack.  I salivated and looked at the clock.  7:51PM.  In five minutes, I vowed, I would get a beer.  Someone nearby lit a joint and I could smell its pungent blissful stink wafting in smoky curtains in front of my face.  I exhaled hard, busting its skunky cloud.  Turning my head from it, I breathed through my mouth – that won’t help.  Glancing at the clock, I saw it was 7:56PM.  Five minutes.  8:01.  I’ll get a God damned beer.

(We been dancin’ with 
Mr. Brownstone
He’s been knockin’
He won’t’ leave me alone)

No.  No I won’t.  Not yet.  Five minutes.

The show didn’t start.  At 8:30, people were getting restless.  The big scoreboard/clock/advertising thingy displayed girls in the front few rows giggling and lifting their shirts or making out with a guy.  People cheered.  Two girls kissed.  The arena roared with baritone cheers.  The canned music that “GNR” chose grew louder.  People stomped their feet in stampeding unison.  8:33PM.  Five minutes.  I can do it.  FIVVVVE minutes.  I lit another cigarette and sucked hard on it, holding in the smoke like I was smoking a joint.  I sipped my soda, feeling like an outsider.  8:38PM.

(He won’t’ leave me alone…………no, no, no)

Should I leave?  I was starting to believe I would get a beer.  I started thinking that the concession stand was about a five minute walk, so instead of giving myself empty promises such as having a beer in five minutes and knowing it will be another five then maybe I should start walking NOW so that the beer will be in my HAND in five minutes!!!

(I used ta do a little but a little wouldn’t do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin’ ta get a little better
Said a little better than before
I used ta do a little but a little wouldn’t do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin’ ta get a little better
Said a little better than before)

The lights dimmed.  The stage lights buttered the stage  yellow.  Music.  My salvation.

I can’t recall now if it was an opening act or not.  I can’t recall how long I endured the show, but I made it til the end – sans alcohol.  I started to cry at one point and I laboriously dragged myself to a concession stand …. and had an ice cream.  It was the best one I ever had.   I felt self-conscious having ice cream at a concert – such a wholesome and even childish treat, certainly not the gritty badass type of treat I thought I wanted.

(We been dancin’ with
Mr. Brownstone
He’s been knockin’
He won’t leave me alone)

If I could do it all again, then I guess it doesn’t matter because I’m sober today.  But I tortured myself.  I really did.  And it was a close one.

(Now I get up around whenever
I used ta get up on time ……….)

The only thing that stood between me and that promised five-minute beer was the dimming of lights.  That’s a pretty thready thread to dangle from.

(………………..  But that old man he’s a real mutha****er
Gonna kick him on down the line……………………………)

(Lyrics:  Mr. Brownstone by Guns N’ Roses …… and while I know Mr. Brownstone isn’t about BOOZE, it’s about addiction and I relate……….)

My Last Drink …….

The snow was coming down hard that New Year’s Eve and it was my first without alcohol – or so I thought.  I was married to a drunk – and I married a drunk on purpose.  He was tossing them back and slurring magnificent nonsense.  Offensive nonsense.  To “show him what his drinking was doing to me,”  I strolled purposefully to the kitchen.  I reached into the freezer, grabbed his rum and threw my head back.  Now he wouldn’t have anymore.  Screw him.  It glugged coldly-hotly down my throat.  But it wasn’t enough.  The switch was flipped and I needed more.  Way more.

Frenzied hands tore through the cupboards.  Thump.  Crunch.  Phhhht!  Rattle.  Thump.  Thump.  Clang.  The contents of my cupboard made its way to the floor.  Splayed across the white and blue linoleum were Rice-a-Roni boxes with cans of soup and sleeves of bouillon.  There it was:  Vanilla.  I emptied that into my mouth and continued to wildly toss foodstuff onto the floor.  Ny-Quil.  I cracked the top and tossed it back.  My then-husband pleaded with me to stop – or I think that’s what he was doing.  His eyes were slits and his mouth murmured unintelligible words.  Something about “two months.”

Yeah.  I had two months.  Two months clean.  Two months of white-knuckling it.  Two months.  I didn’t give a flying f**k.

Nonperishable food items flew through the air and I realized I had exhausted all possibility of drinking in the kitchen.  I purposefully charged to the bathroom.  There was the Listerine.  Icy Blue.  A wise pairing with the Ny-Quil.  Sure makes it sound more sophisticated, doesn’t it?

After chugging some of the Listerine, my stomach raised its hand and begged me to stop.  Or else.  There was now some clarity and I wasn’t buzzed.  Where were those numbers from AA?  They were crumpled balls at the bottom of my purse.  Anyways, I couldn’t call them at this hour.  And I had never called them before.  I called my mom.  It was 2:30AM.  Maybe 3.

The bleary voice at the end of the phone whispered, “Hello?”

“Mom?”  My voice cracked and I said no more.  The icy taste of the Listerine with the black licorice – or liquorice?- taste of the Ny-Quil was nauseating.   I breathed through my mouth.  “I drank.”

She was quiet for a moment and then snapped into “professional mode.”  The lady had been trained to work at the local detox when she was a nurse at the hospital, but fate took her elsewhere.  But she had the training.  “You stop drinking now and go to a meeting tomorrow.”   Mom paused before continuing.  “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.”

“This isn’t like a diet where you ate some cheesecake and you can say ‘screw it.’  You stop it right now.”  Her voice was firm.  Solid.

I listened.  What she said was so simple and it is exactly what I would have told myself if I had had the clarity.  But ‘fessing up was therapeutic, too.  I admitted to what I had just done and as easy as it was to do it – just say some words, right? – it was one of the hardest things I had ever done.

And they say the worst thing is a head full of AA and a belly full of booze.

I went to bed, fearing the familiar tingling in my legs.  That delightful tingling that the first drink delighted me with.  I stared at the ceiling and thought of my two months.  I had never had two months.  Not since I was like …. I don’t know?  Seven years old?