In June of 2008, I found out I was pregnant.
Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 were 10, 8, 3, and almost 2 years old at the time.
This pregnancy was not planned and came as a complete surprise to my husband and to me.
My husband was not exactly thrilled at first. We already had our hands full.
I, on the other hand, was ecstatic.
I wasn’t ready to be done having kids yet.
At the time, in an effort to get into better shape, I was running pretty consistently, and I had started entering short road races to keep myself motivated.
I was 38 years old, and since it was early on — only 8 weeks or so — and I was very active before finding out I was pregnant, I had no reason to stop running anytime soon.
On July 4th, I ran in a local 5 mile road race that I had been training for. I didn’t quite finish in the time I had wanted to, but it was the longest race I had run so far, and I felt great. I was riding a natural high.
Later that night, about eight hours after I finished the race, I went to the bathroom, and my underwear was full of blood.
I’d had a miscarriage.
I was devastated.
The next day, a friend of mine had a party at her house.
I wasn’t going to go. I wasn’t in the mood to be social or even be vertical, for that matter. But the kids wanted to go, and I thought maybe it would take my mind off of things.
So I went.
It started out as a birthday party for my friend’s daughter. They had a bounce house and other fun kid stuff, but entire families and not just the kids were invited to the party.
Around 8:00 p.m., the kid party turned into a grown up party.
Some parents took the kids home. Some kids had come with pajamas and sleeping bags and had planned on sleeping over.
We only lived about a mile away.
By 8:30 my husband was ready to leave the party, but I was very depressed, and ready to drown my sorrows.
So I drove my husband and the kids home, and I returned to the party flying solo.
When I got back, there was a beer pong table set up and people were crowded around it.
This was my kind of party. Parents who liked to have fun.
A lot of it.
And I don’t want to brag, but I kick some serious ass at beer pong.
I’m not sure of all the things my quarter million dollar education at Lehigh got me, but I do know it definitely helped me perfect my beer pong game.
As soon as I returned to the party, I got myself a partner and hopped into the next game.
We won the first game. And the second. And the third.
I don’t know how many games we played, but we won them all. And with each game I got more and more wasted, until I found myself in the driveway smoking cigarettes.
I remember crying in the driveway. I don’t remember driving home.
But I did drive home.
I do remember puking my guts out on my hands and knees in the grass in my front yard.
I spent the next day completely hungover, incapacitated and on the couch.
My husband was not very understanding.
This kind of thing didn’t happen weekly or monthly, but it did happen more than a handful of times after getting married.
I don’t remember exactly when it was, whether it was that day or the day after, but I promised my husband not that I would never drink again, but that I would never get that drunk again.
I held to my word. That was the last time I puked from drinking.
While I’ve been thinking about quitting a lot lately, I never discussed it with anyone. Not my husband. Not my friends. Not my parents.
It’s all been a silent conversation I’ve had with myself.
I’ve never had a friend confront me about drinking.
I didn’t make any official proclamation or have any conversations with my friends before I made this decision. Anybody who knows I decided to give up alcohol now knows because I made an announcement here on the blog twelve days ago.
Are they surprised?
I’m not sure. Did they ever whisper behind my back that maybe I had an issue?
I honestly don’t know.
Here’s the thing.
I was in AA about 27 years ago. That’s a whole other story that will take some explaining at another time.
But I spent the end of my junior year and all of my senior year in college (and my 21st birthday!) completely sober.
So I know a thing or two about alcoholics and alcoholism.
I am not a heavy drinker. I don’t drink daily. I don’t even drink weekly. I don’t drink alone, and I don’t drink during the day. I’m not dependent on alcohol. It is not even my drug of choice.
By many of my friend’s standards, there’s a good chance I am not an alcoholic.
But by friends of Bill W, I definitely am.
By my standards, I don’t know what I am.
But I know I have a problem.
Because while I don’t drink regularly, when I do drink, I drink.
Not always. There are occasional nights at home where I might only have a glass of wine or a couple Blue Moons.
But if there is a party, a Mom’s Night Out, a dinner out with my husband, any social function, I am going to get as drunk as I can without ending up on my hands and knees, puking in my front yard.
That’s not exactly healthy.
We had a small party here on the 4th of July, and I told a friend of mine that I’d quit drinking. I told her one of the reasons was because if I had more than three drinks I’d be hungover the next day.
“Why don’t you just have one?” she asked me.
And my automatic response was, “What’s the point of that?”
She burst out laughing at my answer.
And then she told me maybe I had made a smart decision.
So I don’t drink regularly.
But I do drink to excess. Often.
And I don’t know if it’s because of my age or the fact that I think I am beginning to go through menopause (seriously! what the hell???) but my body can’t tolerate more than two drinks anymore, really.
A couple weeks ago I went to a friend’s house. I was planning on staying until 10:30 or so.
I got home at 2 a.m.
I didn’t keep track of how many drinks I had, but I had quite a few.
And the entire next day I was useless. It took me a good eight hours after waking up to feel human again. I’ve gotten to the point where I have to make sure my schedule for the entire following day is clear if I’m going to have a night of drinking “fun,” because I know I won’t be able to function the next day. At all.
In addition to the hangovers, I am starting to black out.
Sometimes they are just partial black outs (yes, I said just partial blackouts — you know, not that big a deal — so I know that’s kind of a big neon flashing sign) where I won’t remember small portions of the night or pieces of conversations.
Other times, I don’t remember anything at all after a certain time.
This is one of the biggest red flags for me.
About a month or so ago — I don’t remember where I had gone and I don’t remember what or how much I drank — I put the kids to bed.
And the next day I could not remember any of it. I couldn’t even remember if I was the one who put the kids to bed at all.
It was unsettling and it was a wake up call.
The drinking to excess, the fact that my body can’t tolerate it, the blacking out — those are reasons enough to quit.
And then there is the depression.
I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder about 16 years ago.
In my adult life, I have been committed to the psych ward of three different hospitals on three different occasions after attempts to commit suicide.
Two times were before I was married. One time was after.
Those are also stories for another time, but one thing ties them together.
Alcohol was a factor in all three of those incidents.
And they were BAD.
Alcohol is probably the dumbest thing I could possibly add into the equation of my life.
I suppose a normal person would stop drinking after the first stint in the hospital nuthouse.
I’m an overachiever I guess.
Or an idiot.
There is also a history of alcoholism on both sides of my family tree. I’m kind of fucked genetically.
So am I an alcoholic?
By the clinical definition I am.
By society’s standards am I? By my friend’s standards am I?
I don’t know.
But by my standards, yeah. After writing all this down (and this is just a fraction of it) it’s kind of glaring.
It’s a hard pill to swallow.
And it’s scary.
Can I survive the shitty stuff that will inevitably come my way without the availability of something to completely numb myself?
Can life be fun without Blue Moons and reisling and Strawberitas and margaritas???
Is there even any point in going to a party ever again?
I’m scared that there isn’t.
But I’m more scared of the thought of losing entire days of my life. And losing more memories of time spent with my children.
And if we’re going to be honest, nothing is really scarier than the psych ward of a hospital.
That shit SUCKS.
So I guess I’m gonna continue on this new path.
It’s not going to be easy.
But it’s not gonna be any harder than the fucked up path I took to finally get to this point.
This route has been exhausting.
It’s time to reroute myself.
I know there will be times where I’ll feel differently.
But right now, in this moment, I am really looking forward to finally finding a way to navigate the ups, the downs and all the bullshit in between without the assistance of booze.