Over this past month I slipped back into a drinking habit.
Not to the same degree as I once had, but enough to cause concern with friends and family.
As mentioned in my last entry, the odds were against me.
I guess it was inevitable.
It all started about a month ago, After 119 days of sobriety.
I'm not sure what it was exactly, in all honesty I was feeling very accomplished.
I had just finished a couple weeks of work as a house painter.
My apartment was in good shape, and I think I was just bored. Uninspired.
I went down to the 7/11 and picked up a 6 pack of beer.
It was a Wednesday night.
I originally planned on only having a couple for the evening.
But I ended up downing the whole thing in one night.
The next couple of days I remained clean.
Just thinking it was a one and done kind of deal.
I went about my work days without thinking about it really.
But that soon changed once the weekend came around.
That Saturday, I worked my first bartending shift in months.
During the night I had no desire to drink whatsoever.
Even as I was dumping handles of liquor into the glasses of our guests.
It was a very busy evening, and I was running all over the venue making sure everything was in order.
I find that it's easy to keep my mind off of alcohol as I'm staying active.
It wasn't until I got back home, after working a 10 hour shift, and driving an hour each way.
I decided I earned a drink for the night.
I went to a local spot and had a beer and a shot.
That was it.
The next morning I went to the Richmond folk festival.
I was by myself, and had the most satisfying oyster Po' boy I think I've ever had.
I knew before arriving that I was going to get a couple of drink tickets.
That's just what you do.
I attended on Friday as well, but stayed away from the drinks cus I was with company.
Like I said earlier, I really don't have a desire to drink if I'm preoccupied with something else.
So I got my first beer and went about the festival.
I had 2 beers over the course of 2 or 3 hours as I was by myself.
Really taking my time to enjoy what Richmond has to offer.
Especially in the season of Oktoberfest.
That was it for me, I thought.
I then went to meet an old friend at one of the stages.
I found a beautiful spot in the sun to sit and watch Martha Spencer and her Wonderland Band.
As I was scurrying through the aisle I spotted a drink ticket on the ground.
It was pretty stomped into the dirt, so I knew it was forgotten.
I put it in my pocket and continued to enjoy the show.
I found my friend after the set, and we hung out for the remainder of the day.
I haven't seen this guy in months.
He used to be a neighbor of mine, and we got to know each other pretty well before he moved away for his job.
So it was such a delight to see him back in the neighborhood for the weekend festival.
We continued to catch up after the last performance by going to a local brewery.
We had a beer there, and got some to go as well.
Like you do.
We went back to our neighborhood and hung out at my place as we figured out our evening plans.
He wanted to go to the local hangs, as he's been away for a few months.
So we did. Like you do.
The whole adventure was pretty uneventful.
We just had a beer at each of these places while continuing conversation.
We ended up back at my place to tie off the evening.
There just happened to be a colored pencil drawing I did, sprawled out on the floor.
It's a view from one of my windows.
I drew it for a drawing class I took at VCU.
The building in the bottom left is where he used to live before moving away.
He offered to buy it from me!
I gladly accepted. Knowing it was going to the perfect home.
So we packed it up nice and that was it.
He left town the next day.
He sent me a photo to let me know it got to it's forever home safe and sound :)
I was definitely feeling the alcohol the next morning.
It was a Monday, which already sucks lol.
After gathering my thoughts, I went out for coffee.
I was just sitting there. In a bit of a daze. Thinking about what to do next.
I decided I needed some food in me. So I went for a chicken sandwich.
Damn, was that the best sammy I've had in a hot minute. Po' Boy aside.
The spot is kinda divey, so I had a Negroni and Guiness.
In hopes to ease my head... Like you do. Hair on the dog.
That was that.
I was about to pay my tab, but then I looked at my phone...
I received news that one of my night nurses at NIH had recently committed suicide...
So much for my day.
Granted, I did not set myself up for success.
But that news was the nail in the coffin for me...
I went home and made some phone calls. Just trying to talk to anybody.
I got hold of some friends and family.
That certainly helped.
But I guess I already had my mind made up...
This was for my nurse...
I went out for one more round...
I ended up running into some really good friends.
We played euchre and chess, and that helped keep my mind off of the news.
But eventually, the grief caught up with me.
So I just sat there.
Head hung down, listening to music on my headphones.
I guess they thought I was dosing off, so I was asked to leave.
So I did.
The next day was one of the worst I had ever had.
I ended up taking the day to rest instead of working.
I could barely even manage to think straight.
My head was pounding from the hangover, and I was grieving the loss of my nurse.
I ended up spending the whole day in bed.
Crying, and trying to rest.
I felt so ashamed.
I felt like a failure.
I felt dirty.
I felt useless.
I felt like most hope was lost.
That experience of relapse provided some realizations:
Alcohol and I just don't mix at this point in time.
Sure, it provides some comfort, and it tastes nice.
But the after affects just aren't worth the numbing qualities.
It really threw me off, and in this point in my life, I just don't have the time to waste.
I really do think the months of detox added to this gnarly reintroduction.
I don't remember when my next drink was.
Over the course of the next few weeks I had some similar lapses.
Some days it would just be a drink or two.
Others would be overkill, and purposefully so.
I had some really great moments during these sessions.
Reconnecting with some amazing people, and socially drinking in camaraderie.
I used to live for those kinds of moments.
But as they say, the river flows.
I think my issue is I just don't want the good times to end.
It's not impossible for me to say no to a drink, and that's something I've honestly gotten much better at.
But once the alcohol gets in my system, I begin to crave it more and more, and begin to surrender to it.
Now that all of that is in the open, I would like to touch on some positives.
In the midst of this relapse, I was encouraged to do some research on ways I could find help.
I've been wanting to seek therapy again, but unfortunately it's very expensive, and I'm currently uninsured.
I was thrilled to find some local support groups.
I am not going to list them for the sake of confidentiality.
I began to attend them as I'm able, and I'm happy to say that they've been a huge help.
In this point of my recovery, I think it's very important to be a part of a community in which keeps you accountable.
In closing, I've heard time and time again, that you cannot make someone change.
That is a personal choice that one needs to make for themself.
I did not choose to go to the mental hospital
I did not choose to go to NIH
and I did not choose to be labeled as an alcoholic.
My actions have bestowed that label upon me, and that's something that I will have to accept.
Going forward I am choosing to strive to be better.
I could continue to pick apart and dissect my line of thinking until the cows come home.
To put it simply, I chose to give alcohol another shot, and now I'm choosing to get back on the wagon.
this time it is personal.
It's all a matter of finding balance, and that's something that takes time.
I'm fortunate to be a part of many positive communities.
I just need to find better ways to integrate them into my day to day life.
Having a better financial standing would help with that a lot...
But I guess the money will come whenever it does.
Just another piece to a much larger puzzle.
I count my blessings everyday, and I have faith that everything happens for a reason.
This new chapter of my life has been filled with many twists and turns.
But I'm confident I'll make it through, one day at a time.