Sometime about 9 pm on October 5th twelve years ago I had my last drink, though I didn't know it at the time. I don't remember the next 5 hours. Well, i remember bits of it. I had been drinking pretty constantly for the month+ previous, since the school year began. I vaguely recall being passed out in the TV cave at Gault Hall, but the first thing I really remember is walking down the hallway on the ground floor in that building talking with a friend of mine. Not exactly a coherent conversation, but a discussion nonetheless. I abruptly excused myself as I had no idea what we were talking about, and went and found my bike so I could go home. Only I couldn't ride it. I walked home, using the bike for balance. I passed out for a while again at Karen's Old Fashioned Ice Cream which was about halfway home, where I worked and had a key. When I got home I called the Crisis Line of Moscow/Latah County. A suicide prevention hot line. I wasn't going to off myself, but it was the only number I knew that would be answered 24 hours a day.
Thus began 12 years of sobriety. I don't know why it stuck this time. I had tried to quit before. I had worse episodes. I didn't do anything right as far as sobriety goes for about 16 months, and I was in constant danger of drinking for a long time after that fateful day.
One of my biggest fears then was that I would never have any fun again. I had no idea how to do anything without drinking, and I had used it as a crutch to allow myself to be social. Without it I had a hard time talking to people. Without it I couldn't ask a girl to dance, or to do much of anything with the opposite sex. Most of my early relationships started as a drunk me and a drunk girl making out on a couch at some party.
I didn't start learning how to be social for another 2 years, and that was only because I met a group of people that pushed me and force included me in activities. I didn't start really feeling comfortable in my own skin until 5 or 6 years later, although even then (and still) I have bouts of anxiety. Even as late as this spring, I would hyperventilate at the though of asking a girl out. I've actually been able to ask out several women this summer with only a minimum of trepidation. Physical contact though still causes my heart to race.
It's about the only thing that makes me think of drinking. It was the purpose for which I originally started drinking, to quiet the jitters and be able to talk with women. I've been seeing a lot of one woman lately, and I'm sure you are wondering why I haven't kissed you. This is why. I come home and I think about how easy it would all be with a few shots of 151 under my belt. It's not going to happen though (the 151 that is).
It's taken me a lot of years and much self-examination to be able to live without alcohol. Perhaps it would have been easier with some counseling. I've tried that a few times. Never could find a psychologist who was more than marginally useful. I'm a thinker. I think a lot, too much. It makes it difficult for a counselor to help me, as I try to think my way through what they tell me. And I can't stop that. Most of them resort to exhortations to stop thinking. Doesn't work. You would think that somewhere along the line a psychologist would have thought of a technique that actually gets me to stop thinking my way through this crap. Anyway, sidetracked....
Twelve years to get to this point is like riding on the Juan de Fuca plate to get to China. One must have patience. I've developed a lot of it since then. I had none. Of course, I was 20. Twenty year old alcoholics don't typically have any patience.
So let's recap. Alcohol: none since 1990. Patience: lots. Social: little when sober then, but now lots. Women: couldn't even talk, now I can, but I still have some way to go. Psychologists: mostly useless to me. Fun: lots.
Conclusion, I'm going to celebrate tonight by getting really trashed at the Mercury. No, not really. But I do think I shall make a point to enjoy life and make contact with people tonight when I am out. As a celebration and a reminder of where I've come from. I'll take anyone on in pool. One thing I didn't include, is that I learned how to play pool as a consequence of no social skills while I was sobering up. I got reasonably good. So play me a game of pool....