I’m not sure what my lowest point was. Emotionally, spiritually? It was in the weeks leading up to the day I quit, when I felt like some external force was making me drink. When I felt like I was under a rock and would never get out. But just in terms of danger, of risk, of embarrassment, all that stuff? There are just so many to choose from.
I mean, look. I admit I had what they call a “high bottom.” No DUIs, graduated from Ivy League schools, never got fired from my high-powered, high-paying job(s), never lost a relationship that was important to me. I mean, I was really good at keeping my drinking a secret. It was fucking hard, but I don’t think many people knew I had a problem. Maybe just Andrew, actually, although I think even he was surprised when I told him I had to quit. In the later years, once I turned 30, I was careful only to do my really absurd drinking at home.
But when I was younger, dude, I could DRINK. One friend of mine, who I’m pretty sure is also an alcoholic, said to me, laughing, some 10 years after college, “You used to drink SO MUCH.” It startled me. Yeah, I drank, but so did everyone else, right? Right? On the flip side, I was hanging out with some law school friends last summer, and someone made a comment about how much we all used to drink but how none of us were really alcoholics. I remember thinking, speak for yourself. And then I drank some more.
Anyway, here is just a sampling of the lower moments. I want to save other lows to revisit when I feel myself getting complacent in my sobriety.
-Driving back to to my suburban hometown after attending a rave-ish weekly party (hey, it was the 90s, technically) in The City. I was in my teens and really drunk, and I think I had taken half a pill of ecstacy. I had two friends in my car, and I literally could not see the road. I remember running a red light almost getting hit. I remember not having the faintest idea where I was. I think I turned the wrong way down a one-way street. Being a suburban kid, I didn’t know The City that well. I finally realized I couldn’t be driving and pulled into abandoned-seeming parking lot of a hospital. We slept for a few hours and then made it home.
-Housesitting for a friend’s mother and having a huge party. Getting wasted and almost losing the dog. Getting the police called because of the noise; having to explain to my friend’s mother why a friend of mine had been arrested in front of her house, drunk and naked.
-Getting alcohol poisoning in France. Nearly getting kidnapped by a taxi driver until my friend pulled me out of the car. (The driver was trying to pull me in.) Throwing up approximately 20 times the next day, as we drove from point A to point B.
-In high school, drinking a huge bottle of wine with my friend while my parents were out to dinner. We were ostensibly going to a party that night, but we got too wasted and I threw up – a lot. We heard my parents come home, so I put my friend out the window and pretended to be asleep.
-Going out for drinks for my 21st birthday. Getting trashed and going home with a guy I had just met. My boyfriend came over that night to give me flowers and heard me having sex with someone else through my dorm room door.
-Getting completely trashed in college and taking a taxi home. Throwing up in the cab. Offering to pay for cleaning before realizing I had lost my wallet (which happened all the time). Promising the cab driver I’d be right down with the money but running into the dorm and passing out instead.
-Other embarrassing sexual misalliances that I don’t even want to talk about.
-Being high on cocaine at really inappropriate times during law school: meeting my partner’s dad for the first time, attending a job reception thing where I had to make (super high) small talk with potential employers, taking an oral exam in a Spanish class at 8 a.m., mentoring and preparing students in the class I TAed for their moot courts, while high. Not to mention stealing drugs from friends, literally picking up drugs off the floor, meeting a dealer in the sketchiest of sketchy places. Etc. etc. Cocaine probably deserves its own post here.
-More recently, buying a bottle of wine to hide in my suitcase during my last two visits to my parents’ house. After having a glass or two of wine with dinner, hiding in my room with a paper cup from the bathroom and drinking my hidden bottle.
-Worrying the last time I had a houseguest before I quit drinking. Hiding a bottle in my room to drink after my guest went to bed.
That’s Part I, off the top of my head. And I wondered whether I really needed to quit.