The Second Jump

When I was a teenager, I had a fearless quality that escapes you once you become an adult, particularly a parent. You realize that any form of injury can mean the inability to work, which means the inability to pay bills and help with the kids and chores, which then makes you a burden on everyone.  I fear to be a burden.  You also realize that your body takes longer to heal and it doesn’t take much to get hurt.  When I was really little I played chicken with moving cars (let me not let you think this was highway speed limits but rather residential 15 mph zones.)  And as a teen, I used to jump off bridges and cliffs with friends during the summer in Washington State.  I remember the first jump being a whole lot easier than the second, nervous and full of adrenaline, showing off in front of friends, and not knowing how much it hurts when you smack the water.  Writing this entry I get the same anxiety as the second jump.  I know I can’t go diving into shallow waters.  This all has to be deep enough because I know how bad it can hurt if it isn’t.  One good thing is, it’s very doubtful that I can physically hurt myself writing this all out, but I can still achieve the rush of doing something daring so…WIN!

I’ve received some pretty incredible encouragement so far.  It’s motivation to keep honest and not self-criticize or over edit what I want to tell you.  One of my friends told me that she really thinks this will help her.  For her I will make this entry.  Mary Karr’s Memoirs inspired me the same way.

I cannot tell you how many times I sat up late in a running shower, drunk, and sobbing, and gurgling words out that I wouldn’t remember ever saying.  Always in the shower so I didn’t have to feel my tears, so they could get washed away as if they never were.  Did I actually cry?  Sometimes I don’t even know if I did.  Maybe I just imagined I did.  The very next morning I would turn over in bed and shamefully face my husband, who would give me a sweet “it’s okay” smile, and I would wonder how I could be so lucky that he put up with me for another night.  And then I would make promises to myself that today I wouldn’t drink.  Really, the only time I kept that promise was when I was so hungover from such a bender that even the thought of alcohol would make me sick.  There were many private episodes that resulted in me doing the “crazy laugh” at myself, paired with hysterical crying and then just flopping down on the bathroom floor, fetal and heaving.  While pathetic…it felt good to let it out, as most cries do, and I would feel better. I developed deserving reasons to drink varying from shitty days, rewarding days, National Corn Dog Day (not kidding)…anything.  You may think that 3 drinks isn’t too bad, though pushing it since we’re talking about vodka martinis, or a couple beers with a whiskey chaser (and I can’t remember if I considered the beer/chaser combo as one drink or two)…regardless, I always had red wine when I got home.  While my family knew I was “unwinding” they didn’t know I was absolutely LIT by the time I got home.  And because I was lit, I would “only” drink 1/2 to 3/4 of a bottle of wine when I was home leaving a bit for the next day.  I was so proud of myself when there was wine leftover.  It’s these “accomplishments” that make me so much more proud of the actual accomplishments I am able to achieve now as a sober person.

I had admitted to my husband a couple of times that I felt that I drank too much.  He said he didn’t think so.  Initially I would feel so relieved that I didn’t need to change anything about my drinking.  But deep down it made me feel more crazy.  Was I making this all up?  Was I just needy, begging for his attention?  Does he just not give a shit? I know San Francisco is a pretty boozy town and we drank for any occasion anyone could come up with but, incidentally, I’m pretty sure he was getting tired of me stumbling in after hours of “unwinding” then incoherently bitching him out for all the feelings I’d been suppressing, and most likely foaming at the mouth.  I don’t know, like I said, I blacked out all the time.  He was sometimes able to identify what kind of booze I had been drinking by the level of anger I was exuding.  Whiskey= waking him up, agitated, long-winded slurring, dark, emotional. *cringe* Tequila=frisky, talkative and excitable.  Beer=coming home really late because it took longer to get drunk, feeling ugly and bloated with a chance that I peed behind a car and got some on myself.  Wine=self-loathing and wanting to be left alone, my favorite.  *note: any of the above when consumed in a large abundance would result in Whiskey drinking behavior.

I can’t say I had a rock bottom.  There wasn’t an amass of friends who formed an intervention to help me back into the world of actually living life for real. Before I decided to break-up with the bottle I wrote a letter to my oldest friend’s mother, who has been sober for over 25 years, confessing that I think I am an alcoholic.  That was the first time I actually identified myself as such.  It was incredibly scary and she was incredibly supportive.  Just a couple of months after I wrote her, I was pregnant with my son.  I wish I could tell you I didn’t drink at all while pregnant because I did.  I drank a glass of wine a night and I savored every last drop.  After he was born I supplemented with formula more often than I thought I would because it was more important for me to not face the issues that I had been ignoring for a few years, which was a growing disconnect with my husband.  My son was not a bandaid baby.  As in, we didn’t have him to bring us back together.  He happened and I was happy to have him.  But my pregnancy didn’t bring my husband and I closer and I mentally prepared myself to be a single mom.  By thinking this way, I created more distance from husband and built up the resentment that was already forming into walls inside myself.

One of my biggest fears in life is to live with resentment and to let that build into a fortress surrounding me until there’s no way to get in and no way to get out.  I feel my mother experienced this and it was painful to watch her shrink away from any sort of light and fall deep into the dark.  I try to let go as often as I can.  I do feel I am capable of getting swallowed up by the past until all I see in the future are my memories.  Children are more keen to this type of behavior than anyone.  They may not know what is happening or understand why you’re so down or so far removed but, they know that you are some place sad and consuming.  I remember walking tenderly around my mother when she had episodes of brooding hopelessness.  I tried to have no reason to upset her or cause her more grief.  I have witnessed this from my own daughter on a couple of occasions and broke down immediately into tears when her eyes reflected the same little girl I was around my mom.  Every parent has moments that are not their best moments, believe me, I have had some doozies.  But, those concerned, wise-beyond-her-years, how can I not make this worse for you eyes are the eyes that I can see myself the most.  A child’s eyes are the most honest in the world, especially when they’re your child’s.

11 comments

  1. janglerie · August 1, 2014

    I saw that you posted this right before I put everything away to go to sleep. I tried not to wonder how you would breath life into the world tonight. I lasted 30 minutes…yep, pretty proud of that.

    I’m torn on what track I want my response to take; part encouragement, part sharing so you know you’re not alone and part of me simply wants to continue to strengthen the connection. I’ll try to practice moderation (kinda suck at moderation though).

    I can relate, although I started drinking and doing drugs early and at such a feverish pace I screamed for mercy before my 18th birthday. The damage I had done to myself emotionally, spiritually and practically (from a string of horrible choices) almost seems surreal. The genesis for me was my mother’s death when I was 12. Even after I gave it all up, I continued to make horrible choices and had years of consequences. Luckily, almost all of the damage was to myself. At least I know I can fix that. It was over 20 years before I touched alcohol again and I even found a way to make NOT drinking a problem (more about that later). So anyway, point being I can relate.

    As for the second jump, thank you. You continue to make choices today that are helping me see what courage looks like in human form. I’ve had a somewhat tough life with lots of pain and I’m strong as a fucking ox on steroids…but I still have blind spots, fears and vulnerabilities. The things I fear today are usually things I don’t know how to do or can’t rely on my intelligence to get me through. So watching, reading, connecting with you and others like you are helping to do two things; one by being an example of HOW to follow my own path and the other is by being an example and allowing others to experience you walk forward into the face of your fears or just not accepting less than what you deserve. I need examples of people who want to operate at a higher level of honesty, humility, strength; the kind that had an ability to walk through scary doors because they aren’t willing to stay safe inside the locked basement.

    I think I need 16 hours instead of 6 so maybe 2 pots of stale, black coffee.

    • Ricecracker Pop · August 1, 2014

      Lucky for you I’m a talker and a coffee lover and probably could talk for 16 hours. But what I’m really trying to do when I’m with people is listen more. The best part about being a pretty open person is it makes people want to tell me all about themselves. There is so much to learn. You’re welcomed to tell me anything you want .

  2. Roseann · August 1, 2014

    I really admire your strength and honesty, and have for as long as I have known you. You have such a beautiful heart and soul and it is a privilege to read your words. Thank you for sharing. I know you have the capacity to help a lot of people. Hugs, mama.

    • Ricecracker Pop · August 1, 2014

      I appreciate your support, Roseann. You’ve always been a cheerleader for me, for whatever reason and I thank you for being such a wonderful “woman’s woman.” I can tell the women in your life are strong, open-minded, influential people that I see in you as well.

      • Roseann · August 2, 2014

        I’ve always thought of myself as a “guy’s girl” but you’re totally right. Maybe that’s who I used to be and this is who I’ve become. Isn’t it wonderful that people change?

  3. diseasedbobcat · August 1, 2014

    I feel like you are writing about me here. Maybe it’s the relative anonymity, but reading your words, especially on the subject of alcohol, relationships, and parenting, is providing me with an opportunity to reflect on my own life and the vices that continue to dominate and diminish my existence.

    I have always had trouble engaging with life in a sober state of mind. By habit, I am prone to desire to live in an altered state of mind. It was fun as a teenager, but quickly became the central activity I was most interested in.

    Now, at 32 years old with a wife and two children, I don’t drink because it’s fun; I drink because it is an easy way for me to feel to disappear. I am a brooding person by nature and habitually self-loathing. I am self destructive and part of me knows that I am consumed by grief, bitterness, and sadness. It’s dark and cold inside my internal world and I just want to numb it out.

    I am embarrassed of myself; I feel such anxiety when taking out the recycling every week. It’s nothing but empty cans and bottles. It makes so much noise – the clanking of bottles against each other. I look at the recycling and I don’t really know why I am consuming so much. All of those empties are in my body, which is doing what it can to process it, but it’s getting more and more difficult.

    My wife confronted me the other day because, unless I have to go to work, I never get up in the morning to spend time with her and the kids. She said that I don’t seem to care about my family. That was really hard to hear because it’s just not true. But, how do I show it except for drinking until the wee hours of the morning and then passing out until the following afternoon?

    I feel like my existence is a burden to others, and all I want is to leave the world without having made a footprint. Every day that I am alive I feel like I am destroying something beyond myself, and I realize the toxic and perpetual spiral I have been sinking into. I have only ever suggested that I may be an alcoholic to one other person in my life; an older acquaintance of mine, who himself was a recovering alcoholic 20 years sober. I sent him a Facebook message a few years ago, while I was completely drunk and losing it. I asked him what I should do. He never responded and I never brought it up again.

    So, I guess this forum of semi-anonymity and your courage to speak about your own life has given me a chance to safely, at arm’s length, tell someone else that I think I may be an alcoholic. A functional alcoholic, but an alcoholic nonetheless.

    Thank you for providing a place for me to put that out there. Maybe this is my first jump.

    Bob

    • Ricecracker Pop · August 1, 2014

      I think I understand your moniker now, “DiseaedBobCat.” You write beautifully, it feels like that quite possibly felt good to say what you said. I’m not going to offer you any advice, I don’t think I have any. I have a feeling that’s not what you’re looking for anyway. Surely your loved ones and friends have been giving you plenty of it, if not then just pleading with you passive-aggressivley. The nicest thing about feeling like an asshole and then telling someone that you feel like one, is how open and nonjudgmental you become once you’ve said it. When I’m self-loathing and “in it” or “on one” I tend to judge others and feel bitter and jealous about what others have, thinking that they are where they are because all their fortune was handed to them. Sometimes I feel I don’t deserve to feel so horribly about myself because I don’t really have it as bad as some people. But it’s all relative. In the end, it would all just be excuses to justify why I was going to keep drinking or doing the thing that I deep down wish I would stop doing.
      I started to get so tired of myself. So tired of my life. I was beginning to not feel anything and that’s what scared me the most. I will write about this more on my blog (I haven’t quite figured out how to outline everything to where I’m at the point where I’m just writing about what’s going on daily…) But, any time I feel like there’s a substance that I want to lean on to numb me from my feelings, i remember how close I was to feeling nothing at all. My mother told me when I was 13 that she didn’t care about us. Didn’t care at all. That’s the worst thing a mother could ever do to her child, not care. I would have rather she beat the shit out of me because at least I know that took some effort. I couldn’t be that to my kids. I couldn’t be that to myself. It wasn’t too late to take the beating I needed to feel to start feeling again. Right now I am apparently, “dry drunk,” as my friend who’s in AA put it. Meaning, I went to 3 meetings when I first stopped drinking and haven’t gone to any since. I’ve been doing this completely on my own which has kept me sober but not necessarily in a great place. I’m still needing something. Again, so much to touch on< as far as needs< that will somehow makes its way onto my blog…I think. This blog is sort of my "steps." The only reason I don't go to AA is because I'm reluctant to be institutionalized, set in a way. It's where I was when I was drinking. So instead, my share is for everyone. My husband may or may not be okay with this. I felt this sense of embarrassment coming off him when he read it. He said I just wish I could understand this and connect with you. Maybe because he wasn't aware of all this and he's learning about me for the first time like everyone else. Or, most likely, he feels its a reflection of himself and his failings, which it isn't but that's just how he tends to react. And while I wish he could connect with me, too, I'm connecting with a lot of people who seem to need this as well. And that's something.

      • diseasedbobcat · August 1, 2014

        You’re right: it did feel good to get that off my chest. So much so, that I had to re-type it all because my phone crashed before I could hit “submit”. I guess I felt it was important enough to at least hear myself acknowledge what I already knew, even if it was buried in me.

        It’s a little daunting to see someone you love privately struggle with something, and perhaps even more so when you were unaware how deep the struggle goes. I’ve tried to communicate with my wife about the “basement” of my heart, but it’s hard to connect when she can’t understand the mental and emotional landscape inside me. That’s my battle to own. And the last thing I want is for that battle to spill out onto her or my children. It’s not their fault.

        Anyway, I don’t want to spew anymore than I already have. I can do that on my own blog 😉

  4. janglerie · August 2, 2014

    The debate about alcoholic / non-alcoholic will go on forever. In my circumstances, I was utterly miserable. I looked around and saw a few other miserably people get carted off to rehab and come back at peace. I thought, I drink and do drugs, maybe that can be me. So I announced to my dad that I was an alcoholic and demanded to go to rehab. I did end up going to AA for years but I don’t anymore and I actually drink these days. What I learned was that I didn’t have the exact same characteristics that other alcoholics had. For example, alcoholics tend to learn something and then promptly forget, only to have to learn it all over again. This cycle is never ending and needs constant vigilance…hence the daily meetings, affirmations, etc. When I learned something it tended to stick for the most part. So what I eventually realized was that my misery resulted from a life without parenting, without being taught how to live, how to love, to fight, to grieve. I wasn’t told if who I was was okay, whether I was good or bad. All of these determinations I had to make for myself. It didn’t turn out well.

    The point being, ‘dry drunk’ implies a willful or neglectful refusal to seek things that make you whole and happy. If that’s you, great. Take the information and do something with it. Although, it could simply be that you are searching for those things I was, basic instructions to life. It’s all about motive. There’s more than one way to find education and more than one answer to every question. An honest appraisal of motives at regular intervals should sort that out. The rest is about keeping your eyes open to accept the truths that life presents at every turn. Not dissimilar to the example of life presenting you to me. It’s all good.

    When in doubt, look at any photo of yourself with your kids. Look deep past their eyes into their soul. Then do the same when you look into your own eyes. See the intense similarity? You have the same goodness, purity, kindness, worth and love. That’s how you know you’re on the right track.

    • Hop Dad · August 5, 2014

      “When in doubt, look at any photo of yourself with your kids. Look deep past their eyes into their soul. Then do the same when you look into your own eyes. See the intense similarity? You have the same goodness, purity, kindness, worth and love. That’s how you know you’re on the right track.”

      I read this quote several times, eventually copying it into a blank document and saving it amid my other dad writings. Now I need to figure out why.

  5. Ricecracker Pop · August 2, 2014

    I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to use this for my third entry. Coming soon.

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