I’m (not) OK, You’re OK

I think we all probably feel misinterpreted from time to time. I feel that way when I set limits as an alcoholic.

One of my personal limits involves how long I hang around after the point of no return with friends who are drinking. It gets loud, intense or sloppy and I’m uncomfortable. That’s when I start to look for a way home. I try to be subtle, find a handy escape route…a way off the party bus.

Gee, I’m tired works with people who know me. I’m usually tired at 6:30! Since serious drinking starts anytime after that, it’s an easy out. In fact no one will play cards with me after 7:00 in the evening because I just can’t think anymore– so I’m tired has the ring of truth to it.

Most of the people I love also love to drink. The only exception is my family and AA friends. My folks don’t and my son usually doesn’t. Many of my friends do. I used to end up in a lot of social situations with people drinking. I don’t mind if they drink at all. In fact, I’d prefer it, if that’s their habit. I don’t like being the center of attention, especially negative attention, as in We can’t drink because Heidi is going along. Whether someone drinks or not isn’t an issue for me. I always say, I don’t have a problem with you drinking, I have a problem with me drinking. It’s true.

The problem, for me isn’t whether they order alcohol or milk. It isn’t even something I usually pay much attention to, until things go over the line.

Some alcoholics don’t want to be around people drinking because it makes them want to drink. That’s not my issue. Honest? It makes me feel awful to remember my behavior when I had too much to drink.

Looking back

For me, going over the line happened when I would start to say things that normally, my sense of propriety would stifle, but alcohol loosened my inhibitions enough that I would say it anyway.And of course, when I was drinking I’d say it with a lot of feeling and without regret!

Or when the words start slurring, that’s going over the line. I remember trying so hard to say what seemed earth-shakingly profound and I just couldn’t get the right sincere dead-on tone, because I couldn’t talk right.

Going over the line is losing the fun and relaxed mood and charging into the confrontational battle zone. I remember so many times that I caused untold emotional pain and even fear in some cases. I’m a fighter and when I’ve had too much to drink, I’m ugly. I’ve thrown wine in faces, shattered bottles on sidewalks and walked out of motels in a snit to trying to get lost in the dark…my dark.

It’s painful to relive those thoughts. I hurt so many people. I caused so much suffering that it still bothers me to think about it. The flashbacks caused by someone else crossing the line just hurts too much to go there with them.