Happy Friday Folks!
Oh boy it’s here guys, the long awaited end of 2016 and what a fucking strange year it’s been. There are already plenty of articles talking about how many people we lost year, the implications of a Trump presidency and how relations between the US and Cuba will change with the death of Castro, and if the Cubs can take the World Series is that a good omen for the Blues in the Stanley Cup? (like did you even SEE the hat trick the other night?!)
However here I want to just reflect a little bit about my personal year (don’t worry, there is a comic this week) because as you can probably guess it has been a big year for me.
- I got accepted into Lancaster as an exchange student in March
- I got sober 25 April 2016
- I started Offbeat On point in May
- I got to live in one of my “Dream Neighborhoods” over the summer(1) (June – September)
- I ran my first half marathon (110 minutes) in July
- I moved to a new country (October)
- I got to meet my musical hero MC Chris (November)
- I got accepted into Lancaster as a degree seeking student (December)
- I celebrated my first Xmas away from home
Overall it’s been a good year but it hasn’t been with out struggle. Most of this year I’ve spent in one form or another of extreme isolation.
Before getting sober, this was my life:
Monday – Thrusday: School (12 credit hours), work (30 hours), drink alone at home until I couldn’t remember passing out(2).
Friday – Sunday: Friday I would work then go home and drink. Saturday and Sunday I would do 12 hours of homework each day then come home and drink.
I had no friends left and I sort of tried to make friends at work and school fell kinda flat for numerous reasons. After getting sober, school was out and I started working a lot more, got promoted to manager at the sandwich shop and got back an old job I had in light construction. Between the two jobs I was working 80-100 hour weeks, which has never never really been a problem for me because ever since high school I’ve kept a kinda manic schedule where I would be “on” for a few months to a year and “off” for a few months to a year (“on” = working and/or in school; “off” = unemployed and not in school or unemployed and in school) which is partly why I’m 28 and still working towards a bachelor’s degree. All of this considered, you can probably start to see why I didn’t have friends.
When I got here, I knew from pretty early on that I was going to spend winter holiday alone on campus and that isolation kind of scared me a lot. Like a lot a lot. The week before xmas was my first week alone here and I might have been alone but I felt so so loved because every single day I would wake up to a phone full of messages from friends who lived in my block and others from school (and the odd person from the states) texting me “Hey how’s Lancaster?” “How are you doing?” “What’s the weather like there?” and it would literally take me about an hour every day to respond to everyone(3). I’ve mentioned before that I feel the warmth of community here and that sense of community has really changed me. Not dramatically but it’s helped me heal quite a bit. It’s been a hard year for everyone but let’s not forget to take stock of the beautiful little moments that we’ve enjoyed this year.
Have a happy and safe New Years Eve, folks.
- I mentioned in a previous article about the Webster Groves area but basically it’s one giant botanical neighborhood just on the county/city line where people who make much more money than I ever hope to live but what gives me (a little) hope is the guy I was living with was the original editor and chief of a few small local news papers and he had a nice place. If that writer could make a good living, I can too (maybe).
- I could hold my own when in company, as in I could drink upwards of 30 drinks in a night and not vomit, but when you develop a long term drinking habit you start to experiment and see if you can get that nail that precise amount of alcohol to time ratio for the “daily ritual”. Mine was a 6 pack of beer, 3 nips (this is what we called airplane bottle shots, usually 1.5 floz/50mL), in the space of 3 hours. I had it down to a science because when you’re a functional alcoholic, having “leftovers” is a really bad idea because when you wake up: you already have booze and because of that I found it very very hard to get my day started. I needed to not have booze in the house so I could be motivated to get some work done and then walk to the shop for my “reward”. Also if you don’t have enough booze, woah that is like seriously the worst. Like you drink and drink then if you’re still awake and booze free then you’re at a conundrum: walk to the store and pray it’s not too late to buy booze (legal limit was 3am in St Louis but frequently grocery stores, they had the best prices, would shut down their booze isle by 1 or 1.30am) or try to tough it out. Guess what won most times. This set amount played deeply into the psychology of being in control. See I knew even if I ate, I’d pass out; I knew if I got this much, it would be enough and if I wanted leftovers I knew that I would need more; I also knew when to start drinking to be in bed by a certain time, I could even tell by texts and other time stamps precisely when I would black out and just about how long I was conscious before I actually fell asleep. All these things are important in the addict’s mind when trying to maintain the illusion of control because as long as you’re in control, you don’t have a problem.
- Taking so long is probably mostly my fault because I like to talk and my average text is probably 160-300 characters.