Drinking, a Blog Story

by Marinka on November 11, 2012

I am trying something new. I have no idea if it’ll work. I’m trying to be more genuine on my blog, STOP ROLLING YOUR EYES, and write about what’s on my mind and in my heart and in various other organs, even if it isn’t funny. This is Part One of the story of my life with alcohol. The honest truth (as opposed to the lie-flecked truth) is that I have the outline for Part Two, but I haven’t touched Part Three yet, because I simply don’t know what it’ll be. And I have no timeline for posting it, other than when it feels right. Cliffhanger. I realize that this has the potential for being annoying and disappointing. If you feel that way, take a number. Thank you for letting me do this.

I had a boyfriend, a long time ago, and he was an alcoholic. It was exciting that he was my boyfriend because he was handsome and nice and my parents liked him, but the alcoholic part was, I won’t lie to you, a pain in the ass.

His alcoholism was different from the type I’d known from my childhood. Like Alexander, my parents’ friend, who lived down the hall from us in the Bronx in the early 1980s. One night there was a fire in our apartment building and when my parents and I went to knock on his door to alert him and his family to get out, he insisted that we have a drink for the road (down the three flights of stairs). My parents demurred; he brought the vodka, Smirnoff, I think, with him and huddled with it as the Fire Department did what they needed to do.

My boyfriend wasn’t like that.

He was a sober alcoholic, in recovery, but as I learned early one, once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. I was just out of college, working at my first job in NYC and we were dating and happy and everything was great but also sort of going nowhere and even though I loved him early on I knew that I couldn’t bear to listen to the stories about his sobriety anymore. Back then I was pretty much at the take it or leave it stage in my relationship with alcohol. I liked a good beer in high school (I went to one of those schools where students and faculty would often drink together after classes), gin and tonic in college and wine in my newly adult life, but alcohol at that point wasn’t a character in my narrative. But it was in my boyfriend’s.

He talked about alcoholism a lot, the relationship he had with his sponsor was significant (I met him and his wife on multiple occasions) he talked about what it was like to drink, in the past. Together we spent a lot of time with people in recovery, and I quickly learned that everyone had a story, sometimes more than one, about why they did not drink. And although the stories varied, there was always the showcase one, the verbal money shot, that involved a wild night of partying, the stuff that I imagine The Hangover is made of, of passing out and vomiting, and sleeping it off for days, and remembering exactly who was there, and laughter. There was always laughter. For my boyfriend, terrifyingly, it also involved a night of trying to outrun a subway train in the tunnel and then ducking to the side so that the train could pass, but to preserve my own sanity I always assumed the story was exaggerated. What I do remember about these stories, many of which I’d heard multiple times, was how fun they sounded. And how nostalgic everyone seemed when remembering. Wistful, almost.

There were darker stories, too, of course, of parents at their wits’ end, of academic failure, pumped stomachs, college dropouts, months in rehab, stunted development. But even those seemed tinged with glamour, of a life lived hard, albeit for no particular reason.

I was spending more and more time with people in “recovery.” They weren’t people I necessarily liked nor were they people who had any interest in me once they learned that I was not a fellow traveler.

One December afternoon after a Bloody Mary brunch with my college girlfriend I joined my boyfriend for a party, celebrating his sponsor’s significant number of years of sobriety. I can’t remember how many. I had the warmth of the buzz as I walked into a dark room where people were sipping Sprite and eating pretzels. If there was music, my memory muted it. My boyfriend greeted me and I knew he smelled vodka on my breath. He introduced me to a few people, some of whom he met only an hour before I got there. “How much time do you have?” one of them asked me. “Not quite 30 minutes,” I said, pseudo-checking my watch. I was all in for an evening of sympathetic nodding but I wasn’t going to pretend to be one of them. No one thought it was funny. I was the drunk girl in the room. Except I wasn’t. I had two Bloody Marys and a hamburger and I was happy.

My boyfriend and I had an unpleasant conversation that night. He thought it was insensitive of me to have had a drink before showing up, I didn’t see what the BIG FUCKING DEAL was. I was all bold caps and he was all italics. We both knew what we were dancing around, though. He wanted me to say that I didn’t think alcoholism was a real disease. He wanted me to say that I thought the people who were there just didn’t know how to hold their liquor or say when. And I delivered.

Because I totally did think that.

I didn’t think that alcoholism was a disease, I didn’t think alcoholism could descend on someone and ravage them the way cancer, or multiple sclerosis or schizophrenia or depression did, while they were minding their own business. In my mind, alcoholism required complicity. You had to have that drink and you had to keep drinking. You had to not give a shit about your bullshit high school term paper or the PSATs, the SATs, anything that required you to fill in the bubbles, college tours, college interviews, college applications. “While you were getting high and partying with your glamorous friends, I was reading about Hester-fucking-Prynne,” I yelled at him one night, convinced he was responsible for my high school wallflower- loser status. He didn’t say anything.

We broke up, of course we did. He was my starter post-college boyfriend, we were not meant to last. So that should have been the end of that particular chapter, but of course that’s not how things work.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him
Twitter:
November 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I’ve been here. The partner to someone with a problem. And, being a non-drinker myself, I just don’t get it. And I need to because it is an impulse and craving that cripples so many.

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K-Line November 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Ooh, I’m intrigued. Want to see where this series is going…

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Awesome dude November 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm

It is difficult, indeed, to form rewarding and mutually beneficial relationship with alcohol.

Over 80% of my male graduate school mates are dead or crippled for a very long time because of it.

Alex died over 15 years ago.

But yet, it is eldest sedative and social lubricant known to men and it is socially acceptable and a part of the western culture.

All the gastroenterologists laughing at people having chronic heartburn, but they cannot persuade them to stop drinking coffee.

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Mama D November 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I guess it all comes down to what you do when life presents you a choice, and how strong you are in that moment. I don’t understand the compulsion to drink myself, but I’ve been around enough people who’ve repeatedly made self-destructive choices that I’ve learned that nobody other than the affected person can change their behavior!

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Deb November 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I’m intrigued, too.

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Karen November 11, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I’m anxiously awaiting the next chapter too!

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Nicole
Twitter:
November 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm

I’ve seen first hand the genetic link in alcoholism. I did marry a recovering alcoholic/drug addict, 26 years now. He quit AA, however (went to a number of NA meetings) as they first seemed to trade their alcohol addiction for smoking and coffee drinking, and were vehement in how they expected their members to behave. They were told never to hang out with anyone who drank. He chose to keep his relationships with friends who could drink in a healthy way, and continued to go to bars to listen to music without a problem. A former boyfriend was similar – gave it up himself, but had no problem using his knowledge to order me up some hashish in Amsterdam. I admit is was a little odd that both times I went to Paris I was with guys who could not drink. We’ve been very open with our kids, so that when they are older and decide they want to drink we at least a hope that they are aware and mitigate the risks. I do hope they do not inherit the “gene” or whatever, as his family is sort of split in who can have a few drinks and be fine, and who has a problem.

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Peajaye
Twitter:
November 11, 2012 at 8:45 pm

“Stop Drinking Now” is what your top advertiser from Ad Choices is telling me right now in the sidebar.

I think the discussion of nuance and one-size-does-not-fit-all is more important today than ever. Great post.

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the mama bird diaries
Twitter:
November 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

What happens next?
I’m very close to a few alcoholics. I have no idea if it’s a disease but boy can it fuck up your life.

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anna see November 11, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I am intrigued about where this is going.

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Alexandra November 11, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Hooked.

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Alexandra November 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm

You got me.

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Alexandra November 11, 2012 at 11:40 pm

I am going to keep posting comments here until the next part.

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Alexandra November 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Even with WordPress trying to stop me with its “Slow down! You’re commenting too fast.”

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Mom Off Meth November 12, 2012 at 12:36 am

Bravo. This is awesome. Sharing this helps people.

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Leigh Ann
Twitter:
November 12, 2012 at 1:02 am

I like it. Not the part about you being with an alcoholic, but you trying something new. Looking forward to more.

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MsC November 12, 2012 at 2:39 am

Can we have the next instalment soon? Really want to know what happened next!

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Lady Jennie November 12, 2012 at 6:49 am

Ooh I’ll be really curious for the next segment. Not annoying at all. I like people who are blunt and funny and say what they really think.

I don’t drink anymore – I went through alcohol recovery in a church program and I like my life just fine this way without my kids ever seeing me drunk (because they probably would at one point or another). It helps a lot that my husband doesn’t drink either for my sake so that it’s almost a non-issue even living in France. Well, mostly. Sometimes I want to lose myself in a dark and smoky bar.

But I realized from reading Heather’s blog that I never really talked about it on my blog. I think I’m more comfortable talking about the tragedies which happened to me (poor me) than the inane things I did all on my own. A little less glamorous. But then – who am I kidding anyway with this glamor thing?

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Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes November 12, 2012 at 7:17 am

anxiously awaiting the rest of the story

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dusty earth mother November 12, 2012 at 8:48 am

My father was an alcoholic and caused himself and my family endless misery–the poor guy. As someone who is in constant battle with an addictive personality (now i’m talking about me), I am very interested in this story and I think it’s great that you’re on this writing path. Besides, even in your most “serious” posts, there’s always at least one laugh-out-loud line, so face it, it’s just in your blood.

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Gdot November 12, 2012 at 8:49 am

You know what? I kinda like you even more now.
Almost all of my regrets in life involve alcohol. But then I have LOTS of funny memories that involve it too. Weird.
Right on. Write on. ( lame I know. But I havent had a drink yet)

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tracey November 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

And I thought you were on a blogging road bump? Or was it just a humor bump? Because this was good, babe. Now finish it!

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Becky
Twitter:
November 12, 2012 at 9:28 am

Keep writing. Because — I’m sure — like many others, I’ll keep reading. It’s your voice we need. Funny or not.

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Heather
Twitter:
November 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Thank you for trusting your readers enough to share the hard stories, too. You don’t have to be funny all the time. I’ll keep reading.

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Keryn November 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I love this!

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Cy
Twitter:
November 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm

A good writer is a good writer, funny stuff or not. <That is not an example, btw.

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Roshni November 13, 2012 at 2:04 am

Waiting for more!! So glad you’re trying this out!! :))

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deborah l quinn
Twitter:
November 13, 2012 at 2:12 am

If you’re a person who uses words, you can use them in all kinds of way. And humor–if you’re a person who uses humor–that’s gonna be there too. Alcoholism…ah, that’s a good one, right? Because the stories, even the bleak ones, can be laced with sarcasm & irony & self-deprecating, lacerating wit. I come from a whole big slew of relatives who can do just that. It’s taken a long, long time for me to separate the “good storyteller” part from the “fucked up your life” part. But because those genes are roaming in my own blood (probably carrying cocktails), I get really worried when I find myself wondering if it’s time for that ONE glass of wine. It’s usually only one glass, but thinking about it, starting in the late afternoon? NOT a good thing…
Your story has us all hooked, now, lady…

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RebeccaNYC November 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

Love this.

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The Flying Chalupa
Twitter:
November 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I liked this a lot, Marinka. Alcoholism is big in my family tree. No fun, no siree. Can’t wait to read the next installment.

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christy November 15, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Please don’t leave us hanging. This is totally gripping, and I can see it in your book.

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Nelly
Twitter:
November 17, 2012 at 8:39 am

Inquiring minds…

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