Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The State of Sobriety

Mr. Wax had many much more important goals to accomplish today than journaling, but when an overwhelming feeling came over him this morning, he set out to post his thoughts online. It had just been too long; a month and a half, almost two months since he’d posted anything really revealing. So, he promised himself to commit to one post per day, six days per week (on the seventh day, this bloGod™ would rest). Heaven knows, as well as his PDA, he’s built up enough material to write about.
          It’s been just over four and a half months since Without Wax has had a drink of alcohol. His feelings about this accomplishment are mixed, but mostly he thinks it’s not a great deed. He’s had a lot of help along the way. What’s helped has been the typically recommended support, like a healthy minded sponsor (that would be Stewart L.), fun and friendly meetings (Mar League), and a sober environment (The House) to which if you relapse, you’ll have severe consequences. What really worries Wax is how he’ll respond to relapsing out in the real world. His job really had a major impact on his lack of sobriety last time, so this too will be looked at closely.
          Suffering from wet-brain for the first three months of sobriety has caused him to avoid writing his thoughts out, since they hadn’t come as clearly as they did last time two years ago. Thoughts of readership dropping off had actually influenced the mind of Mr. Wax, not typically an admitted motivation for blogging. We miss your comments. Feeling afraid of journaling web-brained non-sense kept his from really wanting to document this clearly embarrassing stage in his recovery. Not feeling clear headed enough to ambiguously express his thoughts in words was not a major motivation. Not knowing if and when it would end scared the shit out of him.
          Using dreams for him have been more entertainment lately than cause for anxiety. He clearly remembered that buying a $7.99 0.75 liter traveler’s bottle of vodka would cost him exactly $8.75 with the extra 2-1/2% liquor tax added to the already 7% state sales tax. These are normal calculations Without Wax would go through when unemployed and broke in order not to embarrass himself at check-out. Even though his favorite liquor store regularly caters to such drunks, he still didn’t want to tarnish what little of his reputation he had left, as if he’s leaving his options open for future employment or something. One such local (within walking distance) liquor store actually refused him at the door after drunkenly slipping on ice across the street. He showed him: next time he attempted to buy liquor there he dressed in his best suite and approached from the side of the building. He was treated with respect, unlike the way he treated his expensive suite by stripped it off as soon as he arrived home, just to get that first drink down. When he woke he’d realized there was no need to budget since he had enough money for a large bottle of his favorite Jack Daniels.
          Housemates come and go with varying reasons. They all come to get sober, but we soon learn that’s not the most important thing for many inmates…err, residents here at The House. Speaking openly of embarrassing reasons to stay sober is at a premium here; for that you must find a good outside meeting. Many residents relapse and come clean, get on two weeks restriction and become resentful. This is one consequence that Wax would wane gracefully. So many other consequences keep him sober: June W.’s disappointment, sponsor’s grilling, homelessness, and the sheer falling from grace. The one thing he can really appreciate now is that consequence factor into his decision not to drink; this never happened before because, frankly, not many people cared. When asked bluntly if she cared about him, June’s response was hesitant, and less sincere than he’d expected. She said she loved him, but isn’t ‘in love’ with him any more. That wasn’t the answer he was hoping for.
          Darla V. was an experiment in futility. Can Wax seduce a woman half his age and get her to move in with him? Sure, if she a pot head.

Sleep all day, out all night
I know where you're goin'
I don't think that's actin' right
You don't think it's showin'

-- Funk #49 by Joe Walsh

          Darla would get home at 4:00am and sleep until her shift the next day at 10:00am, or for twelve hours if she had no work that day. The first thing she’d do once she woke was make her morning call for ‘trees’, her anti-police slang for marijuana, like they wouldn’t know. It was the most important thing to her, to get high, priority #1. That’s when you can tell someone’s truly addicted. Having someone like that in my life was safe for me to use. Her car was car-jacked at gunpoint when she was in an area she was not supposed to be looking to drugs from dangerous people. Shit like that doesn’t happen to people normally. She’d constantly park her car in a tow-away zone and have her dad pay hundreds of dollars to get it out of impound. When Wax told her he was being evicted and checking himself back into treatment, she was the only one in his life who wasn’t proud of him. In fact, she gave him a look like, ‘rehab’s for losers.’ He wasn’t too concerned that she too would have to find some where else to live, but then she never contributed to rent even when it was necessary. She won’t be missed.
          To him, she was confirmation of his masculinity and sexual prowess; that he could seduce a woman half his age. Never mind that he’d never done so fully present, neither him nor her. When he picked her up at Hunan Garden that night, he bought her Long Island Ice Teas while he drank club soda. He remembers feeling this power he’d never experienced before, making advances sober, considering many alternative ways to pursue this chance encounter and calmly, wisely choosing just the right thing to do or say…and remembering it the next day. When she stumbled off her barstool, he’d sensibly convinced her to allow him to drive her car home. It relieved him of the guilt of getting her too drunk to drive, but shifted the burden on him. Not having a valid driver’s license caused his heart to jump into his throat when he passed a cop car going the opposite way. Just as he noticed the cop, she’d asked him to make an illegal U-turn. This is how many DUI occur: someone drunk gives bogus directions and the driver obliges. Had he been drinking as well, he’d have violated probation and her car would be impounded. She was most likely carrying, so she might have been arrested too.
          There’s a simple way to avoid all this clatter and cutter and ridiculous ritual: just do the right thing. That’s what he’s decided on doing from now on.
          Although his sponsor doesn’t give much credit to Rubik, his cube has had a profound influence on his pre-employment days. Even before the fog of wet-brain cleared, in his first two weeks of sobriety, he’d remembered how to solve the 3x3x3. It took him a while to recall all the moves from childhood, but when it came back, it was like a flood. Solutions 8 – 10 minutes at first, but his personal best of just under two minutes was his ultimate goal. After achieving this, he was hampered by both the speed of the cube itself and the tedious solution he’d memorized. The latter is something he’s working on with help from the Web, but as for speeding the cube, he located several Web sites, Instructables being one of them, that had given conflicting ways to clean, lubricate, and in general speed up the cube. Today he’s come up with what he thinks is the best solution so far: disassemble the cube, sand all surfaces with 400 sand paper, spray with Teflon silicon lubricant, and let it dry several hours. His personal best was 1:34, but now it’s down to 1:24 and dropping; and that’s only because he’s not used to how loose it is. Suffice to say, it has been a tremendous source of confidence for him…and a wonderful conversation starter to boot. However, he’s having second thoughts about bring it on an interview next time…he doesn’t think it helped.
          Diabetes has been a major concern for Without Wax. He’s still surprised that after all the damage he’s done to his organs (liver, kidneys, spleen, etc.), there isn’t more damage. He’s not diabetic, not yet. He’s been diagnosed prediabetic, which means his glucose levels are high, but not high enough to be considered diabetic; so he’s borderline diabetic. If treated like type II diabetes, he’ll avoid becoming diabetic. That means eating less, avoiding complex carbohydrates, and exercising. It could be managed by taking diabetic medicine, like Metformin. But, if he can avoid such medicine by doing the other things, he’ll lift a large burden from his liver, since it has to work overtime. How Metformin works is not fully understood, but it is the most prescribed drug in the United States. It often causes gas. He is now seeing a primary provider doctor who has not decided on medicine just yet, but wants him to loose 50 pounds.
          What’s important to him is that he’s healthy enough to still donate plasma. He’s been going way out of his way to donate in the suburbs. It takes a full six hours out of his day, twice a week; something he wouldn’t be able to do once employed. But now that his doctor has cleared him for plasma donation, he’s off the deferred list at City Plasma. One of the nurses there, Rehan N., really has it out for him; she swears someone once heard him talking about living in a sober house. Being an alcoholic or addict excludes you from donating plasma. He believes that being an alcoholic is an anonymous affair and none of their business. And she basically believes he’s lying to her, which he is, but can’t prove it. All the other nurses really take a liking to him; he uses this to hit on them. This is dangerous on several levels: he really shouldn’t start a relationship, but most of all not with an employee of City Plasma who could discover he’s living in a sober facility, which would end his plasma donation probably everywhere. He donates for three important reasons: $260/month, his health and sobriety, and the service commitment…in that order.
          The distraction of beautiful women has started to overwhelm him quite a bit lately. Having coffee at his favorite Internet cafĂ© has its benefits: beautiful women. At first, he thought being so overweight would be a major turnoff, but all it has done was make him more insecure. Now that he’s become more confident, he’s finding women are more likely to start up a conversation. One thing leads to another and the flirting starts…and we’re going to leave it at that for now.
          The most important thing for him right now is finding a job. He’s got feelers out there, but no bites. If he doesn’t find a job in two weeks, he’ll be out of The House. If he moves into a place, he’ll no longer qualify for General Assistance (GA), which pays for first month’s rent and deposit. He has a sober house lined up, but he’s agreed with the landlord not to move in without a job. The GA lady says if he moves in to a sober house without a job, he no longer qualifies for assistance. So, in short, things would be much better for him if he gets a job soon.
          The effect of his housemates leaving constantly has had little influence on his sobriety; he’s learned to stay with the winners. Most leave just because they can’t handle living with 27 other addicts and/or alcoholics, but many relapse. He’s had several roommates relapse, one of which happened in the room with a bottle of vodka, but that’s another story.
          His 4th Step is due today, but he’s putting it off in order to blog. He feels this is something he has to get off his chest before he gets resentments and fears off his chest in his fourth. It’s waited this long, it can wait another day.
          As far as his sponsor is concerned, again this is a totally other story that deserves its own post.
          He thinks of June a lot, can’t help it…thinks of what it would’ve been like, what it could be like with a sober him. Was she, is she attracted to addictive personalities? Would it not be fun for her any more with a man who cannot drink? He has to live with these questions for the rest of his life.
          What he has realized is that he really does want this anonymous feedback on this part of his life. The personal face-to-face feedback at meetings is important, but there’s a value to anonymous emotions expressed here. He only wishes his comment count would increase, so please contribute.
          Oh, and about the photo, he thought it would make a fitting tribute to his last visit to Suburb Plasma. This is what Midwestern adolescent suburbanites do for fun on a Friday night.

Without Wax (speaking in the third person),

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