The ultimatum, part 10

After taking a couple weeks off of drinking in January, Paul had a new plan.

He was going to drink a bottle of wine every other night. His doctor said he shouldn’t have more than 14 drinks per week. With this plan, he was pretty close.

He didn’t have a problem not drinking when he didn’t drink. But he found the nights when he had a bottle of wine more challenging. Frequently when he was on his fourth glass, he no longer had the discipline to not drink a couple more. What if it was an extra large bottle of wine? Did that still count as one? He had a hard time leaving extra wine behind because that would throw off his count. What if he had a couple of mixed drinks and then started a bottle of wine?

I found myself angry and triggered on the drinking nights. If he went over I knew. At times I threatened to dump all the alcohol in the house out. He said I was wasting my money because he could just go to the store and buy more.

I tried to ignore him on the nights he was drinking. That also did not work well. It seemed to bother him that I avoided him and usually lead to an argument. Sometimes I would confront him if he started his fifth drink. That also didn’t work. The one that says please help me when he is sober also says leave me alone and stop controlling my life when he is drunk.

After several months he discovered that his plan did not work. He devised a new plan. He could have 2 drinks every day of the week. If there was a special occasion, he could have 4 drinks a day if he had two drinks at two separate times of day. For example, he could have two drinks at lunch and then two drinks at suppertime never having more than two drinks in his system at a time. If he had 4 drinks per day he would have to give up drinking another day of the week. This would keep him within the 14 drinks a week limit.

He had it down to a science. I told him if he followed this plan I wouldn’t give him a hard time about drinking ever again. Things were going well, really well in fact. But then he slipped this past week. I confronted him on it. He was upset at first, but he knew I was right. I am only trying to hold him accountable because I care about him.

I don’t like to be in the position of being the person that has to help him control his drinking. I don’t want to have to be the bad guy. He’s told me countless times that without me he would probably drink himself to death. I want to think that he would be fine without me. I think it will be something he will always struggle with.

He had made a lot of progress in this last year. For that I am thankful. I am happy to be an influencing factor in that change. He was willing to address his issues and grew a lot in the process. I have to give him a lot of credit for being willing to look at some negative things about himself. It hasn’t always been easy.

It’s our anniversary next week, 23 years. We are planning on getting away a few days on our sailboat. This year I am confident things will go well because we are taking a different path.

A little green

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Yes, I am Irish. I even know the name of my ancestors that came over from Ireland.

I love corned beef and cabbage, but apparently that is not how the Irish celebrate the holiday according to some WP friends that live there. I even heard that St. Patrick is not a real saint. But I am not here to talk about Irish culture because I haven’t a clue. I know how the people in Wisconsin celebrate. Most people wear green and get drunk. Kind of like a Packer game, but in March. Except this year St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Saturday calling out every drunk, moderate, and light drinker.

First of all, over half of America’s most drunkest cities are in my state. There probably would be more if we had more cities. I live near one of the top 5 drunkest cities in America. I might go as far as to say that I live near one of the drunkest cities in the world…a fact I am not proud of, but it is what it is.

I saw something on Facebook the other day about state motto’s. Ours was something like, ‘It’s too cold to be sober’. Here I sit on the first day of spring and our high temps are not going to be above the freezing point.

This year my friend Lisa was in town for St. Patrick’s Day. Our mutual friend Cori invited me out. I kind of had a hankering for corned beef and cabbage with green beer, so I said yes. We haven’t had the chance to get together for 6 months since Lisa moved away. Apparently, Cori and Lisa started celebrating before going out. Then Lisa said she had a tall margarita on the ride there.

Cori told the waitress that when she saw her finger up she was supposed to bring over 2 beers. It seemed like her finger was up about every 15 minutes. Cori told me that she was worried about her adult son. He drinks too much and has blackouts.

The one thing I respect about Cori is that she never drives drunk. She has been bringing her daughter out with her since she got her driver’s license. This is where I have the moral dilemma. Cori told me this past weekend that she created several fake ID’s to get her daughter into bars. Her daughter doesn’t drink. She drives people home that should never get behind the wheel of a car.

I am torn. I am totally against the whole fake ID thing, having someone in high school hang out at bars…What kind of example is that?? But I am for a safe ride home. It’s not like an Uber is easy to get.

I didn’t stay out late that night. I left before things got too crazy. There was a creepy older man dressed in black that kept coming around checking out the women on the dance floor. A woman tapped my arm and said, “You are beautiful” three times. She was young and had green hair. A wig? For a fleeting moment, I felt happy to hear the words spoken by a stranger that were never spoken by my father. I want to be beautiful forever. I grip onto her words vainly as time slips them back through my fingers. I am afraid to get old. The creepy man’s finger nail scratches my back as he steals by.

As I was leaving the parking lot, I saw the creepy old man leave with the nice girl with green hair. Did they arrive together? I feel sad. Is this her life? Why didn’t I say something kind back?

Late the next morning, I had some errands to run with my daughter. Less than a mile from home, we almost got hit by a drunk driver…probably still drunk from the night before. She swerved from the ditch into our lane…slowly weaving in and out as we pulled aside and watched her parade through.

That is St. Patrick’s Day in Wisconsin.

 

Rum Dumb

Yesterday Paul and I took the day off of work to celebrate Tom and Lisa’s return home on our sailboat. Tom and Lisa moved to Florida for a year and moved back home last week. Unfortunately, Tom had to work and couldn’t attend his welcome home party. Instead, we had in attendance our mutual friends Cori and her husband Randy.

We decided to sail into town for lunch, spirits, and live music. Harv also followed us on his boat. It was our first sail into town for the summer and spirits were high. It was a sunny cool day with strong winds to push us into town. Once Harv and Paul tied up to the dock, they had their customary arrival drink of bourbon on the rocks. The girls and I drank beer. Paul had a little wine. We were enjoying the music, food, and visiting while the people dressed in business attire eyed us enviously. They had to get back to work. Arriving into town on sailboats always makes a splash. Unknown people took our picture. Sometimes we give tours. Once we even invited a couple on board for engagement pictures.

Previously our boat was known by the name of Rhumb Fun before our boat renaming ceremony. In those days, sometimes the boat was nicknamed rum dumb for any idiotic thing (usually alcohol related) that happened aboard. Yesterday, our boat was the rum dumb. Randy had a little too much to drink. Randy had 3/4 bottle of rum too much to drink. He started drinking before 9 AM. Everyone was able to have a drink or two and be fine. Everyone except Randy that is. I have never seen Randy so drunk.

We noticed that Randy was having a bit of a problem an hour before we got back to shore. He started speaking in what he said was a different language. He started saying how Cori doesn’t love him anymore. He started acting infantile making noises like he was blowing raspberries. As we were motoring into harbor, he kept pulling on the jib sheet line screaming, “Make this boat go faster so we can kick Harv’s ass”. Then he stood up and face planted into the side of the boat almost falling overboard.

Talk about three sheets to the wind! Paul and I assisted Randy out of the boat and off the dock. When Paul let go, he almost fell into the water. Every time I tried to let go of him, he started to fall. Finally I was able to stand him up against his car. It was at this time that he decided he had to go to the bathroom right in the middle of the parking lot as people were driving in. “Hey, I don’t even know this guy”! Seriously, the way I grew up nothing embarrasses me anymore. I just hope that we don’t get any complaints or recommendations to change the name of the boat to Rum Dumb.

Like they never saw any drunken sailors before?? Well, that was a first and hopefully a last!!

Living in a drunken state

I really think it is time for an intervention. 

I have been doing some research on you, Wisconsin. I think I live in a drunken state. Out of 50 states, we rank number 6 as a top drinking state. We rank first in binge drinking. There is a bar closer to our house than a church. Drinking is a huge part of our culture. If you are trying to quit drinking, this is not the state you want to be in. Everything is tied to drinking here with the exception of school events. I suspect that more parents would attend school events if alcohol was served. I have even seen alcohol served at church events over various denominations. 

Last week I spoke a little about briefly getting into a drinking crowd. I don’t have a problem with people out having a fun time drinking responsibly. It is the binge drinking that I don’t like. I have seen it wreck too many lives. 

When I was 17, my friend’s parents were gone for the weekend and I stayed at her house. We decided to mix whatever liquor we could find in her parents cabinet. It was the most disgusting concoction ever, but I drank some of it. I remember giggling a lot and my legs didn’t seem to work right. We invited some friends over to play a game of truth or dare which resulted in a goldfish being eaten. Before our friends arrived, a squad car parked in front of my friend’s house. We thought her parents made good on their threats of having someone keep an eye on her. My friend hid me in the storage closet off of her parents bedroom. I remember tripping over a large roasting pan and falling down in a dark closet full of junk. Turns out she just lived on a main road in a small town. That was really my first experience with drinking.  

Skip ahead a couple of years later when I was 21. Right after I met my future husband, I was on a dart league with him and a few others at the local bar. I was single, but at the time I didn’t realize that within a few weeks I wouldn’t be. A man across the bar started buying me shots. I thought it would be rude to not drink them. Then he offered me a ride home because I was in no shape to drive. What a ploy! Fortunately, since we lived in the same apartment building, Paul was my ride home. The room was spinning all night. I spent the night puking and was too sick to make it to class the next day. I felt out of control of my body and it was scary feeling that way. I decided since it was self-inflicted that I would not get notes from the class I missed. I ended up doing really bad on the next test. I decided that I was never going to drink that much again and haven’t. Even when it meant leaving behind “free” drinks.

Turning 21 is a rite of passage here. It is encouraged to get really sticking drunk on that day. Even the first drunk driving offense is a traffic violation. We see billboards advertising alcohol next to signs that tell us how many drunk driving deaths occurred during the year. Newspapers advertise liquor next to public service ads cautioning drinking.

Last week I found out why the police were at my son’s ex-friend’s house. The local paper mentioned an intoxicated boy having a physical altercation with his parents on our road. Although this boy started taking his friends down the wrong path, I can’t help feeling sorry for him. His old friends are no longer allowed to hang out with him. While my son and his friends are enjoying the nice weather outside, this kid is locked inside of addiction at a young age.

We have already spoken to our teens telling them that if they ever need a ride home that we will pick them up anytime no questions asked. I don’t want my teens out drinking, but I would rather have them call me then get into a car with a drunk. I don’t know too many people that had their first drink at 21. 

I have known people that died and killed others from drunk driving. My friend’s dad spent years in prison for vehicular homicide while intoxicated. He missed his daughter’s graduation and wedding. He went right back to drinking after prison. One morning he arrived at her house drunk. He hopped into her car with her while she was taking her kids to school. After dropping her kids off, he became belligerent and refused to leave her car. She had to call the police on him outside of her kids school. He had to go back to jail. She was heartbroken.

I also heard of a story of a friend of a friend that was trying to get pregnant. She was a couple of days late, but decided to take a pregnancy test after going out. That night she got wasted enough to get kicked out of the bar. She passed out in the back seat of her friend’s car. The next day she found out she was pregnant. A couple of days later she had a miscarriage. Maybe she thought that it was early enough that a night of binge drinking wouldn’t matter, but it did. 

I had another friend that went out drinking a few weeks before she got married. A group of us were sitting in the living room when she went in the other room with her fiancé.  We heard a scuffling, then we heard a fight. My friend’s fiancé hit her that night. The next day, she wasn’t sure what to do. The wedding was planned and coming up fast. Her fiancé was so drunk that he could not remember hitting her the night before. They got married anyway.

Binge drinking and domestic violence are not as rare as you might think. Just ask anyone around here what they think the chances of fights are after a day of binge drinking and a Packer loss. 

The stories go on and on. Domestic violence, cheating, divorce, cirrhosis, getting fired at work, drunk driving, incarceration, and even death. I’ve seen all of these things happen in this state. It is the dark side of our drinking culture. That is why I don’t like binge drinking. Nothing good ever comes out of it even though it is portrayed as being so much fun. I’m thankful that my parents were not alcoholics like half of my friends parents were/are. In response to growing up with alcoholic parents, some of my friends decided not to drink. Others tend to struggle.

I am glad we had this little talk. I know it is not going to change things, that is just the way our culture is. Maybe you will have a better understanding of life in our drunken state.