Alcoholism #3

This continues my story with alcoholism.  Post #1 here:

Post #2 here:                        

By now it had become apparent that I could no longer keep alcohol where I lived.  Whenever I started, it was too much of a crapshoot when I would stop, and occasionally it would be everything I had on hand until I blacked out.

I still thought I could control it and started to do what in hind sight was some very troubling behavior.  Basically I would buy those little shot bottles they sold at the gas station on my way home from work.  First it would be just three, a dollar each.  I’d pound them to get a good buzz that I would enjoy for a bit before turning in for the night.  Mainly would spend the time by myself playing video games.  Eventually 3 bottles crept to 4, then 5.  On the weekends, I figured out what would be a sufficient amount to drink for cheap that would give me a buzz for the whole afternoon.  Usually it’d be a pint of cheap whiskey.  As long as I didn’t leave home, I figured I was controlling it and no one was the wiser.  Work seemed to be going fine, I was a highly-functioning alcoholic.

I also talked about my past drinking problems at work events.  There was a lot of kudos for that, people said I was brave.  It was an expression of my internal guilt though, I never talked about how I was still drinking.

An incident happened here that really troubled me.  I had to take a post-deployment health exam where they asked if I was drinking and how much.  I really, really didn’t want to go back through the alcoholics program and get forced back to AA meetings.  I also felt it would be potentially career impacting.  So I lied about how much I was drinking.  I had tried to mentally justify it at the time, that I didn’t trust the military system, but I couldn’t get past that it was a lie.  This was a big deal to me.  Integrity is a foundation of being a military officer, and I would have been kicked out of my commissioning source if I had ever been caught lying about something, it was something I had did my best to internalize.  But I had lied to cover up my alcoholism.  This broke me in a way, I was alone and being an officer was the last thing I had and I was a sham, a drunk and a liar.






The Power of Vulnerability

A very good boss once pointed me to Dr. Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly.  It covers the topic of vulnerability and how that ultimately leads to more connection and success in both professional and personal life.  This book had a fairly large impact on me and finally motivated me to tell my brother about my struggles with alcoholism, the first time in two years that I told anyone in my family about my alcoholism.  That ultimately gave me a deeper connection with my family and helped me become happier and healthier at work.

Dr. Brown had a Ted talk that kicked off the more visible period of her career.  It can be found here:

So, what do you think?  I’ve been accused not letting myself be vulnerable in relationships.  Taking this into account, I’ve tried to be more open and invest myself more in relationships.   These concepts were just so foreign to me, but it ultimately made sense.  It is a lot easier to trust someone who has skin in the game than someone who isn’t.  That doesn’t apply just to romantic relationships either – any relationship can be deepened.

These topics resonated so much that I led a discussion on Dr. Brown’s ted talk at work.



Passion #2

This is a continuation of one of my experiences with passion.  For Part 1 see here:

So I was heartbroken.  Interestingly though, I had grabbed a program from the ceremony and from this learned her last name.  She had mentioned it on one of our dates, but I hadn’t really caught it.  Seeing her name, I did what any jilted lover does in this day and age and e-stalked her.  A quick google search revealed she had an Instagram that was actually set to publicly viewable.  Hmmm.

After licking my wounds for a few days I had checked out her Instagram again and she had posted something about a guy not working out.  Hmmm.  Maybe her guy friend at graduation got jealous of the competition.  Either way, it seemed like she wasn’t in a relationship and might be available.  Brain racing, she had mentioned her school and her night class schedule when we had gone out.  Maybe I could try again?  One on one I could convince her!  It didn’t take very long to deliberate, her class was the next day and I resolved to try again.

Rushing out of work early, I bought some flowers and hopped on my motorcycle.  Made the hour long ride across town to where I thought her campus was.  It was the type of corporate lot that had a bunch of mixed offices.  Wandering around and asking directions, I was able to find the area where the night school was (apparently you aren’t suspicious at all if you’re holding flowers, security guards gladly give you directions).  There were a bunch of classes in session.  I had deliberately shown up early.

By process of elimination, classes let out and I didn’t see her.  I started asking around.  There was a lot of estrogen in that building, and more than a few girls seemed very curious as who was this guy in motorcycle gear with flowers asking about a girl.  I almost ran down a girl outside who I mistook for her. My heart was jittery.  Finally, one girl said she knew my muse and confirmed she had class that night, but didn’t know which one.  It was getting very late and the building was pretty much deserted.  Down to one or two classes I was just absently wandering the empty halls when I noticed a girl just staring at me.

It was her.


This is a self-improvement post.  See all here:

Motorcycle riding is so much fun, whether or not you fall in love with it, it is definitely an experience worth giving a shot.  It can be reasonably cost effective and safe hobby to try out (or not depending on your preferences…)

I’m not really sure what pushed me to finally try it.  I mean, riding a motorcycle is something that is glamourized (at least for men) a good bit.  But it wasn’t big in my family or anything.  I was 28 I think, living in the southwest at the time, and figured if I was going to do it anywhere, I should try it there with the awesome weather.  I did it through the Harley-Davidson beginners course, which was an all-around positive experience considering I had never ridden a motorcycle before.

Bought my first bike soon after, a used Sportster on craigslist!  Can’t advise buying a Harley new, they seem very overpriced, but there are some good used deals if you have the cash.  Harley’s can have a bad reputation, but I was happy with my bike.  I wanted a cruiser, it was loud, flashy, and fun, and fit me perfectly.  Luckily I had a fairly short and safe commute to work, so I was quickly riding it most days.  Overall, once you have the bike and some basic safety gear, it is pretty cost effective.

I did get hit once, rear ended at a stoplight and knocked over.  It was rush hour and the person behind me just wasn’t paying attention.  I was fine, but my bike was in the shop for a month.  It was a good learning experience, avoid riding in traffic if you can.  You can be doing everything right and someone can just not be paying attention.

Once I moved to a big city, sadly my bike hasn’t been getting ridden as much, just my commute is a lot longer and crowded and I don’t want to push my luck.  While lane splitting is fun, I don’t know that I want to make that a habit given my earlier experience with traffic.  I still try to make it a point to take it out regularly, puts a grin on my face every time.  However, it sadly doesn’t get as much use (usually need a girl to motivate me).

The military does make it a bit of a hassle to be a rider, and it is a sunk cost if you aren’t riding.  Given I’m not the super-passionate rider, there’s a chance I might give it up depending on the life situation (on the off chance I ever get a family for instance).  If I end up selling, well, at least I got to be a biker for a while.  Still recommend giving it a try if you haven’t!


Alcoholism #2

This continues my story with alcoholism.  Post #1 here:

So I had just graduated from the military’s mental health program for alcoholism, and I was pissed.  I still didn’t really accept the diagnoses despite some valid evidence, and I was also struggling big time with self-image.  It didn’t correlate with my view of myself as a military officer.  I couldn’t tell anyone about my troubles.  I needed to repent.  I immediately started to volunteer for a deployment anywhere.

Drinking also crept back into my life.  I still wouldn’t admit I had a problem.  It was more tame, I realized I had the potential in me now.  Still, there started to be some more out of hand nights.  I also started dating someone I really liked, although she was a lot younger and was prone to partying.  Probably not the best match.

The military quickly matched me with my desire to go to a war zone, and shipped me off to Afghanistan.  This cut the budding relationship off at a month and a half.  Still, we maintained contact, and over the 7 months I was gone I started to believe in a relationship.  In fact I started to count on it to get me through the days.  Notably I was forced to not touch alcohol due to the orders in Afghanistan.

Finally the day came when I returned.  It had been a productive deployment, and I had a very nice welcome home, including an airport greeting by my unit and friends, and my girl!  She was still there.  She drove me home, eager and giddy with thoughts about what the night would hold.  My friends had given me a bottle of scotch (my favorite!) not knowing my history and I wanted to enjoy it with my girl and have some fun.

Well, we cracked the bottle open and I don’t know what happened after that.  All I know is I woke sick as a dog, the bottle was empty and the girl was gone.  Our relationship had ended somewhere between when I left for Afghanistan and when I woke up the night after I got back, and I don’t know when or why.  I was devestated, wanted to blame someone, anything, but didn’t know who.  In my loneliness I returned to comfort in a bottle.  My unit gave me two weeks off to recover, not a great time if you live by yourself and are having reacclimation issues.  I spent the whole time drunk.

To be continued in part 3.