“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink.
Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent.
“We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force
the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.
We are without defense against the first drink.”
– Alcoholics Anonymous, p.24
For Step 1 my sponsor asked me to write two lists:
1. Generate a list of examples displaying your powerlessness over drugs and alcohol.
2. Create a list for past and present examples of unmanageability.
The assigned task wasn’t in these words, but you get the gist. Initially nothing came to mind. “Powerlessness” was not a word in my vocabulary until Alcoholics Anonymous. I gave my sponsor (at the time) an answer in the form of a question, still unsure of what exactly the powerless word meant.
“One time two years ago I went to Vegas with all my girlfriends and I hadn’t seen most of them months, if not well over a year. From the second the airplane landed I practically vanished, sparsely going back to the hotel room to do more coke and take a shower….More coke and more drinks were the only things on my mind.” I waited for her response.
“Exactly.” She said. So I proceeded.
I gave her the disjointed bits I could remember. I remember being alone most of the time. Really alone. I remember aimlessly meandering around the casinos by myself, talking to random men and doing coke in places so foggy I can’t even picture. Most of my memories (if you can call them that) are snippets—except for the end.
On the last night I remember looking at all my friends dancing in a club, and feeling like I was in a separate world. Without saying a word I turned around and walked away, invisible among the sea of party-ers and strobe lights.
Once outside the club (but still “inside” because Vegas is weird like that) I sought out a bar without many patrons. I remember thinking it was so strange that the casinos are carpeted. A man sat next to me, asked where I was from, and I said Humboldt County. Immediately he asked, “pot farm?” I said yes, and he sparked conversation, but I couldn’t reply.
It was like my jaw was frozen or rusted at the hinges, and even though he was right next to me I felt like there were light-years between our bar stools. I had one-word answers, and even those sounded distant coming out of my mouth.
It felt like my body was shutting down. And probably it was, after 4 days without sleep, food, only consuming unearthly amounts of cocaine and booze, booze, booze.
I am not exaggerating when I say my brain and voice couldn’t coordinate to communicate.
He took pity on me, not that I really deserved it. He walked me to the cab line and must’ve paid someone something because he got me to the front. Making sure I was in the cab, making sure I could utter the single word that was my hotel name, he gave me money, since I had none left, and saw me off; my flight was in mere hours. Who knows what time it was…must’ve been around 5am. Time had no meaning.
In the hotel room that I hadn’t slept in once, my roommates and best friends who I barely saw, talked to, or partied with, lay sleeping. I had not one dollar bill; not in the bank account, not in my wallet, not in any pants pockets. I probably spent over $1,500 on those 4 Vegas days by myself. The rest of my money was on the pot farm, in cash. Never expected to blow through a grand.
Here’s the cherry on the shit-show cake: I still owed $300+ for the hotel room. I did the worst thing a friend or person could do.
Like a coward, I packed my bag in silence–and left. The room was quiet. Someone might have said something to me but I can’t recall; because my only foggy fucked-up notion was “I need to get out of here.”
I got in someone’s cab that was going to the airport. Let them pay. The sun was up. I got to the airport when my phone rang, and my dear childhood friend on the other end was screaming about everything. The hotel I didn’t pay for, the thanks I didn’t give, the disappearing act I pulled, and I could not deal.
Like a helpless child I burst into tears. I told her I had the money for the hotel, and I “just forgot” to pay it. She said I had to come back and give it to her. I continued to lie. Then I broke down further and just said I’m sorry, but I was sorry for me, not what I had done. There was no such clarity in my mind. The entire trip was me, me, me, more, more, more.
Every time I turned around on that trip it was like I couldn’t get fucked-up enough. Each thought in my mind was consumed and centered around the “fact” that it was time for another line, another beer, another scene. It was like my head was spinning and stopping on the same thing over and over again: More.
With the phone still against my ear I slumped against a wall of the airport and put my head in my knees.
I wanted to die.
I called my mom.
Like a true addict I told her my version of the story. “Everyone is mad at me for no reason,” and I told her “I have to pay money I don’t owe.” I asked her to put money in my account so I could pay my friends just to get them off my back. I overshot my money request to compensate for the parking I would need to pay at SFO airport, and the gas money I would need to get back to the farm. She felt bad for me, for all false reasons.
Two excruciating, sobbing flights later I landed in San Fran. The feelings from Vegas had followed me and they were exploding into shame. “I’m never drinking again.” I said repeatedly to myself. “I’m never drinking again.”
I got my car out of long-term parking, drove 5 hours north and caused near-accidents the whole way. My body was shot. I finally reached the windy mountain road to the farm. Up I went, and once my tires crunched under the dirt road I felt freer–but not better.
My friends in the typical drinking house, playing a typical drinking game. PBR’s and Jameson caught my immediate attention, and a pack of Parliament Lights were perched on the counter. Someone was taking a bong rip with a sitting casually next to a pound of weed. “How was Vegas?!” He asked with his voice muffled as he blew out smoke.
I used humor to deflect my brokenness and mask my complete loss of dignity.
“I did things my mom wouldn’t be proud of.” There were some laughs. “Sounds like it was a good trip,” someone added.
“Yeah it was so fun.” I actually managed to sound convincing.
Someone handed me a beer, I hesitated, opened it, and blacked out that night.