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When Drinking Takes Over
Posted: November 06, 2018 Categories: 

Last week, the news reported about a drunk airline baggage handler who fell asleep in the cargo hull of a plane, and woke up in Chicago with a 737-sized hangover. May get a chuckle out of some people, but this a great example of what happens when drinking takes over your life — you could end up way off course.

Alcohol has been nicknamed “liquid courage,” and I can attest to that. Unfortunately, I’d rather think of alcohol as giving a “false bravado.” Drinking makes people say and do stupid stuff because the alcohol tends to mess with your rational thinking. You can feel invulnerable, overly confident and powerful, yet be way off base. When drinking gets out of hand, you get your own version of a reality TV show that goes haywire. You begin to think everyone else has a problem.

Here’s one example from No More Vodka in My Orange Juice, that I’m not proud of but glad to share with you because it’s the truth.

3. Wake Up Call

(Excerpt from chapter three, titled “A Family of My Own,” of the Second Edition, No More Vodka in My Orange Juice, by Justin Daniels, Copyright 2018. “*** Refers to condensed material)

While the boys were little, much of my time was spent enmeshed in work. When I wasn’t working, I wanted to drink. I never drank in front of the kids, but I would go out to drink or drink after they went to sleep. Sitting in front of the television, I could easily polish off a bottle of vodka and still get up to go to work the next day. Soon after my second son’s birth in 2000, I went to a doctor about my anxiety problems, and he tried me on different antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs: Zyban, Zoloft, and BuSpar. You’re not supposed to drink at all when you’re taking antidepressants like these, but of course I didn’t think that silly rule applied to me. Actually, I thought it was cool that it intensified the effects of the alcohol. I could get drunker than ever now that I had these brain pills. My doctor had told me that the combination was dangerous, but what have we learned here? I was the exception!

Nothing bad could ever happen to me. I could drink forever and no harm could ever come to me. Of this, I was certain.

Robin wasn’t a drinker at all; she’d nurse one drink the whole night. But she didn’t, at first, object to my drinking. We liked to socialize together, and that involved alcohol more often than not. We joined a country club and went to cocktail parties. For the most part, we had a lot of fun together—but there did come a point when the times I embarrassed her outnumbered the times I didn’t.

When I drank too much, I was mouthy and unruly. I would turn into a brazen braggart, boasting about how successful I was in business or sillier things, like what a good pool player I was. And worse, I’d mouth off to our friends in disrespectful ways, yelling at them or challenging them. Sometimes I even broke things. I was slowly becoming that drunk on the barstool who I once pointed and laughed at.

One day at the country club, I showed up to meet Robin wearing nothing but a wet bathing suit and a towel. This was a formal atmosphere: People wore suits and dresses, and there I was sidling up to the bar with my bathing suit still dripping behind me. Of course, I was drunk.

“I’m leaving,” Robin said.

“Go ahead,” I told her. And she did.

I stayed at the bar, getting more obnoxious by the minute. I started smashing glasses on the bar while people were trying to have dinner just a few feet away. Eventually, a manager told me it was time for me to go.

I was not pleased to be told that I had to leave—and particularly not pleased to be told I was cut off from my alcohol. As they escorted me out of the club, I took solace in the fact that I knew I had plenty more stashed at home.

While I was driving home—yes, I did drive—one of the club managers called Robin and said, “You need to get him under control.

We’re about to kick him out of the club. She was waiting outside for me when I pulled into the driveway and started to lay into me.

Two of our neighbors, both college professors who we never really spoke to, were outside. That’s when I decided to urinate, right there on the front lawn in front of the neighbors.

“What are you doing? Get in the house!” Robin yelled.

“I don’t give a f__k what that guy thinks of me,” I said back in typical drunk behavior.

Another time, we were driving down a country road and Robin told me not to have another drink, and I tried to jump out of the moving car because I wanted to keep drinking. That’s how crazy I got.

There were times like that when Robin tried to get me to cut back on my drinking, but she didn’t tell me to quit altogether. Just as I didn’t want to believe I was an alcoholic, Robin didn’t want to believe that she’d married an alcoholic, either. It was as if each incident was a separate problem rather than an overall addiction. She thought that maybe if I just stopped drinking hard liquor and stuck to beer and wine, it would be okay, or if I would just stop at two or three drinks instead of finishing a bottle.

So that’s what I told her I would do . . . and then I didn’t. I told myself that’s what I would do too, but lying to myself was no big deal. I didn’t tell Robin how much I was actually drinking. When we were out together, she didn’t know how many refills I had, and when I was by myself, she didn’t know how often I drank in the car or stopped at the bar before coming home.

I remember a weekend we spent away when I told her I was just going to go to the bar for one drink, and she said, “Okay,” but while I was standing there, I pounded three drinks. We clashed about my drinking that weekend . . . I’d spent most of my waking hours wasted, ruining the little vacation we were supposed to enjoy together.

Increasingly, she’d ask me to cut myself off at parties. We liked hosting parties in our home, and there would inevitably come a point in the night where I passed the fun-loving guy stage and hit the jerk stage. This was the point where I would get belligerent with Robin and aggressive with everyone else.

“That’s enough,” she’d tell me, but I’d just argue with her in front of everyone.

“No, that’s not enough. Leave me alone. I’m not done drinking and it’s time for you to just be quiet about it.”

Our friends would sometimes get uncomfortable and try to leave, but I’d pressure them to stay well into the night. I was just getting started! “No, stay and play another round of pool,” I’d say. “You’re not going anywhere yet. Put down your coat.”

“Justin, it’s time to let them leave,” Robin would say.

“You just stop talking. They’re fine. They want to stay.”

After one such Saturday night like this, a couple of our friends stopped by early the next morning, along with another friend of theirs who I vaguely knew. His name was Bill, and he was in recovery. We stood out on my back patio and talked.

We’re worried about you,” one of my friends said. “You’re drinking a lot, and you’re not yourself when you drink.”

I could see where this was going. So, okay, I got a little mouthy last night, I thought. It’s really no big deal.

But unlike when I wanted them to stay the night before, now they wouldn’t leave until I said something to get them off my back. They wanted me to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with Bill that night. I agreed just to appease them.

The meeting that night was in Harrisburg, and I found every reason to tell myself that it was ridiculous.

I’m not like any of these people, I thought. Their problems are much worse than mine.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. After the meeting, I had a heart-to-heart with Robin where I explained to her that, yes, I understood that I was drinking a little too much, but it really wasn’t a problem. It was just because I was stressed and not talking to my family and the antidepressants were amplifying the alcohol, and every other excuse I could think up. I told her it wasn’t an addiction issue but just a stress issue and that I’d cut down my drinking. She agreed. She bought it.

Addicts are a bunch of liars. We lie to others and we lie to ourselves. Sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly when I realized I was lying, but it was somewhere right around there. Somewhere deep down, I did know I had a problem. I just didn’t want to quit, so I figured out ways to make it sound more palatable and reasonable than it was.

Having my friends tell me that they were concerned about my drinking was a little embarrassing, and I did think about it. I tried to convince myself they were wrong, but it at least ignited the question in my mind about whether or not there was any validity to what they were saying.

It didn’t actually make any difference in my drinking, mind you. A few months later came my first major wakeup call. It was the weekend after my birthday, and we’d just gone out to dinner with friends. After hanging out at our house until one a.m., they headed home. I had been drinking quite a bit, but I wasn’t ready to stop.

Robin, meanwhile, just wanted to go to sleep.

“I’m just going to go out for a little while,” I told her. On my way out of our driveway, I hit a light post and knocked off my driver’s side mirror. Undeterred, I drove on. The friends who had just left our house lived a few blocks away, so I drove over there and asked, “Hey! Do you want to hang out some more?”

“No,” they told me. “We’re going to bed. It’s late.”

Party poopers.

I left and hung out at the local bar until it closed. At this point, I sensibly decided that the logical thing to do was find a bar that stayed open later. I drove around, and the lights were off at all the local bars. Eventually, I gave up and figured I’d head home. Shortly after making that decision, I stopped at a red light. Now, the rule is that you can usually make a right turn on red, but I was drunk and confused, so I made a left turn on red.

Right away, I saw the flashing lights in my rearview mirror. “Have you been drinking?” one of the cops asked me after pulling me over.

“I’m not going to lie to you. Just a little bit,” I said. At least a bottle of wine, five margaritas, three or four screwdrivers, and a couple of Zimas. You know, nothing much.

It was beyond clear that I was in no shape for driving, so they arrested me, stuck me in the back of the squad car, and drove me to a special area of the local emergency room for a blood test to measure my blood alcohol level. There, they read me my rights and told me what was about to happen. At first, I argued and told them I wouldn’t do it. “You know if you refuse to take the blood test, you automatically lose your license for a year,” one of them explained, trying to reason with me.

“Okay, fine,” I said. By that time, I figured the alcohol would have dissipated somewhat from my system, so I would be safe.

My blood alcohol level was .38, which meant I was a hair shy of unconscious. By .4, most people are passed out, and by .5, they’re typically dead.

Continue reading from your own copy here.


Mindfullness Tools & Tips
Posted: September 16, 2016 Categories: 

Being mindful can be a hard thing to grasp for a lot of people. It is easy for your mind to start wandering into thoughts of the future, or thinking about events that happened in the past. With mindfulness, you must learn to live in the present and enjoy the moments that come across your path. Many people get stressed very easily, or lose sight of what is very important to them. When stuff like this happens, you have to be mindful and take control of yourself and what you are doing. You cannot worry about what will happen tomorrow, or next year. Being mindful will help you enjoy life more, appreciate your friends and family, and make you aware of the little things in life that you may have been missing. There are five very important things you must do in order to be mindful of yourself.

First, you must do one thing at a time. Its understandable to want to get things done and multitask, but sometimes you really need to put all your focus on one thing. If you’re going to take a relaxing bath, don’t bring your laptop in the bathroom so you can get stuff done. Enjoy the moment that you’re in right now, and indulge yourself in whatever it is you’re doing. If you’re doing one thing at a time, you will be more focused and less stressed.

Second, do things slowly. A lot of times people want to rush in order to get more stuff done, but sometimes that isn’t what you should be doing. You need to be able to plan out what you are doing each day, and do just those things. Do not rush to do them, and give yourself enough time to complete the tasks you need. If you have a pile of work to complete, do not try to do it all in one day. Take your time, and be mindful of the things around you. Doing things quickly takes away from the efficiency of the task. If you do it fast, it might not necessarily be as good as it could be if you did it slow. This can apply to situations that may not even be work related. For example, when you’re eating. Many people will eat very fast in order to get back to whatever they were doing before they got hungry. Sometimes it is best to just eat slow, take your time, and enjoy the moment.

Third, stop worrying about the future. This is one thing I want to really stress. Sometimes, no matter what point you are at in your life, you want to be in a different spot. It’s easy to image what your life is going to be like in five or ten years, if you’ll be married, if you’ll have kids, even if you’ll be working in the same job. It can be very stressful to think about the future because sometimes it affects what you are doing in the present. The best way to stop stressing about the future is to stop thinking about it. Focus on what you are doing, what memories you are making now, and enjoying the moment as it comes. If you are constantly worrying about the future, there is no way to live in the present.

Fourth, be a good talker and a good listener. Sometimes, especially in the modern day, it is hard to be present when we are having conversations with people. If we are sitting with friends, they might be on their phones while their listening to you speak, or thinking about something else. This can really hurt people. In order t be mindful, you have to be present. Do not let your mind roam during other people’s conversations. Open your ears, listen closely, and give good advice. You can help people simply by listening to them, so put your phones down, and put your thoughts away while others are speaking. Focus on the person you are with and the time that you have with that person.

Fifth, enjoy the little things in life. Sometimes it is hard to be happy with the little things in life when there are so many people with bigger things. You have to appreciate everything you see and every moment that life gives you. For example, one thing I always savor is the sight of the mood lit up in the night sky. When I see the moon, I think about how amazing life is and how something so small in the sky can make me so happy. This is how you can become mindful. You need to understand that things such as nature, family, and simple things can make you the happiest person in the world. Little moments like laughing so hard until your stomach hurts, staring up at the starry night sky together, or talking about memories from the past, can make you realize how lucky you are to live the life you have. Enjoy everything that comes your way in life and with that, you will be mindful.