Regrets. When you stop drinking and aren’t able to run away from your life anymore one of the first things you have to do is face your demons and regrets. For those who are familiar with the steps it begins with hitting bottom. I know I’ve covered this some when I first wrote about my choice to forever give up drinking, but there is more to be spoken about it. I know that this blog is intended to be about transgender issues and ideas, and this might seem a bit off topic but alcoholism is actually significantly higher in the LGBTQ community than the average population.
Part of this, I believe, is because many of the few safe places for LGBTQ people are in bars and clubs. There are other spaces, of course, and those other spaces are growing more and more every year, but there is still a very solid foundation in the queer nightlife that may never go away. As a result, many a queer folk have walked the razor’s edge between heavy social drinking and alcoholism. Some of them never face their demons and drink themselves into financial ruin or even suicide. Some of them are able to find a way out of it without the help of others and manage to stave off the inevitable collapse of their life. Some of us, however, must take what some might call an extreme measure to prevent ruin and despair.
I was one of the lucky few who caught my destructive path before it became unbearably awful, but only barely. I managed to hit my bottom before I hit a truly awful bottom. If I hadn’t stopped what I was doing I would have tumbled over the edge and fallen quite a long ways before another “bottom” would have been found. There is discussion for those who are familiar of people like me saving ourselves from years and years of despair and horror, but there is little discussion of what that is like. It is easy to see a person who has lost everything (their job, their spouse, their house, their car, and everyone who loved them) and for us to say what a sad lot that must be. Surely they are alcoholic. It is even easy to see a person who managed to keep things together in a worldly way but to lose themselves entirely in the drink. Sure, they have their job, house, car, and maybe even a very distinguished position in life, yet they drink every hour of everyday. They hide bottles around their house and must drink in the morning lest they find themselves succumbed to the jitters. True, they appear fine on the outside but on the inside there are all but ruined. Surely they are alcoholic.
But what of the high bottom? What of the person who doesn’t meet the wild and reckless benchmarks of those truly possessed and ruined by the drink? What of those who save themselves, while still scarcely alcoholic before they began their deep plunge into the abyss of prolonged alcoholism? So little is known about them. So little is discussed about them. They have started to find their way into the programs of recovery, but their struggle, while just as life-threatening, is hardly examined.
It is for that reason that I feel compelled to talk about this on here. Maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there right now who has begun to wonder why they can’t stop drinking. Maybe they have noticed that they drink because of the depression and poor choices caused by previous drinking, and they have realized the ultimate destruction this cycle might create. Maybe there is someone out there who wants to stop drinking and hasn’t been able to, despite all of their efforts. They vow to give it up and not a week later are at the bar, drink in hand, briefly enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling that precedes the depression and heartache that’s sure to follow. Maybe they’ve just woken up from a night of excessive drinking and realized they’ve done something they would have never done sober and which they truly regret doing. Maybe these people need someone who knows what it is like to struggle with alcohol, yet not live a completely ruined life, to tell their story so they can find the help they need.
As a scarcely alcoholic turned sober, I am forced to face my regrets with the added struggle of not wanting to call myself alcoholic. If I was to keep drinking I would eventually lose my house. I would lose my car. I would probably fail out of school and I might seek out even more dangerous substances to stave off the despair I felt at the ruin of my situation; assuming, of course, I didn’t commit suicide before then, which was a real possibility. But none of those things happened to me and because none of those things happened to me there is a part of me that is reluctant to take on this mantle of alcoholic. When there is a reluctance to take it on, then there is a reluctance to face my regrets. If I’m not this thing then surely I can continue on without reflecting upon my life, right?
Wrong. There is no exception here, even if there are persistent doubts about the direness of my situation. I still must face what I have done and what I have lost because of my drinking, and that list is not short, despite the brevity of my unmanageable habit.
The greatest of my regrets actually pertains to my ex-wife. While our divorce was sudden and her betrayal was devastating, I allowed my drinking to negatively impact things between us. My drinking had only really begun its terrible spiral into the eventually destructive habit it became, but the effect was no less significant. I did things and said things to her I never would have had I not been going out night after night to drink. I tried to escape the reality of the situation in alcohol and in that escape I only found further despair, a despair I blamed her for entirely. She was not blameless in it but much of the blame actually rested upon my own shoulders. I thought I was finding a new life, one with friends at the bar, and while that was true to an extent, I had also found something much worse without realizing it. I thought my horrible depression was because of her entirely, but so much of it was because of the effect of alcohol. They call it drowning your sorrows, but what you are really doing is drowning yourself. The sorrows don’t go away, you just become less and less capable of actually facing them.
Maybe I would have treated her with more compassion. Maybe I would have tried to see how painful it must have been for her. I know the guilt and shame that comes from cheating on someone, and how truly awful that burden can be to see the pain it has caused the person you love, but I refused to see her in that light. I only saw her as a villain, not a person potentially in pain of her own. I only saw her as this heartless creature who threw everything away on a whim instead of a potentially conflicted person who was torn between staying in an impossible situation or breaking the heart of their closest friend by leaving. My drinking prevented that from happening because it prevented me from seeing anything clearly. I was in a fog of rum and whiskey and gin, swinging my fists in the dark at my own shadows. I refused to look at myself in the light because I was afraid of what I’d see. It was so much easier to be the victim than to see things clearly or to face my regrets about transition (as I’ve written about previously).
The next regret that has kept me awake at night and which is the actual inspiration for the first part of this entry is the regret I feel about Rose. For those who do not recall, Rose was the married poly woman I met and dated for a few months. In so many ways she helped me not completely fall into the abyss I was so determined to head towards. She was kind, and caring, and loving. She reminded me that I was worthy of love when I was so convinced I wasn’t. She filled so many of my long unmet needs around affection and words of kindness. She was only ever nice and sweet to me. We never argued and almost never disagreed. We laughed and would talk for hours. She was a good friend and a lover of a peculiar, yet wonderful, sort. She deserved me at my best, and instead she got me at my almost worst and then eventually at my worst.
By all accounts, she should have never dated me simply because I was still so broken from my divorce but she looked beyond that and offered me love instead of running away. I wasn’t ready to be the person she deserved and yet she took me into her caring embrace all the same because she was a truly amazing person. She tried to warn me, in her own way, about my drinking. I believe she saw the path I was on and she did what she could to encourage me away from it while also understanding that I had to make that choice on my own. She never shamed me about it and she never tried to make me feel guilty. All she did was offer kindness and affection.
But I couldn’t or wouldn’t hear her gentle nudges to look at my drinking. I couldn’t or wouldn’t believe that I had any sort of problem or that the path I was on would lead to destruction. Worse still, I couldn’t feel the kindness or affection she offered me because I was drowning myself (not my sorrows) in rum and whiskey and gin. With each drink I took I fell further and further into the abyss that threatened to swallow my entire life, quite literally, and as I tumbled further into the darkness I pulled away from her. I don’t think I realized it at the time but I let go of Rose and ended our relationship because I was afraid I’d pull her in with me. I knew she wouldn’t follow me forever but I didn’t want her to be hurt more and more by me as my belligerence increased. I didn’t love myself and so I couldn’t love anyone else. I could only hurt them, and I did.
The funny thing about trying not to hurt someone is that you almost invariably do. I know that I hurt Rose when I ended things with her somewhat suddenly. I didn’t really explain why I wanted to end things primarily because I didn’t know myself why I wanted to end it. All I knew was that despite all of her efforts I couldn’t feel her affection and kindness, and therefore couldn’t reciprocate it. I was too far-gone at that point to suddenly turn around. I had to hit bottom to realize what was happening and that wouldn’t occur for another two months or so.
In the past 32 days of sobriety I have thought about Rose a great deal and my heart has hurt for what I have lost because of my drinking. We are still civil and friendly to one another, and I suspect there will always be some degree of fondness between us, but I don’t think I will ever have the opportunity to be with her as the Emma she deserved. She deserved me at my best, or at the very least not the drunken, spiraling out of control Emma that she got. She deserved the girlfriend I know I am capable of being, not a hot mess that has no idea where she is going or which way is up, so she’d rather just drink about it than actually figure anything out. She deserved someone who understood her value and actually appreciated it instead of just taking it for granted like I did.
Yes, my darlings, I fucked up. A shocker, I’m sure, that an alcoholic in the making would fuck up a perfectly good relationship for no good reason. I’m sure there is a never ending book written about such fuck ups, and here I am, adding a few pages of my own.
I took the month of April off from dating and while I learned a lot about myself, I also remembered what it felt like to be alone because I ruined something good. I needed to be alone, there was no getting around that. I could never be the Emma that Rose needed until I spent that time in solitude, reflecting upon my life. I needed to get my shit together, or to at least get all of my ducks in the same pond (getting them in a row is a work in progress, unfortunately, but at least they are all in the pond again). I have done that and I am so much better off for having done it. I could be so much better of a girlfriend now than I could have before, but I think that ship has left the harbor, my darlings, because of the way I went about this.
Instead of simply asking for a few weeks to get my shit together, I ended things outright. Instead of finding my stability with her help or support, I was determined to do it alone (like the stubborn fool I am). The price of truly finding my bearings instead of spiraling out of control was sacrificing my relationship with perhaps one of the kindest people I have ever known. I am much closer to the Emma that Rose deserved, and yet because of the way I treated her when I was Emma the drunken wreck, neither of us will likely ever get to see what that is like. She has moved on. Others have come along who do not treat her the way I did, and she is happy with them.
It seems the only thing I can do is try to learn from this experience. The only thing I can do is remember that this is why I should never drink again. I can certainly make mistakes while sober, there is no denying that, but the chances of me sabotaging something good because I feel worthless and unworthy of love is significantly lower when I am not drinking. I have allowed alcohol to create so many problems and regrets in my life that I will be dealing with for years to come, but there are few of them as sad to me as this one.
I recognize that this is yet another entry where I have not discussed the poly play party I went to. I’m not sure I will ever truly write that entry. So much bad has happened since then that I can scarcely recall the details of that event, at least not enough to do the story justice, even as memorable as it was. I do definitely recall going to the party with a very distinct desire to not drink anything at all and only being able to make it maybe two hours before I was drinking gulps of fireball directly from the bottle because I wanted to get hammered. Even then I was convinced I could control my drinking, /sigh.
Perhaps I will try to encapsulate the events of that night in a brief discussion here, if only to lighten the mood from the previous downer stories about alcoholic regrets.
There were probably twenty-five people who came to the party, some coming early and leaving early and others coming late and leaving late (or not at all). The party was at a house and the hosts rented a hot tub for the event. Pretty much from the beginning of the party until the end, there was a great deal of nudity in that hot tub. At first I was rather bashful and kept my clothes on, but as I grew more and more comfortable I decided to say to hell with clothing and took my top off (I kept my bottoms on for most of the party, however). I was complimented several times about how attractive I was and how attractive my breasts were. I’m practically blushing now as I write that, so I can only imagine how much I blushed then.
For most of the party there was mostly innocuous physical contact between me and the several women who were there. Some of it was more flirty than other times, and there was some kissing or groping that happened. There was also some attention thrown in my direction by a few of the men at the party. Most of them I turned away either directly or by very publicly identifying as a lesbian. One of them, however, captured my curiosity and I allowed him to be affectionate with me in somewhat sexual ways (again, nothing overt, at least not at first).
There was definitely a lot of sex that happened at the party and more than a few threesomes that occurred… including the one I participated in, but we will get to that in a moment. I was asked out on a date by one of the women there (the one I most wanted to interact with), to which I said yes, and this woman made a point to tell me (in such a sweet way) that she thought I was really hot as I was. She could tell, I think, that my confidence wasn’t particularly high and I was concerned that no one would be interested in someone like me, so her telling me this was a huge ego boost. Later that night she was in the hot tub with me, the affectionate guy, and another woman I thought was very attractive. Suffice it to say that it was a very affectionate interaction that eventually resulted in the guy asking me out on a date too, which turned into an argument (a playful one) between the girl and the guy about who would get to take me out first.
There I was, mostly nude with three completely nude people, two of whom are arguing over who gets to date me first. I truly had no idea what to do. I have never experienced anything like that before and was so flustered and flattered I didn’t know how to respond. All I could say was we would have to see. Eventually this gathering dispersed and it was time to either decide to go home or stay the night. I was emphatically asked to stay the night, which I agreed to. My bedding options were either sleep on a couch by myself in a room where no one else would be, or sleep on a bed with the affectionate guy and the cute girl I didn’t really know. I was in a dilemma. I knew if I slept in the bed with them the guy would likely want to continue with the affection. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it, but I was curious to know. I have some attraction to men but didn’t really know the extent of it, so I wanted to explore that a bit.
I decided to sleep in the bed with them and at first it was me, the guy, and the girl in that order. I was not excited about this. I wanted to be next to the woman either entirely or partially, so I asked if I could sleep in the middle. They said yes, so I moved between them. At first there really wasn’t much going on. We were all rather tired and I thought we might just go to sleep. I was wrong. The touching began innocently enough and eventually I gave permission to go further than I had before. My bottoms came off and before long all three of us were intertwined with hands, mouths, tongues, and naughty bits. I was pretty much the center of attention between these two people and I have to admit… it was awesome. Like fucking amazing (hehe). Like everything I thought a threesome might be like. I couldn’t believe it was happening but I was so excited about it. I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot about my attraction-level to men. I’m kind of eager to go to another play party to see what (sober) trouble I can get into now that I’ve done it once before. I think I will be a lot less reserved than last time.
Okay, there you have it. I dished on the play party, only like a month and a half later, lol. I know you would have enjoyed the extended version with all the many things I cut out, but it’s late and I’m tired. I think there might be another party coming up soonish, so maybe I’ll have more exciting stories to share. For now, though, that’s all she wrote, folks.