Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not The Best Month I've Ever Had...

I've been real quiet around the Medley lately. Instead, I've spent some time talking to and with other people. For instance, I spent about forty-five minutes with a counselor on Monday morning before going to work, explaining how my drinking came close to costing me my job earlier this month. That's the reason I went to see him -- and I'll be seeing him again this coming Monday morning, and at least one more time, most likely in mid-July. And that's just one person.

This is what happened.

On Sunday, June 5th, I was at home, had the day off like I do every Sunday. Some weekends, I leave the beer alone. Not that weekend. I drank some beer that afternoon; come the evening, I drank some more beer. Basically, I went overboard. I do that now and then, knowing what to expect in the morning. But this time, things turned out quite differently.

I got up Monday the 6th, got showered, got dressed, packed a couple of meals for the day, and left for work. All things considered, I was doing all right. Got on the bus, things were okay. Got off the bus, still okay. From there, it's a twenty-minute walk to the print shop, a part of the trip I have been making for eleven-plus years. But by the time I got to work, I was clearly sick -- my head hurt, my stomach hurt, my vision was fucked up, and I just had to lie down on the couch in the break room to try and gather my bearings.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, while I was lying there in a semi-sprawl with my eyes closed, the CEO walked by and saw me. He grabbed the plant supervisor, saying, "What's up with Jim?" The supervisor started talking to me, and I answered as best I could. I don't know exactly what I looked like, but he later told me I scared him that day. My department head ended up driving me home. On Tuesday the 7th, I was still sick, and had to call in. Initially, I thought I was much more hungover than I'd realized upon waking up, but looking back on it now, everyone pretty much agrees that it was a nasty case of alcohol poisoning.

On Wednesday the 8th, I was still feeling some of the effects, but I guessed (and hoped) that I could work through it. That, and I didn't feel like missing any more time -- more than two consecutive days off, and I'd need a doctor's note to return to work. As it turned out, I was able to pull a complete shift. But not before I was brought into the plant supervisor's office, with my department head present as well.

What they'd considered doing on the 6th was send me to get tested. Instead, they sent me home. In this meeting, the plant supervisor gave me a flyer for an employee assistance program we have through our insurance. Just something in place in case you have one or more things going on in your life where you may need help, or may need to talk to someone, such as marital problems, an illness in the family, or, well, substance abuse.

I took the hint. Many people at work knew that I drank in my free time. And I've known I've had a problem at least since my doctor first gave me a where-and-when AA booklet in late 2006 -- it was several years before I went to my first meeting, but I kept the booklet, often in plain sight, such as on my computer desk while I was blogging or doing whatever. On some level, I knew. What I didn't realize, until this month, was just how extensive the problem was. It had never threatened to cost me my job before. Oddly, no one else seemed to realize it, either.

That's a kick in the head -- so much so, I have a hard time getting out of bed each work day, knowing I have to face the same people who saw me laying on the couch that day. Hell, sometimes I have difficulty looking in the mirror now. For the past week, on days I have to work, the best part of my day has been punching out and walking out the fucking door to go home. It's like I'm on auto-pilot sometimes.

And the kicker is, I haven't completely quit drinking yet. I'll go a couple days sober, and somewhere in that third day, my brain just goes into "fuck it" mode -- not to the point where I drink like I did on the 5th, but enough where it's clear that if I don't quit, things are going to go from bad to ugly. I didn't have that problem when I quit for two and a half months last year. I'm still trying to figure out how to get over that hump.

I do have some plans in place. In mid-July, I have a week's vacation. I plan on spending a good deal of it with my family in New England, away from here. With any luck, that will be my detox time -- all the so-called triggers that make me want to drink are in this apartment. Should I lose my job before then, well, I'll have lots of time for detox, won't I? And my bills will be up to date for up to two months.

One thing I can't quite put my finger on is how much of this is work-related. My job does get me stressed and anxious more than it should, but I'm not sure what connection, if any, it has to my drinking. I spend a lot of time at work these days -- I need to get away from it for a while to find out for certain. Nine days in July should be plenty.

So, that's just one thing that's up with me these days. Fun times...

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