I Wasn’t Thaaaat Bad!

Towards the end there was series of shame spiral barbecues. See, in the beginning I could drink all day and maintain for several hours but as the jig was closer to being up, as it were, I could barely keep it together.  Many of my messiest moments took place at my best friend’s weekly summer barbecues. What was intended to be as sunshiny good time with grilled chicken and side dishes usually wound up being a scene from The Days of Wine & Roses & Macaroni Salad. I always intended just to have enough cocktails to have fun and enjoy the afternoon but somehow the day would end with me falling downstairs or getting in a fight with someone. I know. I sound awesome. You’re wondering to yourself, “Gee! Why did he ever stop drinking? He sounds like the ideal party guest!” All of these backyard blunders aside and all of the other mountains of evidence that pointed directly toward the flashing, neon “Hot Drunken Mess” sign didn’t matter though. I always thought, “Well. I’m not that bad. There are people who are worse than me.”

Of course being an addict or an alcoholic isn’t a competition. (Because if it was I really think I could win or at least get Miss Congeniality.) There’s not some “messy meter” that accurately measures one’s drinking problem. That being said there are some who can’t hold together as well as others. And towards the end I was one of those. But as I relapsed and couldn’t stay sober I conveniently forgot how out of control I was. Memories of falling down disappeared and drinks flowed as if they never wreaked havoc. I am waxing poetically or pathetically about this topic today because I recently read an article where actress Tara Reid notes that her well-documented partying “wasn’t that bad.” She of the drunken boob slips, the televised body shots and documented trips to rehab is now saying “At the end of the day, I really [just] had fun. I wasn’t doing crimes. I wasn’t getting in trouble like that.” Let me just say, I’m not Tara Reid nor have I ever drank with her nor do I pretend to know her habits with alcohol. So maybe she’s right. Maybe she just had to get it out of her system and now she says she can party “discreetly.” Good for her!

What reading this did remind me is for me it really was that bad. Like Leaving Las Vegas bad. Like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf bad. Like  blacking out at a barbecue bad. Yet I never got arrested or wrecked a car or spent time in rehab or a loony bin. So I guess by those standards, I could be convinced it wasn’t that bad. But thankfully it was bad enough. By 36, I had achieved some all time personal lows and my insides felt like a burnt out shell. I battled my own delusion for so long that now I’m okay saying, “Yeah. It was fucking horrible and I was a disaster.” Unlike Tara, I can’t party discreetly or just have a few drinks. And that’s okay. I own my hot messiness of yesteryear and know that today I’m 100% safe to invite to a backyard barbecue. So if you feel so compelled, I’m likely to show up. I’ll even bring the macaroni salad.


8 thoughts on “I Wasn’t Thaaaat Bad!

  1. When people tell me I wasn’t “that bad” (which they do, frequently, as I have the appearance of a very calm, self-managed character), I ask them if they were present at every night on which I got drunk. They weren’t, therefore they don’t know how bad it got. They weren’t present when I walked 5 miles home, too drunk to hail a cab, through South London (probably with a “Mug Me” target on my behind)… Did I mention I did that around four times in one year? They also weren’t present at countless other occasions, the aftermath of which made me really sad about what I was doing to myself.
    So I find myself defending how bad I was, to other folks – lol
    I think we were all “that bad”, and we know it 🙂

    • Wow, It’s amazing what we survive when we’re loaded.You’re lucky you didn’t get mugged–or worse! I had those moments too wandering around parts of LA drunk and by myself. Yikes.
      And you’re right just because it may not look bad to outside eyes, we know the truth. My ex, to outside eyes, was a ‘bigger alcoholic’ than me. He was the guy who slurred and was loud and drank 7 nights a week. Os when I quit and left him. Mutual friends actually told me that they thought I didn’t have the drinking problem- that my ex was the problem! I would point out that I was one the drinking with him 7 nights a week and that my life spun out of control.
      It’s all perception I guess and nobody really knows what we drunks and addicts go through unless they’ve been there.

  2. Love this post, Sean. And I would love to have you at my next bar-b-cue, except I’m not really known for those. My back yard is too small. You are such a bright light in this world. I love your perspective and wisdom. I love your tweet title, too. Thanks, Sean.

    • Yeah. Truth be told I’m not much of a barbecuer either. I sunburn easily. I hate bugs. I don’t eat much meat these days. I’m more of pie and coffee kind of guy. Much safer that way 🙂 We should make that happen. Thanks for always sharing the blogger love, Heather.

  3. Love reading the blog Sean.I do a presentation in schools across the UK and after every talk I say to myself “Jesus man that is you, you are talking about!!!” I dislike the person I was so much that it makes me more determined never to return. I am a focused individual who wants to achieve! Stay strong

  4. This was the topic for us here yesterday. How do I KNOW this is my bottom? I sponsor one girl who’s Mom STILL thinks she never hit bottom…she wasn’t “living under a bridge.”
    It is a shame that folks still think that way. I got dragged to a conference at 6 months. I was 32, I was not done having fun I kept arguing… & the speaker said he had had the bottom conversation a lot because bridge dwelling was significantly down:)

    He said your bottom is that point for each of us, when “you know in your knower” that there is no way in hell any dream you ever had will EVER happen.When that happens”, he said “then you are on page 152 and your bottom just rose up and smacked you”. Then you can become as willing as only the dieing can be. I opened to the page…THAT is exactly where I had crawled in this time.Thank God I got smacked FINALLY.

    • Love all of that, Lady Iris Jean. And I’m happy I got smacked and finally paid attention. There were several “hello! you’re a disaster!” wakeup calls for years that I just chose to ignore. My friend Lisa D that I met in the program in LA once summed it up perfectly by saying, “You can be wearing designer clothes and driving a fancy car but if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably sleeping on park bench in your mind.”

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