My mother picked me up from the airport.  She looked right past me.

     Because I was unrecognizable. 

     I’d had four drinks on the airplane.  I didn’t want them, but I had to do it in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.  I drank as little as possible and when the plane landed, I was getting the shakes.  

     I’d emailed her less than 48 hours before.  My first communication with her in months.  I was completely honest.  I can’t bear to read that email now–the terror and pain are too intense–but I remember begging her to let me come home because I thought I was going to die.  

      The relapse was the most hellish experience of my life.  I can hardly bear to think of it, but I need to remember.  I almost died.  If my mother didn’t take me back, I think I would have killed myself or ended up in the hospital.  I couldn’t eat food.  I could not sleep for more than a few hours at a time.  I kept my teaching job only because the winter was so brutal that snow days were constantly shutting the campus down.  I couldn’t drink before class and my hands shook as I handled the transparencies on that fucking overhead projector.  I was humiliated.  

       “Are you sick?” one of them asked me.

       “Yes.”  There was nothing else to say.

        When I emailed my mother, I put the odds of her helping me at 50%.  If she said no, I was going to ask my brother.  If he said no, I was going to have to ask the Surgeon.  The Surgeon probably would have helped me out…but anyone who reads this blog knows what his price would be.  Not that I looked particularly fuckable by the time I reached out for help.  I felt about 80 years old.

        Business was booming, however.  I made a lot of money in the previous weeks (and I do not want to think of how much I spent on alcohol).  Most of the clients were awful.  I have never had such a bad run.  I like most of my regular clients (that’s why they’re regulars, natch).  These were not regular clients.  These guys were mentally disturbed.  They were predators.  One after the other, it was fucking unbelievable.  I felt like my mind was breaking apart.  That fucking degenerate pedophile dentist was the worst.

      Mom came through.  Plane tickets home.  Her email was completely kind and non-judgmental, which, frankly, I was not expecting.  I am the most sensitive person in my family.  Mistakes are not really accepted.  And boy, had I made a huge fucking mistake.  Sorry, Mom, but I nuked my life and I’m about to die.

       I arranged for another teacher to give my lessons for the next week and hired someone to feed my animals (and I will never forgive myslef for relapsing when I had animals dependent on me for their care.  I killed my houseplants.), and then I went straight to the airport with the clothes on my back.  I took no luggage.  My driver’s license was expired and I was worried that they weren’t going to let me onto the plane.  If they didn’t, I was ready to kill myself.  I own weapons. 

       They let me on board.  

       I had a drink every two hours so that I didn’t throw up on the passengers sitting beside me.  I tried to read an issue of Harper’s, and I couldn’t read.  I could not concentrate.  I was starting to experience mild auditory hallucinations.  Everything was too loud.  I was shaking when the plane landed.

       My own mother didn’t recognize me.

       “I’m sorry,” I said.  That’s what I babbled in the car on the way to her house.  I kept repeating it over and over, and I was sobbing, and I never cry.  

       We stopped at the supermarket to get some pedialyte and gatoraid.  I threw up in the parking lot.  There was nothing in my stomach, so I wretched up foam.  I’d been throwing up all week.  I threw up blood.  It had been days since I’d had a bowel movement, and when I did, there was blood in my stool.  You know the warning on the back of the Tylenol bottle that tells you not to take it if you consume more than 3 alcoholic beverages a day?  Take the warning seriously.  Don’t be like me.

      My mother has seen in all and she’s a take-charge woman, a woman of action, but I have to tell you: she looked scared.

      She asked me how long it’d been since I urinated.

     The question startled me.  I was so fucked up that I’d failed no notice I wasn’t passing urine.  It’d been well over 24 hours.  More like 36.

      “If you don’t pee soon, we’re going to have to take you to the hospital.  You might be experiencing organ failure.”

       (I managed to pee when we got to the house.  My urine was the color of orange juice.)

       The withdrawal was awful…and I didn’t even have full-on DTs.  My symptoms passed within 48 hours.  The first night was the worst.  I was shaking and sweating.  I could not keep down water or gatorade.  I vomited constantly.  I could not keep still.  I had auditory hallucinations: I heard white noise and static, and it sounded like a television was on in another room.  I had an awful headache and muscle aches.  I had a fever.  

      I went through the detox without the benefit of medication.  A visit to the ER would have cost hundreds of dollars.

    Two days later, I could think again, and it was time confess.  My family wanted to know what happened.  How did  it come to this?  When did it get out of control?

       I couldn’t tell her about the Studio.  I told her, and my brother, that I’d taken a job bartending as a way to make ends meet, and ended up working as a cocktail waitress in a topless nightclub.   I figured Mom would find this to be bad, but not unforgivable.

      “You weren’t a stripper though, right?” she asked.

      “Nope.  I just delivered the drinks.  And drank them.  We were encouraged to drink with the customers.  It was depressing and it got out of control.”

        Mom bought it and let me stay in the house on the condition that I quit the fictitious waitressing job immediately.  She and my brother thought it would be best not to tell my Uncle, the retired cop.

       My father knows nothing.  We don’t speak with him.

      I stayed with my mother for a week, flew home, and checked into rehab.  It cost all the money I had.  I go three nights a week.

      If I go back out, I am going to die.  I would rather die than repeat that experience. 

       Of all the mistakes I’ve made in life, drinking is #1.  I wish to God I’d never started.  When I hear people in AA say that they are grateful to be alcoholics, I think that they sound crazy.  It has almost killed me, completely stripped me of my dignity, and has retarded my progress in life.  And it just might kill me yet.   

7 thoughts on “Relapse”

  1. whew! don’t know what to say , I wish you good luck, I enjoy your writing and hope you can beat those demons.

  2. My heart goes out to you and am glad you made it. You have a lot of strength to have made it through all of that. I would like to be in prayer for you. Hang in there you can do this and find freedom down the road.

  3. What a story. Take care of yourself. Reading through your posts it is clear how much you want to turn over a new leaf. You took all the necessary steps. It will take time but you will be fine in the end.

    BTW your mom is pretty cool.

  4. Hi Margo

    I think it took a lot of courage to do what you did. It is not easy admitting to anyone, especially ones family that you fucked up. Remember what Churchill said about failure not being fatal and how success is only fleeting and you will do fine.

    Take care of yourself.


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