I woke up this morning with “John Wayne’s Teeth” from Smoke Signals playing in my head. If you haven’t watched Smoke Signals go right now, rent it from somewhere, sit your butt down and watch it. It is a beautiful story about American Indian life and redemption. I screen it at least once a year either in my classes or during some random period of time where we babysit and show films. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I am a high school English teacher.
We live about 15 minutes away from the largest reservation in the US, The Wind River Rez. About 16% of my students are Native. Alcoholism is both endemic and epidemic on on the Rez. I hear heart breaking stories from my students. I am supposed to be role model. I am supposed to provide sanctuary. For awhile now, I have felt like a fraud.
What will a sober teaching practice look like? I absolutely love teaching. I am relatively new at it and fought for the position I have currently. I almost pissed it away last year: teaching hung over, not planning like I should, late on paperwork and grading because drinking was my weekend priority. No one ever called me on the drinking but I am guessing my principal knows something is up. I neglected duties related to an after school tutoring program and subsequently was removed. I am starting my third year and my principal has told me that she is evaluating whether or not I am a good fit. Basically, she told me to get my shit together or I am done.
The more I evaluate my alcohol use and related actions and inactions, the more I see how much is riding on successful sobriety. No pressure, right?
This is probably the honeymoon phase of blogging. I have started blog projects in the past but have lost track of them largely because A) I was too busy getting hammered and B) when you are drunk all the time it is really hard to remember passwords and usernames.
I am feeling pretty good about seven days but am trying to prepare myself for the challenging week ahead. It is the 4th of July here in my little western town, which means the entire (or so it seems) city is hammered from sun up to sundown. They even waive the open container laws and turn a blind eye to non-blatant drunk driving. This has always been a epic drinking day for me and my also newly sober sweetie. I know we can make it, but I can’t deny it will be challenging.
So on to a different topic, withdrawal. Withdrawal sucks money balls. The first time I went through withdrawal was earlier this spring when I stopped drinking for 9 whole days. I wasn’t ready to admit that my drinking was abnormal (ha!) or boarding on suicidal at that point, so back on the sauce I went. That withdrawal (which was truly terrible) was a minor inconvenience compared to what I went through last week. I still have a little bit of a headache and sleep is definitely more illusive than I would like but last week I felt like the bottom of my skull was being held captive in some horrible vice (ala some 1990 mob movie). I was itchy, angry, irrational and unable to sleep. I went to get my brows done and my hairdresser, a very well meaning person with whom I have always shared tales of epic drinking, pointed out that I was, “a little jumpy.” She recommended a G & T on the P-A-T-I-O (she was spelling it out for the benefit of my 4 year-old daughter who was fluttering around the studio. I really, no joke, could have punched her right in her cute little pierced nose. I haven’t punched anyone since I was 17 and smoked marijuana laced with PCP. Thankfully, my better angels prevailed and I did not punch my longtime hair dresser. She would feel just awful if she knew what I was going through. Plus there are very few hairdressers in my little town who know how to do anything other than Texas style rodeo hair. It would have been a multi-faceted tragedy
- I want to wake up and feel ok.
- I never want to teach hungover again.
- I never want to parent hungover again.
- I don’t want my kids to remember that I was drunk all of the time.
- I never again want to avoid paying bills to make sure we have enough money for booze.
- Baby Boy asked me why we have to buy a “set of wine (5 litter box)” everyday- It was horrifying.
- I don’t want to be able to feel my liver in the middle of the night or wake up with heart palpitations because of my drinking.
- I never want to hide from or feel embarrassed when I see students and/or parents at the liquor store.
- I never want a student to point out how much alcohol he or she saw me put in my car.
- I never want to scream at my kids because I am drunk or hungover again.
- I never want to go sleep upstairs because of some stupid drunken fight.
- I never want to have to struggle to remember conversations, movies or television episode because I was drunk when I watched them.
- I never want to call my dad drunk again.
- I want to be able to read again in the evening.
- I want to be able to talk to my dad after the kids go to bed.
- My skin looks like shit and my nose is getting big and red.
- I want to be able to socialize without alcohol.
- I don’t want to wake up at 4AM after a party or dinner and worry about what I said or if I sounded/seemed drunk.
- I want to be able to save money and pay all of our bills every month.
- I never want to post dumb shit on Facebook at 12AM because I am drunk.
- I want to lose weight.
- I want to have the energy to workout again.
- I want to be a better role model for my kids and students.
- I want to do better at my job.
- I never want to call in sick because I am too hungover to teach.
- I never want to go through withdrawal again.
- 36″ -31″-42″- not going to happen while drinking boxes of wine and bottles of bourbon and tequila.