Why do I hate being sober

Well, then I'll just try to do something about my alcohol problem

It's one o'clock in the morning on Saturday and I'm sober. I definitely don't want to be sober, but I am. To be sober at this time of day is completely alien to me. It's just as strange as being drunk at eight o'clock in the morning — which I've really never done before, even if everyone, including my mother, thinks I'm the greatest gulp of all.

I'm sober tonight because I wasn't yesterday. I was drunk yesterday. My excuse? A birthday. A group of partygoers had surrounded me and congratulated me on the article I recently wrote about my drinking problem. You clinked glasses with me. I swallowed her well-intentioned words with what little decency I could muster in my drunken, sleepy state. I'd drank so much that I started talking about my ring career in high school (I won a bronze medal in a competition in my state, but only because there were only two other girls in my weight class ). I had undoubtedly had more than enough.

I woke up at 3 p.m. and was useless. Just like in the old days. I had allowed myself to shoot myself because it was in the presence of other people. This is my new rule: never drink alone. But when I'm surrounded by other warm-blooded mammals, I'm allowed to down a can (or eight) of cheap beer. Telling myself that I can't drink alone means, conversely, that I stay up as long as possible to drink in the presence of other people. So my new rule is pretty stupid.

After spending the afternoon staring into space and picking up my things, I was acting as a comedian tonight and - here it comes - was sober. It wasn't because there wasn't any alcohol. Backstage there was bourbon, my favorite drink. However, I chose to ignore the whiskey, even though every fiber of my body consumed it. Damn it, it was free after all! Was I crazy? I couldn't judge whether my performance, which was normally "optimized" by the booze, was more astute or smooth without the alcohol. Realistically, it was probably better. Stringency makes communication easier, after all.

After that, I went to another birthday party that was held in a somewhat bonzy bar in Hollywood. I sipped my water and praised myself for not spending eight dollars on a cocktail. However, my complacency about the money saved was the only joy I was to receive at this celebration. With a blood alcohol level of 0.00, I was unable to converse with others. Eight dollars isn't much for a feeling of social security. I left early again.

Ever since I cut my alcohol for the whole damn eight days, I've been over-watered. I now exe water with the same enthusiasm that was normally reserved for bourbon. I have to drink something. My bladder is heavy. I spill over as I walk. It becomes a problem.

Photo: Jamie "Lee Curtis" Taete

I drank so I could fall asleep. My ex left me some weed that I tried instead. It did not work. After smoking weed, I stayed up doing the same stupid things on the internet that I do when I'm drunk. When I woke up, I was totally groggy, just like if I got drunk. How can the people who smoke that stuff all the time even function?

Sleep is indeed a problem. But it always was. I fall asleep, I wake up, I fall asleep again, I wake up again, I stay awake. In the incessant white noise echoes the incessant noise of my thoughts, my fears, my regrets, the to-do lists that keep me awake. When I'm sober, they're even louder. Great.

Exercise, meditate. My friend Merrill advised me to do this. So I should keep the inner demons at bay, which led me to the demon alcohol. She taught me a mantra. It was based on hers, but not the same, because for your own mantra you have to go to the Transcendental Meditation Center and give a shaman a lot of money. I don't earn enough for that. The mantra Merrill taught me consisted of just two meaningless syllables (meaningless in this case means that they mean something in some enlightened language). I decided to come up with a mantra myself — one in a language I understand. I decided on "in, out". This is how babies are made, this is how machines are made, cards are stamped, this is how our lungs work. The source of all life. In, out.

I was lying on my bed with the covers pulled over my head and repeating my mantra. Just out. Merrill had told me that it was perfectly normal to have incoherent thoughts buzzing through my head, but that I had to ignore them as best I could. I tried hard not to think about who my ex was sharing the bed with now, whether my mom was proud of me, and so on. I did pretty well until my hangover started attacking me under the covers. He wasn't a thought, he was a hangover. And unlike thoughts, it was impossible to ignore it. I gave in without coming close to enlightenment.

I actually used my rowing machine, which I usually smoke cigarettes on, to row. After 35 minutes you should have released enough endorphins. I should be better after that, Merrill had told me. The whole thing was incredibly laborious, every moment felt like 35 minutes. Halfway to nirvana, I gave up.

I asked my friend Karen why she had stopped drinking. "Because of the seizures," she replied. All well and good. That's a good reason to stop. I've never had seizures because of the alcohol, but I do have a full episode Last Call With Carson Daly seen because I was too drunk to switch. So who is worse off here? (You, definitely her.)

People ask me why I chose to drink less. Because I couldn't go on living like this, I answer them. After that answer, they stare at me blankly. Many also tell me that I give the impression that I can tolerate alcohol very well. It's almost like congratulating a heroin addict for hiding her puncture wounds so well. The fact that I never did a huge scene while drunk impressed people (but to be perfectly honest, I fell down the stairs once).

Since writing about my drinking problem, I've received dozens of long emails from people who are also battling their drinking addiction. Her problems seem a thousand times bigger than mine, which makes me feel like an impostor. I'm not an expert, I just drink too much. I do like to reply to these emails though — it doesn't make me feel so alone. Although of course I'm sitting alone in my apartment while I answer that.

The article I wrote wasn't a cry for help. It was a statement. Nor was it an expression of my giving up. Giving up is my basic attitude. I wanted to give up, make myself try. Trying is just as foreign to me as being sober. I hate it. I hate trying. But I'm used to hating. That's why I got this far in the first place.

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