I Like Us Better When I’m Not Wasted

Ok, first of all, what is up with this song? Was it commissioned by Smirnoff or something? I like how it’s about drunk sex, but the video takes place at this faux empowered girl party in the 50s. I guess they didn’t have to worry about the date rape angle this way.

My guy and I heard this atrocity for the first time in a cab almost a year ago, when I was newly sober. It was playing on the radio as we guided the driver to the address of a birthday party. As we pulled up to the house, we looked at each other and said simultaneously: “Are you hearing this song?” It’s no secret our society pretends to love drunkenness while demonstrating little tolerance for alcoholism, but this song takes that paradox to a new level. Although nothing alcohol-related can really surprise my man and me at this point (he works in an emergency room, and I’m in AA) we were both a little stunned by how the song celebrates the thing that nearly destroyed us.

I’ve been in the same relationship both drunk and sober. This seems to be fairly uncommon among the people I meet in recovery, probably because so many relationships get destroyed in active alcoholism. Mine nearly ended multiple times due to shit that I did drunk. My boyfriend is not an alcoholic, and he did not find my drunk behavior cute or endearing. On the contrary, he considered it a deal breaker.

I tried to get sober to save the relationship, but that didn’t work. My motivation had to come from deeper within myself, from a place of true surrender. I consider nothing short of a moment of grace that I was able to summon this motivation before our relationship was broken beyond repair. Even after I quit drinking, it took time and effort to heal the broken trust and pain I’d caused. But now, at 13 months sober, I’m looking at the kind of future that one seemed out of reach with the person I love.

Alcoholism involves a great deal of secrecy, not just for the alcoholic, but also for the people who love her. I realize now the ways my alcoholism forced both my boyfriend and me into shame and isolation. There were a lot of details about our relationship that we couldn’t be open about. We couldn’t explain to our engaged friends why we weren’t following suit after nearly five years of dating. We couldn’t share freely what happened the night we first met, or what happened many other nights, or why I was spending the day in bed puking. We spent a lot of time trying to come up with explanations and remedies for things that were inexplicable and incurable.

Now, that striving has lifted, leaving in its place a narrative that makes sense: I am an alcoholic. When I drink, I do things that are damaging and irrational. Therefore, I don’t drink.

My guy and I are both writers with an appreciation for narrative structure, so it’s freeing for us to finally be able to agree on an interpretation that makes sense. Our relationship was lacking a cohesive narrative for a long time. While we knew we loved each other and had a shared history of experiences, jokes and adventures, there was a hole in our foundation which I wasn’t willing to deal with.

Now that I’ve patched up that hole, we’re finding it easier to tell our story. For a while, I didn’t want my boyfriend to tell his friends I was in recovery, but then I realized I was just perpetuating the sense of isolation that characterized my drinking. Besides, it was unfair for me to get to share openly with the recovery community while expecting him to keep secrets. My recovery is a big part of both our lives.

Because my boyfriend now feels like he can be open about my recovery, he’s encountered people in his life who are in recovery also. The other day, he told me about a conversation he had with one of them. This friend told my boyfriend a little about his story and what got him into the rooms, and then my boyfriend told him about me.

“What did you say?” I of course wanted to know.

“Well,” he began, “I told him how I met this gorgeous girl who seemed like she might be a little too wild for me.” He then launched into a version of our story I’d never heard framed quite so cohesively. It was about his feelings of love and attraction mixed with fear and doubt. About how he once considered himself the solid ground of our relationship but now felt I was more often than not its source of stability. About how much he’s seen me change and what a testament this is to recovery.

It was probably the best thing I’ve heard all year.

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11 thoughts on “I Like Us Better When I’m Not Wasted

  1. Great story. Thanks for sharing.

    I saw an ex-girlfriend/partner/companion from my time drinking this past weekend. We have stayed in touch over 30 years of my sobriety. By the time I got sober there was too much that was gone. I had not seen her in five years until this past weekend. Somewhat oddly, it seems that although we are now both happily married to other people, we have some sense of knowing and friendship that makes our friendship stronger than when we lived together. Recovery can do very cool and unexpected things.

  2. You are a gifted writer, and I’m inspired by the strength of your relationship.
    It’s a part of life I’ve been struggling with recently — at nearly two and a half years sober, feeling like I’m “ready” for a meaningful relationship…but still learning how to find it as a sober individual.
    Helps to know there are other people out there actively working on it, too. Thanks for sharing, as well as checking out my blog!

      • I would actually be very interested to read that diatribe. I don’t know anything about Tiesto, but this definitely rates as one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. So please, rant away.

    • Thanks! Your blog is great; I look forward to reading more. And yes, I relate to the challenge of finding meaningful relationships sober. The only way I really knew how to get into relationships–both romantic and platonic–before was by getting drunk and essentially throwing myself at people. Of course, that also ruined many relationships or caused lines to blur in problematic ways. Creating relationships sober does take more work and maybe involves a bit more awkwardness and discomfort. But the right people are more than willing to dance that dance!

  3. Agreed, that song is awful! For some reason the theme of getting drunk in clubs has dominated mainstream dance music the past decade or so, which is why I don’t listen to mainstream dance as much as I used to. Which is a shame as it kind of defined my youth. Anyway, thanks for liking my blog. Yours is great, keep it up!

    • Thanks! And yeah, it does seem to be a common theme. I’ll always remember how “Like a G6” was playing on the radio as I drove to my first AA meeting a few years ago. But I actually kind of like that song, especially the line about sober girls acting like they’re drunk. 🙂

  4. I love your story. It sounds as if God has given you a great man to understand your disease. I only read your blog because you so eloquently commented on mine. Congratulations on 13 months 🙂

    Blessings
    Art

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