The other day, I wrote a post discussing my thoughts on my DUI and how it has affected my life. It definitely caused me to pause and reflect on how out of control my life has become. Not as an alcoholic, but in my lack of control of myself, my emotions and my actions.
Today, for the first time in 5 months, I drove to work. I could have gotten a restricted license 4 months ago, but I was afraid of driving again and waited until I felt I was ready. It also happened that today my company sponsored a drinking event after work. While I am not an alcoholic (according to my DUI class last night), I do find it difficult to refuse a drink when I am at a bar and the rest of my team is sharing a seemingly unlimited supply of wine.
I knew I had two options — either not drink, or have a drink and find another way home. Given I have not driven in 5 months, and how much I enjoy the freedom of driving, I found willpower to not drink. Yes, it was hard for me not to have any wine, when all of my co-workers (many of whom were going to drive home) were drinking multiple glasses, but I knew I had no other choice if I was going to drive. In addition to never wanting to drink anything and drive again, I have a 3 year probation with 0 tolerance, so I can’t even have a glass of wine and get behind the wheel. That’s for the better — it helps me focus on putting myself in social situations with lots of alcohol around and not drink, in case I ever need to drive home in the future after such a social event.
It is difficult — and frustrating — to be in a culture where it’s almost considered acceptable to drink and drive. Of course, no one thinks it’s acceptable to get shit-faced drunk and get behind the wheel, but I’m confident that many people have a couple of beers and think they’re “just tipsy” and fine to drive home, and they do. It’s frustrating because most of these people never get caught, not that I’d want them to suffer, but it’s also crazy how in my DUI class there are people who had .14% – .25% BACs and they are still upset they were in trouble.
The DUI class itself is fascinating. Yesterday was the last of my 10 “education” classes, which are now followed with 5 “process” classes. I have to pay about $650 for these classes. I’ve never spent a lot of time with people who drink a lot or party, but the class makeup is extremely mixed. You do have the people who clearly like to party and went out drinking the night away and woke up a hospital bed. But you have others who had a few drinks at the bar, thought they were ok to drive (or at least more ok than their friend who they went out with) and ended up being busted just over the legal limit because their light was out or for some other reason, unrelated to their driving.
Yesterday’s education class was a good one to end on, for this section of the program. The topic of the day was “addiction.” It was extremely sad to hear the stories of my fellow classmates, many of who had alcoholics for parents. One woman had a realization in the class that her husband was an alcoholic and she was gravely concerned that he was giving booze to her teenage kids who were drinking and driving, as she had given up drinking entirely since her arrest. Others are just angry they were caught and claim they felt fine while driving, even at .16% BAC and higher. It’s funny that I get angry at them, such as a guy who had a .23% and was driving with kids in his car at the time, and I want to shout “dude, you had three kids in your car and a .23% BAC, you have no right to be angry at the police.” I think we all judge each other, but in the end our punishments are the same, no matter if we were just over the legal limit or well over it, with or without kids in the car (well this guy’s lawyer was apparently really good.)
While I didn’t relate to being addicted to alcohol, persay, the topic of addiction really hit home for me because of my food addiction. Sometimes that does seep over to alcohol but for the most part I drink when I’m with people, and don’t hide my drinking. I do often hide my binge eating. And the addiction topic made me reflect on just how important it is to have willpower. So today, when I was at the bar, I forced myself not to have a drink. I knew I wouldn’t drive home if I had even a sip, but it wasn’t worth it. Just like junk food is evil and uncessary, so is alcohol. It’s a shame it’s so accepted as part of our social culture. I’d rather avoid it entirely. They don’t preach total abstience in class, but ultimately I don’t understand the point of drinking if it’s not to escape and have a good time, which often amounts to doing something embaressing or having a lapse of judgement. It’s very hard not drinking around other people who are drinking, and I hate seeming so stiff, but ultimately I think I need to quit drinking for good — along with junk food — and any other form of binging that I seem to have such a talent for. Only when I can learn how to avoid binging on anything bad for me will I be able to be a healthy person.