Finding my Willpower

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.

6 comments

  1. Allison @Insomniac L says:

    Not that I'm in any way happy that this is happening to you, but I'm glad you're sharing these things about the DUI class- it's really interesting.

    Congratulations on finding the willpower not the drink at the bar! It is hard to be the one that isn't drinking, but if you could do it once, you can do it again. Good luck!
    Allison @Insomniac L recently posted..New mode of transportation- biking to work?

  2. Pershy says:

    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.
    Pershy recently posted..How to Make a Solar Panel

  3. Robert says:

    I will not dispense further hate for your DUI, as it is redundant to other hate already dispensed. Would you drink and drive a locomotive? Or an aircraft? Of course not. That's SERIOUS transport, you know… but wait, when does a pilot have to dodge a pedestrian? How can an engineer avert a stupid driver? They can't. They don't have to. Driving is actually harder.

    Why do we drive? Oh yeah, the freedom. I don't know. I've set my housing situation up so transit worked really really well, and I didn't pay thousands a year to own a car, and didn't ever have to operate heavy machinery. That's another kind of freedom.

    Here's the thing. Humans are not made to be under the stress of serious duty all the time. We need to relax, you know, eat DRINK and be merry, naturally and organically without worries. Partying like hobbits in the Shire, that's okay. Sounds like you got a lot of somber words against drinking in DUI class. That's misguided, like Carrie Nation waving her axe. Nobody'd have a problem if we didn't suddenly have to snap from party mode to "operating heavy machinery" mode. There's the problem, it's not the hooch, it's the car!

    Pilots have a pro rule: no drinking 8 hours before flying. Keeps things simple. I like the rule, you just need to plan to make your partying happen care-free, whoops I mean car-free.

    • Joy says:

      Robert, I agree with you. Clearly it's stupid to have anything to drink and drive. But the law is up to .08% BAC drinking and driving is legal. I think that's the problem. It's impossible for you to know the difference between .07% BAC and .08% BAC. It's an arbitrary number. Someone may be really out of it at .07% BAC and someone may be fine at .08% BAC. My boyfriend can have 6 glasses of wine and be under a .08% BAC. I have 2.5 and I'm pretty much at that, especially if I haven't eaten a lot that day. Then we live in this drinking culture where everyone has a couple of beers and gets behind the wheel. There's definitely a much smaller percentage that goes out to party, gets shit faced drunk and drives — and these are the people you often see getting into accidents, and yes, there are a few of those in my class and I want to kick them. But there are a lot of other people who are confused by the culture where their boss and colleagues have a couple of drinks at happy hour and drive home. My colleagues do this all the time. Are they over .08% BAC? I don't know. Some of them probably are.

      That said, I now know not to drink ANYTHING and drive. It's better to be at a .00% and not play a guessing game on percentage points. It's definitely hard when the entire company goes out after work and buys a few bottles of wine for the team to enjoy. I do now know that I can get home with a two hour train and bus ride from work, as long as it's before 9pm (it takes 20 minutes by car) so if I really want to drink I can use this method to get home. Ultimately I don't trust my judgement after I have just one drink, so I'd rather not drink unless I've left my car home for the day.

  4. Pedro says:

    Your blog has kept my spirits up since receiving my first DUI on Sunday. I've felt this enormous sense of hopelessness and disappointment because I don't what to do or where to run to. This is such a setback in my young life (I'm 21) but keep telling myself that things happen for a reason. That reason being that I will never, ever drink and drive and when I choose to resume drinking it will be from the comfort of my living room. I just want someone to tell me that everything will be okay.

    Thank you for being so brave and sharing your experience with the world. It means a lot to have someone relate what they're going through.

    Pedro

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