One week of sobriety: A test of self control

Last week was a blur of disappointment and successes, but not for the reasons most might be thinking.

The biggest stateside video game conference had come and gone. It hadn’t been a fun filled week for me as it was for the many that gather here to our great city to celebrate the latest advances in technologies.

I work in two fields: journalism and entertainment. And while video games are a part of my 9-5, they are followed by my true passion: journalism. I have been fortunate to have resided on both sides of the fence. Each has its perks and setbacks.

I did my laundry Sunday. I washed away the remnants of people that I had thought more of before last week, of someone who I didn’t know what to think, of someone whom there exists a war in my head with what to think, and of pieces of myself that I’m learning more and more about.

I waver in between worlds within the spotlight and highlighting those who sparkle under it. But this camera sees a depth of field that…

With any conference comes the after parties. Behind these scenes is where the real magic and disasters occur. It’s the stuff of a million stories that writers won’t write about. It’s the stuff of stories that they probably should write about. It’s stuff that gets compiled into your brain and begs and begs to be released but rarely ever does.  Its the stuff that you wish you didn’t know.  It’s the stuff of stories that can drive you insane due to the lack of ability to release.

It’s the story of someone making an ass of themselves meeting someone for a secret rondevous. It’s the story of trying so hard to impress someone that the only thing that surfaces is the detestable.  It’s the story of having so much alcohol in order to make others tolerable, that a black out happens. It’s the story of [redacted] and the story of [redacted redacted].

When you work in the entertainment industry, you see this in so many instances that eventually, you have two options:
1) Let it overcome you.
or 2)Find a way to overcome it before it consumes you whole.

Life becomes more exhausting than usual. Not only does the weight of your own reality weigh on you, but so does the weight of the people vying for their chance to shine in the limelight of a coveted piece of fifteen moments of fame on the tabloid of choice.

Fearing an impending overdose on it all, I elected to take a command step forward. Paired with someone to assist in co-miserating the experience, I embarked on a journey into a world of glitz and glamour free of a method of escape. For one week I would be alcohol and smoke free.

Notes: I am not a daily drinker. I drink on a number on an occasional basis: networking parties where everyone has a glass of something in their hands, happy hour with coworkers, dates, and when something is really getting to me. The same generally applies to my smoking habits sans for one additional place it enters. Ah the “joys” of Los Angeles traffic.

Day one was to start when he left. He and I had spent the whole day together booze free. The evening had been cut short unexpectedly. Our plans to disappear into historical places taking roost in fabled haunts with as equally fabled spirits faded into the ether (for the time being).

An hour after he’d left however, I found myself assisting a friend (and veteran featured personality) with an art show she’d curated located within a seedy motel downtown. My time was spent in a bed navigating perverts (read: art enthusiasts) through the graphiti clad thrashed rock themed art room. He and I had talked earlier about me attending the show and I was originally going to stay at home and work on my book, but yet there I was. In the middle of it all, I stayed true to my mission. I remained sober and penned away at a notebook as the crowds waved in and out.

One shocking thing happened from the alt-shock event extravaganza  was not what I was expecting in the slightest. Among the sea of onlookers was one of the artists featured in the show with a very special guest. He was a “short” man.  Five ten with brown hair, scruffy and parker-esque. He had a smile that illuminated the room. His words faultered as he was nudged to “Just ask her”.

He talked to me a few minutes.  He’d wanted to take my picture with this artists work. Both of them were delightful people but there was something more about this gentleman. While talking about how we’d both ended up at the event by way of serendipitous routes, my tale of my mission to be sober for the week came up in conversation. He turned to me and said “I completely understand. I’m sober myself.” Does like energy really attract like energy?

When I arrived home however, it was nearly 2am. I was exhausted from the event. I’d had to help scrub the graphiti off the walls and clean up the aftermath. There had been four of us toiling away that evening cleaning. Being an art curator (or in my case, assisting one) is not always as glamorous as it sounds.

The bar below my apartment had my favorite beer on tap. I immediately walked up the steps and got a glass. But after I’d paid for it and it had been poured in front of me, I began to feel horrible. Day one of sobriety had been going so well. Within an instant, I’d ruined it.

The next day I went to visit family in Huntington Beach. I was intending on spending some time as a mermaid beachside a bit as well. Of course, the outfit I chose as I headed to the beach felt more suiting of the event I was at last minute then what I’d ended up wearing. Cest’ le vie. As I packed my bag my brain immediately went to “cans of beer and smokes”.  I shook the idea off and headed seaside.

Even after I’d arrived to family bbq, the two items I’d left behind were pushed into view. My family helped to make excuses for why it would be alright.  So did friends who’d invited me to return back to the bar below my loft bribing feats of hilarity in kiddie pools.  Everyone seemed to chime in “You can just start tomorrow.”

Remembering the night prior, I stuck true to the goal. It was a bit frustrating but it was nothing compared to the temptations that would follow the rest of the week. One such example happened later that evening when I’d arrived home. My secret guest and I had limited ability to enjoy our weekend as my roommate (who isn’t usually home and isn’t home as this is being written) was home for the entirety of it. However she’d had a guest that evening. I wanted nothing more than to go downstairs and have a beer. No can do.

I found myself as the week progressed, and as life continued to rapid fire bullets of everyday flies in the ointment, running a gammit of emotions from intensely frustrated with my lack of easy escapism, to rationalizing the act, to… undeniable clarity.

I went to my first networking event without the escapism. At one point, I’d thought that the booze was necessary. You need a glass in your hand in order to be approachable after all right? Almost right. The event had been a test of wits. It forced me to modify the way I went about my interactions. With the sobriety came more clarity and control over myself in navigating the event than I’d remembered experiencing for a long time.

My eyes were wide open.  I saw everything.  I was better able to gauge who would be the best conservators. I met more valuable, more mature and more truly talented people than I might have had I not been completely sober. I immediately was able to see how I could make their businesses better.  I was more on point with statistical and competition information.  I felt empowered by my lack of a barrier to readily access that information.

The main rationalization I’d previously turned to for the reason to do it “I deserve it” became the reason not to do it. It evolved. Perhaps I did a little in the process as well. And while I may not go completely sober or smoke free right now, I will continue to follow this path. The lessons that I have learned from this week shall not disappear into the ether. I highly encourage each of you to try this for yourself. You don’t have to have a huge problem for it to be effective.

Why?  Because “You deserve it?”  Almost.  It’s because “You deserve more.”

If you or someone you love is experiencing a debacle great or small with alcohol or any other substance, don’t be afraid to seek help with it. You are not alone. For more information on support centers and other outlets, or if you just want to attend a meeting to see what others are saying to see for yourself, feel free to look into the following link at your leisure:

Alcoholics Anonamous

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