Why Being an Alcoholic and Working From Home Can Kill You
6:30AM — 6:45AM: Morning shakes from lack of alcohol, high anxiety and amygdala in a tizzy.
6:45AM — 6:50AM: Pace around the apartment pretending to clean up but really just buying time while awaiting the inevitable.
6:52AM — The inevitable. Puke my guts out and finally ready for a stiff drink.
6:55AM: Depending on the level of anxiety and day of the week, take 3 to 7 shots (no training wheels) from a fifth of Jose Cuervo or the Handle left over from the weekend.
7:00AM: Still spinning but at least now I’m liquid. Thank god for Tequila.
7:05AM until I Pass out. Work and hit the bottle when:
a) something good happens
b) something bad happens
c) if I’m anxious
d) if I’m relaxed
e) as long as I’m breathing
This was the daily routine for three years when I began working from home full-time. I’d been drinking since I could legally drive, but as I aged, my vices and tolerance grew exponentially. I could drink God under the table.
It’s Not a Lie if You Believe It
As the habit spiraled out of control, it was harder to stave off being exposed as a boozer by anyone outside the circle of trust. At least when I was went to an office everyday, I had to keep it together.
There were countless nights when my head never hit a pillow. I’d come home from whatever rave cave sucked me in, shower, suit up and get through the day by tapping into my reserves. The rationale being that if I played through, I wouldn’t get hungover.
I bounced back from benders with aplomb. But over time, I lost resilience and my right mind. Instead, I started calling in sick to keep riding the high or recovered under a blanket eating soup since I hadn’t had solids for days.
When I started working from home, a few of my friends warned me about the monster. What’d they know? Pride told me I was stronger than any other and could monitor my intake just fine.
It didn’t take long to slip into the golden handcuffs. I got a new Sales job and handled my business between shots up and throwing up. This was the new normal and I assumed, the rest of my days. I was neck deep into my habit so why fight it? C’est la vie I told myself.
“So you’re saying that drinking yourself to death seemed easier than trying to quit?”
Truth is What You Make It
By now, I’d done most everything that didn’t involve a needle. I’d been hitting it hard for decades all while working but most important, hiding the demon from family. And in spite of life as a hurricane, I broke a few sales records, made a decent living and created lasting friendships. Such is the malfunction of a functioning alcoholic.
At this point, I’m drinking a fifth of Tequila a day and making sure I’m stocked for the next. To avoid the judging eyes of store clerks in my 4 store rotation, it was better to have a spare than face civilians at 8:00AM on a weekday.
Any real alcoholic who’s being honest will tell you it’s a full-time gig. Between staying fortified, fear of being caught and keeping up with Sales, my BP was stage 3 hypertensive.
There are a series of complex calculations involved in maintaining this type of charade and it’s exhausting.
“Why not just quit working, lock myself in the apartment, get bottles delivered and give up?”
And while trying to hold position, my body began to reveal secrets in not so subtle ways.
“How come you’re always sweating? It’s like 40 degrees outside” people would ask.
What can I say. I’m the guy who sweats walking downhill through a snowstorm in a tank top.
When I decided to make changes, I made weak ones.
- Getting Botox injections in my forehead, to stop sweating buckets, wasn’t the answer nor did it work
- Having Doc prescribe Naltrexone, a receptor antagonist used to treat alcohol dependency by reducing your urge to drink, then drinking while on it added insult to idiocy
- Admitting myself into rehab the first time, leaving after 7 days and buying a bottle within 10 minutes of getting home was not growth
I’d never have admitted it back then but my job performance suffered because of how hard I hit the bottle. Some of those gigs may not have been worth keeping which doesn’t change the fact. I was chaos and the wind behind stupid. I lived in a world of perpetual damage control.
It’s taken a couple of years to put this hot mess in writing. My initial thought was who cares? This isn’t a unique or enlightening story. It’s nothing more than a carousel of bad decisions. People have faced much greater challenges that weren’t self-imposed and persevered. This isn’t that and besides, the way I grew up — oversharing wasn’t a thing. But a few said — “Share your story, it could mean something to someone”.
Ten More Shots of Courage Before I Go
Truth be told, I’m not writing this for an “atta-boy” or “way to get sober”. I don’t need to hear it, but I get that others do.
Some celebrate their sobriety by posting number of days without XY or Z because it helps them. More power to them. I just don’t aspire to a school that rewards you with applause and a chip because you figured out how not to kill yourself deliberately.
“I’ve been down so goddamn long, that it looks like up to me” — The Lizard King
I was double-fisting two fifths of Cuervo that morning. The goal was to drink myself sober which had been a somewhat effective strategy in the past. But on this day — body, mind and soul were tapped. I was out of town for a memorial service and simply ran out of gas. The jig was up.
So I packed, took Uber to the nearest hospital and admitted myself.
“Help, I’m an alcoholic”.
That was the first time I ever said those words. My blood alcohol level was at .249. Apparently .30 and up, depending on your weight and tolerance, is when things start shutting down — sometimes permanently. They IV-D me, tested blood, pricked and prodded while letting me know it was a good thing I came in when I did. I stayed there all day and eventually, they had to discharge me.
The next option was finding a nearby hotel and picking up where I left off or, come to grips with the fact I just spent ten hours in the ER. It was time to man up, blow up my life and hold myself accountable.
And how does a grown-ass man, man up? Call mom — naturally. Shock, awe and disbelief on the other line and by far the hardest call I’d made in life. But also one of the most important ones.
Cease on Disease
Because alcoholism is labeled as a disease, some insurance companies will cover part of your treatment. This undoubtedly beats paying 20K out of pocket for 28 days.
But here’s the thing. You don’t catch alcoholism like you get cancer. There are no 12 Step programs that rid you of Leukemia. You can’t group-talk your way out of disease. Or psycho-therapize your body out of it.
For every child of an alcoholic that becomes one, there are those who don’t. Kids are affected by their parents bad behavior which leaves emotional scars. It’s a raw deal but that doesn’t change the fact that we must be accountable for our own actions.
We can’t hide in the shadows of genetics forever. Eventually, your life is your life. And if you have the physical and mental faculties to change, then change or else weather the consequences. Alcoholism doesn’t hit you overnight. You can’t say you didn’t see it coming.
Alcoholism: Living the Dream in Reverse
Booze is a best friend and confidant. She is someone you can count on until, she betrays you and that friendship becomes toxic. Where once lived love — fear, resentment and loneliness take its place. Desperation dominates.
But it’s not a disease, it’s a Decision.
Take two identical scales and put them next to each other. Place the value of your Life on the first and on the second, your Habit. Which weighs more? That’s the decision. Luckily, when you make the right one, you’re not alone.
Working / Drinking From Home
Maybe you work from home or you don’t. You might drink, “experiment” or neither. But perhaps you know someone who does and they need a beacon. As salespeople, we’re addictive by nature. Alcohol and drugs dwell in all professions but with the pressure in Sales, we tend to lean into them with more gusto. Add to that, freedom to work from home and Congratulations, you’re hog-tied to an anvil.
Rehab’s for Quitters
My second stretch in rehab stuck/ knock on wood. I stayed the entire 28 days.
Some recovering alcoholics and addicts paint sober life as a series of miracles. More power to those people. My journey is still one of discovery, trying to stay out of my own way and seeing what I’m capable of. I suppose one could consider trying as the miracle. I’m guided by bounties instead of the bottle with the upside being — being alive.
If you’re on a trajectory of abuse, I’m not mad at you because I know exactly how you feel. But remember…
You can’t see clearly driving at night with one eye closed, going in the wrong direction, down a one-way road.
Originally published at https://saleslane.com on February 18, 2020.