Day 313: Five Years In January.

For the third night in a row the stench forced my pregnant wife to sleep in the guest bedroom. The pizza I’d eaten at 3am to soak up the smell was now a vodka-logged mound of starch festering in my gut. They should invent a Febreeze for your insides, I remember thinking.  It’s one of the booze industry’s greatest marketing spins that vodka is odorless. Unless you’re a good enough liar to convince people you’ve been funneling Purel, the acrid stink wafting from your mouth and pores is unmistakable.

I couldn’t continue to pour poison down my gullet. I was 5 months away from being a Dad, and my 4am bedtime was about to merge with 5am wakings. New hormones were also causing my wife to focus her attention on the pregnancy instead of her renegade comedian husband. I started waking with mild panic attacks instead of headaches; my subconscious was trying to get my attention.

My tweaked nerves helped me spring out of bed despite only 3 hours of sleep. I walked to what I hoped was my wife’s temporary bedroom where I found her awake, lying on her side staring at the wall. I didn’t even say good morning,

“I think I’m done drinking.”

“OK”, she said.

I didn’t expect a goddam marching band to bust through the floorboards, but “OK” felt lame.

Trying to generate a little back and forth, I said, “Yup, that’s it. No more.”

“That’s great, babe.” She responded. It was a little better, but still not quite what I was looking for. I guess she didn’t believe me.

There were no tremors, or sweats, or forlorn liquor store window shopping. I was never an alcoholic, I just consistently drank much more than I wanted to (cue the jolly laughs of alcoholics thinking I’m in denial.) Rock bottom was probably years away, and I’d applied the brakes firmly before I lost anything but some memories and dignity.

At the comedy clubs I downed Diet Coke and buried my head in crossword puzzles until my name was called to go on stage. I hardly spoke with anyone anymore, and left as soon as my set was over. It wasn’t very good for my career; so much of stand-up comedy is based on relationships, and I wasn’t capable of having sober ones yet (update: I’m still not).

I struggled on stage too. I lacked a certain looseness that booze afforded me. I had to learn how to be comfortable up there without alcohol silencing all my internal dialogue. I was thinking while performing, and I didn’t like it. I’d  started drinking to kill my nerves. I took a shortcut and never learned how to entertain people as regular me.

My personal life changed just as dramatically in the opposite direction. I went to the gym every day to combat my anxiety. I shaved my beard and replaced 3am pizza with 6pm “Amy’s Bowls” of brown rice and broccoli followed by an hour of silence as I let Crest White Strips erase signs of dental neglect. Lindsay and I both had more respect for me.

By the time Silas was born, I had lost 30 pounds. Now, almost 5 years later, he knows the difference between Mommy’s beer and Daddy’s beer because mine is the only kind he’s allowed to taste.

Holy bejeezus am I glad I never have to take care of my kids when hungover.

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Amber says:

Y’know…I enjoy getting kinda tipsy and loose but I feel like a horrible mother when I do. Here I go, kinda wobbly and stage whispering sweet nothings to my crying 20 month old as I try to change his diaper and give him his sippy while coating him in my booze breath.

Graham E. says:

Nice story. You don't have to ride the garbage truck all the way to the dump. Booze was my solution for everything and it worked. Then it stopped. Booze and drugs became my solution for the problems booze and drugs were getting me into. It was a vicious cycle. I had no other solution. Finally I found others who had beaten this hopeless game. They all had the same, simple plan. The solution lies in others drunks, and in a book. There are chapters in this book called, "There is a solution" and, "How it works."

JB says:

Those jolly laughs came from chemical dependency counselors too :) Way to keep it together and have your priorities straight!

Melanie says:

I've been sober almost 3 years now, and I totally WAS an alcoholic. It took me about 2 years to be completely comfortable with interactions and not have severe anxiety in crowds and social situations.

I don't miss the hangovers. I DO miss the really good pool sessions. I was never good sober, really good 5-10 drinks in, then shitty again once I was SUPER drunk. I rarely play now because I just don't get in the groove like I did while drinking. But I plan on picking it back up now that I'm comfortable in bars enough to hang out and not want a drink. I really miss pool.

Amber Jager says:

Thanks for sharing! As a recovering alcoholic myself (one year next week), and mother of two young children, I didn't have to hit the theoretical "rock bottom" either before stopping. But it was clearly bottom enough. I read your blog every day, and it's a bright, funny spot of sunshine that I look forward to. Now, back to the trenches!

Melissa B says:

Congrats, its not easy but Ive been there as well. I have 2 kids and cant imagine trying to deal with them hungover or shitfaced for that matter. I love your blog, came across you through a friend in NJ and have been reading daily since!

Jessi says:

Coming up on 20 and I am an alcoholic. And no, I can't imagine taking care of a kid hungover….but I DO understand why mommies like their wine after bedtime. Nice job keeping it out of the ditch, Jason.

Jessica says:

absolutely beautiful and brave of you to share. (and, I did parent hungover once. Once was all it took. NOT FUN. Safe to say that will never happen again- you’re lucky you figured it out first!)

Scott says:

Well done, Jason, and thanks for sharing such an intimate moment. It is great that you chose to pull the plug before you didn't have that choice anymore.

Jason Good says:

Now the pressure is really on not to get shitfaced before January.

Gina says:

Congratulations! How GREAT for you and your family. Five years! Hooooooo!!!

Jill says:

Congrats! I look forward to reading your blog each day.

Thank you.

Beth says:

ditto – your blog is a much-needed fun distraction every day. thanks for sharing and congrats on the 5 years.

Samantha says:

Congrats for kicking the habit!

Lauren says:

I never comment, but (as the daughter of a very funny recovering alcoholic) I wanted to tell you that you did a great thing for your kids (as you already know) when you kept rock bottom from ever happening. I love your blog!

Elizabeth says:

I can tell you from personal experience that taking care of a baby and/or toddler while hungover is THE WORST. And WORSTER* still is the fact that it was totally self-inflicted. I am embarrassed to say it took a few more hangover/childcare experiences to cure me of ever having a hangover with my now 4 year old again.

* I strongly believe the word "worster" should be in the dictionary.

Melissa B says:

I'll sign the petition to get "worster" in the dictionary…