Friday, March 25, 2011

Because rehab can be so lengthy and tiresome.

{Opening note: I am not saying that rehab is bad. I went to rehab once for a whole other issue. I think rehab is really important and that if someone needs it, then they should go. Cheers and snaps for rehab. I am not pulling a Charlie Sheen here. I did not cure myself with my mind. This is just a tale of my journey and how it went down in my life. Not a judgment on rehab. Had to be said. End opening note.}

This past weekend was the six-year anniversary of my farewell to drinking, more affectionately known as “The Bender Bash”. Upon finding out that I do not drink (or that I “quit”) most people immediately ask if I am an alcoholic and if I go to AA, which is a oddly personal question to ask someone that you are just meeting (not to mention that the second A in AA stands for anonymous), but you know me I am an open book, so it does not phase me. The truth is that I am not an alcoholic, I had the potential to be, and that became painfully clear to me as time went on, but I had a really hard time embracing that fact. Which is funny to me now, because it seems SO OBVIOUS in hindsight.

For numerous reasons, I did not drink until my 21st birthday (outside of an unfortunate incident involving premixed vodka and grapefruit juice in an unmarked container found in the fridge when I was 14…lets just say that the aftereffects of that ensured my purity until I was of legal age). Upon becoming 21, I learned that there were perks to my Irish heritage, namely that I could drink more than most men double my size. And believe me, having attended Arizona State University for the latter portion of my education, I had many occasions to gather empirical evidence to back this statement up. I was the girl who brought a round for the bar – the party girl that everyone loved. Lets just say that there were numerous instances that pointed to the “this could be a problem” theory [lets refer to those as RED FLAGS #1-99], but I was “in college” and “having fun” and “embracing my youth” – so that theory was put on the back burner.

Fast forward to when I was informed of my craziness on paper in mid 2004 (explained in detail here), one of the things that the sassy graph made of stars told me was that I had strong addictive tendencies and that I had an equally strong tendency not to realize that could be a problem [RED FLAGS #100 & #101], but I decided that since I was given this information that I could control the issue therefore it would not be a problem (oh justification, you are a snarly beast).

Then, in October of 2004, I got a DUI [HUGEST RED FLAG IN THE HISTORY OF RED FLAGS]. I am SO lucky that the situation was not worse. That being said, I can say with out reservation that it was the most humiliating and awful 15 hours of my life (and I have had some pretty low lows). To this day when I think of that phone call that I had to make to my mom, my stomach turns – it was not my finest moment, to say the least. Side note: You may wonder why on earth I would share this dirty little detail with all of blogdom. Well, as I have said before, I am just trying to keep it real here and it is a very REAL part of this story and an important detail of my journey to superpower-hood.

So one might think that this horrifying incident would be the straw that broke the camel’s back, but ooooooh no…instead I told myself that I just needed to “understand” what it meant to be over the legal limit cuz clearly I was confused before and that I would just stick to 2 drinks at a time (as opposed to 10) and then I would be fine. But before long 2 drinks became 3 and 3 became 4 and so on. [At this point the RED FLAGS are so large that they might as well be RED BANNERS, so I stopped counting] During this time I was seeing my new doctor and we were discussing meds and such and there was this constant little voice of reason in the back of my head that said, “helloooooo, if you need to be on mood stabilizing drugs, you probably don’t need to be drinking…CAN’T YOU SEE THE RED FLAGS?!?!?! THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!” But justification reared its ugly head once again and I carried on because “I had it together” and “I could handle it”.

And then one morning after a night of more than 2 drinks, I woke up and that voice was YELLING at me, I could not ignore it any more. That day I told my dear friend Tanya with tears streaming down my face that I had to quit. I told her that I would change my mind in like an hour, but that she had to promise to make me do it, this had to be the end. She did just that. She is a really really good friend.

Suddenly I was faced with all sorts of questions: How would I convince my friends that I was serious? Would I still be the fun girl that everyone loved? What on earth would I drink when I went to bars? Could I even go to a bar? Is there life beyond a perfectly made dirty martini? The list went on and on and out of these questions the ‘Bender Bash’ was born. Tanya and I devised a fool proof plan: I would go out in “Jenn Lafferty” style and throw the bestest most fabulous party ever, then everyone would know that I was for serious and have to support me (besides it gave people the opportunity to have “one last drink with the fun party girl that everyone loved”). And to top it off we had commemorative shot glasses made that read: “Bender Bash 2005, because rehab can be so lengthy and tiresome”. Because a party is not a party unless you get to take a shot glass home (pictured below) always, keeping it classy.

It was epic. A million people came. I curled my hair and wore a backless shirt (hey, I could only exhibit good judgment on one thing at a time in those days, don't judge). Hilarity ensued. I did a shot with my mom. More madness. More shots. My first and last Irish Car Bomb. And then it was done. I went home, got in bed, woke up the next morning and it was over. No hangover. No drama. We went and had pancakes. Chocolate chip pancakes in fact. And that was that.

It was the best decision that I could have ever made for myself – it honestly changed my life. Standing here six years later I feel so incredibly blessed. Had I not listened to that voice in my head it could have turned out really bad and that decision would have been made for me by circumstances with consequences that scare me to even imagine. So I don’t, instead I try to live every day with a thankful heart.

And in case you were wondering, there is life beyond the perfectly made dirty martini – its called dessert. Deliciously wonderful heavenly dessert. OH and I still have a box of those shot glasses if there are any takers out there. Perhaps it could be my first ever blog give-away ;).


  1. (not to mention that the second A in AA stands for anonymous) DUDE!

    thank you for sharing and being real.

    i too have had to learn which influences i can no longer afford. and that is my line that i tell people. that it is an influence i can not afford.

  2. I love reading your blog, you have such a way with words!

  3. great anniversary to celebrate. put some flowers in that shot glass!!!

  4. your honesty inspires me. your humor makes me giggle but the portrait you paint is so clear and the words and emotions so palpable I feel like i'm on this ride with you.
    drinking jen would've been "fun" but sober jenn is HIGHlarious!
    keep it comin girlfriend!