Wasted Days and Wasted Nights


Some things have to come first: Sami, Eric, Michelle, and Clark.

WARNING: If you are looking for funny Pamelot, she took the day off to commemorate a serious anniversary.

Seven years ago today I  made a decision that changed my life. For the better.  Forever.

Seven years and one day ago, I drank alone for the last time.  Seven years and one day ago, I drank too much, alone, and damaged my relationships and myself for the last time.

The catalyst? My son.  Clark the ADHD Wonder Kid, at the age of eight, told his teacher that he was worried about his mother.  Now, see, I’ve gone and made myself cry already when I’d barely started writing this story!  Sheesh. I hate it when I do that.

Anyway, Clark’s words stopped me cold.  I knew what he meant.  I knew I drank too much and too often, and that it had started years and years before.  I knew my face had puffed up, that I woke up hung-over over frequently, that I cut out of work early to drink, that I acted awful when I was drunk, that I no longer exercised.  I knew that and a lot more.  But all of that was about me.  And I didn’t care enough about me to do anything about it.  I tried, sure, I tried cutting back any number of times.  For all the good it did.

But for Clark or my other kids I would do almost anything.

So I told my boss I would see him in ten days.  He didn’t ask why.  I boarded a plane for St. Lucia and I checked into a Mind and Body spa.  I planned a week of rejuvenation while I “dried out.”

So what did I really do?

Got drunk by myself in a panicked sobbing frenzy on night one, so drunk that I woke up the next morning and didn’t remember falling asleep in the bathtub with the TV on.  Congratulations, Pamela.  You go, girl.

I didn’t think I could get lower than I had been after I heard Clark’s words.  But I did.  The morning after the last time I drank alcohol was the lowest point of my life, including my divorce, the bloody aftermath, and the ensuing custody battle.

I despised myself.  Not for the first time, I wished I were selfish enough to kill myself.  It seemed like that would be so much easier.  For me.  But this was not about me.

It was about my kids.

So, I picked myself up and put on my too-tight stretchy exercise clothes that used to fit and marched with gritted teeth up 7,000 steps in the heat to the Mind and Body center.  I spent six days instead of the planned seven alone in my mind (my version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s full year of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, I guess).   I sweated.  I cried.  I felt like absolute crap.  I walked the beaches until my feet were as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

And then I came home.

It was hard.  So very, very hard.  My ex-husband, to whom I was still married, drank quite a lot at the time, and he did not slow down for me.  The bad marriage I had drowned in booze became impossible to tolerate without anesthetic, adding to my urge to drink.  Most of my friends were heavy drinkers, too, and they looked at my decision to stop drinking as a personal indictment of their choices.  They gave themselves too much importance.  Because, who was this about?

Right.  My kids. I kept going.

I counted the days out painfully, one by one.  I rejected the idea of joining a group, like AA, out of fear for the impact on my high profile career in a small community.  I did it alone, with only one real friend aware and still “with me” (thanks, Nat!), in the middle of an alcohol-rich island environment.

Years later, three months had passed.  Alcohol-abstinence started getting easier.  Not a lot easier, but easier.  And I felt better, I looked better.  I lost weight.  I acted nicer.  I became more energetic and productive, crisper.  I started running again.

Clark quit worrying about me.  (Tiny little sob again, but I’ve got it under control, no worries.)

I am now married to a man who gave up alcohol on our first date.  Of course, this is the same date on which he told me I stopped his heart.  Bubba-mon/Eric/@trimon29 — whatever name you know him by — wasted (pardon the pun) no time in showing me he meant to be my hero.  And he is, for more by far than putting up with me writing about his Ironman underwear.

People ask me how I “do it all.”  A drunken Pamela could not have run five marathons and written two novels in one year.   And it’s not just the productivity alcohol drained away from me.  I have more money for what I need to do as well.  I refuse to tally how much I’ve saved.  It would be too humiliating.  But I am so grateful that when I needed to watch every penny over the last few years, I wasn’t battling myself for alcohol money.

I know alcohol doesn’t affect most people the way it does me.  Most people can drink in moderation and still thrive and achieve.  I am happy for them, and envious.  My non-drinking is not a judgment of what I think others should do, it is what I must do.

I’d love to say that after seven years — SEVEN YEARS — I never think about drinking, but that is not true.  Four nights ago, I woke up with the sweats, dreaming that I had “fallen off the wagon.”  I had an intense desire to search the house for a bottle of comfort in the middle of the night.  Every time I travel, the urge strikes, because I used to drink alone in hotel rooms.  Now I lay awake all night, surfing the net to distract myself, and praying for the day I never travel alone again.

What I can say is that I don’t want to waste another day or night of my life.  I want to be the best me I can be 24/7, for my kids, my husband, and, finally, for myself.  I know only one way to do this.  So I will stay true.

One day at a time.  Seven years at a time.  For the rest of my life.

Happy Seven Years to me.

Pamelot

p.s.  This is the first time I have told my story except to a select few, so writing this and clicking publish was a stomach-churning, second-guessing, nail-biting experience.  But many correctly guessed that Leaving Annalise contained an autobiographical element, or, rather several autobiographical elements.  This is one of them.

Comments
77 Responses to “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”
  1. Christina says:

    I think it’s great that you wrote about this Pamela, because when you hit publish you really let something loose. I mean “you” in the universal sense, but I imagine it’s specifically relevant to “you” personally. Congratulations – you should be proud of yourself.

    • Pamela says:

      Thanks Christina. So true. My followup blog will be more lighthearted tho, someday. Post drinking: how to use all those saved calories and dollars. Subtitle: your nondrinking friends can still be fun and drive you home, too!

  2. Susie says:

    To my brave and wonderful daughter- and thanks CLARK!

    • Pamela says:

      Clark may have a much higher calling later in life, but up until this point, he has been the catalyst for me to do better. Damn his hide🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Vickie says:

    Pamela ~ Simply: You ROCK! Congrats on your anniversary and here’s to many more.🙂

  4. Jimmie King says:

    Thanks for sharing – never second guess yourself. It encourages me to be a better person.

    Thanks again!

    • Pamela says:

      Thank God for our kids; they make me resolve to do better every day. Most days I can’t honestly tell whether I have or not🙂 but, I just keep plugging away.

  5. Pamela,
    Hard to write, hard to read… I’m glad you wrote it and glad I read it.
    Keep on keepin’ on.

  6. LeDawn says:

    Beautiful.

    Here’s to many more sober and productive years.

  7. Eric Hutchins says:

    I am very proud of your courage and strength. ( and you are not a bad writer either😉 ).

  8. Katherine says:

    Pamela,
    Thank you, and thank Clark and all those who have supported you! I was very much into the 80s scene, and when I started dating, my now husband made one simple request–let’s both stop drinking and give our relationship a true chance at success. It was and has been the BEST thing I have ever done. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY my friend.

  9. Heidiopia says:

    My dear soul sister– bravo for you. Your courage and commitment to your “people” is so inspiring. That’s all I’m going to say, because I’m too teary to say anything else. I hoist my water bottle to you and say: “Cheers!”. Keep up the fight!

  10. Anje says:

    Hey Pam – Thank you for sharing your story!! You are an awesome , strong and very real woman(when I say real, that is a compliment in my book). You shoot straight and I like it!! Huge Hugs to you. Please never stop writing.

  11. nat says:

    Now you went and made me cry also!

    In ten intimate years, during which I time I have known you, You have always been an ispiration, leading by example.

    To your thanks I offer in return, a thanks.

    Thank you for continuously living it, being it, stressing it to better it and for telling it all gracefully and honestly from your heart.

    For there is one thing that you are not and that is afraid to evolve.

    I saw, I sensed and heard you, I hear you and can then seek a similar release because you have reminded me so tenderly.

    Congraulations – YOU ARE SUCH A STAR!

  12. marni says:

    Pamela…

    I am in awe of your strength.

    I am inspired by your courage.

    I am touched by your honesty.

    You are amazing.
    (sniff, sniff)

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  13. Kim Jackson says:

    First.. Congradulations on your seven year and one day anniversary ! Your strength and passion for life are a true inspiration .. Big hugs and tons of love to you.. I am so very proud of not only my friend but my “queen”, we were right in choosing you.. For you are greatness both on the inside AND out!🙂

  14. Peter Fagan says:

    Congrats on taming the inner demons. Oh that we all could be brave enough to share ours.

    • Pamela says:

      My theory is that if I expose myself completely and face my fears then I can face anything coming my way with what I know is my future: to be casually judged and criticized for my words by people I don’t know. Side benefit: it seems to really help other people, which is humbling.

  15. Sandy says:

    Congratulations!! Growing up with an alcoholic father this story touched me a special way. I only wish my father would have loved me enough to stop his drinking. You are a brave woman and I commend you for telling your story…it could help someone to make the same decision you did. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Kevin Proops says:

    Pamela,

    My wife Sandy commented this week how lucky she feels that we found each other later in life. I agree – but after reading your blog, I think maybe you AND Eric are luckier than we are.

    Perhaps you’re blessed to have been at those lows, since you’ve managed to overcome them, and do so very well today. Congrats to you and your entire family, and may you continue the positive reinforcement which you’ve found.

  17. Danny Johnson says:

    Pamela, excellent post…XOXOXOX. I salute your honesty and courage to share your story!
    I have a family history of alchoholism; I’ve seen the dark side (been there too), probably why it scared me into being what I believe those in the AA community call a “Normie”. Little do they know that is far from Dan In Real Life. Anyhow, you rock…. Congratulations on being true to your new-found self for the past 7 years! Pat your healthy self on the back, and keep those monkey’s off of it!

  18. Paula Lancaster says:

    You SO rock Pamela! I knew Annalise had stories within stories. You’ve got grit. I”ll always think of you and your anniversary on my birthday.

  19. Kris J. says:

    I am glad you posted this. I am even more glad you were able to stop drinking for your children.

    I buried my own mother 3 years ago, because she could not stop drinking. She allowed her numerous boyfriends to abuse her children, lost custody of her children, lost jobs, homes, money, time, friends, me allowing her grandchildren to spend time alone at her home, her ability to drive a car, even her freedom for about 5 1/2 months. She still choose the bottle.

    So if your children have never said it – I thank you for putting your children first.

  20. Heidi says:

    Wow, Pamela!

    That’s wonderful!
    You are an inspiration and
    brave to share your past.
    I applaud you and your future success…
    (and your husband who sounds so great.)

  21. larry Simpson, SR says:

    did Uncle Paul ever take Clark, for his 15th birthday present, to TOOT N Totem showing his nephew where he conquered many young ladies?

    o

    • Pamela says:

      Haha. Nope. Not going to tell him that or that Toot ‘n Totem was where we bought alcohol when we were underage (and where I got busted by a cop; proud moment). Clark shall stay in the dark for as long as possible.

  22. Rene says:

    What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger! You conquered and have gone on to live up to your amazing potential! keep on going girl . . .

  23. J Sturgeon says:

    Pam…am so proud to call you a friend. I only wish I known…to drop you a word of encouragement, give you a hug, or if needed….kick your behind. 🙂 You’re doing great….

  24. adena says:

    Woman, you are a true inspiration. WOW There is much I can relate to here, thank you or being brave enough to press the publish button. (ps I am talluleh from twitter)

    • Pamela says:

      Thanks Adena/Talluleh. Hitting publish was harder with this blog than with my usual silliness. But some things need to be said, you know?
      I occasionally throw out a big emotional piece like this — “Confessions of a Guilt-Stricken Mom” (adhd/my son Clark), “Turn the Page” (high school reunions, closure, moving on), ” “Take Your Head out of the Sand” (abuse of kids), Getting our Groooove On” (learning how to be @trimon29/Eric’s wife). Therapy-via-blog. But usually I’m pretty silly. I’m working on rewrites for 2 funny novels for an agent, and she wants me to focus on being funny; every now and then I cheat tho and Wasted Days is the result.
      Wishing you best of luck on your goals (half marathon up thru olympic tri) … and the next goals after that, and all the hidden struggles we carry with us. Thanks for visiting🙂

  25. Donna says:

    Wow, I am totally inspired by your strength and determination. Here’s looking forward to Year 8.

  26. Steph says:

    I’m proud of you Pam. That’s awesome! Another dear friend of ours has gone through this. I Don’t drink either. But I don’t do it as a choice and a decision I made to support my friend that had the problem. I always tell people, “I’m high on life baby!” lol I love you friend!

  27. runningfairy says:

    Congratulations Pamela.

    What an inspiring blog post. My father isn’t able to have a lone glass of wine either and having grown up worrying about him (and even now when he’s had 6 and 3 years of steady sobriety) both my sister and I have similar traits that you can trace back to being very ‘all-or-nothing’. I constantly have people tell me ‘one glass of wine won’t hurt’ and it gets tiring having to justify yourself which alone is challenging.

    An amazing thing to have had the courage to go through as a choice on your own and so lovely you have Eric who totally supports you in your choice now.

    Well done you.

    • Pamela says:

      “One glass of wine won’t hurt you.” You either have the perspective to understand the fallacy of this for someone with a propensity toward “all-or-nothing” or you don’t. You so beautifully do! Thank you for sharing your story with me. I hope you, your sister, and your dad continue to do well.

      Pamela

  28. ryoko861 says:

    Just found your blog through your twitter profile.

    Blogs are funny things. We pour ourselves out in mega-pixels, gigabytes and lash out on the keyboard about our innerselves. I know exactly where your coming from when it comes to clicking “publish”. I always get a hot flash when that time comes around.

    Your story is inspiring to all who have this nasty affliction. If I could I’d hug you! You’re stronger than you think! I’m so glad you got your life back on track. You’re still dealing with those ghosts, but you won’t let them get the best of you! I commend you!

  29. Suzanne says:

    You already have 61 comments but I suppose you will still like one more🙂. Your story – wow. I nearly cried myself reading it. Such bravery to climb incredibly steep mountains. Don’t ever forget how brave you are. I’m going to check out the rest of your blog now – thanks.

    • Pamela says:

      Hi Suzanne! Thanks for commenting despite all the others🙂. Thank you. I really appreciate your words. Welcome to Road to joy. It’s partly about fitness/triathlon/bicycling and a lot about relationships, parenting, and utter nonsense.

      Welcome!
      Pamela

  30. heide says:

    Happy Lucky Seven! 🙂

  31. Erin says:

    This was hauntingly beautiful. I cannot imagine what you were going through, but you are obviously strong, and a survivor. I’m thrilled you found @trimon29, too!! And Clark? He’s turning out so well!! And it’s because of YOU and that choice you made 7+ years ago. BRAVO, Pam, BRAVO!

    Cheering you on! Love this. Loving YOU!

    @erinlynn76

  32. I like hearing what “serious Pamelot” has to say just as much as I like hearing what “funny Pamelot” has to say. It’s all good. It’s all you. Thanks for sharing your story.

  33. LBDDiaries says:

    Now it is 7 years 1 month and 29 days and I just read this. How powerful. Hi Pamela, you ROCK and you made it through the toughest time – waking up believing you’ve fallen off the wagon. Congratulations to you!! And many, many more.

  34. As if I didn’t think you were great enough, you had to go and post something that would make me like you even more…You are such a brave woman to make this change in your life and even more brave to share it with all of us. I know what it is to feel ashamed when your children realize and call attention to your weaknesses. I quit smoking when my older son started asking me, every time I left the house, “Mommy, are you going outside to smoke?” It was definitely not a good feeling…

  35. That post has seriously inspired me Pamela. What a great writer you are, such emotion in your story. Well done for achieving 7 years and by the sounds of it, making a very successful life for yourself. Keep up the good work and keep writing!

Trackbacks
Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Christina Uticone, Eric Hutchins and Eric Hutchins, PamelaFaganHutchins. PamelaFaganHutchins said: Wasted Days and Wasted Nights: Not anymore. Happy 7 yrs to me. http://t.co/PU1955g #blog #imaybesoberbutimstillfun […]

  2. […] am not a quitter. I am an example to my children. I run the race to finish, not for speed. I guess I have even […]

  3. […] quite what it seems to the rest of the world.  I habitually and publicly confess my failings and foibles.   I wish I could do the same with my marriage: how about a story that Eric is a compulsive […]

  4. […] and two other Clark Chronicles — I love you but I’ll have to kill you now, she said and Wasted Days and Wasted Nights — round out the top […]

  5. […] the best of reasons.  For the love of … […]

  6. […] worry about me.  I’ll sit in my hotel and dream about the day when solo business travel will be a memory.  And everything goes right, for a […]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Comment Policy

    Comments that are negative, bullying, harassing, unpleasant, or that piss me off will not remain on this site, if they make it past my eagle eye at all. Be nice, or go play somewhere else. Thanks!
  • Copyright

    EVERYTHING (posts, pictures, etc.) on this blog, Road to Joy, are copyrighted to Pamela Fagan Hutchins, all rights reserved, and may not be copied, used, printed or distributed without my express written permission. You may link to the blog and my posts. Questions? Ask me.
%d bloggers like this: