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I Forget the Last Time I Forgot…

I Forget the Last Time I Forgot…

I Forget the Last Time I Forgot…

I was driving around yesterday, picking up obscure items like those things you stick to the floor of slippery tubs so you don’t fall while taking a shower and knock yourself out and drown. I saw a sign on a billboard on 28th Street. The sign read, “I Forget the Last Time I Forgot”.

Brain Teasers…

That is the kind of brain teaser I usually can’t get out of my head. And it was especially meaty, because it was in front of a sad looking import shop.  I can picture the boss saying, “Get a message up on the sign out front that will drive traffic in here.” And some poor guy, with a handful of plastic letters chose this unsuitable aphorism.

 

Maybe he’s a recovering alcoholic.

 

Because, this recovering alcoholic can relate. It occurred to me, it has been ages since I have forgotten what happened the night before, or blanked out a conversation I had or unrecalled buying a puppy on the internet. That horrible, hollow feeling when the kids are saying, “Mom. You said we were going to Disney World today. Remember?”

 

Why Does too Much Booze Make you Forget?

According to an article by Denise Cummins Ph.D. in Psychology Today, “When the body’s alcohol level rises too high too fast, memory functions are impaired. The hippocampus, a brain structure that is crucial for transferring information from short-term to long-term memory, is impaired at a cellular level. The resulting amnesia can be en bloc (can’t remember anything) or fragmentary (bits and pieces something can be retrieved with proper cuing).”

 

And females are particularly at risk for blackouts.  Dr. Cummins says, “This is because females tend to weigh less than males and have less water in their bodies to dilute alcohol levels. They also have less of an enzyme called “alcohol dehydrogenase” in their guts to break down a small percentage of alcohol before it even gets into the body. Females also are more likely to skip meals to save calories when they drink, so there is less food in the stomach to help absorb the alcohol. As a result, more alcohol reaches the brain, where it plays havoc with sensory and memory functions.”

 

It is not exactly clear how alcohol creates a memory “blackout“. And the amount of  alcohol required to impair  memory and potentially cause a blackout, can vary. The type of alcohol, and the amount consumed is significant. If you are pounding moonshine, don’t expect to have sharp recall of how you got home (or to someone else’s home…).  And the faster you drink, the more impact there is on the brain and memory.

 

Mornings are the BEST Part of Being Sober…

I have said it before, but I’ll say it again. Mornings are the greatest part of a sober life. There is nothing like opening one’s eyes and feeling clear, clean and honest. And my memory is sharp enough now, I’m the one who recalls the details and says, “Remember?”

 

There seem to be benchmarks in alcohol recovery. At three or four months, the effects of post-acute withdrawal (PAWS) begin to dissipate. At two years, or “advanced recovery” cravings and triggers have less impact. And at 5 years the relapse rate drops from a whopping 75 percent in the first year of recovery, to 7 percent. People who successfully complete a formal treatment program or an intensive outpatient program (IOP) have higher recovery rates than those who do not. And day by day, benchmark by benchmark, the brain rewires.

 

For me, at four years sober, yesterday was another benchmark – marking that I’d forgotten I don’t forget anymore. And for a minute, as I ran normal, everyday errands I remembered there was a time when I would have run the same errands with wine shooters clinking in the glove box.

 

Best not to forget that

 

Today I’m not drinking, because I am remembering what I don’t want to forget…

 

How come you’re not drinking?

E2E Remember us…

Comments (12)

  1. Tall Girl
    Aug 7, 2017

    Because I hope to always remember today. I got to help out a fellow alcoholic today by picking up medication at the public hospital pharmacy that looks like the DMV only ten times more dreary, shabby and indifferent to the mass of humanity waiting in line. I took the prescription to this person at the halfway house, nestled near the viaduct and the rundown shotgun houses. My friend has the resolve of the newly committed to a new way of living, and I am humbled by her resilience. I am grateful I did not have to get to this point to find my bottom, and my morning prayer each day from now on will be for help to remember what I saw and how I felt today.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Aug 11, 2017

      Oh man. I have learned for every story and situation there is a worse case scenario. It is smart to remember what might have been. And to gather strength from someone as resilient as your friend. It goes both ways. Thanks – I always love to hear from you.
      XXXOOO
      M

  2. Eva
    Aug 7, 2017

    Always good to hear your voice Marilyn. You keep me in check :)*

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Aug 11, 2017

      And yours! I’m always happy to see your comments.
      XXXOOO
      M

  3. Martha
    Aug 7, 2017

    This is a good one Marilyn! How many times did my kids say we have discussed this 4 times, don’t you remember! Yes the mornings are SO awesome! No regrets except for maybe I shouldn’t have eaten the 2 scoops of ice cream. I’m so glad you mentioned PAWS. It was a very real thing for me and I am now privileged to be helping someone new in recovery and be able to share with her what those symptoms are and “This too shall pass”. I am celebrating one year of sobriety August 10th and reading your blog has been with me since even before I started this journey. Thank you.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Aug 11, 2017

      I remember!!! I am so happy for you. And now, you are helping someone else. Congratulations on this marvelous new life.
      XXXOOO
      M

  4. Cocomac
    Aug 8, 2017

    Congratulations on the 4 years benchmark! I’m coming up to 3 and sometimes we forget how difficult it was to get past that 1st day. Always enjoy reading your blog – thank you, love Cocomac xxx

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Aug 11, 2017

      Thank you and congratulations. Time and patience and even a little luck. It’s a much better life…
      XXXOOO
      M

  5. tim s
    Aug 8, 2017

    “At three or four months, the effects of post-acute withdrawal (PAWS) begin to dissipate.”

    This is a really important statistic for those who are kind of playing around the edges of recovery. In AA, we celebrate 30 days; it’s a really big deal. Still, nobody would suggest that anyone has experienced “sobriety” at that point. It takes work and time. And patience. Sobriety is there for you if you want it, but it won’t happen tomorrow, or even necessarily within your first year of not drinking though you’ll be well on your way.

    As we used to sign off during our early online sobriety networks in the 1980s: KCB,IW.

    Keep coming back, it works.

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Aug 11, 2017

      It has always seemed unfair to me that a person makes this great shift to stop drinking and they get hit with the ill-effects of PAWS, weight gain, unsightly cravings, triggers from a smell or a flash of color. It feels like the decision to change a life should be enough. Alas if you could bottle the feeling a couple years on… Patience is not the bailiwick of the alcoholic. But you are right – time and what works heals. Keep coming back is correct.
      M

  6. Steve Schwendemann
    Aug 9, 2017

    How come you're not drinking?
    Because soberity/recovery is so much better
    I love your articles. Mornings are the best when in recovery!!!!

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      Aug 11, 2017

      Thanks and mornings are the best. Clean and clear.
      XXXOOO
      M

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