Confessions of a Former Drunk Texter

Bar,Japan,Kyoto,smart phoneMan is relaxing in the bar
Bar,Japan,Kyoto,smart phoneMan is relaxing in the bar

I used to drunk text, or drunk message.

I know the familiar feeling of dread when you wake up the next morning to find out you have spilled the contents of your brain (or heart) to an unsuspecting acquaintance. I was always willing to apologize, but the embarrassment didn't immediately go away. Unfortunately, guilt wasn't enough to stop me from doing it again.

It took me a while to figure out that this was unhealthy behavior. A part of me reconciled that I was just expressing myself. In my delusion, I told myself that I was expressing things that people might not have found out if I had been sober. What made me think a drunken rambling was a great way to share feelings I had chosen to repress? And why was that someone else's fault or problem? Not all my texts or messages were harmful. I have had deep conversations with other people while inebriated, and actually imparted wisdom and compassion; I could be caring or funny. But the ones that were bad were damaging.

Tracy McMillan said, "Generally speaking, an urge is a signal that you have temporarily lost your mind. And the stronger the urge, the longer it's going to take you to find your sanity again."
Crazy? Was I crazy? The answer is yes.

I never worried about what it was doing to my relationships -- or to the other person, for that matter. I figured they could just delete it, and they should excuse it because I was drunk. But there were very real emotional consequences. Even if a person can erase something from their phone, it doesn't stop the message from altering their perception of you. There is an informed consent between people who text one another. When someone gives you their phone number, they are giving you implied permission to call or text them -- but make no mistake that it is an intrusion. If you abuse this privilege, you can make them wish they had never given it to you. Go way further and you can end up blocked, or even on the receiving end of a restraining order.

When I sent drunk texts, I was being selfish. It wasn't a two-way conversation where we could have a healthy dialogue and come to a resolution we both felt good about. I was bombarding them with a brain dump in which I let them know all my issues and problems, and they were left to sit there reading it and wondering how the hell it came to this. I suppressed all my feelings and let them believe that I was OK with things I didn't agree with. When you drink, you lose your inhibitions and your suppression function is turned off, so it all comes gushing out unrestrained, like a tsunami. For some people, who suppress fun, they become funnier. Some suppress anger, so they start fighting other people. And some of us, like me, suppress resentment.

Luckily, my friends were gracious. They would sweep it under the rug and act as if nothing was wrong or weird about it. But I'm sure they told someone close to them that I was crazy. And I don't blame them. I was crying out for help. Deep down, I wanted someone to tell me to stop. Enabling troubling behavior can feel loving -- or you may be afraid that, if you say something, you will lose a friend. But I honestly wanted someone to see I was spinning and grab my hand. Finally, someone did.

I went way too far and I was completely out of control. A friend told me, point-blank, that what I was doing was killing everything and I needed to quit. I was stunned and relieved at the same time. It was like I was a ghost and someone had finally recognized me. And, just like that, I woke up. I saw the carnage, but it took a year of introspection for me to understand why I was doing it. I severely cut back on drinking and stopped drinking when I was dealing with something heavy that my mind couldn't handle. I stopped suppressing my feelings and holding onto resentments. Trust me, that didn't happen overnight. It's taken years of progress. I only tell my truth if I'm sober. If I feel the need to say something important, I sit on it for a day or a couple days until I know my intentions.

But most importantly, if I'm drinking, I don't go anywhere near my phone. I went so far as to hide it from myself. I saw a good tip that said to put your phone on airplane mode when you are drinking. I think the most important thing is recognizing it is a problem for me. I have to protect others from myself. Now, I don't even reach for my phone if I'm drinking, unless it's to take pictures. Well, drunk pictures are a whole other problem...

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