Two Drinks are my Liquid Xanax

Woman & Alcohol


The first time I had sex I was drunk.  I was 15 and had two wine coolers – THE drink in the 80’s. I had just met the young man who would deflower me a few hours earlier. He was a friend of a friend. We got flirty in the car on the way to South Beach. We were going clubbing on Washington Avenue. I felt so cool. Alcohol wasn’t new to me at that point. I had been sneaking drinks of whatever was in the cabinet for a year by this time. This was the first time alcohol was a tool for me, though. It enabled me to do something I was afraid to do. In hindsight, that wasn’t really a good thing.

drinksAs an adult, I began to use alcohol to deal with anxiety about social situations and situations where I have to eat.  Due to IBS and anxiety, my stomach cramps up whenever I have to go out to eat with people I’m not really familiar with. I’m ok if I’m eating with a close friend, or my husband or son, but if it’s someone new, I need a strong martini, or at least its wimpy cousin wine, to be able to actually eat. Sometimes, I go overboard. A couple of times I have heard myself slur my words and I get very disappointed and embarrassed. I think just like some people are prediabetic, people can be prealcoholic. I think if I weren’t committed to NOT becoming an alcoholic, I could easily become one.

When I overdo it, I get a quick wake-up call, literally. Many times, I have woken in the middle of the night with nausea, cramps, heart palpitations and sweating. This is always after having a couple of drinks, or more, with dinner. It seems to happen if I have a couple of Cosmos, or other sweet yet strong drinks. Each time, I promise myself that I will not drink for a week. I usually make it two days.

And I understand that is a red flag. Whenever I say I’m not going to drink, I end up drinking more. I drink five or six times a week. I have two drinks on each of those days. It’s not a lot, and I haven’t lost my job or gotten in trouble because of alcohol, but it is definitely a regular habit.

drinksI use alcohol to deal with having to be social. I’m a hermit by nature. Since I have worked from home for 11 years, I do spend a lot of time alone. When I have to be with people for any length of time, I generally use alcohol to deal with the jitters, and as I mentioned, the cramps.

At a recent conference, I had a double vodka and club soda before dinner each night, and a glass of wine with dinner. So, that’s three drinks if we are being honest. I had planned not to drink at all at the conference because I wanted to lose weight. I also wanted to support a friend of mine who was attending and had just started AA. I failed.

Oddly enough, I never drank before doing a stand-up comedy show. You would think stage fright would push me to drink, but no. I used the nervousness as energy and ignored the colon spasms. I DID have a couple of drinks before an open mic night ONCE. This is when I learned that I really should not do that. I forgot most of my mother-in-law bit and that right there is comedy gold.

“My mother-in-law is just one of those women who is, what’s the word for it? STILL ALIVE. She’s not even sick or anything. She just keeps breathing. At my wedding, this woman came running up to the altar and kissed my new husband RIGHT ON THE MOUTH. She looked at me and said, ‘HE’s still my son!’  Of course he is. I hadn’t been screwing him because I wanted to be his MOMMY!”

drinksOne time, after a show, I was sitting at the bar with the headlining comedian. He was the only comedian I have ever met who had a full-time job with benefits. In comedy. He worked at a comedy club in Pleasure Island, in Disney World, back when there still was a Pleasure Island. In addition to being a full-time comedian, he was a recovering alcoholic. He gave me the side eye when I requested a shot of vodka for my “stomach cramps.”

“Alcohol doesn’t HELP your stomach,” he told me, with a hint of gay man sass. Actually, as a depressant, alcohol DOES help with cramping. It DOES NOT help things like acid reflux or heartburn, but it shuts down intestinal cramping.

I’m not the first person to use an addictive substance for stomach pain. Kurt Cobain ended up getting addicted to heroin because his stomach hurt. For real. Opiates shut down cramping, too. Opiates make me feel sweaty and icky, so I don’t think I would ever be a heroin addict, but I could see myself getting to the point where I am carrying a flask for medicinal purposes. This is perfectly acceptable in some cultures.

drinksI really don’t think I’m an alcoholic. If I went to an AA meeting, I would probably be escorted out with shouts of, “Have you ever sold your plasma for booze? Have you ever lost your job, or your family?” No. I have not lost anything from drinking, except complete control of my actions at times. And my virginity. And my dinner twice. Yes, I’ve only barfed from drinking twice. Both times I was in my 30’s.

I’m prealcoholic, though.  This is why I always stop at two drinks.

Read more of our alcohol series:

Alcohol: For the Love of the Bottle

Drinking and the Dreaded Morning After

Read more of Lisa’s work.

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About Lisa Petty
Lisa R. Petty is a former stand-up comedian who decided she would rather just write funny stuff than deal with drunk people touching her after shows. When she is not cracking inappropriate jokes, Lisa is an online English professor. You can read more of her snarkasm on Petty Thoughts. If you like humor and cat pictures, you can follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Lisa recently published Petty Thoughts, a humor anthology based on her blog.
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1 Comment on Two Drinks are my Liquid Xanax

  1. Linda Gudmundsson // May 21, 2016 at 6:12 pm // Reply

    I absolutely loved this article, Lisa. I think you are helping a lot of women who deal with this issue and think they’re alone. Alcohol and anxiety often go together for obvious reasons. I also share the inability to eat in uncomfortable situations and I was convinced I was alone with that. Thank you for making me feel less abnormal:-)

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