A look back at a random night in Portland…step two of three that led to my sober date, 2/11/14

Preface: This post touches on my experience with drugs. For friends and family who didn’t know about this side of my addiction this may not be a popular topic. Nevertheless drugs are a part of my story, especially towards the end of my partying days. It’s the truth and it needs to be told. 
When I think about the behavior that led up to my sober date, 2/11/14, three specific instances come to mind.  These distinct experiences each had their own theme, all of which were self-destructive, and were cumulative enough in nature to send me to the edge.  First, my three days spent in New York City leading up to New Years 2014.  Second, a random and low-key weekend in Portland in late January of 2014.  Third, and lastly, my three day solo drinking binge during the snow-apocalypse weekend in Corvallis of February 8-10, 2014.  New Years Eve was pretty self-explanatory, many of my best college friends gathered in the center of the NYE celebration world, NYC, to ring in the new year.  Let’s just say I had a really good time. The snow-apocalypse weekend in February of 2014 wasn’t as calculated from a social- excuse-to-party perspective, it was just me in my apartment, alone, with a large cabinet filled with Crown Royal and IPA’s.  The town of Corvallis was shut down because of all of the snow, proper justification to isolate myself and get after it.  The middle instance, the random weekend in Portland, was different.  Looking back it was a terrific example of how susceptible I was to destroying my body and mind, even when I had other plans for the weekend, which included a solid weekend of riding with my new cycling team.  Last night I had a dream that brought me back to that weekend, I want to explore it more.

After the New Years Eve debacle in 2014 I arrived back in Oregon with the intent to shut down all of the partying and get back at training to get ready for 2014 road cycling season.  I had recently joined a new team, based out of Portland, and I was eager to get back into cycling shape after spending the previous two years training for ultra-running races. Late January in Oregon is when all of the roadies scramble to get in their early season base miles, but I had a different motivation of sorts.  I needed to justify all of the bad behavior that I put myself through, by training, to lose some of the beer/whiskey weight that I had gained over the holidays.  That Friday after work I made my way up to Portland with the goal of having a low-key night to get ready for a long weekend in the saddle.  That Friday night, which started off as a light and uneventful evening, turned into one of the most embarrassing, and humbling, experiences that I had ever gone through in my partying days.

Dinner that night was chill and relaxed with good friends and a light mood.  That all changed when I got a simple text.  All it said was “I have coke.”  At that point I was presented with a decision to make.  My goal for that weekend was to get in some good training miles, not to party. Unfortunately my alcoholic/ego-fueled mindset kicked in when I saw the text and I distinctly remember telling myself “why not? I’m invincible, fuck it, I’ll do both, let’s party.”  There ensued a cocaine fueled evening, ripe with dive bars and whiskey, until the early morning hours.  My relationship with drugs, speed in particular, occurred in spurts and were generally short-lived in nature.  I enjoyed it because,  quite frankly, alcohol just didn’t provide the buzz that I was looking for any longer.  I wanted more euphoria and unfortunately speed helped provide that feeling for me.

The embarrassing part of this story, apart from the damage I was doing on myself, came at last call in the bathroom stall of a popular NW Portland dive bar, The Gypsy.  At that point I had taken the remainder of coke that was circulating around that evening and decided to finish it on my own.  I walked into the stall by myself and proceeded to shove as much of that crap into my nose as I could fit, before I got caught.  Then my luck ran out.  One of the Gypsy’s bartenders had somehow caught wind of what I was doing and confronted me in the bathroom.  He caught me in the act, banging down the stall door, and quickly threw me out of the bar, I was 86’d for the first time in my life.  As I was leaving the bar I heard him threatening to call the police, so I did what I used to do best…I ran from the situation in complete denial.  I was terrified with what had just occurred, humiliated, and scared that someone would track me down and hold me accountable for being a total jackass.  Fortunately, I ended up having to only be accountable to one person, myself, and so continued the mental downward spiral.

Not 5 hours later, after just 2 hours of sleep, I woke up in a panic realizing I had lost my car keys in the previous nights melee,  and that I had to be at a group ride with my new teammates.  I scrambled my kit and bike together, hammered a breakfast burrito and coffee, and made it in time to get in a solid 90 mile training ride. And the kicker?  I felt great riding.  Maybe I was still high?  Maybe I was still drunk?  Other than my buddy, who I was bitching to about my lost car keys, I have a feeling that no one at that ride could have imagined what I was doing to myself just 8 hours earlier.  I remember telling myself after that ride that I was unique and invincible, I could party that hard and still train at a high level, look at me, look at me.  However, the reality was certainly different from perception, unbeknownst to me I was slowly continuing to dig a deeper and deeper emotionally bankrupt and depressive hole which helped lead the way to my last binge, and furthermore, my sober date of February 11, 2014.

If I had not stopped drinking when I did I know for a fact that cocaine would have become more of a regular indulgence.  I was at a point in my alcoholism that I needed something else to keep up the act, the personae, and the energy, to keep my confidence going and my ego well-fed.  I am certainly not proud of that fact that my life had resorted to using, and abusing,  other substances other than just alcohol.  As I said in the preface, this part of the story needs to be told because it was my reality.  The drug use had everything to do over-compensating for something, some hidden desire and need, that I just didn’t have the balls to find out about in a regular and good-natured fashion

What’s important to understand about this particular evening in Portland, among other things, is that it shows just how weak and susceptible I was to being tempted by outside influences.  My head was rationalizing destructive behavior in the most curious ways, if I party this hard then I can train it all off the next day, and vice versa.  It was a vicious cycle that wasn’t slowing down.  Looking back I am very thankful that I went as far as I did with these kind of substances. At this point, as long as I stay mindful and present, it will be a great reminder of where I came from.  My ship was going down, and thankfully I was able to stop it from sinking before it was too late.  Today I am just thankful to be alive.




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