About Last (Sunday) Night and other lessons from GenCon
It’s time for my Modern Life Support take on GenCon 2014. Don’t worry, I’ve got more posts about games in mind if you’re not into this sort of thing. In this post I’ll be talking about what happened to me Sunday night, as well as some overall lessons I learned from this year’s event. Click through for the cringy, personal stuff! WOO!
GenCon 2014 was for the most part a success. I played a ton of great games, hung out with a ton of great people, and had a ton of great experiences. It wasn’t without it’s speed bumps, but I think I did a better job with it this year than last. It struck me last night that this was only my fourth ever convention and only my second GenCon, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that I still don’t have a solid grasp on how to handle it.
I’ll start with the elephant in the room. I got drunk Sunday night. I’m not proud of it, considering I’d made it 210 days without a drink. It was around 7 pm Sunday night. The con was over. My friends were headed home, and I was going back to the JW as I was checking out monday morning for a more leisurely trip home. I got up to my room and dropped off all of my games and grabbed my laptop so I could do some blogging and headed down to the hotel lobby bar to get some dinner.
At this point I’m going to leave you hanging in suspense as I talk about some of my lessons of GenCon. The two biggest ones are Communication and Planning. This year I went in to both Origins and GenCon with the thought that I wouldn’t schedule anything. I was going to try just going with the flow and enjoying whatever popped up. I think this is a good strategy but it’s not without it’s pitfalls. When you’re going with the flow, communication becomes critical. I was texting my friends and trying to get together with them throughout the week, but I had some trouble connecting with some of them. Add to that a lack of consistent meeting times/places and the exhaustion and excitement of the con, and I became lax on my coping skills. My depression started lying to me. It told me that they were probably just trying to avoid me or that they were sick of me bugging them. Now I don’t want to portray this as me sitting in the corner of a giant hall of people crying to myself. But the voice was just loud enough to distort my perception. I made bad assumptions about what was actually happening, and I started to shut down. I didn’t talk about what I was feeling. And then I got wrapped up in other friends, and never revisited the seed of twisted perception until sunday night.
Ok, back to sunday. I’m at the hotel lobby bar, having water. The post-con melancholy was setting in. About 98% of these people, these fun, like-minded people, I wouldn’t get the pleasure of hanging out with again, likely until next year. I was going to be going back to normal life, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. I was lonely. I was lonely from the standpoint of not having a friend there to chat with and I was lonely from a more romantic or intimate standpoint as well. Coincidentally, I still had friends in town. But I didn’t reach out to them, because I thought they’d gone. And I’d been thinking about having a drink most of the week. I knew I had the streak going, and I knew it was a bad idea to do, so I pushed the thought away for most of the week. But that night I didn’t push it hard enough.
I ordered a captain and diet. Then another one, this time a tall double. Then another tall double. At this point I should’ve just stopped. I was buzzed, I was done with dinner. I even cashed out. Then my alcohol-fueled brain said to go see what was happening in the OTHER bar in the hotel lobby. And so I drank there. I had more captain and diet. and jack and diet. and one of the cute bartenders who I was chatting with made me some special drinks of her own design, with bourbon and ginger beer and dry sparkling white wine and other wonderful flavors. And I chatted up the guy next to me watching the Pirates game who worked for the team. And I talked to the bartender about her life and how she had a home baking business she was trying to get off the ground. And I talked with the whole bar staff as they were trying to figure out what fruit they were. The exhaustion and the depression and the crap was washed away. And it felt great. And I drunk texted. And drunk facebooked. And drunk tweeted. And I was full on drunk. And I realized what I’d done. And the flash of awesomeness that alcohol gives me, left me behind as it always does. I cashed out and just drank water until I left the bar at around 1am. I got up to my room and somehow managed to pack my suitcase. I woke up in the morning feeling like hell. I forced myself to get dressed and finish packing and get on the road. I just needed to leave and get home.
Driving 6 hours solo to get home while hungover gives a man a lot of time to think, which in the long run, was good for me. Had this happened in the middle of the week, I would’ve been swept up in something else and could’ve relapsed again. Instead, I sat in mostly silence, my head pounding, my stomach revolting against me, paying very close attention to the rest stop signs. I thought about what happened. I realized, yet again, that I can never, ever drink alone. Ever. No excuses, no exceptions. I realized that I need to stop shutting down when I get upset. I realized I need to be more explicit in my communication. No, not like that, Pervy McPerverson! But I need to be more detailed. Instead of texting someone “Hey, what’s going on?” I need to say “Hey, are you busy doing something? Mind if I come hang out with you?” Instead of shutting down when I’m upset I need to trust my friends and tell them why I’m upset, and get my head back on straight when depression has my ear.
My sobriety streak is over. But I’ve started my next sobriety streak today (since I drank across both sunday and monday). And I’ll get back up to 210 days sober. And I’ll get beyond that mark as well. Because I have to, and because I want to.