Unqualified With J. Harvey: Problem Drinking

August 20th, 2008 // 24 Comments

Hey guys. This week we have a reader who got drunk and acted the fool and people aren’t speaking to her. What can we do to help? God knows I’m an old hand at THIS particular topics. Keep reading.


Hey guys. This week we have a reader who got drunk and acted the fool and people aren’t speaking to her. What can we do to help? God knows I’m an old hand at THIS particular topics.  Hi J. Harvey,  I live in a small community in basically a rural area.  We have a rather small group of peers who are here shall we say doing a similar kind of research.  In the past few months, my true friends have moved on and I have felt pretty lonely.  I wasn’t sure how to respond to their departure– try to merge with the other established cliques here or just wait til my time was up (not a short time, nearly a whole other year) and pioneer it out on my own?   Well, apparently I decided to try to make new friends, and attended one of their functions recently.  There’s always lots of booze at these things and everyone was pretty drunk, but I got reeeeealllly drunk and did some things that were so absurd and socially retarded I can’t bear to describe them.  I now see it was a combination of the lonely feelings and what I’m realizing is some kind of social anxiety problem I apparently have, as well as just the influence of the silly sauce of course, that led me to lose my good sense to such a degree.  The saddest part is that I didn’t even realize how retarded I had been acting.  I really left thinking I had been a hit!!!  : /  But I ran into some of the ‘in group’ of these other cliques a few days after the party and they were so cold and dismissive of me it forced me to ask myself why the major change in attitude, and then it slowly dawned on me just how ridiculously inappropriate I had been.  I didn’t hurt anyone, I just made a fool of myself.  In a crowd of people who liked me and knew me, the behavior would have been funny…but in a crowd of already slightly weirdly hostile tensions– for no real reason, just stupid clique immaturity– it was not received well, and outwardly ridiculed in fact, by one woman especially who always has been bafflingly evil to me. Needless to say, I’m mortified.  I’ve sworn off drinking just to be safe, though I’m pretty sure I’m not an alcoholic.  (I am in recovery for another addiction and have in the past checked out the “Is AA for you?” pamphlets and I don’t fit the bill, so it’s not a simple matter of ‘get this woman to rehab.’ )  As I said before, our community is small.  I can’t avoid these people and it seems rumor of my actions have spread to the new people who replaced my graduated friends, who now don’t want to be associated with me, and even to the supervisory staff in my lab and my once stellar reputation there is now becoming tainted, because my boss really values having a good image and the best workers, etc….  In addition to this, I’m now totally alone here.  No even gratuitous invites anymore and there’s just no one else to hang out with unless I leave town which is possible but expensive, though I do do it as often as I can.  Should I apologize to these people?  Try to make amends somehow?  Just grin and bear it?  I’m dying of loneliness and shame.  Please tell me how you and your readers see it.Dear Kal,Oh, sweetie. If I had a Susan B. Anthony commemorative dollar for the amount of times I got my swerve on and ended up making a complete and total ass of myself – let’s just say I’d be able to have a Jay’s Favorite Things episode on my own damn talk show and the audience would be getting a lot of swag.What I really want to know is – what did you do while you were drunk? SOMEONE must have told you. Did you f*ck someone’s spouse? Pee in the middle of the dance floor? Rip off your clothes and try to entice the entire room? It must have been pretty hot if this many people are no longer speaking to you.Did you like, slap your daughter and fall through a shower stall like Meg Ryan in When a Man Loves a Woman? God, I love that movie.Like I said, you probably have nothing on me. I am your stereotypical Irish drunk. I have hit on straight dudes at a friend’s bachelor party (all of them), locked myself in a bathroom stall at a concert venue and passed out causing paramedics to jump over and in to make sure I wasn’t dead, gotten thrown out of my own ten year high school reunion, and sung a Cher medley during karaoke at a work function. You name it, I’ve done it and made a huge drunken fool of myself. Anyone who drinks has, at least one time, gotten blitzed and made a fool of him or herself. It’s the law of drinking. So stop beating yourself up over this, ok? (Jesus, did you run someone over?)I’m not sure what you did exactly, so I’m not sure if these people are uptight twats or have a reason to be so frosty. In any case, what I would do is lay low. Do your job to the best of your ability. Be friendly and cordial to people but don’t simper. Hold your head high. Making a drunken ass out of yourself doesn’t mean you should wear a scarlet “D” on your tit.  Let some time go by. If you get invited to another function eventually, go and have soda water for the entire evening. If you even want to get back in with these judgey muthaf*ckas. ..If they continue to be shady, continue going out of town to party. Do you REALLY want to be hanging with people that are so snotty? Groups of people ALWAYS need one person to look down on to make themselves feel better and in control.It sounds like they picked you on account of your liquor escapade. Learn from it, stay strong, and move on.If you do get a chance to make friends again with one of these people, and it’s brought up, find out what their deal is. Some inside knowledge might be of benefit to you. Oh, and that one bitch? Tell her to get that stick out of her cooze. And that you’re sorry she got molested as a child. (I would wait until after work for that one.)Ok. Now I need a drink… Please keep sending your tales of drunken buffoonery to harvey.advice@gmail.com! I love your e-mails!Please note that J. Harvey is not a childcare specialist, priest, therapist, counselor, or even a good listener. In other words, don’t sue.

By J. Harvey
  1. OC Trophy Wife

    Everyone makes mistakes. Cut yourself some slack. If people tell stories about that night, laugh about it.

    It is hard to give targeted advice when we don’t know the deliciously gory details. If you said or did offensive things to directly at certain people, I think you need to apologize to the top two victims plus the host/hostess. Invite them to lunch where you can apologize and hopefully chat. By the light of day and without beer goggles, you can see if you would even want to become closer friends with some of these people.

    You don’t owe your boss an explanation. But you could clear the air by saying that you made a mistake but you learned from it.

    I would leave the tightly wound evil bitch alone. I have the feeling she will always be that way and there is nothing you can do about it.

    From this point forward just keep working hard at your research and keep sober. Don’t worry… people will forget over time.

  2. Tpetey

    I’m going to imagine OC Trophy Wife as ‘the good white clothed angel’ on your right shoulder with impeccable advice. That of course leaves the ‘evil red leatha clad demon’ on the left.. eh hem.. me.

    I say go to the next party with a pocket full of roofies and X; spike all the bitches’ drinks. Make sure you drink soda all night and bring your cell camera with an empty memory card. Offer your DEVO CD to the DJ, sit back and enjoy!

  3. Tracy

    Oh yeah, what Tpetey said!!!!

  4. evodevo

    Sometimes in a research setting people are really immature, & in an isolated area, they can’t develop lives of their own away from the lab & regress to high school or junior high behavior. Like in *Blubber* by Judy Blume.

    I’m taking you at your word that you didn’t do anything truly heinous but if you did, apologize to the principals & after that let it go!

    When a whole group decides to make you the pariah, they feed off it when you act hurt or try harder to fit in. So, hard as it seems, blow it off! The best revenge is living well, so work out, get outside when you can, and don’t ever let them see that they get to you. Make them think you’re stronger than that & eventually you really will be.

    Anyone who is a good person & worth being friends with will want to make their own opinion of you & not let it be decided by everyone else. I bet that in your previous incarnation as member of your own clique there were other people in your program you’ve overlooked. Some of these people may be worth getting to know, but then again if you snubbed them before, don’t expect much.

    Or…you can make some friends outside of school!

    If all else fails, or whatever else happens, concentrate on your work. Don’t let this distract you, & maybe you can even graduate sooner than you thought. A year really isn’t that long…

    And, speaking of work, don’t let your lab intimidate you either. Even smart scientists are still animals…if you act cowed & like there’s something wrong with you your supervisors will think there is. Keep the same high standards you’ve always had & this will blow over…one caveat though is that you need to ask yourself if this one incident is the only reason their opinion of you is eroding. If there are any other possible reasons, address them!

    I don’t know if you can tell by the book I just wrote, but I’ve been dealing with the sociology of these isolated-people-in-research situations for about 15 years now, & I’ve seen & learned a lot.

    Good luck!

  5. skrpune

    I have to agree with evodevo – the research crowd can be surprisingly immature. I’ve seen pre-K kids with better social skills and maturity levels. I suppose part of it comes from needing a release from being so structured & committed & mature when it comes to schooling and research…but the biggest part is that most people in general are quite immature socially and are not past high-school (or grammar school or below) level social torture antics.

    OC Trophy Wife has some excellent advice – if you do want to try to make amends & be the bigger person, apologize to the host & anyone you hurt or majorly offended, and then call it done. Move on. Live your life. There’s plenty of us out there who have done stupid things on the silly sauce. There are many nights I wish I could forget, and there are others that I’m thankful I don’t remember. Just forgive yourself and give the host/hostess/offendees the opportunity to hear you out, and move on and try to learn from the experience.

  6. ppwthatsme

    Maybe we need to share some of our best silly sauce stories so Kal doesn’t feel so bad.

    At one party my friend Sasha 1) took off her panties and shoved them in a guy’s face to prove they smelled good (the guy’s wife was standing right next to him) 2) made out with a co-worker’s wife in front of everyone 3) hiked up her skirt and flicked her clit. Everyone was mortified except for Sasha.

    At a company dinner party, one of my co-workers crawled under the table and gave a blow job to the guy she really liked. About half the table knew she was under there including her boss and her date.

    I’m nowhere near that bad. When I’m drunk I become brutally honest. One time I actually told my supervisor “You’re not as dumb as I thought you were when I started here.” In my defense, I thought I was paying her a compliment.

  7. Kaligula

    Thanks a lot for chiming in everyone. Ok, here’s what I did: 1) danced shamelessly in the dance area like I thought I was Shakira (spilling my drink everyowhere in the process). Though in reality I dance much more like a person with downs syndrome. So I was dancing like a person with downs syndrome who thought she was looking like Shakira. Can you picture that? 2) I was quietfor most of the night (because basically no one was talking to me) and then this hot dj guy came over to me to talk to me and I lost my cool and basically screamed at him instead of talking to him. Not aggressively, it was just like I couldn’t modulate my voice and was having a normal conversation at almost a shouting pitch. (now i understand this is absolutely a symptom of social anxiety) 3) Shortly after that I was on the floor on my hands and knees looking for something and I farted really loudly in that position. and oh, yes, EVERYONE HEARD it. 4) As if all of this were not enough, there was karaoke going on and I kept jumping up on stage to sing song after song, living out my secret fantasy, once again, that I am actually Shakira, not realizing at all how much i was obnoxiously hogging the mike in addition to just being absurd and making myself vulnerable for riducle…. Oh and I sang each song with an intensity and a performer’s bravado along the lines of a U2 ballad sung by Bono. Again, can you picture it?

    I’m actually quite traumatized by this and have asked to take a leave of absence. The reasons for this are too complex to get into but trust me, it’s for the best. I’m leaving at the end of this month and I really need to. My days are horrible and my nights are even worse. I have to be in a more supportive environment (or at least less hostile environment) as soon as possible. The stigma and the cold shouldering is so harsh, my god I never thought people could be so harsh. It’s like Dynasty or Melrose Place or some soap like that come to life. Anyway, I’m still going to be online and reading ASL through all of my down time. Thanks again everyone.

  8. Kaligula

    oh and J. Harvey, you’re just the best. Love ya to bits. Thanks for sharing your intoxicated shenanigans and for putting up my letter and giving your advice. I think you SHOULD have your own talk show and a Jay’s Favorite Things episode, because I know it would be the bomb and also WAYYYYY better than that other show that does currently boast this kind of episode. WAAYYYY better, I’d bet my fortune on it…. Someday! :)

  9. green cardigan

    Kal – F@ck ‘Em All if they can’t deal with the occasional drunken escapade.What a load of judgemental gits. Like none of them have ever had one too many.
    I’m sure you did nothing as bad as you think. You’ve probably blown it out of all proportion with all the ice cold stares you’re getting. As I said f@ck ‘em all.

    I am also a stereotypical Irish drunk so I have many cringe worthy memories of ‘one too many’. One time I was invited out to dinner in a quiet restaurant, I’d had a crazy 60 hour work week so I’d necked a bottle of wine before I’d even got my starter. I spent the evening knocking things over, leering sexily (not)at the waiter with my purple coloured teeth, emptied my purse out on the floor when I as trying to pay….and then hit a nightclub ! . After two tequila shots I was locked in the jacks, clinging to the toilet bowl like it was my only friend in the whole world, with my mates outside trying to coax me to come out. I was laid up in the horrors for two days afterwards (rats climbing the walls horrors) and SWORE BlIND I’d never drink wine again. I’ve broken that vow of course.

    So. like I said, move on. Try and finish out your time there and find some normal friends who won’t judge you when you fall.

  10. OC Trophy Wife

    Kaligula… 1) You danced! It’s been so long since I’ve danced. That sounds like fun. 2) You talked loudly. Sometimes it’s hard to hear at a party and you talk loudly to compensate. 3) You farted. EVERYBODY FARTS. Including that uptight bitch. 4) You sang your heart out. Good for you. I’m extremely shy about singing in public and wish I could do it.

    You sound fun. If you are ever in the OC, let’s party!

    Don’t do anything that will prolong or hurt your research. You did nothing wrong. Don’t let yourself or anyone else make you think you did.

  11. green cardigan

    Kaligula – i just read your post . I’m sorry things are so bad for you there. That isn’t so awful what you did. Certainly not worthy of such a level of cold shouldering. Ok, the farting on the hands and knees would cause me to lower my head into my hands, but in fact it’s pretty funny. F@CK EM as I said previously. It’s really horrible that they’ve singled you out as a sacrifical lamb in order to make themselves feel better.

    I hope things get better for you soon.

  12. T-Bone

    Oh Kal, we’ve all been there (or at least sort of there). Whether due to drinking or just stupidity, we’ve all done something we’re not proud of. The beauty of life is that each morning you wake up you’re given another opportunity to start over. You can choose to do the same things over and over again or you can make some changes for YOURSELF — not for them. But I will say this — you mentioned having one drug addiction. Kal, one addiction means the doors are wide open for another. So be careful. Also, if you’re on any kind of medication, antidepressants or otherwise, mixing alcohol with the meds can be bad. I’ve read many a post about people drinking only 3 or 4 drinks on Prozac and totally blacking out, when they never had an issue before. Hang in there! As they say, This too shall pass ;)

  13. T-Bone

    Ok wait, I just read what you did that night and I’m laughing hysterically. Sorry… Especially the “hands and knees” piece.

    Green & ppw — laughing hysterically at those stories as well. OH MY GOD!

    But Kal – don’t run from this! If you run you’ll just encounter something similar elsewhere, and you’ll learn to run from things as opposed to facing them. Running is the “social anxiety” person’s cop out. Drinking is also the “social anxiety” person’s way out. Believe me, I know. This is within you. Get some therapy for your social anxiety, because that could be at the base of EVERYTHING!

  14. Helen Skor

    Kal, everyone makes mistakes – and everyone farts (even girls). As for doing stupid crap because you got drunk to help you cope with your social anxiety – I can totally relate. I drank myself into a stupor whenever I was in a public setting in college (and for a few years after) so that I could deal with being around large groups of people, and then I’d turn into Whorezilla because I just wanted to be liked. Well, the guys liked me just fine, but the girls hated my guts. Even now, almost 15 years later, whenever I see them, I always get the evil eye. But that’s okay – because I know that they dislike me for who I was, and I know that I’m not the same person anymore.

    And the reason why I’m different? I dealt with my social anxiety disorder. I cannot stress to you enough how important that has been to my overall happiness – and I would strongly recommend it to anyone in your situation. Otherwise, you will just end up repeating the same pattern of behavior, no matter where you live or what kind of environment you are in.

  15. green cardigan

    I knew a guy once who went out on a bender one night. On his walk home, in the wee small hours, he came to a concrete bridge that spanned over a concrete footpath (sidewalk in the US in think you call it). He decided it was just the moment to climb up on the bridge and give a ‘Free Ireland’ speech to a stray dog walking past. He did and he promptly fell off and broke his collar bone and arm. He managed to drag himself back to his house and wake someone up to take him into A and E. He’s calmed down on the drinking since, thankfully.

    That story has always stayed with me. I use it as a gauge ! So Kal, your an innocent!

  16. Pro

    Good God, woman! You are going through a process of transformation! It seems like you are right in the middle of a particularly intense stage of it.

    It’s a similar, but much different and more intense, to a woman that is going through the process of pregnancy. Which isn’t always an easy, normal, or enjoyable thing.

    It sounds to me like you (without realizing it) are going through the process of shedding your old self and moving into a new stage of your life. And when you don’t realize that this is what is happening, shit can get strange and sometimes terrifying. And sometimes embarrassing!

    Do whatever you have to do to shed your skin, sister. And yeah, don’t drink for a while. And stay away from men for a while, too.

    Believe me, all of those folks that you are concerned about losing face with, have their own massive storehouse of things to worry about.

    In the end, at worst, you’ll be the crazy chick that was crazy because she was going through an intense period of spiritual transformation.

  17. kelli

    Kal, don’t even sweat it. Your story was hysterical as well as the other posters’ stories. I’m having a really bad day and need to laugh.

    Oh, and if you get a job in research, like some of the people said, research people are CRAZY. Talk about a sense of importance that coats a myriad of immaturity. My previous supervisor was a 50 year old virgin who had a hysterectomy that added to her craziness.

    And J. Harvey, you and the other readers have given me the courage to send you my letter. It will be entitled, “My ex-boyfriend uses his wife’s cancer death to evoke pity and money from women” His SECOND WIFE and he’s been married FOUR TIMES.

  18. Bleecker

    Kal–I am so sorry to read that one drunken night has caused your whole life to spiral out of control. Take a minute, calm down, take a few deep breaths. What you did was not that bad. At all. You weren’t giving blowjobs in view of your boss!!! God, what a great example. Your anxiety is getting the better of you and it’s not your fault. You should follow the advice of the posters and seek the help of a psychiatrist. Taking a leave of absence is no way to deal with this problem.

    J. Harvey, I wish you’d post a video of the Cher medley on youtube! Can’t wait to see it. Love the column.

  19. 2 Old 4 This

    I too live in a rural area.

    If someone in my family farts out loud – she/he calls “No School (insert obscure rural town name here)!!”

    y’know – like the fire house horn that they blow in rural towns to announce a snow day??

    sadly, it’s actually more like a local geography lesson. Its a challenge to name a town nobody has heard of.

    good times

    and that’s when they’re sober! I won’t begin to discuss what happens when we’re in our cups

  20. b.SL

    Kaligula- I laughed my ass off. You are not alone- these people are judgemental assholes. I thought you’d had sex with someone on the dance floor or something. Just because those squares don’t know how to let lose every once in a while doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you!
    If I were your friend, I’d have laughed, took pictures, and brought it to laugh again @u everyday. Keep your head up, like Angelina did before it was cool to be as “weird” as she is. Embrace being the bad, bad party girl. You’re too sexy for them!
    PS- I’m TOTALLY jealous you got to be Shakira for a day. I’d like to join you and be Beyonce. We can sing “Beautiful Liar” together.

  21. b.SL

    Kaligula- I laughed my ass off. You are not alone- these people are judgemental assholes. I thought you’d had sex with someone on the dance floor or something. Just because those squares don’t know how to let lose every once in a while doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you!
    If I were your friend, I’d have laughed, took pictures, and brought it to laugh again @u everyday. Keep your head up, like Angelina did before it was cool to be as “weird” as she is. Embrace being the bad, bad party girl. You’re too sexy for them!
    PS- I’m TOTALLY jealous you got to be Shakira for a day. I’d like to join you and be Beyonce. We can sing “Beautiful Liar” together.

  22. Tracy

    Honey, there is not even enough room here for all of my shame stories! I always just tell myself that anyone who is any fun at all, has done it all before! And they would just think “wow, she was really drunk” and be sympathetic. If they haven’t, how sad for them. We ALL do it now and then or at least we should. F*ck them. I’ve totally humilated myself (and my husband) in front of many important people-and you know what-they all had an incident like that themselves. Seriously, I know its hard, but its not the end of the world. Life is too short to care what some uptight a-holes think of you!

  23. Kaligula

    sweet choir of angelic voices, thank you.

    i wish we could be friends. i feel like you are my friends already. maybe there will be an ASL meetup group someday…. maybe just in my dreams. or someday if J.Harvey publishes a book (i hope he does!!!!) we can meet at one of his book signings!!!

    thanks people, your words have meant a lot.

  24. Jeanie

    I agree with everyone else – what Kal did was about a 5 on a scale of 10 of embarrassing drunk stories. The drunken dancing and kareokeing is run-of-the-mill stuff and usually something that everyone laughs about later. All Kall needs is ONE person to get on his side and see the humor of the situation. It may take some time though. I was pissed when my friend got so drunk she 1) fell on her ass in the bar bathroom and made me pull up her pants since she couldn’t do it 2) made us go home early just when we were having a good time. 3) puked on my hand 4) puked on my extremely relgious’s parents sidewalk 5) made me wash puke off her jeans, but I forgave her eventually.

    There’s really nothing to do but hold up your head and find humor what happened. Eventually everyone else will too. You just have to make sure you don’t do it again. Once is funny, a regular pattern is super annoying.

    Another friend of mine got so drunk at her birthday party which was at my house, she MISSED the toilet and poop hit the floor. Most of the people at the party were colleagues and we all laughed hysterically trying to figure out how logisitically that could have happened. It was a Thursday night, so we all had to go to work the next day. When my roommate explained to her the next morning what she had done, she was mortified. But she went to work and held her head up high and laughed about it. No one has held it against her.

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