I gave up drinking on December 10th. I woke up after a night of heavy solo drinking on a Wednesday night at home and surrendered to the disease; I had a drinking problem at 22 years old. The people that I’ve confided in always ask me why I chose that day— December 10th— to vocalize my alcohol dependency. I didn’t have an answer for that. I still don’t. It was a very arbitrary day out of a calendar of days that played out the same way: wake up, go to class, come home, kill a six pack and a bottle of wine, go to bed, wake up, rinse and repeat. I hadn’t hit ‘rock bottom,’ as some may describe. I hadn’t smoked crack for the first time while drunk or pawned my mother’s wedding ring for booze money. It was like any other hazy morning that year— splintered by sunlight and the hope to do better tomorrow. But for nearly a year straight, I hadn’t done better. I’d done much, much worse.
I’ve been surrounded by drinkers since I was a kid. I have a wonderfully loud and eccentric family who gravitate toward a fine scotch over evening tea or a tart IPA with lunch rather than a Diet Coke. To be clear, in no way am I implying that my family or friends played any part in what became a severe alcohol dependency in my senior year of college. All twisted behaviors fostered by my volatile attraction to the feeling of drunkenness were fully my own to be accountable for.
The landscape that was provided to me, however, offered a seemingly sustainable excuse for rationalizing my drinking habits. Drinking beer after class on a Monday didn’t seem strange because my dad enjoys a cold beer after work, too. Having a little wine at night wasn’t too strange, because my mother did it as well.
Taking several shots of whiskey was just something every other college kid did and was nothing to alert the doctor over. I engaged in all of these friendly acts of drinking which most would agree is not worrisome for a person my age. But what became a beer at lunch became 3 beers in the morning, and what was a glass of wine at night became an entire bottle, and what was a few shots of whiskey with friends at the bar became several swigs of whiskey alone before starting my day. To me, alcohol was not a festive compliment to birthday parties or holiday events. It was a dark voice that demanded to be heard.
During my senior year of college, I found that I could manipulate alcohol to escape situations that caused me anxiety. It didn’t occur to me that nearly everything made me anxious during this time in my life— classes where I could potentially be called on and have to speak, social gatherings where I had the potential to say something stupid, dates where my awkwardness could make him run for the hills, a one on one conversation with my roommate that could result in an argument.
It would surprise most that I have severe anxiety; I’m usually known as the funny girl always in good spirits. I can’t say my humor was totally fueled by alcohol, but a lot of it was. I think this might be social cheating. I cheated myself from a lot of genuine relationships because I was drunk. It wasn’t until reading Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl a few months ago I understood that “drunk feelings aren’t real feelings.” Same goes for drunken connections. They aren’t genuine. It’s sad to look back near the end of my college experience and know that I had most of my conversations and made most of my friends while drunk because I didn’t have to balls to do it all sober.
Calling my mom and dad to let them now about my drinking problem was a vulnerable admission. I felt as though I had let them down in many ways (though, they assure me this is not the case). I’ve only told a few of my close friends because I’m unsure how the people that still call me as “30 Pack Mac” will receive it.
I suspect people will view me differently— maybe more fragile and in need of support. I probably am. But I’m tired of relying on the support of alcohol rather than the support of friends and family. December 10th may have been the final straw in a series of straws that I’ve hid behind for a long time in attempt to navigate through my problems without disturbing anyone else.
Whatever the reason, I’ve started my journey toward sobriety. I’ve supplemented my regular evening bottle of wine for tea and take Lexapro to help with my anxiety. It’s utterly terrifying and, in all honesty, dull at times. But I’m grateful for my little bit of sobriety I’ve built so far. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve got going on and I have enough faith in myself at the current moment to feel optimism about my future as a non-drinker. I’m ready for it.
Cheers to being the baddest motherfucker at the club drinking seltzer.