It was 10am and my studio smelt like cheap wine. Everywhere. My body felt like it had been glued to my unkempt bedding; I couldn’t move. My eyes wished they had never opened while my mind already wished it was some place else. So I got up to forget again. I started stumbling to the fridge and, oh shit. I found out why my room smelt like wine. My laptop was laying on the wooden floor of my San Francisco apartment…wet. What did I do last night? All I knew for certain was that my computer was deathly allergic to Chardonnay. Oh well, at least I had a legitimate excuse to drink. Man, I deserved one. And I needed something a little stronger than wine. The following afternoon would be filled with vodka on the rocks, alone, a no-show at work, and a sloppy attempt at saving my laptop. I needed it for all the classes I wasn’t going to. I hated myself. I don’t know what particular day this was but that detail doesn’t matter. Every single day was a version of this. A failure. Every day was a self-created hell.
My worst moments were private out of fear of being caught. As a result, if I was on a date, I’d have two drinks max. With friends? I’d match how much they were drinking. Out on my birthday? Maybe an inappropriately named shot. I always tried to keep it together on the outside. However, whenever I got home from a social event, I’d keep drinking, maybe write an embarrassing status on Facebook, and then literally pass out. Which is why I gradually preferred to skip the social event entirely. I made up excuses for why I couldn’t hang out with my friends anymore. I’d rather my friends thought I was a flake than a drunk. It was lonely. My family wanted to believe I was fine, but I made enough drunken calls to worry them. I wasn’t fine. I was miserable.
Someone recently told me, “You don’t look like an alcoholic.” How can you possibly diagnose someone just by looking at them? You can’t judge a person by their appearance. I mean, you can, but you’ll probably be wrong. It’s 2014, buddy. Alcoholics, especially treated ones, don’t fit your dated stereotype. I mean, look at Bradley Cooper. Mega-talented, hot, alcoholic. They’re everywhere. I have met hundreds of sober people and they are all unique. Moreover, they’re not defined by a label. However, this is one thing that we all have in common. We all had to hit a “rock bottom” before we could ever take the scary first steps toward transformation. Rock bottom is incredible though because there is no place else to go but up! Unfortunately, admitting you have a problem, a problem so big that you have to make an extraordinarily uncomfortable change in order to survive, is not easy. But when you feel like everything in your life is falling apart, you have to make a choice. Fight or give up.
I loved alcohol but it kept kicking my ass. Like a battered lover, I continued to return to the toxicity for a long time. Truth is, it helped me escape; which was awesome because I didn’t want to deal with the repercussions of my disease. The missed exams, the suicidal thoughts, the loneliness. I loved the ability to just escape. I didn’t know how to let that superpower go. Was it even possible? I had tried to make rules for myself, like: 1) Don’t drink alone. 2) Only drink on the weekends, and 3) Stick to wine. Sounds easy, right? Not if you have substance abuse problems. I couldn’t follow my own rules for more than a week. As a result, I felt so hopeless. To escape that feeling, I drank. It wasn’t fun. Eventually, I got desperate enough to ask for help. Asking for help saved my life. If you can relate, just know that you’re not alone. Whatever addiction you are struggling with, you have the power within to give it up and move forward. Sometimes you just have to ask for help.
Two years ago, I made a choice to start treating my life like it mattered. To treat my family better. To care. To wake the fuck up. On September 2nd, 2012, I gave up alcohol and it still remains the best decision I have ever made for me. My life continues to get better every day. Two years ago, I was a dangerously depressed drop-out. Today, I laugh so hard that I cry. I worked hard to get back into school and will soon have a bachelors degree from Cal State University Long Beach. Two years ago, I was a no-show. Today, you know I’ll be there. I’m a reliable employee and a good friend. For bonus points, I have a loving boyfriend who has never had a drink in his life. Two years ago, I had hopes and dreams but didn’t think they were possible because of how fucked up I was on a constant basis. Today, I have hope for my hopes and dreams. I’m excited for tomorrow. And you know what? Today, I feel like James Brown. I feel good! That in itself is a miracle.
Sometimes I just have to remind myself of how bad things were when I was drinking because I never want to go back. I never got a DUI, but I could have. I should have. I’m grateful that things were bad enough for me that I was able to give up drinking before things got worse. I may have taken a longer road than you or you or you, but I’ve certainly come a long way from that chardonnay-scented San Francisco apartment.