I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately. I’m stuck and asking questions seems like the most natural thing to do in a time of confusion. There’s a lot in my life that is unanswered. And I know a lot of it will remain that way. But there are some things I can answer for myself, to understand my own contribution to the muddy black hole I am in.
A lot of my regretted actions as of late can be narrowed down to one common denominator. Alcohol.
So I started asking myself when did our crazy, beautiful, messed up society become so obsessed with drinking? Revolving around every occasion, every weekend plan. But then I realized I was asking the wrong question. This world has always been obsessed, and that will never change. We are a species of obsession. Of reprieve. It wasn’t my society that had a sudden change of heart for alcohol. It was me.
For the longest time I was not the girl absorbed by the weekend or the next drink. I loved going out, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t see it for the alcohol. Now before I go any further, I am no alcoholic. You can roll your eyes and claim, “that’s what an alcoholic says” But that’s where I declare I know the difference.
I have been around addiction. I have friends my own age I can say exhibit alcoholic characteristics. But I am not one of them. I’m not itching for the next drink. I am not satisfied by the taste or the numbness it gives so many. I was addicted to something else entirely. The freedom of anxiety.
I am a social person. I love being around people- talking, bonding, forming relationships over nonsense and important debates alike. But I am also an anxious person. Alcohol has always been my lubricant.
Here’s the snag. I am additionally a person who likes to be in control of my actions. To be aware of what I am doing. What I am saying. But alcohol doesn’t see a difference between making me social butterfly vs. a social wreck. Only I could. And that’s where I went so wrong.
My intention for drinking was always to feel comfortable. To be able to chat with a stranger, a friend, without second-guessing my words. And for the longest time, that is all it did. It was my perfect weapon. I could flirt without burning my entire body red. I could dance to my favorite song with reckless abandon. But then- as does everyone and everything in this life- it changed. And I didn’t know how to cope with it.
Most people drink to drown out their sorrows with alcohol but I ended up drowning in my sorrows.
I was making problems worse than when they originated, but I was taught to forget about it until my next binge- until a new mistake crept up to forget about the last one. I grew used to it, “oh he won’t remember that text from last weekend,” no, he’ll remember the one from this weekend. “She won’t remember me saying something bad about her last week,” you’re right, she’ll remember it this week when I drunkenly remind her. I was giving myself free passes. Once? No problem, everyone does it. Twice? Ah that’s what alcohol will do. But it wasn’t once, or twice. It.was.all.the.time.
I wanted to be the person who didn’t give two-fucks. I so, so deeply wanted to be that person. And I was that person while drunk. After all, how can you give a damn when you are blacked out?
Little did I know, it wouldn’t be until I gave up drinking that I’d actually feel that freedom. It wasn’t until I was living everyday instead of for the weekend that I realized I didn’t care what he or she thought. I stopped drinking for a total of five months. It affected my social life, yes, but I was becoming comfortable with myself by myself, without the Band-Aid of liquor. But I started aching to share this new comfortable self with everyone. My itch to meet new friends and hanging with old ones was as irritating as ever.
I felt I was ready to start engaging again. I had given myself a break, more than most of my friends could say; I should give myself a pat on the back. But instead of bracing myself for the water, I jumped right in. The past month I have gone out all four weekends. Do you know how many of the weekends I made a stupid drunk call? Four. Do you know how many of the weekends I texted something I would be mortified to call my own while sober? Four. Do you know how many of the weekends I spent enough money to make me skin crawl? Four. And it wasn’t because of the alcohol. It was because of my perception of alcohol. That drinking everything in front of me was the answer. That everything I do while trashed is okay. It is all forgotten. That if I’m blacked out, my words and actions aren’t real.
But you know what is real? Spending the entire next day hungover. That anxiety I finally felt I had overcome and was in some way or another trying to compress was back in full swing. I was now spending my Sundays rethinking every.single.drunken.mistake.
I can’t say I fully regret my month long escapade. Without it, I might not have come to terms with the fact that I don’t need to be obliterated to enjoy my night. Now this isn’t an oath to being sober. I’m not vilifying alcohol- because I will be drinking. I enjoy the feeling I get after a glass of wine. I like the confidence that’s enabled when I have a couple beers while out with friends.
But I don’t need six beers to feel comfortable enough in my own skin to enjoy a concert by myself. I don’t need five beers to feel confident enough to text a guy I like. One will do. In fact one is perfect. So no, this is not a vow of sobriety. This is a farewell ode to getting trashed every weekend.
Alcohol isn’t everything and going out isn’t the goal. But you bet your ass I love being social, and sometimes you have to find the fine line between the two. It takes awareness. And for now, that awareness is enough to make this black hole I am in feel a little less muddy.