It is hard to openly admit, but being drunk has been my excuse for many of my actions for a long time now. For me, it has always been a gateway; an acceptable reason for why I can say or do anything that I want. Am I mad at my best guy friend for sleeping with my sister? Better tell him next time we are on a night out! Do I badly want to sleep with my roommate, but fear the rejection of him saying no? Guess I’ll have to wait until he drunkenly makes a move and it’s OK for me to accept! I’ve used this excuse for over a year now, and it has been quite easy to convince myself that I am happy enough to operate this way.
Now though, I think I’m over it.
Truth be told, I didn’t become a relatively heavy drinker until fairly late in life. I had my first real drunken experience at 18, and it wasn’t until I was 21 that I truly become comfortable with drinking socially. It was really at the age of 22 that I became someone who got very drunk at least twice a week, if not more. I perfected the strategy of puking that night so that I could function the following day because my stomach was totally empty when I went to bed. In hindsight this was pretty pathetic, but at the time I felt like I was just living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity that came my way to let loose and be young. It was how everyone is my social circle appeared to operate, and I crafted a way of fitting into that as quickly as I could.
I discovered pretty early on in my drinking career that being intoxicated made almost everything socially acceptable. It was like a “get out of jail free” card. Anything that a person did while drunk could be brushed off an excused because they “didn’t know what they were doing” or “couldn’t think straight”. But I’m not sure that this is always the reality, even if people insist that it is.
The truth is, I don’t think I’ve ever done anything while drunk that I didn’t want to do sober.
It is strangely hard to admit, but it is the reality. While there are certainly things I have done drunk that I would have been infinitely more hesitant or unsure about doing sober, there as been nothing that at least a part of me didn’t want to do. Every one-night stand, confession, or fight has stemmed from a variety of bottled up emotions and pain that I didn’t have the courage to handle while sober. Drinking gave me the cushion I needed; a little safety net to fall back on if anyone dared criticize my actions.
It wasn’t until one night I got so drunk that I couldn’t stand upright and had the leave the bar to go home early that I realized how ridiculous it all was. I was alone, sad, and lonely, craving so badly any form of affection. Instead, I ended up in front of the toilet, puking until my stomach was empty and I was simply dry-heaving with so much force that I peed myself on the bathroom floor. The next day I had to go to work, where I am a chef, and handle an open to close shift. I was miserable, embarrassed, and angry with myself. My co-workers had to pick up my slack, and while no one complained, I knew it was uncool and completely unacceptable.
I don’t know why it took so long, but this particular incident is what changed the game for me. I knew that I never wanted to feel that pathetic or useless ever again. I was tired of needing an excuse to be myself, and do the things that I wanted to do. I was sick of feeling out of control, and like I was making decisions purely to fill my own desires regardless of their effect on others. I hated that I thought I would find a way to feel needed at the bottom of a pint glass, if only I looked sexy and fun yet secure enough to the men who passed by.
So, I stopped drinking. And the funny thing is, I can still do what I want. I’m just happier while doing it. Rather than waiting until I’m four drinks in to tearfully tell my guy friend that he makes me feel like shit every time he criticizes me and end up crying in the bathroom when he doesn’t seem to care, I can discuss with him how horrible he makes me feel and why in a calm and rational manner, actually solving the issue rather than making him feel like he is being attacked and causing him to get defensive. Instead of waiting for the cute guy across the room to notice me and feeling self-conscious when he instead comes over to talk to my friend, I can actually talk to guys in a casual social setting, and find someone who likes my personality and not just how I look in a dimly lit pub. If I want, I can still have a one-night-stand or an intense argument or a serious conversation. The difference is that I can think rationally and know that I am 100% responsible for what I am saying.
And really, in the long run, I know that this is much better for my relationships with everyone in my life, even if I am the only one who can say that they knew exactly what they were doing t100% of the time.