Alcohol. My frenemy. I have been thinking of our times together, and due to my stress I am only able to recall the good times. That is how denial and deceit work for me, to help myself be persuaded. So, I decided to write out my memories of the reminders of how you have influenced my life…
9 years old, my first sip. I was in third grade, I was at a friend’s home and we were in the basement. Her father’s mini fridge was stocked with beer. We opened one up and passed it around. The taste was bitter and nasty, dare I say I thought it had turned? However, the burning sensation and burps had me laughing. I also have a soft spot to please others, added with the determination of never backing down. Curiosity began.
4th grade, 5th grade, I had here and there fun. 6th grade came the transition to more peers in middle school; and thus, more opportunities for drinking. 7th grade was when I started a bigger effort in my hiding and scheming for booze. The summer after 7th grade was my “end it all” life event, which came a family move to another city for me to restart. 8th grade wasn’t so bad. The hard part about moving is that you don’t have a history of growing up with other individuals, aka the “fresh start.” I already had a habit of lying, I just came out of a mental health clinic for adolescents, and I felt more than ever I had to cover up who I was. (I truly felt honesty or lying would harm me.) By the end of my 8th grade, I was back to a similar environment I knew.
Truth be told, the biggest reason I drank was for acceptance. It may have started out as a social acceptance, but that quickly grew into me accepting me. Drinking did dull my inner voice telling me how damaged I was. Drinking did help me escape my anger. Drinking became my coping. When I drank, I became so fully relaxed….a bit too relaxed. 9th grade, I had a GPA of 1.9, how I wasn’t held back to repeat, I don’t know! (I don’t believe in LUCK, I believe in BLESSINGS. Here is some solid proof. Pun intended.) 10th grade, tried repeatedly to get out of my social habits, but entering others social groups wasn’t going too well. I was doing my best to repair bridges with my family of honesty. I was proving to be honest through many events back to back, but the damage was there. At this time, I had been traveling to another town to babysit for my eldest sibling. This was helping me to say “no” to parties. At this other town I started making friendships with my sister’s church group. Here, I thought I would have my 3rd chance. You know, the 2nd chance for your 2nd chance… smiley emoticon.
During Christmas break of my sophomore year, I realized there were too many bridges burnt where I lived. There does come a point when you have done your best to turn over a leaf, and if others can’t move forward with you, you need to have the strength to cut ties and move on. When you really want to change something, it isn’t just a decision, it’s a resolution and willpower to never go back…that’s what we’re taught, right? I moved in with my sister’s family. The first month was rough finding a new social circle. As time went on, things became easier. I was there less than a year and I started having friends who drank. I was doing well to be around them, not often, but to remain with my decision, no booze.
It wasn’t until I graduated highschool that I said, “Screw it.” For the next 3 months, I just went numb. I gave my power of self go. This goes to show I am human and I will continue to be imperfect. Doesn’t mean I should give up… or give in.
I look back at my memories. Fun games. Hilarious moments of embarrassment and lack of motor control. Only one black out. Seeing friends hospitalized for too much alcohol. Doing the routine, “Oh, man! I don’t remember a thing,” when I remember every detail. A lot of lying, a lot of concealing, I was very choosey of whom I drank with…in fact, many times I was at parties but didn’t drink so people couldn’t witness it, then I would take the alcohol and drink afterwards.
Here is why I choose to stop drinking:
The body is not able to withstand the moderate-high amount of alcohol. The effects on the brain, liver, skin-it just wasn’t worth it for me.
Judgment errors. I won’t go into this too much. If you know what drunk people act like, then you have a good idea of the judgment calls I errored in.
Need for ease. To be more relaxed of being goofy, more confident in me. The need to find an escape of my anger, my self concept of my past, my guilt. This is the main reason I drank. I took a long reflection of my life. Could I do this without alcohol? I had seen an adult in my life choose to be sober, so maybe I could be, too. (Thank you, Dad!) I made this decision in a time of not being spiritual or religious, at 18- I had my own life constitution, duh.
I made the choice to stop drinking, and I continue to make this choice, because drinking takes me to a dark place. I want to live my life without depending on a drink to help me get through the day. (For all those who drink, I freely admit in tough moments I feel as though there isn’t enough vodka to numb the intense stress) I still have many loved ones in my life who do drink. I am allowing them to find their own experience and lessons with alcohol. Someone’s limits and acceptance of drinking will differ than mine, and I won’t contest it, unless it is to a destructive point. If someone opens to me on this topic, I do my best to have a safe conversation and stay with my resolve of no booze for me.
For relaxation, I have turned to music, talk with hubby. Prayer, but sometimes I need something physical. The best thing for me is a bath and Youtube. I also have come to terms of myself; I am loud, I do like to be silly, and I can dance without leaning on alcohol. I decided that I could, so I can. As I grow older, the walls are harder to break. I admit I still have the talk with myself….if I really want to do something, then I need to be willing to do it without alcohol. I am finding out I am less embarrass in my crazy sober times than in my silly drunk times.
To celebrate, I still raise my glass of bubbly. It is non-alcoholic. I am just as engaged in cheering, honoring, and hugging. For all my professional colleagues- you all rock for accomodating me and still having fun with me!
For pairing alcohol a meal, I am still finding non-alcoholic drinks that are just as tasty and complimentary. There are some things you can’t substitute, so it is a sacrifice. That is part of the deal. I can deal with that, that is small for me.
Alcohol is alcohol, nothing can replace it. It is finding alternative choices and finding acceptance of oneself. I have gone to counseling for self-concept and self-esteem, this has trickled into me being stronger towards alcohol. I thought my experiences were only relatable to youth, yet I am finding adults to be experiencing this, too. I give my support, approval, and admiration for anyone who decides today to get help from friends, family, and professionals. Weakness is covering, cowering, and denying. Strength is surrendering, coming out, being honest, and allowing others in your life – to give love and aid.
As always, lots of love from me to you. Keep on improving of what you do.