I had my first drink when I was 11 years old. I used to sneak out of the house with friends, armed with little jars of stolen booze from our parent’s liquor cabinets, and we’d run the streets. I wanted to be someone else. I always wanted to be older than I was, and in some ways, I had to grow up quicker than my peers. My father died when I was a girl. So, like many children who lose a parent, I contemplated the meaning of life and the reality of death when I should have been playing with barbies. Because my father committed suicide, I also felt abandoned, unworthy, and alone. An undercurrent of these feelings have been with me to varying degrees ever since he died and I know have contributed to my alcohol use.
I partied throughout high school, like many teenagers do, drinking whatever I could get my hands on, experimenting with drugs. I pretty much stopped doing drugs and was just a regular drinker after high school. I still hung out with the party crowds but I never considered that I had a problem. I drank- often to excess- just like everyone else I knew. I was young and free and would spend nights discussing politics, society, and spirituality with my friends, singing along to Joni Mitchell or Paul Simon on the stereo. Alcohol uninhibited me. I travelled, I loved and lost, I wrote poetry, and I devoured the world as I came of age in this time.
I met someone and we moved to a foreign country together. He was romantic, artistic, worldly, and wild, and a very heavy drinker. I always say we fell in love on red wine, not taking much notice that he would often drink it in the morning too. After some time his drinking began to impact our relationship in many negative ways, and I realized that he was an alcoholic. He said he would never quit drinking. I high-tailed it out of there. I did not think I had a problem with alcohol at this time.
I moved back home but to a different city. I re-connected with old friends who had gotten into house music, warehouse parties (raving), dj-ing, and lots of hard partying. I entered that world. Drugs found their way back into my life. Partying was a lifestyle for us. It was constant.
I first realized that I might have a problem about 10 years ago. I was living in another country for a short time (5 months) for a contract and I was completely alone, really for the first time in my life. Before this, I was always surrounded with friends or in relationships. I rarely spent any time alone. I noticed that I was drinking wine every evening. I would tell myself ‘okay, no wine tonight’, but I would always find my way to the liquor store in the evening. It was the first time in my life that I was drinking alone. I think it was to fill this lonely void that had been created when my Dad passed.
I came back home and was single. And so, this kind of drinking continued for me. Slowly the big party ended. I mostly stopped going out partying a few years ago as I settled down more with my partner, have become more serious about my career, focussed on my health (right!), and I went back to school. I couldn’t have benders like I used to. Most of my friends started to have kids so our social scene has changed dramatically. My friends still drink and party on the weekends sometimes. But due to families and careers, it is nothing like what it used to be.
The party was over, yet I kept drinking, almost everyday, at home. I often think that it’s funny how it kind of snuck up on me. I ended a relationship because of someone else’s drinking and yet I ended up with a drinking problem. They say it’s progressive. That’s the part that scares me. I’ve seen how my drinking went from social (and from binges) to a constant thing I’ve had to do almost everyday. I now drink for many other “reasons” than loneliness. I drink because of any emotion, event, or situation. I drink because it’s 6pm. I drink for any or no reason at all. And of course, the quantity has increased. Back when I first thought I had a “problem” 10 years ago, I would never drink more than half a bottle of wine by myself. Now I’m lucky if I can leave any in the bottle. Plus a couple of vodka or a scotch or two some nights. There is no way I can continue this kind of behaviour if I want to have a good life. I spend my days feeling depressed, dehydrated, and in a fog and in pain when I am drinking.
The journey to sobriety has been a helluva ride to say the least. I’m back to Day One. And it sucks. I got really triggered last week during a very difficult incident at work. I still haven’t worked out how I’m going to cope when really bad or stressful things happen. That is the next thing for me to figure out.