Everything I Know About Alcohol
I used to joke that I came out of the womb smoking cigarettes. In a sense, I did. Cigarettes and alcohol are in my biological makeup, in my blood and were a major part of my environment growing up.
Thanks to a specific combination of nature and nurture, I turned out to be a wild one.
My First Hurrah
The first time I got drunk was freshman year of high school. Two girlfriends and I went in on a plastic liter of Mr. Boston vodka – 100 proof, the clear equivalent to antifreeze. We were 15 and cuddled up in our basement in upstate New York. Giggly and super excited to “get wasted,” we passed the bottle around. I took 7 consecutive shots, straight, no chasers. I passed out in my own puke.
A few weeks later I was invited to an upperclassmen bonfire. At the height of my adolescent popularity, two boys in my class were into me at the time. Cute freshmen were coveted by the junior and senior girls, who were protective over their self-assigned territory. Both suitors were at the party, and I was being pressured by the older girls to pick between them. Instead, I avoided the decision by flirting with the entire upper class, falling asleep with my head in someone’s crotch and giving someone else a hand job on the way home.
That kind of set the standard for years ahead.
Sex, Drugs & Buckets of Alcohol
I enrolled in our local community college after learning I didn’t have enough money for my dream school out in California. I quickly became a misfit and instead of being chastised for being “that girl,” every wild action I took built my street cred. My crew could hang. We were dirty, grimy partiers, druggies, hippies, floaters. I latched on to the craziest chick I knew and life was ride or die.
I spent a year in Mexico riding in cars with boys, stealing virginities, going to raves (not the juvenile soft stuff that Dave Matthews Band-loving college kids go to these days wearing neon Ray Bans, but like, real raves), making friends on the street and, swear to God, was in a Mexican car chase.
I lost my virginity in a halfway house (sorry mom) and used to do coke with a dude with one arm. I dated a guy on house arrest at some point, and there was this heavy metal skater punk I used to sleep with that called me “girl” because he didn’t know my name. I would do any drug that you dared me to and could drink anyone under the table. I was a badass, I was reckless, I was free, and I flourished.
Life was like the movie 13. Everything’s ok until it’s not ok. I was the chick who partied like a dude, took no shit and was fearless. One day I woke up and everything was bad. I looked around me. This was not my beautiful life.
I started to recognize destructive patterns and was hit with bursts of desire to be better. I wanted better friends, I wanted a better job, I wanted a better everything. But I was in my twenties. Partying was fun, it was expected, it was a standard, it was normal.
I’d go home on late nights with a hole in my stomach, profoundly dissatisfied and missing something major. I always thought that if I stayed out long enough I’d find it. Then I’d spend the next day morbidly depressed. I started to feel shame for the first time. I started having flashbacks of wild nights past and instead of looking back on memories with nostalgia I would cry tears of disgust.
90 Days of Sobriety
I’ve never had a DUI. I’ve never hurt anyone. I’ve never lost a job. My family never suspected my demise. My friends were all ok with who I was. Nobody intervened. I never went to an AA meeting. I simply woke up one day, and wanted a better life.
I never set out to stop drinking, I just wanted control. At 24, I committed to 90 days of sobriety as a detox to the lifestyle I was living. To hit the refresh button and start over. I thought that once I proved to myself I could take a break from alcohol, I’d be fixed. I’d be able to drink socially, moderately, and not be a slave to the excess that was my default setting.
So I dove in. I still went out, partied with friends, and lived essentially the same routine I was accustomed to, only sober. My friends all supported my decision and admired my willpower. It wasn’t weird being in bars without a drink in my hand, and I made a point to fit in and have just as much fun as I used to.
90 days passed, and I expected some major internal changes. But nothing happened. I was the same person. I felt no different. I was still going out all the time, staying out too late and feeling like shit the next day.
I extended my 90 days of sobriety to see how long it would take to cleanse the past 10 years out of my system. 6 months passed. I was still the same.
A year approached and I thought to myself: fuck. I was only beginning to uncover deep layers of emotional blocks, sexual insecurities, social anxieties and existential angst. Making up for a lost decade wasn’t going to be a quick fix. It was going to be an ongoing process, and it was going to take a lot of fucking work.
The Truth About Getting Wasted
It hurts. Maybe it not immediately, maybe not for years. Maybe not on the outside. But lodged in the soggy depth of your insides, somewhere, festering, are wounds you’re rubbing salt into. Night after night after night.
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