Just one drink she tells herself, just one. But one turns into three and three turn into ten and before she knows it she wakes up with only fragments from the night before. Anxiety rolls over her and it becomes a habit to ask those she was with if she misbehaved or embarrassed herself. Disappointment is a reoccurring feeling that lingers up until Wednesday; long enough to get her down but short enough to forget about it by Friday when she starts all over again and pours that glass with extra vodka and drinks to get drunk and ultimately forget.
It’s hard to know that you’ve got a problem when everyone is doing it, but deep down something feels wrong.
She tells herself that everything happens for a reason and that the difficult times in her life will only make her stronger and are ultimately a blessing in disguise, but it hurts and she wants to forget, so she drinks. She drinks the pain away.
It’s like she lives with tunnel vision, focused on Mondays turning into Tuesdays into Wednesdays and eventually Fridays. It’s all she thinks about. And the idea of missing out ends in sheer panic attacks. She’s become dependent on it. When she drinks she doesn’t have a single worry in the world, but by ignoring the situation and pretending nothing is wrong she is only delaying the healing process, prolonging the pain.
The blackouts become worse, the memories turn into mere glimpses and regret is a feeling she is all too well accustomed to, it’s become her biggest enemy. Why did she make that remark about her friend? Why did she act that way? It’s not like her to do such things. Apologies are made, the blame is put on the alcohol and in the morning they laugh about their silly behavior.
“Can I call you? I need to talk to you.” She picks up her phone and the message pierces through her. Immediately millions of thoughts run through her head and one little sentence turns into a whirlwind of over exaggeration. What have I done wrong? What did I say? What did I do? Oh god, I’m the worst person on earth! I can’t do this anymore. I hate this! I am a horrible human being and deserve all the pain in the world. Just die already!
As she picks up the phone the voice on the other end says “I’m worried about you.” Tears start rolling down her cheeks. He’s right. She’s screwing up her life and it’s time to acknowledge she has a problem. It’s time to stop making excuses and seek help.
To say it out loud is scary, because she’s giving up her safety net, which is ironic as she loses all control when she drinks. What she is scared about, is having to step out of her “comfort zone”, her routine; the thing that keeps her going and stops her from thinking. Now that it’s out in the open, she can’t go back and the thought of not drinking on the weekend makes her feel uneasy.
Of course she knows how ridiculous she sounds. Who wouldn’t want to give up something that destroys you? Are a couple hours of ‘fun’ really worth several days of misery? Something has to happen.
She decides she needs to take some time off and be where there are no temptations to really get to the core of the problem and although it brings her shame, guilt and embarrassment, a part of her feels proud for acknowledging and being able to talk about it openly. She is scared about the moment she will be confronted with alcohol again, seeing her friends having a good time and especially the idea of failure. What if she gives in? She would feel so disappointed in herself.
Two weeks later she gets invited to a party. Although a little voice tells her it’s too soon, her fear of missing out is stronger and she’s willing to take the risk and hope that she succeeds. Something tells her she can do this. This will be the moment of truth. There’s still the urge to go out, but she wants to prove to herself that she doesn’t need the alcohol to have a good time.
The next morning, for the first time in months, she wakes up without a hangover. She can’t stop smiling and feels so incredibly proud. Last night was almost as if a switch got flipped in her head and she became a different person. She had the best night she had had in a very long time and not once did she have the urge to get drunk to forget. Acknowledging what she had been doing had made her accept the situation and she now realized she had moved on. Sometimes in life we need to make our way through the dark in order to reach the light at the end of the tunnel and this had been one of those eye opening moments where she knew things would be ok.
She continued to do well and felt like a completely different person. Eventually there was one incident where she slipped and lost control and although she felt guilty about disappointing herself and embarrassed for her behavior, there was also a very small part that knew it was necessary to remind her how far she had come and that she was so much happier without the alcohol.
We all have our weaknesses and ways of coping with hurt and stress. Some turn to food, others to alcohol or drugs, while another plays video games until the sun starts to rise and it’s time to put on that mask again and pretend nothing is wrong. No matter what your coping mechanism, it will only make you forget for a short period of time. In the end it’s all about acknowledging your struggles and going through it, not around it.
Temptations to forget the pain will arise all the time, but until you allow yourself to feel, really feel, these temptations are only shortcuts and ultimately detours back to where you were.
When you’re going through a tough time it’s natural to want to forget and take these shortcuts. Habits take time to break, but if there comes a time when you do give in, don’t beat yourself up about it. Accept that mistakes will happen, place them under your feet and use them as steppingstones, life didn’t come with an instruction manual. No matter how painful, remember that in the end, a collection of mistakes will turn into experience, leading you to success. Just because they happen doesn’t mean they define who you are as a person. Life’s best lessons are usually learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. So yes, you will fail sometimes, and that’s ok. The faster you accept this, the faster you can get on with being awesome.