I remember the day May 6, 2014 very clearly. Not very many specific days short of events, birthday parties, or trips, can I say that I remember the day. But May 6, 2014, I can.
The night before was just like any other. I had gotten home from work and did my usual routine: feed the dogs, dinner, pour a drink. And like most nights during that year, I had 12 too many. I poured glass after glass. My boyfriend at the time had gone to “work late” as he did many nights when we were together, although I’d later find out many of those weren’t actually spent at the office.
My last memory was around 8pm. When I woke up in the morning, my phone via texts and calls I made, says I was up well past 2am. Fuck, I did it again.
Without even knowing that I had started an unintentional fight with my boyfriend asking why he wouldn’t ever marry me, I knew he’d be mad at me. I knew that my punishment would be coming over the next few days, and linger on for weeks even. I knew this, just like all the other times, I would hear about this down the road as one more fuck up I needed to fix and “prove”myself a worthy mate, as he’d too often remind me.
No fucking wonder he doesn’t want you, you piece of shit. Who would want you? You’re a mess. A fucking disaster, I’d remind myself.
And so I’d sit on the couch, scrolling Facebook to occupy my mind away as another outlet of escape from my current life. The life I hated so much, yet only had me to blame. This mess of a life that made me look in the mirror everyday and hate myself, from the inside out. The mess I made that made me look away when I had to get naked to shower, because I hated what I had done to myself. The mess I made that told me every single day you dont deserve to be here. You. Are. Worthless.
An article popped up and I read it. It was an article a girl had wrote about being one year sober. After a particularly shitty Cinco De Mayo, she had decided to give up drinking for a year. I read about her struggles. I read about what she thought every morning waking up after a blackout. What did I do? Who do I need to apologize to? NOT AGAIN… I related on every single level except one.. I couldn’t quit drinking.
I remember feeling the envy. The admiration. The strength of a girl that was just like me, but quit. FOR A YEAR. It seemed impossible. Alcohol had become such a big part of my life. Not that I needed it every day. Sometime I wouldn’t even drink every week. But when I did, I DID. GO BIG OR GO HOME seemed to be my brain’s motto.
I never intended this, mind you. Sure, in college I’d drink with the goal to get drunk, not to black out. But as I got older, I REALLY just wanted to be one of those people that could just go to happy hour, and then GO HOME. But I couldn’t do it. Ever.
After one drink, it wasnt me in control. I didn’t even need peer pressure. I had this thing in my head that took over once alcohol hit my system, and I was no longer me. Ask any of my friends that knew me when I drank (and thank you for all staying my friends- sorry I sucked so badly), I was a different person. I dont know her personally, but I saw the train wreck she’d leave behind for me every time, and I hated her.
So through tears, pain, struggles, moments of weakness, sadness to a crippling state, anxiety, more depression, uncomfortable moments and much more, I faced my demons. By the grace of God, I reached 1000 days sober on September 27, 2017.
What have I learned?
I learned its okay to be a mess, as long as you keep trying to get better.
I learned I’m not an awful person, I just had a really bad addiction that I didn’t understand at the time.
I learned that some things seem like they are good for you, but will tear you apart to the core. This applies to people as well.
I learned that having people who love you no matter where you are on the disaster spectrum is the greatest blessing a person can have.
I learned I didn’t deserve the emotional abuse I went through for years, regardless of my drinking problem.
I learned that drinking kept me low enough to stay in control of a man who never deserved me, not the other way around. Because even in my drinking, I never intentionally hurt someone, was malicious, or broke someone’s heart. I was still a treasure to be adored, and perhaps had I of had the love I needed then, I would have gotten better sooner.
But I learned I have no one to blame but myself. It wasn’t his fault I didn’t know my worth, it was mine. And I learned exactly how much I’m worth. And it was more than he ever had, drinking or not.
I learned that my drinking problem and depression was one of the greatest things to ever happen to me. Overcoming it helped me find how strong I really am. And without it I wouldn’t be able to love as much as I can, knowing everyone has their own struggles, even when we don’t see them right away. I wouldn’t have been able to stay alone at my niece’s hospital bed while she lay in a coma because I would of had to drink something to cope.
I wouldn’t be sitting here on a patio in Zagreb, Croatia able to type this, or say I’ve backpacked 17 countries, some solo, just this year, had I of still been drinking. I wouldn’t have the courage, the confidence or the self love to even consider doing this.
And mostly, I learned I don’t need an “escape” from this life. I learned pain is an inevitable part of growth, and growth is required to live your life to the fullest possible capacity. No more short cuts for me.
If I could tell all the young girls in the world one thing, it’d be this: love every single piece of yourself. Skip the years of your 20’s thinking you aren’t pretty enough, thin enough, good enough, strong enough, and SKIP FUCKING SETTLING.. Skip that second walk past the mirror thinking you’re too chubby to wear that. SKIP ANYONE WHO DOESN’T LOOK AT YOU LIKE THEY CANT BELIEVE YOURE ACTUALLY ON EARTH. And if you’re like me, skip mind-altering substances that band-aid your confidence. Decide who you want to be and work every single day to be that person so you can look in the mirror and be happy with what you see inside and out.
Through all the questioning and debating if I could pick up drinking again and “handle it”, I sit today with the full knowledge that I made the right decision, for me.
My sister sent me this text the other day of my niece’s homework from the beginning of the year. Out of all the people in the world, she’s who I wanted to set the right example for, and while she never told me, I now know I’m doing it right.