Blame it on the Alcohol.
This is an extremely tough entry for me to write. In actuality, I am still having doubts as to whether or not committing these thoughts and experiences to print is a wise decision at all. But, I am also aware that if I don’t… if these feelings, emotions and reflections continue to fester and exist purely within the confines of my mind–I may very well go mad.
So, I am doing what I must to achieve just a semblance of peace. My brain these days is a muddled maze of uncertainties. I can’t solve one internal conflict without another equally daunting challenge presenting itself. This disarray has proven to be incredibly dizzying. The world around me switches between full-throttle and stagnant. Time is either whirring by me at speeds incalculable by man or inching by at a languid crawl. I can’t keep up with the frequent inconsistencies.
It’s been this way for fifteen days now. My mind and body have both been unfrozen. I am no longer in suspended animation. I walk now and I feel the concrete beneath my feet. I speak and can easily replay the words in my head. I step outside and can hear and observe the sounds around me. I am no longer in a perpetual haze. I am no longer held captive by my alcohol dependency. I am effectively sober.
No one told me it would be this hard.
I’ve spared everyone the details of my battle with drinking over the past two years for many reasons.
1) I hate attention–especially negative attention. Most of the time if I post something on facebook that involves politics, unpopular opinion, religion, touchy topics, etc. I will never read responses that people post. I don’t care to debate. I don’t care to read something that I may find personally insulting. I just don’t want my self-image being affected any more than it has to be.
2) It was no one’s business. I knew the entire time I had a problem. I knew that what I was partaking in was not normal, responsible, healthy, safe, or positive in any way whatsoever. It was and is still an embarrassment to myself. It was a major issue for everyone in my life and became a giant elephant in every room I entered.
3. Most of all I kept the official diagnosis hidden because I just could not handle any more criticism or judgment from those who think that they knew me or the unfortunate situations that I found myself in. I already deal with scrutiny from people in my life on a daily basis. And just the idea of one more individual attacking my decisions was unbearable. Those who knew… knew. And those who did know also understood that there was nothing they could do about it other than voice their concern and disapproval.
So, I kept my mouth shut and my hands tied behind my back. As long as I kept imbibing copious amount of liquor with increasing regularity I saw no reason to make mention of the seriousness of these problems because there really was nothing to gain from it.
I will now provide some back-story to supplement the experiences that would lead up to this posting. It might help explain some things and as a result might actually help me sort through some of my own confusion with the process. I’ll try to keep it succinct, but bear with me–as some of these memories have lain dormant for some time now:
Two years ago this month my life changed dramatically. I started to drink heavily, frequently and irresponsibly. Moderation has never been my strong suit. Addiction comes quickly and without warning. I cling to these obsessions, these habits and these routines until reformation becomes virtually impossible without some serious form of intervention–and even then there is no telling if success will be a possibility at all. I’ve hopped from compulsion to compulsion and vice to vice where each one acted as a substitute for another.
I’ve been this way my entire life. I use these infatuations as crutches to support me, as blindfolds to shield me from reality, as painkillers to numb my emotions, and as plastic surgery to carve out a sense of identity for myself. In middle school I didn’t just like Star Wars but became completely enveloped in a world that revolved around the fantasy series. I collected all of the memorabilia, I memorized every fact and figure about the characters, vehicles, planets, and so on, I wrote fan-fiction, I spent all of my money on SW related products, etc. etc. This was my life. This was my identity. This pattern would repeat itself multiple times throughout subsequent years with film, Kate Winslet, Ireland, Brandi Carlile, James Dean, Blink 182, etc. I couldn’t just stop at appreciating or admiring these people, places and things. I had to go one step further. I was always taking things too far. The line between healthy and obsession blurred for me. But, at the time it gave me purpose and an area of interest to devote my time to.
Those were rather harmless examples of my inability to moderate myself. My constant struggle with finding middle ground would go on to manifest itself in more dangerous and detrimental ways once I hit college. It was here that my freedom coupled with my blatant mental instability would amalgamize into a monolithic obstacle.
To summarize the downhill nature of my first couple of years at school…
I have always been good at sports. I may not have been good enough to compete professionally or even on the collegiate level, but there is no denying the fact that I’m athletically gifted. I’m swift, nimble, agile, quick-thinking, coordinated and competitive. I had participated in basketball almost year round since I was in the 2nd grade. I was always thin, slender and muscular because I was constantly engaged in a very rigorous and demanding sport. Thus, when I went away to school I gained some weight. Not a lot. Not enough to where any normal person would notice, but I did. I had almost no friends nor a way to meet any. I had a poor complexion. I had nothing interesting going on in my life. I was bored. I had nothing going for me. So, I focused all of my attention on something that I absolutely knew I could control: my body. I’ve never denied being vain. Appearance is important to me because I feel that it’s the only thing that I can offer someone. I’m almost completely unskilled or able to engage others in any way. So, my train of thought was: make self more attractive, feel more confident, project confidence, garner interest from prospective date and/or hiring manager, profit.
So, I started cutting calories. I concentrated on portion control and incorporating more exercise into my routines. It began rather harmlessly, but then I became addicted to the results. After that I just couldn’t get thin enough. I began to feel guilty if I ate anything at all. I moderated my calories to the point where I would refuse to eat more than 800 a day. My brain became my worst enemy and dysmorphia began to cloud my vision. It didn’t matter if a size double-zero at Aeropostale required a belt to stay up on my hips. Or that my spine protruded from the sunken sallow skin of my back. I didn’t seem to care that the room would spin and I would almost faint upon standing. It seemed perfectly normal that all the notes I took while in class consisted of adding up calorie counts and writing grocery lists. Sure, I slept more than I should have, wore sweatshirts in the summer, and feared having to go out to eat with my friends more than anything in the world. But, I was skinny.
88 pounds skinny. In a year I had seen my weight dwindle down from 135 pounds to 88. Almost fifty pounds on a 5’5″ formerly muscular frame.
It was a really tough time for everyone. My family was afraid of the health consequences. And despite finally achieving what I thought I wanted–I wasn’t happy and I was too afraid of outside judgment to be comfortable going out looking the way I did. These photos don’t portray the dire nature of the situation. The truly horrific images are going to stay put away where they belong.
I finally pulled myself out of this particular period of darkness only to find myself quickly careening to the other extreme. I refused to seek any sort of professional treatment and instead decided to tackle it myself. So, I started to eat. And then I found myself eating too much. Apparently it’s quite common for a recovering anorexic to find themselves slipping into a state of binge-eating. And this is what happened with me. Not coming to terms with the underlying reasons for the initial disorder led to my clinging to another. I began to use food as a coping mechanism. I abused it in order to satiate the emptiness and loneliness that would continue to plague me. After work, every night, I would go to the grocery store and buy boxes of cereal… not one, not two, but three. And I would sit there on my computer, staying up until morning, while stuffing my face with handful after handful of cereal. I would then either eat nothing the next day or force an emetic down my throat and spend the afternoon involuntarily vomiting. This was undoubtedly worse than not eating at all. It was expensive. It was stressful. It was unhealthy. It was embarrassing. It was just another example of my inability to moderate any aspect of my life. I gained a ton of weight after doing this for over a year. The damage I’ve done to my metabolism throughout those periods is immeasurable. I still do not eat like a normal person. My weight still fluctuates. But, the progress that I have made is incredible. It’s the one area of my crazy that I might actually have finally tackled.
It was during the aforementioned episodes that my school career went from fruitful and successful to non-existent. I tried to take time off to heal myself but never did get back in the swing of things. And if I don’t get all A’s and high B’s then I’d rather fail out. *smacks head*
In the spring of 2007 I admitted and accepted the fact that I was gay. I had known that I was attracted to women long before this, but for a multitude of reasons I just didn’t put much thought or effort into it. I hated myself too much to want a relationship. My family’s approval was of the utmost importance to me. I had no gay role-models, friends, acquaintances, etc. I was going to one of, if not the most, conservative schools in a very conservative area. I was scared. I was ashamed. I was confused. I just did whatever I could to avoid the situation entirely. But, eventually I just came out to myself and that was that. I had never so much as held hands with another girl at that point, but I knew and was sure about it. So, I sought out support any way I could, which was when I found a wonderful online community that proved to be an extremely pivotal point in my adult life. It was through here that I would meet my first girlfriend and begin my first real relationship.
Despite the tumult and irreconcilable differences that plagued and would eventually spell out the demise of this 1.5 year long courtship… I experienced love and stability for the first time in years. It felt good. It felt right. I was happy and cared for. I was with an incredible woman who I admired and looked up to. It was a very important time for me. But, a little over two years ago the dissolution of this relationship took place. Unsurprisingly, this was my fault. I truly am responsible for every misstep I have taken on my life’s journey thus far.
Without going into much detail… it was my own anxieties and insecurities that ruined everything. I was too scared to try new things, too shy to go out with her friends, too self-loathing to instill trust in her, too stubborn to try and change and too much of a coward to end it the right way. So, I lost everything. I lost my future, I lost my partner, I lost a friend, I lost a home, I lost a cat, and I lost hope.
When I knew the end was quickly approaching I started to seek out solace in any way I could find it. I found a group of like-minded, lesbian, interesting and spirited individuals in College Station. I liked them and at the time I thought they liked me. I began spending more and more time with this group and in turn began to lose more and more of what I used to like about myself. I stopped caring about anyone but me. I was reckless. I was stupid. I was essentially making up for lost time that I had spent alone in my room. I finally had friends. I would have done anything for acceptance–and I did. I became a liar, a cheater, a stereotypical lesbian slut, a drunk, a homewrecker, etc. I had transformed into someone I despised. But, I couldn’t turn back. I couldn’t quit. I was addicted to the care-free nature of it all. There is something initially thrilling about that type of existence.
Luckily for me that entire situation proved to be ephemeral. However, the drinking continued on…
What began as a way to quell my social awkwardness while partying it up with strangers led to full-on dependency. No two ways about it. I used to be able to control it. I would know when to stop. I would drink intermittently. I would take a few days off after a night of debauchery. And then one day I could no longer regulate it. It just happened. I found myself the villain once again in the relationship I was in. I had fallen in love with two people… two people who happened to be exes themselves. I was too weak to make a decision of breaking it off with my girlfriend and taking the chance on the other girl–so I strung them both along. I was a horrible vile human being. And I was using the alcohol to avoid dealing with the crushing guilt and emotional despair that would have accompanied this situation otherwise. I didn’t want to feel anymore. I didn’t want to be me. Vodka helped with this. Or so I thought.
During this time I found myself completely entangled in this web of crazy I had constructed. I ruined so much in such a short period of time. I broke hearts. I broke friendships. I broke promises. I mutilated myself with razors, glass, or whatever sharp object I could get my hands on. These drastic measures stemmed from the need to feel SOMETHING, from an overwhelming longing to free myself from this crippling guilt, from the twisted desire to have my outer shell match the gnarled decaying darkness that existed internally. I have to live with these scars for the rest of my life. I have people stop me in the supermarket to inquire about the origin of the multiple disfigurements on my left arm. Children stare at them. I can never wear a swim-suit again because of the hideous nature of the scar on my upper leg. It wasn’t just the superficiality of the wounds, but the fact that one almost killed me and landed me a stint in a psychiatric ward that proved most detrimental.
This was in April of 2010.
After that my drinking escalated more and more until it became all I did and all I could do. In recent months my girlfriend and I would go through a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka every other day. Since she would be at work the bulk of the day–I would be the main consumer of the liquor. I’d wake up and start taking shots until I would pass out. I would wake up from that and drink more. The cycle kept repeating. I would go to work drunk. I became what is known as a functional alcoholic. I was adept if not extremely proficient at my job. I was able to carry out thoughtful, intellectual and insightful conversations about a breadth of topics. I could easily pass a physical sobriety test. And had learned to control my emotions to the point where I was consistently stable and complacent.
I was having fun. I’m a funny drunk. I laugh more. I enjoy more. I’m outgoing. I want to see and be around people. I feel more confident and more willing to try new things. But, I reached a point where I stopped being able to remember chunks of time. Days, weeks, and months would run together. I would get violently ill from withdrawal within a few hours after last drinking. I was no longer strictly emotionally addicted, but physically as well.
Two weeks ago I hit a brick wall. After running out of alcohol early in the morning (5am-ish) I began to experience extremely terrifying withdrawal symptoms that could not be quelled. I began to hear things. I wasn’t hearing “voices” per se. But, was encountering what I would eventually learn was a phenomenon called “musical hallucinations.” I had been having these episodes a few days prior without having any clue that they were coming from within my mind.
I had been complaining to Megan about how I could hear the music and television shows that our neighbors were listening to or watching. I found this curious because it had never been an issue before, but nonetheless I in no way doubted my observations. She claimed to not hear them, but she has shoddy hearing so I just chalked it up to my superior auditory senses. I would be able to make out songs quite clearly… patriotic music, Dora the Explorer, Ke$ha, football games, oldies, talk radio, etc. I even facebooked about being able to hear them listening to a football broadcast one morning. This turned out to be part of these hallucinations. I heard the same play-by-play about thirty times over the next few days.
It wasn’t until I decided to go on a run that the truth made itself known to the logical part of my brain. I was hearing the song “Staying Alive” blaring out of every door I passed in our apartment complex. I was hearing lines from movies or parts of a strange conversation repeating and echoing from the meadow and the trees. I heard my name being said by my dad and by Megan. I kept seeing shadowy entities out of the corner of my eye. The song selections kept changing. I can’t recall all the tunes I heard during that forty five minute run, but I was scared. I was crying while running. I had no idea what was happening or any idea as to how to make it stop.
I made a decision right then and there that I was done. The next couple of days I had to keep asking Megan if things I were hearing were real or not. I couldn’t hold a pencil or a glass of water because my hands were shaking so much. I stayed up for four days in a row because I couldn’t sleep. But, eventually these symptoms would dissipate.
And now it’s been fifteen days without so much as a sip of alcohol. Megan even brought some into the house the other night and I resisted having even one drink. Granted, it’s only been two weeks… but I hadn’t gone more than three days in two years. So, to me… it’s an accomplishment.
Healthwise I feel better, but mentally I’m as unstable as ever. The sad but honest truth is that I hardly know who I am anymore. I’ve spent two years completely under the influence of a depressant. I’ve been its puppet. Megan has dated me for over 1.5 years and has never truly known the real me. She doesn’t understand this. She insists it’s always been me, but I know that it hasn’t. I abused alcohol for the sole purpose of avoiding being me. The real me still doesn’t exist. I’m comfortable around so few people. Even around my own family I have trouble ever feeling entirely at ease. That’s just me. That’s who I am. It takes years of constant and consistent interaction with someone for my true colors to emerge. And people rarely have that kind of patience. I’m a tough nut to crack.
Things have been tough here since I stopped drinking. I feel as though I do not know Megan anymore. I’m viewing it as starting the relationship from scratch. So much of our history together was spent drunk. We were always having fun, laughing, goofing off and talking incessantly–because that’s what I do when I drink. I turn into a social person. When I’m sober I am much more reserved, much more of a quiet observer, more of a thinker than a doer. I am not as easily amused or entertained. I am shy. I am less willing to accept flaws or to ignore or brush off annoyances. I don’t forget things and instead dwell on them until they turn into a bigger problem. I’m having a tough time adjusting. The problems are arising from the fact that I am at a loss of things to talk about with her, that our conversations have become almost non-existent, that I’m not as affectionate physically or emotionally, that I’m distant, that she doesn’t feel loved, etc. And I cannot deny any of these allegations. All of them are true and I’m aware of each as being a huge issue that must be addressed at some point.
It’s a terrifying thing to think about. Sobriety is important for me and for my future. But, at what cost? I know that there are many stages that one goes through during a recovery period of this magnitude. Who I am today will not be who I am in a month…. But, who will arise from these ashes? Will it be someone who can fulfill her needs as a loving and caring partner? Will it be someone who recovers the ambition and drive that she once possessed? Will it be someone who finally stumbles upon the path that has remain elusive up ’til this juncture? Or will it be my time to pay for all the harm that I have caused others during the past six years? Will I lose it all?
Now that my brain is fully under my control again I am finding it difficult to escape my thoughts. There are a million things going on at once in there and my body is struggling to keep up with the ever expanding list of tasks to accomplish, projects to begin and bridges to mend. Fingers crossed everybody. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Saddest of all… I no longer wake up in the morning feeling like P.Diddy.
Won’t Miss This: