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"So, what is your drug of choice, crack?" The police officer asked.
"Um, no, I just drink."
The look on his face said it all. I was a fucking loser. Here I was, a 35 year old mother who was arrested, for going against my bail conditions, staying out past my 8 PM curfew, drinking when I was not allowed to, and charged for not paying the cab driver. You see, this was the end of a very long battle. The war was with my addiction, and my addiction won. It was time to tap out, surrender, give up. I was done. Done trying to live in a world that included alcohol. The alcohol kept winning each battle. Knocking me down further and further. Here I was, in jail because of alcohol! This was a slow, agonizing process that was nine years in the making.
There is this notion that alcohol = adulthood. Growing up we move towards this final destination, a rite of passage so to speak, without really understanding the consequences. "Drink responsibly,” as the saying goes; however, when ingesting mind-altering substances, we really don’t have control over how they may affect us. Most think we can control it, and that for those that cannot, they are weak. Our bodies are different, there are those that are sensitive, there are those that are deathly allergic, and there are those that are not affected by what they consume at all. The spectrum of tolerance is a long one. For me, I sit at the end at “deathly allergic." I understand we don’t speak of alcoholism as an allergy, but as someone who has lived through it, I can tell you it is quite similar, but much more complex. My body, over time, developed an intolerance to the chemical of alcohol, and that intolerance not only affected my physical self, it affected my emotional and mental state as well. I wasn’t always an alcoholic. I started off as a “normal” drinker, having one or two drinks with no thought about it. I really didn't start to drink until I was about 19, when I met my ex-husband. I was a normal drinker into my mid 20s until I had my son.
After my six-month maternity leave came to an end, I decided to go back to work, and began working at a prominent steakhouse in the city, where I was working evenings as a hostess. After my son stopped breastfeeding was when I began to drink again. I would go out for drinks after work to unwind after a busy evening. The effects began to take hold in the sense that I began to crave the effect of alcohol. I really enjoyed how it made me feel. I found it to be a great way to relax. I began to drink more and more to the point of having 10 double rum and cokes and numerous shots of tequila within just a few months after starting to drink again! Imagine how I would feel the next day? Other effects were blacking out, waking up in strange beds, missing work, as I would sleep so heavily that I would miss my alarm. This is just a pinch of what I went through over the nine year battle.
Let's go back to that horrific day. Here I was in jail for drinking. This wasn't the first time. That was the third time I was arrested. Prior to that, I had two DUIs that brought about the bail conditions that occurred six months prior. What a time that was! I was at my most broken self, just surviving became a struggle. You see, when one drinks as much as I did, for as long as I did, it is not only the drinking that affects one's body physically, it is the events that happen while one is drinking that take its toll on one's essence. The constant beating upon one's psyche, self respect, dignity, and confidence will result in a human who is almost void of all that it means to be one. It reminds me of the Zombies from The Walking Dead.
The definition of a Zombie is, "the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose." Every drink I took over those nine years, and the consequences I suffered for those drinks, stripped away my essence. The consequences are endless, such as falling down in front of my friends on the dance floor, sleeping with men I would never sleep with, waking up beside men I do not remember meeting, getting fired from jobs for calling in sick too many times, not having money to pay for rent, or even buy groceries, losing my license, possibly going to jail for my DUIs, participating in relationships that were abusive on all levels— physically, mentally, and emotionally, etc. I could go on. Many of the resulting consequences occurred while I was in a blackout with no recollection of what happened whatsoever. It was like something would take over and I had no control over becoming this "mute and will-less" thing. It sure sounds like the zombie definition doesn't it?
Adulthood does not equate the inclusion of alcohol. We must change our way of thinking when it comes to the consumption of alcohol, on all levels, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. From the time we are teens, we are fed this notion that consuming alcohol, and enjoying its effects is a way to relax, celebrate, and socialize in adulthood. Advertisements are everywhere, especially now with the use of social media. Endless photos of partying individuals with drinks in their hands, looking like they are having the best time. We are not taught about the extreme consequences that could result from the consumption of alcohol except for "don't drink and drive." What good that did me when I chose to drive while in a complete blackout!
As we venture into adulthood, we begin to experience the emotions, actions, and consequences of adulthood, such as responsibilities that lead to stress, self doubt, and failure. Over time, we begin to use alcohol, to not only have fun, but to cope. This movement is quite slow and silent, and we really don't know it is happening. Over time, it begins to take the form of escapism, which then leads to a complete lack of coping skills in dealing with real life issues. Alcoholism is like living in a bubble. It’s the strangest feeling really. You take one sip, and you are transported to a world that is without feeling or consequence. Why wouldn’t I want that feeling to continue? Yet, by the end of my nine year battle, I still hadn't dealt with the emotional toll of my divorce that occurred eight years prior, along with every other event, experience, and emotion thereafter.
If you are wondering about the soundtrack, "Free Drink Ticket" by Peaches, this is a song I relate to on so many levels. I recognize the voice and words to be that of my true self towards my drunken self when I was active in my addiction. Please listen. It will give you a good idea of what it was like in my head during that time.
It was on that cold, jail cell floor that I had a moment of wakefulness so to speak, when I finally decided to quit drinking. The recovery process was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, as I had to chip away at the mountain of my past, one experience at a time, as well as accept that I will never drink again, but it was so worth it. I just celebrated nine years of sobriety! It is not only the absence of alcohol that has made my life better, it is learning how to live a life that is joyful, peaceful, and satisfying without the use of any mind-altering substances.