I never thought I’d have such a problem being sober.
For about five years, my routine involved work, school, internships, then coming home at night and taking opiates in order to relax and forget the day that so often brought so much stress and anxiety. The supply of opiates was never a question between a sharing boyfriend and even more sharing friends. And any problems with functioning the next day was never a question thanks to my adequate supply of A.D.D. medicine. Stimulants during the day; opiates and benzos at night. I was a content girl.
After those five years when my boyfriend and I broke up, I switched to alcohol. It was a sudden switch. My roommate and I would go out and buy a handle of espresso vodka or plain vodka. Espresso vodka was mixed with coffee and plain vodka was put in water bottles; half vodka, half water, add a flavored water packet, shake, and I was good to go for the day. It started out as a night thing, then a morning shot before work thing, then a ‘making sure I had a “water” bottle to get me through the day’ thing.
I only felt okay while intoxicated. I had a million reasons: Stress relief, to warm up when I was waiting for the bus in the cold, to calm my nerves, to become more social. It’s the perfect drug. Ignoring the long-term physical effects is easy when you’re 24 years old and only worried about making it through work before you can go out and party.
It was a constant in my life when everything became up-in-the-air and changing. I was single, involved with a couple people, couldn’t afford to continue my education, helping my parents financially after my dad was diagnosed with stage 3b melanoma… And it felt like my whole world was changing day-by-day and I had no idea how to deal with the ever fluctuating changes. It was uncertain; I no longer had a plan for the future and I still don’t. I had my vodka water bottles and my friends and my partying and I was happy.
Then it began that I had to drink. I had to in order to stop shaking and feeling loopy in the morning. I couldn’t think straight or clear without my morning drink. I was emotional, irrational, and sometimes mean. I wondered what had happened. Alcohol always made me happy; made me feel better. Now it became a stabilizer.
It wasn’t until I met someone that I became close to and started talking to everyday that I realized I had a problem. He had the same one and I’d complain to him about how I felt and he knew how much I was drinking and how much I needed it. Or felt I needed it. He knew about all the changing aspects of my life, my thoughts, my feelings, my attitude, and my denial.
I’m still not comfortable or fully accepting of saying that I’m an alcoholic.
It wasn’t until I helped him out of a bad breakup where he was on a two week bender that I saw the effects. I didn’t want to end up that way but I figured I had a handle on it; as long as I had a handle. Through getting him sober and having him move a few miles from my house, he saw how much I was drinking first hand. It took awhile, a couple of weeks, before I realized I needed it to stop. After I lost my job, though alcohol wasn’t a factor in that case, and he told me that any job I got now, I wouldn’t be able to sneak alcohol and had to be able to make it through eight hour shifts without shaking and becoming paranoid and irritable. So I caved.
He became in charge of my drinks. I started off at seven a day. Then six. Then five. Then two during the day and two at night. Then just two at night. Then I drank way too much one night at a club and the detoxing started even worse. I flipped out on him and the next day, decided that I wasn’t going to drink anymore. So I quit. I wasn’t physically addicted anymore, just mentally. I used Xanax to calm the anxiety and keep me sane.
So now, I’m only allowed, per my now boyfriend, two beers at night. And after a terrible case of bronchitis where I was coughing so hard, I tore the muscles in both of my sides and could barely walk, I was prescribed painkillers to help with the pain. I’m better now, but I’m now without my alcohol, my opiates, and my Xanax. I’m very possessive of those, if you can’t tell. And I’ve realized more than ever how much I’ve relied on those as an escape.
My whole life, I’ve escaped. Through dissociation and depersonalization as a child, through self-mutilation as a teenager, and through opiates, benzo’s, and alcohol as a young adult. I’ve never learned proper coping mechanisms. And now I’m forced to; for my own good but not without quite a bit of reluctance. My boyfriend is helping and I’m beyond grateful and appreciative of him for putting up with what I’ve put him through with all of this and what I’ve continued to put him through. The mood swings, desires to be high or drunk, and the anxiety can become unmanageable but I’m trying my hardest. When not for myself, then for him.
But it’s the first time I’m trying to be sober and it’s such an ongoing process. It’s terrifying but I’m looking forward to finding myself for, possibly, the first time ever.