I often get asked why I decided to quit alcohol, and this is often followed by a comment like “well, you must not be much fun”. I like to challenge that question by saying “I now get to have fun with my friends. I get to remember my night. I get to play with my baby boy the next day and go for a run because I feel fresh. What’s not to love!?”
You see, I used to drink to get drunk. I didn’t drink because I loved the taste – in fact I loathed the taste. I drank to escape life; essentially to run away.
Many years ago, I worked behind a bar in Munich. I remember going from sober to drunk in literally 5 minutes. Towards the end of my shift, I free-poured myself the biggest, strongest, and quite honestly the most disgusting glass filled with vodka (which was my drink of choice) and sugar (simply to ensure I could stomach it) and I downed that baby in two seconds flat – ’cause I needed to “catch up” to my already-drunk friends.
This was a regular thing for me. I wasn’t confident in my own abilities so I felt I needed alcohol to make my personality shine.
Another time I was at a nightclub and was so pissed I lost my bag, wallet, phone and dignity. At the time, I would brag about how funny this was. Looking back, again it wasn’t.
Not really surprisingly, this destructive behaviour landed me in hospital. I woke up one morning, peering through half-closed eyes to see a doctor standing over me. I looked at him and said, “I knew this would happen one day” and fell back to sleep. I made this situation into a joke and told everyone this “funny” story about that time I completely wrote myself off and landed in hospital.
Reminiscing on this, I am quite mortified. This is not a funny story and was not at all a funny situation – in fact it was a cry for help from someone who didn’t know her place in the world. It was self-hatred and an extremely dangerous way of living life. A person doesn’t get to that level of drinking unless they are trying to escape, trying to hide from their truth.
Our Australian drinking culture makes people feel like it’s OK to write themselves off. That the drunkest person in the room (which used to be me) gets a badge of honour. That getting drunk, or “paralytic”, is totally normal. Well I’m here to tell you, it’s not. It’s not funny or cool or entertaining. It’s effing dangerous.
I drank to escape. I drank to build confidence. I drank to run away from shit from my past that I wasn’t ready to deal with. I used to mask my drinking problems with humour, because I guess this made it easier to cope. Humour was most certainly the easy way to deal with it. Running away is easy. But it’s a band-aid fix. The hard way is dealing with our problems head-on. We need to talk about whatever we have bottled up, otherwise, when drunk, it might all come to the surface and you could turn into a dragon, like I used to.
We need to massage our insides by opening up and being vulnerable. We all have stuff that we haven’t dealt with. Some of it is small and some of it is not. We have so many ingrown beliefs; beliefs that can go as far back as high school or even primary school. We could have held on to hurt from someone who was having a bad day and said something to us.
In order to deal with our stuff, we need to face it head on and then, in the words of one of my favourite animated movies, “Let it go”. That is not going to happen by drinking, or taking drugs, or working ourselves to the bone. In fact, writing ourselves off is just going to make it a million times worse. We need to find someone we trust – a counsellor, a psychologist, a friend, kinesiologist, Reiki master or even a chiropractor – to help us let go of things we are holding on to.
You’re not fooling anyone by masking your problems. Don’t let one person’s bad day, or year, affect your human experience. You have the choice to change your beliefs and you can make that choice today.