Part 2: Waking Up
It was the morning of Thanksgiving in 2012. I was supposed to run the Turkey Trot but instead I got in my car and drove around nursing a massive hangover and carrying a load of shame. I’ve been here before, but this time it was different.
Ever since I can remember, alcohol has been a part of my narrative. I learned from a young age the power of genes when it came to alcoholism. But in my big Irish family, it was all the men so I assumed I would come out unscathed.
I took my first drink at 13 in my neighborhood where drinking was revered and quite frankly, normalized. Alcohol gave me an overwhelming sense of comfort. I loved it. A beer in my hand felt powerful because it allowed me to relax, have fun, be myself, and feel like I belonged. Drinking was a regular occurrence at my all girls high school. We would drink before football games, dances, at houses and in parking lots. By the time I got to college, alcohol gave me a false sense of confidence. The moment it hit my lips it gave me a coat of armor that allowed me to relax and fit in. It was my liquid courage.
That night before Thanksgiving I had met up with friends in my old neighborhood and was drinking as much as everyone else. But I was feeling insecure and awkward and so I had one too many Christmas Ales. That was the last time I blacked out. That was when the seed was planted within me subconsciously that I didn’t want to drink anymore. But it took me six years to finally wake up.
I have always been a sensitive soul. I remember feeling a very real longing to be loved, to belong, to be connected at a very young age. But I was overweight and shy so grade school made for a long trek of disappointment and heartache. Somewhere along that trek, a story began to write itself. A story that I was not enough, I wasn’t worthy, and that I didn’t belong.
That was when my struggle with an addiction to fill a void within me began. This void was a gaping hole within my soul that made me believe that I wasn’t worthy, loveable or enough.
I didn’t know how to cope or navigate all of this at a young age. So I hid. I masked.I people pleased. I lied. I drank. I avoided. I ate. I competed. I perfected. I compared. I overworked. I sealed off my heart. All because I didn’t feel enough.
But when I had alcohol, I realized I found something that could help alleviate this unexplainable void. I thought alcohol made me powerful but really I was just giving my power away. After that Thanksgiving, I became sober curious without really even knowing it. I had cut way back on drinking and therefore believed I was on good terms with alcohol. But it consumed my thoughts. I found myself longing to drink like everyone else but knew I couldn’t go back to that morning of Thanksgiving.
When I quit drinking at the beginning of 2018, I actually felt really relieved. And truthfully, it didn’t feel that hard…at first. I figured that I wasn’t that big of a drinker any more because I wasn’t going out a lot or blacking out. I didn’t drink everyday and compared to a lot of people around me, I really didn’t drink that much. And when I look back at my relationship with alcohol, from the outside looking in, it didn’t look any different or even mild than most. But from the inside looking out, the intentions of why I drank were unhealthy and not serving me. When I quit last year, I believed giving up alcohol wasn’t a big deal or hard. But I still held onto this idea in the back of my head that if ever in the future I wanted to drink, I could.
Again, I didn’t believe I had a problem.