I don’t talk as much about Alcoholism as I do Mental Health. I should considering I spent 20 out of my 43 years drunk or drinking. I hurt my family, friends, and even strangers. I’ve been arrested several times for disorderly conduct and destruction of property. I was also brought in for a DUI. I was on probation for 2 years for one incident and court ordered to undergo alcohol counseling for one year.
When that year was up guess what I did? If you guessed that the first Saturday night I got dressed up and went to the bar you would be correct. I was also forced to attend AA on a few occasions over 20 years and went voluntarily also. Personally I would rather have Bamboo Shoots driven under my fingernails than go to another AA meeting. That’s just my experience. I chose my own path. I discovered the reason behind my drinking. It still took a few slip ups before I could maintain years without drinking.
There is still a misconception about women who drink. Too many people envision female alcoholics as wine drinkers, soccer moms secretly hiding their alcohol consumption, or the complete opposite, prostitutes, poverty stricken, or homeless.
They never see someone like me. A quiet young girl from a somewhat middle class family. I always said “please” and “thank you”. I called adults “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or “Mrs.” no matter what. I was a people pleaser. When I say I was quiet I’m understating it. I hid behind my long hair in school. I always tried to sit in the back of class so I wouldn’t be noticed. I looked at the ground while walking trying to never make eye contact. How no one noticed something wasn’t right I don’t know.
I drank daily for about 12 years and then it was binge drinking whenever I could. What I drank was massive amounts of alcohol that even the most hardcore alcoholics were surprised at. I was a big girl, but my brain didn’t process alcohol like other people. It acted as a stimulant and wasn’t a depressant until much later. I could start at 5 p.m. and still be drinking at 5 a.m. I’m not saying this in a proud way but as a fact and because of what I didn’t know. I was most likely manic at these times.
I drank because I new I was different. I had a hard time in social situations. I always felt like I was on the other side of a piece of glass, watching everyone laugh and be “normal” while I wondered how they did it. I never belonged. I felt like I wasn’t meant to be here on this planet. It’s exhausting to feel that way from the age of 12. You start to look for anything to make the pain and guilt go away. Anything to feel “normal”. The problem is you don’t feel normal without it. But then you start to act worse than before with it.
I was drinking a case of Black Label and a pint of Firewater or Ginger Flavored Brandy a day. My hands would start to shake around 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Most have heard this already. I was still underage but went to a dive bar that served me anyway because I went with regulars. The Bartender would have a mug of beer waiting with a straw in it pushed as close to the edge as possible so I could just bend my head and sip. She knew I wouldn’t be able to hold a glass or a bottle until after my first couple of drinks.
When I went to the theater to see Leaving Las Vegas and watched Nicolas Cage try to sign his name but couldn’t without drinking first, I sobbed into my shirt. That movie hit me so hard I don’t think I can watch it again. And it’s one of my favorite films. But I sometimes fantasize about doing the same. When everything around you is getting worse and all you see is that 12 foot hole you’re stuck in it’s hard not to think that way.
I say I’m in Remission because there’s less pressure, guilt, and expectation. The reason most people fail in staying “sober” is because of a relapse. The feeling of letting loved one’s down, the shame and guilt, is overwhelming. Too many decide it isn’t worth it because they’re only going to “fail” again. I also do not like the concept of wiping out years of “sobriety” because a person slipped once. If it was a one time slip where is it written that a person has to start all over again? That the previous 18 years of abstaining counts for nothing? I can understand if it’s an ongoing issue. That’s different. But we are human and we make mistakes. Punishing a person at their weakest moment makes no sense to me. I chose to take the shame and guilt out of the equation. I know many do not agree but how do you expect someone to pick themselves back up when every time they fall they’re humiliated for it.
I don’t know which get a worse reaction, when people find out I am Bipolar or an Alcoholic. I do know I am no longer invited to anything. That could be both. I also know that I’ve had an alarming amount of friends and family tell me I’m not an Alcoholic. Which I find odd. I don’t say anything. They weren’t there and a lot was hidden from them. I just don’t like it when someone says “You’re not really an alcoholic, you can have one drink”. I want to tell them that they really don’t want me to. It would be like releasing the Incredible Hulk. Other times I want to prove a point and show them. I’m glad I am still able to think rationally most times. THIS IS A PICTURE OF ME AFTER ABOUT 9 BEERS AND A FEW SHOTS I WAS ALSO 250 POUNDS AT THE TIME AND BLOND. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE OTHER PERSON HE’S VERY NICE.