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Realizing My 8-Year Alcohol Dependency Had More To Do With My Lack of Mental Strength Than The Love of a Good Time
Hearing from someone who has only known me for a couple of years that my sole solution to alleviating my stresses was the direct cause of my gradual weight gain, facial breakouts, and sleepless nights couldn't have affected me in a more towering way. Hearing the words 'I think your biggest set back is your drinking' while discussing the difficulties of losing weight hit me harder than any cliche figure of speech. 'No, no. I don't drink that much. That can't be it', I said, hurrying to my defense. I was assured that I wasn't an Alcoholic but I, indeed, had shown traits of having a dependency to alcohol. Still awestruck by this 'outing' of my most hidden flaw, I became obsessed with the thought of me, possibly, having an alcohol dependency. After a few days of battling with myself, I had to unmask the truth; I had been dealing with Alcohol Dependency since I was 16 years old.
Alike most of the World's Teenage population, I had experienced a myriad of situations that I felt were out of my control therefore causing me to 'check out.' I can remember walking into my kitchen and seeing my mother's alcohol & wine collection case. I never paid much attention to it before, but something about it this day enticed me. I remember seeing one of the bottles, a bottle of Brandy, was opened, so I picked it up. I thought for a while if I should take a sip. I was a 'late-bloomer' within my group of friends at the time. I had never done the underage drinking binge after school made popular in every Young Adult film. After a while, I decided there was no harm in taking a sip; so I did. Then I took another. Then I poured some in a cup mixed with the iced tea I had originally gone in the kitchen for. The result, as expected, was a buzz I was unfamiliar with. Since that moment, I was equipped with a weapon I had no idea would be used against me years later.
From that point on, almost every morning I would pour a cap-full of whatever alcohol was available to me into my morning beverage. From Brandy to Kahlua, I had created a daily regimen. At 16 years old, I had found a temporary stabilizer that silenced all of the noise in my mind. I must reiterate that I was not a binge drinker. I had simply found a distraction to take me away from the environment I was in and the situations I was dealing (or not dealing) with. At 16 years of age, my alcohol dependency was incredibly low. After a few months of smuggling cap-fulls, I had gone cold turkey until I turned 18. I can remember sitting in my bedroom during the final weeks of senior year and thinking about wanting to rebel. I was itching for a moment to break loose and lose control. Then at that moment, I had received a message from a friend inviting me out to indulge in typical teenage rebellion. Ordinarily, I was a well-to-do child. I never meshed with the bad crowds or did anything outlandish or 'scared straight' worthy. But this day, I had decided to go for it. This was the 1st night I had experienced what it was like to be drunk; and I liked it. For that moment, I could choose whether or not to feel what I had been feeling. This was the start to my alcohol dependency.
In 2011, I had moved away for college. Now, before I begin, my 1st year of college was very lackluster compared to most students who went away for school. I was 20 years old entering a new environment surrounded by 17-18 year old students who were entirely too elated to be away from their parents. Being numerically and mentally older than my fellow dorm-mates, I was very reclusive.
Though my 1st year of college was significantly different than most, I did experience the quintessential setbacks of a 1st year student. In 2011 I was struggling with finances, my 1st relationship with my boyfriend of 3 years had ended abruptly, and a friend of mine of 7 years had been murdered - all within a month of eachother. As any air-breathing human being would, I underwent a deep depression. My stage of depression lasted a total of 8 months. At first, I had exemplified normal signs of depression; loss of appetite, limitless amounts of midday naps, and crying spells whenever my mind would get trapped in my new reality. After a while, I had started showing new signs of depression that went under the radar like an undetected fatal condition. I was masking my depression with smiles and laughter and a bubbling personality, sharing this person with the World.
After my 21st birthday, the age of legalization, I was in full-force. I had been going out every single night to bars, mostly alone, and drinking all that my pockets would allow. I would spend nights out on the town, hanging out with nameless people, divulging in questionable activity. I was living life how I thought I should be as a newly single, newly legal young woman of New York City. There were very few nights I would spend in my house that in the rare moments I was at home, my brother who I had lived with wouldn't know how to coexist with me. I was drinking so much at a rapid rate that I can barely recollect how I got home most nights. I had found my partners-in-crime; Jose Cuervo & any well-whiskey bars had available. My alcoholism had became a practice. I learned which types of alcohols gave me certain affects and how many drinks of each I would need in a matter of time to get to the point of oblivion. I was funding these excursions with borrowed money I 'needed' from my family members and I would spend each red cent on these outings. Sometimes i would accept advances to hang out with people I wasn't necessarily friends with because alcohol was being offered. At the rate I was going, I never had to think or feel anything that I did not want to.
From that point on, I was aware that I needed alcohol on a daily basis. I hadn't recognized who I was without it. Within my group of friends on campus, I was known to always have a bottle of wine or two in my mini-fridge. I had grown physically sick with hard liquors for the moment and had transformed into a wine-o. I would drink a full 1.5 ml bottle of Barefoot Moscato a night. I would rarely skip a day. The only times I would slow down was if I was low on funds; then I would stretch the bottle for the week until I could afford another bottle. I was in this twilight zone of believing that I needed alcohol in order to feel positive or happy or free from stress. That habit is still something I battle with, even after my realization. I was never the hot-headed type to fight or argue endlessly with others. I have always retreated and dealt with my emotions myself by writing or taking walks. After discovering the effects of alcohol, whenever I would feel my anger or transgressions build up, I would hit the nearest bar/restaurant and wouldn't return home until I was drunk.
There was a point where I had realized my drinking was becoming a crutch. I was 23 and had moved out-of-state, back living with my mother after a short stint of liberation. I was struggling with post-college life and moving away from a city I knew and loved more than anything to an unknown land of slight seclusion. I would escape from the constant daggers I felt being thrown at me about my capabilities, the constant questioning of my plans, and the constant pigeon-hold I was experiencing. I was working, but not making any good money like most recent graduates and wasn't paying any major bills because I was living with my mother, so the majority of my paychecks went to 'exploring.' It was at some point that I was stressing over saving up enough money to meet my moving-out deadline and a ton of other things that I recall walking to the nearest grocery store and buying three 1.5 ml bottles of wine. I returned to the house and didn't realize it until later that I had sneaked the wine through the door into my bedroom. 'Why am I doing this? I'm old enough to drink this. I shouldn't feel bad about this,' I thought to myself. I knew that if my mother saw that I was spending money on wine that she would be upset. I resorted back to a child in that moment and I hid the bottles in the file cabinet stored in my bedroom. I knew she wouldn't look in there so I knew I'd be safe.
I should have realized then that I was experiencing alcohol dependency and should have began taking the steps towards finding new ways to deal with stress and unhappiness. Hiding those bottles didn't make me feel good which, inevitably, made me feel worse about myself and I drank two of the three bottles that night. The file cabinet became my new hiding place, storing full and emptied bottles of wine from previous nights. Continuing with my secret, I would wait until my mother had left the house to throw away the evidence. I didn't want her asking me why I had a bag of bottles i was throwing away every other day. I accepted, and soon embraced, my sly tactics when it came to keeping this a secret. Although I was hiding my in-house drinking, I would expose my dependency whenever I would go out with my brother. 'I don't care where we go, as long as they sell alcohol,' I would say. He would jokingly reply that I needed to 'get help' but I was never confronted about my drinking in a direct manor because I had hidden it for 7 years before this.
I decided to write this diary-like piece for a number of reasons. I had connected stress or unhappiness with the need to drink alcohol. I had lost the mental capacity to work through my issues or, what I was known to do in my family, write them out in creative, inspiring ways. It was a lot easier to escape from those moments and seek temporary happiness. After hearing from someone who knew nothing about my past with alcohol dependency before now that they saw an issue only after a couple of years, as well as attributing that to my weight gain and skin breakouts, I had finally come to terms with it.
I have an alcohol dependency because I have lost my mental ability to deal with life and all of its obstacles in a constructive way. In the beginning, it was experimental. After a few years, I was an un-diagnosed minor alcoholic. I am exposing this very private and intense part of myself to begin the process of finding myself again, sans alcohol. I am aware that this is a process and it will not be easy. I don't expect to not have any urges or cravings for alcohol once another stressful situation occurs. I'm redirecting my energy into losing the weight my dependency has helped me gain and starting a reconstruction process in all areas of my life that I was covering with alcohol. I am hoping that reading this will not only be therapeutic for those who have a similar situation to my own but hopefully, it will open the lines of communication up with those who can relate with their loved ones to seek guidance and support. If you feel you are dealing with alcohol or substance dependency, talk to those you trust about it; that's what I plan on doing.