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I was the confident “social butterfly” I always wanted to be

A Different, sober Future

Hi,

I have never left comments or shared my story before but reading everyone’s stories on your blog has encouraged me to reflect on my own experiences and why I need to act now & make a change in my life. I just turned 23 years old and began binge drinking 10 years ago at the beginning of high school. I have always been extremely shy and am diagnosed with clinical depression. It sounds cliché to say, but my first drink made me feel a way that was incomparable to any other feeling of happiness/confidence I had ever experienced. It filled the void of everything I didn’t feel sober… I was the confident “social butterfly” I always wanted to be. After that, I was no longer interested in doing anything unless it involved drinking. I began hanging around a bad crowd that drank and partied multiple nights a week. It was (or felt like) the most exciting and fun time of my life… I was enjoying my new friends and this new “me”. When I was 15 I had my first major black out. I was drinking in a park with friends and all of a sudden ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. To any other person, the simple solution might be not to drink again or cut back but I didn’t feel like this was the answer. Of course I was insanely embarrassed when I got out of the hospital, but I was more terrified about what I missed while I was blacked out, or what my friends and others at school were saying about me. I wanted to drink again just to make the feelings of shame and embarrassment go away.

Since then, the never ending cycle of drinking began (blacking out, acting erratically, feeling ashamed the next day and then drinking again). I wish I could bottle up the feelings of complete panic after waking up from a black out to remind myself of why I shouldn’t drink. But nothing is ever that easy… Things I would never even think or dream of doing sober, happened. Drinking made me aggressive to the point where getting into physical fights were common. A couple times I was so obliterated that I picked fights with my friends and family, not realizing who they were. Friendships were completely destroyed, relationships ruined. It was 100% my own fault and was the result of me drinking so much. I pushed away everyone who was trying to help and felt completely alone.

Fast forward to the last year of high school, I finally (somewhat) got myself together. I wasn’t hanging around my old friends as much which meant not drinking as frequently. This helped me rebuild my relationship with my family and allowed me to focus on myself and my academics. I have also been in a stable relationship for the past 4 ½ years. I wish I could say my drinking has improved… or in other words I’ve finally learned to “pace myself” and “drink responsibly” as everyone so easily harps about… but I haven’t. I don’t binge drink as much as I used to, but still find myself out of control and overdoing it at least 1-2 times a month. Drinking with old friends has brought back old habits leading to rough patches in my relationship. We have since been able to work through these issues, however my drinking continues to cause strain in our relationship.

Despite all of this, my boyfriend has never given me an ultimatum to stop drinking and has been supportive in trying to help me be a more responsible drinker. It has helped about 50% of the time, but the other half of the time I am completely out of control.

Over the years, multiple people have told me to stop drinking. Like most people, I have woken up dozens of times after a night of heavy drinking with thoughts of “I did what??? I’m never drinking again!”, but have clearly never listened or followed through… I have managed not to drink for 1 week in the past but ended up convincing myself that I was now “fine” and could handle a drink…and the cycle began again.

I am about to graduate university and honestly feel like if I continue to drink, it will end up negatively affecting my professional career and/or my relationship with my boyfriend. The thought of never having a drink again brings about a lot of fear and anxiety for me. Almost every social situation I have been in since I was 13 has involved drinking so it’s hard for me to imagine what life would be like. Your blog has stimulated a lot of thoughts that I was too scared to consider before and allowed me to really think about my own triggers and challenges that arise when choosing not to drink. I have jotted down some notes from your blog posts to keep in mind as I begin this journey and plan on reviewing and reflecting daily to help follow through. I feel like the hardest part for me is going to be resisting the urge to reward myself for not drinking with a drink. It sounds silly to say but it’s easy to convince yourself that you “deserve” a drink because you have abstained for so long. Making the decision not to drink is not going to be easy and I am going to have to mentally prepare myself for the challenges and temptations I am going to face. I know this is getting to be an extremely long post but I have been too ashamed and embarrassed to open up about my issues handling alcohol in the past. Your blog has helped me see that sharing your experiences (bad or good) can help with abstinence and recovery, so thank you.

MF

Notes – MF, originally wrote this as a comment on a previous post. I felt it was too good to be hidden away in a comment thread and asked her if she’s mind creating this into a post of its own, which is what we’ve done. We hope you enjoy it, and draw inspiration from it, and help you in your journey.

Comments

  1. Steve Green says:

    Hi MF. I think you have done so well to confront your drinking problem so early in your life, many people, myself included, tend to just let the years roll on and on, continuing to repeat the same scenarios over and over again, and even the knowing that the problem exists and should be tackled, isn’t always enough to prompt us to actually deal with it.

    It is such a good thing that you have a loving partner to help you through the early stages too, it will help enormously. I can’t emphasize enough just how much sobriety can change your life for the better, and how every aspect of your life will improve as the days and weeks pass by.

    I have just passed my first sober anniversary, and nothing will ever convince me now that my life, or my day even, will be improved by picking up a glass of alcohol, I will never ever go back to how I used to be, and please don’t take offence at this, but I think my problem was probably nowhere near as deep as your own.

    You have decided to improve your life at a stage while you still have the youth and ability to pursue your education, where many people over the years haven’t admitted their own problem until long after it has taken this and much more from them, quite usually irretrievably so too.

    Please stay strong and continue with your sobriety, take it from one who knows that it is so, so worth it.

    My very best wishes for you for the future.

    Steve.

  2. Hi there MF,

    I was browsing the blog and came across your post. It’s funny because I make the assumption most posters are male. In all my experience with AA and addictions I have often been the odd woman in the group. Alcohol doesn’t distinguish between men and women and the stories are often similar but it can be helpful to hear from other women sometimes.

    I’m 30 and I’ve been binge drinking for 15 years. I quit for 6 months once at the behest of my boyfriend and it was the best 6 months of my life. Now I’m trying again (minus the boyfriend).

    Anyway, I wanted to recommend a book, I felt it really captured what it’s like to be a blackout drinker as a woman. It’s written by Sarah Hepola and it’s called Blackout- Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget.

    All the best, it honestly is a whole new world.

    • Hi Emily,
      Many thanks for posting your comment and many thanks for the book recommendation – I’ve not come across that book before, but will look to get a copy. For those interested, here is an Amazon link – US/CA/GB.
      Agreed, this is a whole new world. I can’t imagine going back to a life of drinking again. I’ve found my sobriety, and i’m not willing to let go of it!

      Good luck on your new journey and it would be great if you come back and tell us how you are getting on. I know it has really helped others that have done this.

      James

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