When I look back on pictures, I can see clearly how alcohol is poison.
The bloat in my face is painful to see.
The bloat was my body’s way of trying to protect me from my drinking habits.
As a drinker, it was just another reason for me to hate my ugly self.
I was ignoring myself, in every way.
I did not pay attention.
I numbed out everything that was happening to me, so I could just keep drinking.
Alcohol was both the poison,
and the temporary cure, for my anxiety,
depression, grief, shame.
I started drinking in my early teens.
I never had a chance to fully develop without it.
I didn’t learn healthy coping skills.
I didn’t know how to regulate my emotions.
Alcohol was always there to soothe me.
It wasn’t always a problem for me.
I thought it was fun.
I thought it was what made me fun.
I thought other people liked the funny, fun, party girl, who I was, with a drink in my hand.
I thought being loud and outrageous was my true self.
This is what made me unique, being able to express myself outloud.
I thought it was my job to keep the party going.
To take the spotlight off other people and put it on myself.
I thought my drinking made other people feel safe to drink as much as they wanted to.
I thought everyone loved to drink.
I thought that was everyone’s goal.
To drink as much as possible,
as often as possible,
Drinking was my friend.
It was my identity.
It was the armor I wore, to cover up my wounds, my insecurity, and my pain.
It would be 2 decades later when I started to see this friend was turning on me.
Slowly, insidiously, alcohol surprised me by lying to me in the sound of my own voice.
It took many years, and many breaks from alcohol, before I could see that alcohol,even in small doses, was not helping me.
In fact, the “alcohol time out’s” were showing me that I didn’t need it.
That I was better, healthier, and happier without out.
My plan backfired on me.
I was trying to prove that alcohol was no problem for me.
By letting it go for days, weeks, and months at a time, it meant I could moderate.
I could quit.
And if I could actually quit,
then I didn’t have to quit.
My sober experiments were not…
…to get sober.
The goal was to take a temporary time out from alcohol,
so I didn’t have to give it up permanently.
A life without alcohol was my ultimate fear and admittance of failure.
I tried very hard to keep alcohol in my life.
I had to do something about this bloated face in the mirror that I no longer recognized.
When working out, trying to diet, and positive self talk didn’t work…
I had to try drinking less.
One bottle of wine a week, was becoming one bottle a day.
One bottle a day was becoming two.
I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I could no longer see me.
Literally, or figuratively.
I didn’t know where I was underneath the puff.
My eyes were disappearing into my head.
There was no spark.
Emotionally, I felt it too.
I looked around at my perfect life.
My healthy family.
My sweet home.
A circle of friends.
I dreaded waking up everyday.
Nothing made me happy.
I felt mad at myself for not appreciating what I had.
The first sip of wine every day did not bring peace or happiness, but it did bring relief.
That was the best feeling of the day.
The only upswing I had, to be honest.
I was hiding from everyone.
I couldn’t admit the truth to myself.
I was miserable, but I pretended everything was ok.
I hated my job, until I no longer had one.
My family seemed constantly disappointed in me, and ungrateful for all I did for them.
This pissed me off to be honest.
The only out from this discomfort was a sip of wine, so I found every excuse to drink.
I started hiding the recyclables.
I didn’t want to see how much I drank.
I was buying wine by the case and it was going too fast.
I would wake up to a glass of wine on my nightstand.
An innocent nightcap before bed, which wasn’t innocent at all.
It was a premeditated plan to move upstairs,
to be sure I could get there before that last drink would put me over the edge into a blackout.
My drinking experience spanned decades, but the end tumbled fast.
A train, picking up speed.
I was never diagnosed with anything except high blood pressure, and (self diagnosed) anxiety.
I knew there was another diagnosis lurking around the corner.
I never wanted to hear it.
I was scared to death.
I lived with this fear daily.
I knew with everything in me that I had to hop off this train.
I had to throw myself into the stable ground beneath me before I crashed.
It was going to hurt like hell.
And it did.
I would have to stop finding solace, in the only thing that brought me relief, my wine.
I would have to sit with the pain of my life and myself.
The way out was in.
So I did.
I sat with my pain, so I could stop being so mad, at everyone that loved me.
I sat with myself, so the terrible, inevitable, end to my story, would not be one of shame and despair.
I looked at my pain, so I could see myself in the mirror again.
And it worked.
I know myself now.
I am my friend.
When I catch a reflection, I smile at the woman I see.
She is friendly, familiar, face.
I do not hate her anymore.
I know her.
I love her with full force.
I know what it took to get close to her and I know what she is capable of.
She looks better now too.
Glowing from the inside out.