I wasn’t initially going to write on this topic, my own vices being numerous and varied, but after reading another’s excellent post I felt maybe it was warranted.
My vice is, was, alcohol. I loved it. Still do in a way. I haven’t had a drink for more than 5 years, and, touch wood, hopefully for a lot longer. If I picked it up again I have no doubt it would feel as delicious and warm as it did all those years ago. It just doesn’t work for me, and my journey has taken me way past a sociable tipple. Truth be told I still crave what it gave me, what it did for me, but no longer do I crave the vice itself. This isn’t the full story, the be all and end all of this section of my life, but it’s an introduction.
Ever since I was young I’ve been afraid. I wouldn’t have said all the time, and yet, in some undefinable way, always, and for as long as I can remember. Social situations were the worst and I was always the outsider when in groups.
You know the one, the reader, the quiet one, picked last for football and often the target for the class clowns and bullies. The one who put his hand up when he knew the answer not realising that doing that too often was social suicide.
The one who listened, didn’t really talk, the one that you remember meeting but can’t quite remember the name of. Him, he seemed cool, but a bit, you know, bland. Didn’t say much.
As I grew up I handled it as best I could, but it left scars. The kinds which whisper “you’re worthless” on dark nights when you’re 30, not too many of the “Oh wow, where’d you get that scar, I bet there’s a story there. Why don’t you buy me a drink and tell me about it ;)” kind. Which is a relief actually. Who wants an ass-woopin.
As I went to university at the tender age of 18, I discovered vodka. And beer. And whisky. And the warm, beautiful glow they gave, the amazing way they lifted something which I didn’t even realise I felt. Suddenly I wasn’t the outsider, I was one of the group, sitting round the table in the pub, chatting and laughing. A beautiful sense of ease and comfort enveloped me and I made some real friends. This was the honeymoon period.
A few months later the pub pint had turned into the club triple-vodka, nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but I was aware of an odd difference. All my friends would go, get a drink, then go to the dance floor, chat, hang around. But I would go and get a drink, feel better, then get another so I could feel even better, and get another so I would stay in the zone. I started to have nights where I blacked out, not passing out but not able to remember the night before the next day. All this was par for the course really, as a student in an English uni with some fairly stereotypical beer-guzzling student friends.
By the time we were in the third year and sharing a house together, things started to get a little more out of hand. My friends started to focus more on work and finals, going out less, drinking less, generally being a bit more sensible.
But I couldn’t.
The feelings I was running from were stronger than ever and I needed nightly drinks, and more of them, to keep them at bay. And to be honest, they were starting to creep in despite the drinks.
A couple of years and a ruined college degree later, I was fired from my first job for missing work. They didn’t spell it out but it was for days missed due to being to drunk to get to the office. This was the period of drinking all day, often for days at a time. This was the period of hiding bottles around the house so others wouldn’t find them. This was the period of the lies and the deceits, none of which were believable to anyone but myself and the alcoholic fog I spent most of my time in.
I wasn’t going through hangovers any more, now it was withdrawal from alcohol after a 5 day binge, hunched topless and shivering over the sink, shaking not from the cold (because actually my body was on fire) but from the excesses of the day before.
Eventually, a couple of years later this all led to rehab and abstinence, and I’m glad I no longer spend my days shivering over the sink any more. But the fear, that anxiety, that constant companion is with me still. I just know now, on a very deep visceral level, that alcohol isn’t going to help me.
And that just left the question….what the hell do I do about it now…