April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This month, we will publish stories from real people dealing with alcoholism. Click this link to view all of our alcohol-related resources and tools. Please also visit Alcoholics Anonymous in Vermont. Our second personal story is from Hannah.
It took me fourteen uncomfortable years to find alcohol. I knew from that moment that this was the magical substance that would lead me to exactly where I wanted to be. I felt truly okay for the first time. I never felt comfortable sober. When I wasn’t drunk, I was too exposed, like a beetle stuck on its back. A drink was a protective sheath against the rawness of reality, and I slipped into it every morning. The only way I knew how to live was to try and achieve total apathy, and the only way I could get there was to be as inebriated as possible. Even though I was drunk all the time, the feeling of being okay was horribly elusive.
The process of getting drunk changed quickly for me. It began with camaraderie and breathless excitement, facial piercings and sneaking out at night, but it didn’t take long until it was just me, shaking on the bathroom floor. Things like school and other people became gradually less important, and things I used to like had lost their appeal. People I had been close to got farther and farther away, mostly because of my selfish and often erratic behavior. I attended class, though. I dragged myself to work solely to make it possible for me to continue drinking without being questioned, but the relief I got from drinking had stopped coming. If I had known another way to live, I would have done it, but drinking was the way I dealt with my life. I was without hope.
Alcohol committed the ultimate betrayal by ceasing to make me feel better. I tried different ways of drinking, I tried to put time in between drinks, I tried more than anything to regain control, but there seemed to be none left in me when it came to alcohol. All my options exhausted, I asked for help. Nothing changed until I was willing to put my own ideas aside, but when I started being open to suggestions, something shifted. One day, I went to bed and realized that I hadn’t thought about drinking all day. This might seem normal to most people, but to me, it was nothing short of a miracle.
Over time, and through almost constant work, the discomfort I had struggled against became less suffocating. I stopped feeling like I was some sort of failed robot masquerading as a human being when I walked among other people. After years of trying to figure out the perfect number of drinks it took to feel better, it has become apparent that being okay, for me, means none at all.