My reliance on outside stimulants to bring me happiness had always been an issue of mine. Reality was something I didn’t know how to face if I wasn’t intoxicated.
Just like brushing my teeth, it was a routine to chug vodka anytime I had to leave the house. It didn’t matter if I was only going to the grocery store, my social anxiety did not allow me to face it sober. The first time I had taken a sip of alcohol, I remember the way my eyes lit up and my heart began to race out of excitement. I felt as if I had just unlocked the key to life’s problems.
So, I’ve always had social anxiety that engulfs my being like a fucking ghost. I couldn’t speak in public or in groups of people, and simply being around other humans caused me to panic. I was the type to find one person or a few people I was comfortable with, and the rest didn’t need to know I existed.
In gradeschool, teachers would forget I was in their class, and I liked it that way. If I had it my way, I would have been invisible. Being nervous and anxious was just regular life to me, I wasn’t aware there was any other way. Locking myself in my room away from human contact seemed to be the only sense of security I could find. I was only safe if I was alone.
I’m not ashamed to say I had been late on the drinking trend at my high school, my first time getting drunk was Junior year. By then, most of my peers had already been drinking for years and were using harder drugs. I already knew alcohol was about to become a problem because of the rush I would get when anybody mentioned drinking. All week, sitting in class, dreaming about the bottle of tequila under my bed and when the next party was. In junior year, drinking started as only a weekend thing, and just about the only thing I looked forwards to.
I fell in love with drinking because drinking gave me confidence and comfort I had never experienced before. I started to make friends with the popular girls, talk to the hot boys, and speak my mind without stuttering. My drinking problem began to reveal itself in Senior year, I went on a program that allowed me to work online at home without going to physical school. The truth is, the only thing that had stopped me from drinking during the week previously was the fact I had to attend school.
At my lowest point, my mom knew I was drinking, and she trustingly provided me alcohol. I don’t blame her, I claimed to be a responsible drinker. The dangerous thing about me, is I knew how to cover up any signs of me being wasted. In fact, drinking alcohol is what made me feel “normal” without panic. I would be with a friend in public and whisper to them “I’m drunk” and they wouldn’t believe me because of how well I pulled myself together. I wasn’t sloppy; I just looked like a fun girl who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and laugh loud.
Waking up in the morning, feeling the sunlight breaking through my window, flashbacks of the Monday night before playing over and over in my mind. My head pounding, asking myself Who was I with last night? Oh god, did we do anything? Did he see me naked? Responsibilities of what I have to accomplish that day flooding my mind, leaving me overwhelmed and full of regret. Reaching under my bed for the bottle of beer or whatever I could get my hands on, drowning these feelings in poison. Substance was my first meal of the day, before my daily cup of black coffee.
I would go for weekly meetings with a teacher to gather my school work for the week, and let me tell you, there was no way I was attending that without shots prior. Like I said, the teacher wouldn’t know I was intoxicated, at most I just looked very calm and outgoing. This is how it played out in every situation, and if I didn’t have alcohol, it was simple – I wasn’t going. I hid a water bottle full of clear vodka in my purse for emergency whenever anxiety or feelings arose.
It never occurred to me that this was an addiction, because it didn’t look like the typical drunk who sits on the couch all day. To the outsider’s eye, I seemed to be doing great. I seemed to have found my confidence while blissfully going about my day. I spoke strongly and with ease, walked like I was on the runway, and was the loudest laugh in the room.
Addiction makes us feel as if we are disconnected from our being. We believe that an outside source, such as alcohol, will fill the emptiness that the addiction leads us to believe we have. Addiction leads us to believe that we must long for something more, something greater than what is already within. Looking within, down to your soul, you will see that your soul does not desire any outside euphoria. Addiction is a game of the mind, which leads us to believe we are our addictions. Our mind tricks us into thinking that our addiction has any power or control over us, but this is only because we’ve given it that power. Continuing to feed into the addiction and giving it that power, only strengthens it’s illusion of control.
I do not seek outside substances to bring me peace anymore. All of the aspects alcohol had brought out of me that I craved, had always been within me. If I’m out partying with friends, I’ll drink if I feel like it. To be honest, this rarely happens though, because I’m too blissful in my own being. The intent at which you’re drinking is what matters, i no longer have the intent to drown myself.
Photography by Maddy Welk