“I had my first sip of alcohol when I was about 14. It was nasty, of course, but at the time it was more the thrill of it that excited me. Hiding the evidence, covering up the tracks and having this little secret from the adults was like a game to me.
I didn’t realize that I would be playing this ‘game’ until I was 26 years old.
See, in my mind I thought my ‘normal’ was everyone’s normal. I was 26 years old, still drinking hard every chance I had, going out on the town, spending money I didn’t have on drinks I did not need, and having parties for the hell of it. But hey, I had no DUI’s (I totaled my first car completely intoxicated but had gotten away with it due to ice…), I’d never been arrested, I’d not been hospitalized or gone to rehab, so I was good right? ‘No problems here,’ I’d say, and everyone else that had experienced them – they were the ‘drunks.’ Me having that misconception would impact me in ways I couldn’t imagine.
So backtracking here, 16 was when I started to drink regularly, but at about 19 is where my dependency started. My friends and I would buy the biggest gallon of vodka for the cheapest price and try to kill it off all in one sitting. Multiple times a week I did this. While other kids were going out to the movies or hiking, I was getting drunk. I never wanted to hang out with anyone who wasn’t trying to smoke and drink because those people weren’t ‘cool.’ So almost my entire teenage years revolved around sitting at someone’s house and drinking. That was it. My kind of fun.
When I turned 21 the only thing that changed was where I could drink. Bars were now available which meant I could drink and drive, and age 22 is when my blackouts started. I googled why this was happening to me. I just couldn’t understand why I was forgetting EVERYTHING. I’d been drinking for so long it seemed I was pretty good at holding my liquor (adorable…) so something must be happening to my brain, right? (Obviously I know the answer now, but we’ll get there). So I just continued to drink and hide that this was happening. I’d blackout 4 times a week minimum and no one even knew. See, I’d never fall asleep like some people do when they’re drunk and I always wish that I did. But no, not me. I’d always stay up, go places and hold conversations with people that I would pretend I’d remember.
For four years I hid this. And for four years I was sneaking drinks in the kitchen when no one was looking. I’d stop at free wine and moonshine sampling places and drink on my way home from work every day. I’d lie to people and say I was on my way while sitting at the table taking shots by myself just so I could feel good enough to go out. I was leaving for breaks at work, going to the liquor store, buying fifths of whiskey and drinking them in the parking lot.
Alcohol came first before everything and everyone else.
I tried to hide it, but my friends started to notice.
I was getting mean, like really mean. I consider myself a happy-go-lucky person, but when I was at my blackout stage, I was a completely different person. Now remember, no one knew I was blacking out every time I drank, so people just thought I was willingly and consciously being a horrible person. I wasn’t. I would never say those things if I hadn’t had liquor clouding my mind. I would constantly have to wake up and find out who to apologize to. It was the worst feeling in the world. I knew I’d be getting drunk and making a fool of myself and I was prepared for it. It didn’t matter. I HAD to drink.
That’s when I found the gloriousness of what we call hangxiety (hangover+anxiety…the real deal here). My hangxiety spurts were at an all-time high. Not remembering who I had hurt or the, ‘what did I do last night,’ feeling was always consuming me. I couldn’t take it, but I also couldn’t quit alcohol. I had tried before but seemed like my whole life was encompassed around this poison I couldn’t let go of.
Until it hit me. Finally, I was at my wits end.
I had almost killed my boyfriend and our friend while driving drunk.
And this wasn’t a, ‘Oh you just swerved a little on the road,’ type of situation. No, this was a blackout at 3 p.m., driving on mountain roads, screaming at the top of my lungs and threatening their lives.
‘Get back in the car!!!,’ I yelled. They wouldn’t get back in with me driving obviously, so in my drunken rage I drove off wildly. With no regard for my driving or anyone else’s safety.
I don’t remember it. Hell, I don’t want to.
I stayed in my room for 3 days and cried. I couldn’t look at anyone. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t even move. I was done.
But I knew I had to be honest with myself. I couldn’t hide or play these games with myself anymore, I had to get real and decide how I wanted my life to be. Alive, or living?
My answer was clear and now came the hard part. ‘What do I even do if I don’t drink?!’ ‘I’ll lose all my friends.’ ‘How can I enjoy life without it?’ It was so daunting.
I had gone more than a decade of my life depending on a drink that only let me down. I felt like I was starting a whole new life. And yeah, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies at first. And yeah, it’s definitely easier said than done, but once you start learning who you are without alcohol, your life will change.
I am 27 years old I am now going on 8 months sober. I feel like a whole new woman. I’m learning who I am. My hobbies used to be drinking and drinking only, and now that I have clarity in my life, I’m able to try new things! Things I would have never experienced if I continued to drink. Kickboxing, coffee (never was a coffee person until I quit and it is my life now haha), painting, movies at the theaters, hiking, listening to podcast and audiobooks and most importantly my sweet dog Astro. He rescued me. I had always been to selfish to care for anyone else but myself and having him in my life has been a blessing to say the least.
I’m thriving. I’m 40 pounds down, my relationships are better, I’m more productive and my anxiety levels have DRASTICALLY decreased. I wouldn’t trade the dark days of early sobriety for anything because they have only made me stronger. There is another side to this life I had never seen, and now I feel my vision is finally clear.
And honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better gift to give myself.
If you’re reading this saying, ‘this is my life,’ I want you to know it IS possible to have a life without alcohol. Be strong for yourself and really ask the hard questions:
‘Is alcohol helping or hurting me?’
‘Am I making alcohol a priority in my life?’
‘What could my life look like if I didn’t have alcohol?’
Start living your life, friends.
You deserve to truly live it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Abbey Roberts. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more inspiring stories of people facing their addictions:
‘I awoke to no vision in my right eye. The last I remember was sitting on a lobby floor, half dressed, my friend begging me to stand up.’: Woman overcomes decades of alcohol abuse, now nearly 2 years sober
‘I found his gun while blacked out. I held it to my head, trying to pull the trigger. His roommate ripped it away.’: Woman’s life has changed ‘drastically’ since becoming sober, turned her ‘nightmare’ into a ‘blessing’
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