Coming to this birthday party was perhaps the dumbest decision of the century.
The memories are hard to avoid here. I feel like I’m having a very realistic flashback. However, I need to stay, it’s my friend’s birthday after all.
I can’t call her my best friend because she is my only friend, so that makes her the best by default already. But she has a lot more friends than I thought. There are at least 30 people here.
The smell is unbearable. It’s amazing how sensitive you get after you stop. Like cigarettes! I used to smoke, regularly. Like, one pack a day sort of thing. After I stopped the smell makes me nauseous and I can smell it a mile away. Well, the same thing is happening with alcohol. The smell is so strong, but not sickly… it’s nostalgic.
I shouldn’t think this way anymore. I’ve been sober for 5 months. I celebrated last week with Iced tea and carrot cake. But it didn’t feel like a celebration. Because all my teenage and adult life, celebrating meant having a drink… or two… or way too many.
You see, my problem was that I thought that just because I didn’t drink every day, I didn’t have a problem. Oh, how I was wrong…
I didn’t drink every day, but when I did, I abused it. And when the weekend arrived I had the NEED to drink. It should’ve been enough of a warning. Unfortunately, we tend to only address an issue after it has become catastrophically bad rather than tackling it whilst it’s just starting to develop.
I went from abusing alcohol on the weekends to having “just one” every day of the week. But does “just one” ever mean just one? It should. But if it had been back then, I wouldn’t have had a problem.
I used to become unpleasant when I drank. I was verbally abusive to my partner, friends and family.
They tried to help for a while, they tried to make me see what my nasty habit was doing to me. But I didn’t see it. I didn’t believe them. I used to blame them and think they were trying to keep me from having fun.
Now I’m single. Of course, I am. And I wholeheartedly understand why. I don’t blame him for leaving at all. If anything, I am sorry for making him leave.
I lost all my friends and drove my family away too. For similar reasons. My behaviour was unacceptable.
When things got truly bad and I started drinking heavily every day, I lost my job in the blink of an eye but luckily I own a house and I had enough savings to support myself. But for how long? Everything was being spent on alcohol.
That time of my life is a big blur. I was either too intoxicated to remember, or too disturbed to WANT to remember.
Eventually, I got involved with the wrong crowd. But at the time, they were the right crowd because they were like me. Party animals. Except, life wasn’t much of a party. It was dark, sad and dangerous.
My bouts of drunken casual sexual encounters became regular. Never with the same people. Never with people I knew. And never protected.
Luckily I never caught any disease, however, I became pregnant.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the wake-up call I needed and my lifestyle remained the same which lead to what haunts me to this day. I lost my baby.
When I first found out I was pregnant I didn’t know who the father was so I didn’t care. I just pretended it wasn’t real. But as time went on it was unavoidable to face it. It was real.
When I finally gathered the courage to go see a doctor, I found out that there were complications and the baby hadn’t developed as it should. And it would be unlikely to survive. And it didn’t.
I blamed myself back then and I still do today.
I killed my child.
That was the wake-up call I needed. Way too late. I sought medical help and ended up in rehab.
It was incredibly hard. I was going through withdrawal, regret, shame and grief. A powerful combination of feelings that couldn’t kill me, but I wished it did.
Eventually, things got bearable. My system was clean and my health was stabilised. So I went home and decided to turn my life around.
This wasn’t as easy to do as it was in theory.
I was haunted by all the things I did, the life I lost and the life I took.
After weeks of trying to make it by myself, I realised I didn’t have to be alone. I joined a support group and I can’t be more glad that I did.
I met my friend there, she had been sober for 2 years at the time. Some people had been sober for as long as 10 years. This made me realise that no matter how much time passes, I’ll always be tortured by my past.
Nowadays I live very differently. I’ve been sober for 5 months but it feels like a week. The memories are hard to suppress and I constantly avoid situations that bring them back.
I don’t go to family dinners, they started to invite me again when they found out I was sober, but I’m not ready to talk to them about it.
I have contacted my ex-partner and some of my former close friends. I didn’t try to pick up where we left off or be a part of their lives again. I just wanted to apologise.
Everyone accepted my apology, but no one showed any intentions of being back in my life. And I didn’t insist on it either. I don’t deserve it.
I know that my path to wellness is only just starting, but I’m doing my absolute best and I feel like things are on track.
Being at a birthday party isn’t the easiest thing ever when it comes to memories, but it sure is a good challenge.
I am better. I’m not that person anymore.
“What are you having, love?” Asks who I assume is one of my best friend’s many friends.
“Can I have a pint of lager, please?”
He hands it to me, smiles and tells me to “enjoy it”. If only he knew.
I take a sip and the taste, besides being familiar, isn’t as pleasant as I was expecting.
It takes me so long to drink that it gets lukewarm and I don’t finish it. And as I put it down the friend turns to me again and asks: “Would you like another?”
And the answer is easy: “No, I’m good. Thank you!”
I’m the one smiling this time.
I control it. It doesn’t control me anymore.