My breakup letter to alcohol

Dear Alcohol,

You and I have had some fun times. Wino Wednesday with my best friends, which almost never really fell on a Wednesday but seemed to funnier to name it. Numerous pints on patios with colleagues after work to blow off steam. I’ve enjoyed you at whiskey tastings and wine pairings; there was this particularly amazing one in San Francisco where someone had the amazing idea to pair you with chocolate. I have shared incredible bottles of amarone with my partner over fancy home cooked meals that were better than anything we could get in a restaurant.

Despite all of these great times, there have been countless others where you have caused me, and those I love, shame and embarrassment.

Me & my friend E. during Halloween at Bishop's University -- beers in hand.

Me & my friend E. during Halloween at Bishop’s University — beers in hand. I was 17 in this photo.

Let’s rewind to first-year university where I ended up in the university “drunk tank” too many times that I started giving fake names to avoid mandatory alcohol abuse meetings. There was that sleepover in grade 11 when I passed out after consuming countless jello shots and Peach Schnapps (the drink of choice for any well respected high school girl) after a particularly cruel boyfriend broke up with my via e-mail. I collapsed mid speech about how all men were bastards and “we were all fucking fabulous!”

Or what about that time the same wino Wednesday ladies and I got so bombed during a birthday dinner that a taxi wouldn’t take us home. We had to wander until we (me) sobered up. Oh and what about that work party that colleagues had to call my parents to come and get me because I was puking in the bathroom? Or, even more embarrassing, almost five years ago when my grandfather suddenly passed away and I got blackout drunk after his funeral in front of family and friends. My husband and parents had to put me to bed.

Now a lot of this behaviour most people would chalk up to youth and sheer stupidity, and I would agree. A lot of these stories happened when I was between 16 and 21. This was before I learned about tolerance and when to trade you for water. But there are still these moments (more than I wish to admit), even at 29, where I get so drunk I’m puking in a bathroom or waking up with a wicked hangover trying to piece together what happened the night before.

I have been so open and honest in this blog — more honest than in “real” life — that I sometimes find it frightening how much the public knows about me and my struggles. But this is one thing that I haven’t addressed. It’s a secret that I’m even afraid to admit myself. It is the last card that I hold to my chest.

I self medicate with you, alcohol. And I particularly abuse you when my mental illness is triggered. This means that I am either floundering in depression or enjoying the high tide of hypomania.

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A family photo from my convocation. That’s me in the middle row on the far right and my grandfather is on the left of my sister who is in the middle.

Let’s use my grandfather’s death as an example. I loved that man more than anything. He was taken from me in a flash, a month before I got married. I have so many incredible memories of me and him from when I was a child and just seeing a picture of him now still brings me to tears. Hearing a Johnny Cash song brings a swell of emotions so strong that I often have to stop and remind myself to breathe. I found a book of poetry by Robert Service and had to buy it just because it reminded me of him. I have become Scrooge at Christmas because, to me, he was the embodiment of all the Christmas-spirit. He used to have Christmas Tree parties where everyone bundled up and cut down fresh trees and then the house would be filled with 20 to 30 people as they celebrated the holiday season. He would always be there on my own birthday (December 18). His birthday was December 31st and he always said he was born to party.

This New Year’s Eve I drank gin martinis just trying to get through it, and ended up where I usually do with you when I’m that upset, puking in some bushes.

Many of these moments where I’m drunk, stumbling, and puking correlate to a moment where I was feeling like utter shit. Despite the infinite number of therapists I have seen over the years, I struggle to vocalize and identify negative feelings and dealing with them. It’s just easier to drink until I’m numb.

Do I think I’m an alcoholic? Absolutely not. I don’t drink to function. I don’t drink every day or even every week. I can easily go months without touching a glass. However, what bothers me is that when I do choose to drink it’s always over the top. It can never be a glass of wine, it has to be several. It’s never one pint, it’s five. I have no sense of moderation. This is part of my personality and my bipolar disorder. I have an extreme personality and I either go in 110% or I don’t do it at all.

With my recent bipolar instability I have realized that consuming you, alcohol, just isn’t an option. Every time I touch a glass of something, I risk becoming drunk. Besides, I know you fuck up my mood. Plus, with the amount of medication that I take, I know you’re not great for my liver. And, any bipolar expert will tell you that you’re a big no-no. I mean, it says it right on the bottles of pills I take, but for the past 10 years I have ignored the warnings in an attempt to fit in, in an attempt to numb the way I feel.

So alcohol, you and I are taking a break. I don’t want to say it’s a break up because I don’t want to put that pressure on myself. But those pints on patios will be few and far between, I’m glad I live far away from my two best friends because Wino Wednesdays are no longer a thing, and those beautiful bottles of wine will almost never happen.

I might see you again in the future, but right now you need to go.

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