Honesty is the best policy.. but can I be honest with myself?

Abstaining from alcohol…Can I finally do it {for real} this time?

Booze. [bewwwww-z]

It’s everywhere. Seriously. Living in Ireland where there’s no shortage of pubs, drinking alcohol is seemingly engrained in the culture. A pint of Murphy’s is the Irish equivalent to a slice of wholesome, humble cherry pie. Not to knock on the Irish and their love of a hearty pint, Americans also share an affinity for alcohol. Clubs and bars in Houston are always thriving on the weekends, teeming with a slew of anxious, over-worked young adults ready to let loose and forget about the pressures of another busy week. Admittedly, I was one of those avid partiers, going out every weekend.. Every. Single. Weekend.

How it started

My history with alcohol began like most people’s. I never drank in high school. Being an overly-conscious good-girl/nerd who was focused on the important things in life like my grades, my nerdy friends, and maintaining a trim physique, drinking alcohol never interested me. However, during my freshman year of University I was introduced to an entirely new social setting. Attending a school in a large metropolis, far from the watchful gaze of my parents, I ended up befriending fun, crazy, wild, carefree people who also lived in my dormitory. I admired their zest for life, the way they confidently navigated their way through the nightclubs I had just been introduced to… I also watched in wonder as they showed off their fake ID’s and detailed the various ways they were able to purchase alcohol.

I learned a lot more besides academics in my first year of college. My new friends introduced me to the world of heavy partying… From Thursday night (our favorite nightclub hosted Ladies Night every Thursday) to Sunday night, most of week was a blur. Blasting techno in our dorm rooms, we took shots of Tito’s vodka, using Sprite we had purchased with our student cards as chasers. Only when we were all properly sauced up would we venture to a downtown club or bar. Even though we were all underage at the time, we never had issues being let into these drinking establishments. The world is really your oyster when you’re young, pretty, and carefree (dumb).

In hindsight, I am amazed and grateful that no one was ever busted for a DWI or involved in an alcohol-related traffic incident. Seriously. These booze-filled nighttime outings occurred far too often than I care to admit. And although I was never the one who was driving, especially after I had been drinking, there were plenty of instances when I was a passenger of a highly impaired drunk driver. I really have to give it up to my guardian angels because they really worked their asses off for me during those wild, formative freshman nights.

All that boozing wasn’t free from consequence, however. I came to find out how much my body hated me, especially after subjecting it to copious amounts of sugary, cheap drinks. My hangovers were brutal. After a wild night out, I would find myself barely clinging to life. My head was pounding, a headache so severe that it felt as though a miniature demon lived in my brain. I felt so nauseous that I couldn’t even keep a sip of water down. On days that I found myself really hungover, I physically could not leave my bed unless it was to throw up. Apologies for the graphic nature of this retelling but the harsh reality is that there truly exists a not-so-glamourous side to drinking, despite what the Ciroc ads want you to think.

 

 

 

 

 

Despite how shitty I felt, I continued to drink. It was a social activity. And in college, no one is drinking water of tea at a party. I enjoyed the party scene, I liked being around fun people who I believed really liked me. I loved the feeling of being popular as I had never really considered myself popular in the past.

I learned various stealth techniques of smuggling alcohol into prohibited locations, from the basic (i.e. taking a vodka-filled water bottle into a nightclub) to the more complex (using food coloring to dye an entire handle of tequila a fluorescent aquamarine hue in order to sneak it onto a cruise ship using a Listerine bottle). In retrospect, I shudder to think of how bougie all that behavior was. It’s not as though I truly needed to drink… It’s not like I couldn’t live without alcohol. I never had the urge to consume it on a daily basis. For me, I guess, alcohol was a crutch for me to feel more confident, a way to get through social situations… As a naturally outgoing and fun person (I can crack a joke every now and again), feeling tipsy/drunk made me even more carefree and act even crazier. With a glass of vodka soda in hand I felt unstoppable and untouchable. Nothing mattered in life except that particular moment. The throbbing pulse of dance music. The sea of beautiful faces lined up in the queue actively trying to meet the bartender’s gaze so that another round of shots could be ordered. I lived for the weekend and alcohol was a constant weekend companion throughout my undergrad years, giving me a (false) sense of confidence and coolness.

After graduating, I moved back home with my parents while searching for a job (one which would afford me my own apartment, essentially). Away from the party scene, I rediscovered my love for nature and sport. I regularly visited my local gym and spent almost every evening walking through the woods. I lost weight effortlessly. I felt stronger and leaner. The biggest change, however, was emotionally. For the first time in a while I experienced a zen-like inner peace which I never realized I had been missing.

No escaping

Eventually, I landed my first “big girl job” and found myself working in a typical office environment for a large corporation. I had taken the job with the best intentions of having it develop into a long, respectable career. Much to my surprise, my work environment turned out to be anything but typical.

As I worked in marketing, it was common and expected to attend various social and business networking events. I had preconceived notions that business people are professionals and would never openly showcase wild drinking behavior.. I was mistaken. Every networking event seemed like an excuse to booze. Managers, VP’s, [insert prestigious label here] engaged in drinking unfathomable amounts of booze, even during daytime functions. The particular team I worked with even had the reputation of being the wildest partiers in the industry. This title was well earned as the kitchen in our office was always stocked with Miller Lite, bottles of wine, and even vodka in the freezer. On Friday afternoons we would start the weekend early, mixing up Micheladas and drinking at our desks. If my boss was in a good mood, she’d whip up some mimosas (see photo below). Occasionally, we would all meet up at a strip club for a boozy lunch… I’m not kidding. At times I had to make sure I was sober enough to drive home after work.

You may be reading this and think to yourself, “Hell, sounds like a fun place to work! I wish I had that job.” While I did have a lot of fun, I knew that this company did not possess the qualities of a reputable, long-lasting enterprise. I was right, as the company eventually was purchased by a competitor and we all found ourselves out of a job. The party had ended.

From denial to acceptance

My time working in the alcohol-obsessed office really skewed my reality a bit. As I had moved out of parents’ house and was once again living in the city, I embraced the party scene once more, with even more fervor. Now being a working young-adult, as were all of my friends, going bar hopping was a normal activity. I felt as though this is what I should be doing. Everyone my age goes out. I would tell myself. And then I would spend yet another Sunday morning, dying in my bed from another hangover. Miserable. And then sheepishly regretting my actions from the night before. I shouldn’t have pre-gamed so hard. I should have just stuck with beer. Why did I have to take that tequila shot? Okay, those two tequila shots? And as I would spend the next 6+ hours of the day vomiting up my insides I promised myself that I would never drink again. However, true to form, it was another weak pledge I had made to myself… I would go right back into the going-out routine, drinking excessively, waking up hungover, cursing myself and vowing to stop. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

As I write all of this down now, I realize that I am confronting this issue honestly and blatantly. I have been putting off this self-intervention of sorts for far too long. Somehow we believe that an alcoholic is easy to point out: a disheveled mess of person, fumbling around in a dirty house searching for a fifth of the nastiest liquor just to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay. Or maybe, some people picture an alcoholic as someone who has to drink every single day. With those generalizations in mind it is easy to see how one may rationalize one’s own behavior around booze, or any substance for that matter. And while I wouldn’t consider myself as someone in desperate need of AA or the like, I have to come clean to myself.. I’m getting older and it’s time to, finally, face an uncomfortable truth about myself that I’ve been avoiding/unwilling to admit: alcohol is NOT my friend.

I have to ask myself: Can I be a person worthy of my own respect? I think back to the last time I truly felt content with who I was as I person and it has been far too long ago. As I consciously choose to and work towards living a life free from booze, I hope to uncover what truly brings me joy, excitement, and confidence.

Cheers to the future. *raises a teacup

My name is Leslie and, after reviewing my long, complicated relationship with alcohol, have decided that a break-up is for the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.