I often get asked why I decided to quit alcohol, and this is often followed by a comment like “well, you must not be much fun”. I like to challenge that question by saying “I now get to have fun with my friends. I get to remember my night. I get to play with my baby boy the next day and go for a run because I feel fresh. What’s not to love!?”
You see, I used to drink to get drunk. I didn’t drink because I loved the taste – in fact I loathed the taste. I drank to escape life; essentially to run away.
Many years ago, I worked behind a bar in Munich. I remember going from sober to drunk in literally five minutes. Towards the end of my shift, I free-poured myself the biggest, strongest, and quite honestly the most disgusting glass filled with vodka (which was my drink of choice) and sugar (simply to ensure I could stomach it) and I downed that baby in two seconds flat. ‘Cause I needed to “catch up” to my already-drunk friends.
This was a regular thing for me. I wasn’t confident in my own abilities so I felt I needed alcohol to make my personality shine.
Another time I was at a nightclub and was so p*ssed I lost my bag, wallet, phone and dignity. At the time, I would brag about how funny this was. Looking back, again it wasn’t.
Not really surprisingly, this destructive behaviour landed me in hospital. I woke up one morning, peering open my eyes to see a doctor standing over me. I looked at him and said “I knew this would happen one day” and fell back to sleep. I made this situation into a joke and told everyone this “funny” story about that time I completely wrote myself off and landed in hospital.
Reminiscing on this, I am quite mortified. This is not a funny story and was not at all a funny situation – in fact it was a cry for help from someone who didn’t know her place in the world. It was self-hatred and an extremely dangerous way of living life. A person doesn’t get to that level of drinking unless they are trying to escape, trying to hide from their truth.
Our Australian drinking culture makes people feel like it’s OK to write themselves off. That the drunkest person in the room (which used to be me) gets a badge of honour. That getting drunk, or “paralytic”, is totally normal. Well I’m here to tell you, it’s not. It’s not funny or cool or entertaining. It’s effing dangerous.