In this picture, my sister and I were trembling with fear. We validated and enabled each other. Right before we stepped out of the limo, I glanced into her eyes and identified panic. Guilt overwhelmed me. I had encouraged her to do the show with me, reassuring her we would make something out of this and that it would be worth it. She grabbed my hand and we stepped out of the limo like two deer in headlights: sensitive and easily spooked. We dreamed the show would bring us “great things.” In reality, the show only fueled my anxiety and shame. When Chris Harrison greeted us in front of the iconic fountain, I could not form a coherent sentence. Sober and jumping out of my own skin, I needed alcohol to soothe my nerves.
A cloud of angst materialized around me the moment I walked into the Mansion. I immediately regretted my reckless decision. Everyone appeared so comfortable, conversing with ease. I felt inferior, like an outcast. The contestants were flirtatious, boisterous, and catty. They appeared fearless, speaking their minds and not afraid of the cameras. They hated my sister and I because we were annoying and immature. Reality TV is for the thick-skinned. My skin was thinner than cheap toilet paper. The comments made by other contestants were brutal. Every inadequacy I ever felt rushed through me. I wanted to break down and cry hysterically. However, exposing my pain was not an option. I drank to hush my truth.
Alcohol was my saving grace. The moment I started drinking, I felt fearless. My sister and I downed at least eight drinks that first night. I needed liquid courage. The open bar was alcoholic heaven–every conceivable liquor brand and flavor, all top-shelf. My heart sang. This was my lifeline and my worst enemy.
We survived night one without completely humiliating ourselves. We were the last contestants to arrive in the limo and, therefore, started drinking later than everyone else. This circumstance saved us. There was no doubt in my mind we would have blacked out if we had arrived any earlier.
By night two, my alcoholism reared its ugly head. I blacked out by nightfall and did not remember a damn thing. I was mortified when the show aired. It was almost worse than our Jersey Shore debacle. Watching yourself on the big screen in a total blackout is excruciating. I don’t wish it upon my worst enemy. Watching myself onscreen, I saw a girl possessed by alcohol. I refused to believe I was watching myself. My higher-self cringed watching this infantile contestant humiliate herself on the Bachelor Pad.
This was our chance to restore our reputation and we unequivocally blew it faster and harder than an air horn. The reality TV scene is simply not cut out for an alcoholic. Or maybe it’s perfect: access to unlimited alcohol and no one to care enough about you to mitigate my out-of-control drinking. I didn’t learn my lesson the first go-around and repeated history. I hated myself. I hated my alcoholism.
Behind the smile is a girl crumbling inside. Her true desire is to run away from the producers and the cameras. Instead, she finds solace in the fully-stocked bar. She drinks away her insecurities.