There was a point in my life where alcohol was my savior, my reason for waking up in the morning. It was my rescuer from an unfulfilling and miserable day. It gave me an escape that I desperately sought while simultaneously igniting a deeper disdain for an unsatisfactory life that I had ultimately created. It temporarily soothed my anxiety and gave me a reason to continue the motions of “life.” But this was not living. At this point in my existence, I was struggling with hopelessness, defeat, and heartbreak. For 2 years, I was dependent financially and emotionally on a man that was unavailable. When our tumultuous relationship came crashing down, I died with it. I discovered solace in alcohol; it eased my deep pain and provided me with an escape. I was bartending on weekends and could never muster up enough funds to pay my rent in Manhattan, the city of dreams. And there I was, a 25-year-old college graduate, penniless, living paycheck to paycheck, with absolutely no goals and aspirations. My hopelessness was fatal.
I woke up every morning with a head that spun faster than my anxiety. I was hungover, despondent, and utterly lost. My only hope was derived from the thought of drinking alcohol later that night. I powered through the day feeling angry at the world. Back then, I was not this peppy, cheerful, and optimistic girl that I am today. I was bitter and constantly irritated, a combination of my alcoholism and depression. I lacked pride for my choices in life which caused a tailspin of insecurity. I didn’t think that I was capable of living a productive, happy life without alcohol in my back pocket. My faith in myself had run dry. I would rather have been dead than to attempt life without my coveted booze-centered escapes. I needed that release because life felt so incredibly pointless.
On this day in 2014, I had woken up with a massive hangover, per usual. I had the day off of work so I slept in and attempted to bypass my symptoms of withdrawal. I knew it was my friend’s birthday party later that night, so I refrained from any premature drinking. Instead, I turned on the TV to the four channels that I had because cable was not in my budget. I watched the news for an hour before I became uncontrollably agitated. It was an impossibility for me to sit with myself, and my thoughts for an hour. My anxiety was overwhelming, and my depression dominated any potential for a positive thought. I said, “fuck it,” and I pulled myself together and hit up the liquor store on the corner of 13th and Second Ave. I visualized a cheap bottle of vodka and my heart skipped a beat. My depression morphed into hope and excitement. I fantasized about what this bottle would bring me: happiness, confidence, and fearlessness. I checked my TD account to confirm that I had a few bucks for a bottle. I ran out the door, chasing a high. When the guy handed me the bag, a sense of relief vanquished my thoughts.
I couldn’t wait. The party seemed lightyears away and I needed relief. I downed a few shots and jumped in the shower to get ready. I caked on cheap black makeup to disguise the symptoms of my alcoholism that included a puffy face, watery eyes, and dry skin. I no longer fixated on my degenerate lifestyle and I no longer felt lonely.
By the time my friend picked me up for the party, I was half in the bag. I was presenting a persona that was not my authentic self. When we arrived at the restaurant, I remember feeling self-assured, talkative and funny. In reality, I was immature, annoying and my high-pitched voice was forceful enough to scare even the birds away. My drunkenness was harsher than nails on a chalkboard. Yet, my brain could not comprehend this reality. I didn’t have the capacity to grasp my own reality much less someone else’s. It’s not that I couldn’t perceive the severity of the situation, It’s that I never dried out long enough to process my own destruction, much less repair it. That takes time and willingness and when you’re alcoholic, your life is a constant race to a drunken state.
By the time the party was over, I was completely blacked out. I woke up in the morning in my own bed wondering how the party had ended. I prayed to god that I didn’t make a fool of myself and I started the vicious, self-deprecating thought process all over again.
Behind the smile is a girl that feels wedged in the self-destructive routine of addiction. Alcohol was her escape from an unfulfilling life that she ultimately conceived. In her mind, there were only two options for peace and relief: death or drinking. She was in no position to start the arduous task of identifying problems and seeking solutions. She was hopeless, but not hopeless enough to get sober or kill herself.