Because let’s be real, life is too short to settle for anything that doesn’t set your soul on fire and give you a reason to get up in the morning. No matter how crazy it may seem to other people.
But I won’t lie, I am notorious for drinking alcohol on my days off…after a stressful event… BEFORE a social engagement… and just because it’s Saturday. Or whatever day ends my official work week in the pharmacy.
Yes, I MIGHT have a problem with alcohol. At least some days. But thankfully, I am cutting back and as a writer am finding ways to turn it around and write about it in positive, constructive ways. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
But it’s nearing the end of April- “Alcohol Awareness Month”- and I didn’t feel right with letting this month go by without opening up about my own journey and struggle and ultimately share encouraging stories from other people who have ALSO struggled with alcohol and substance abuse issues in some way or another.
Because, for people like me who battle mental health issues (specifically anxiety and depression) alcohol is a common coping mechanism. For better or worse, we have learned to “self-medicate” our stress and emotional turmoil with the “liquid medicine”.
And I only sometimes feel bad about it.
That is until the inner turmoil of life rolls down the proverbial mountain and knocks the wind out of me- making me feel overwhelmed, confused, lost and losing of hope. Which unfortunately- for a tortured, creative soul, who struggles with a lot of regret for her life choices, seemingly “missed” opportunities and lingering wounds from the past- happens more regularly than I would normally want to admit.
But deep down, I know that those feelings are not true and I want to encourage other people who struggle that they are NOT ALONE and they ARE GOING TO BE OK. No matter what the alcohol induced “demons” in your head try to tell you.
You see, I come from a background of emotional and verbal abuse. I was told and made to feel numerous times throughout my life that I was “worthless”, “ugly”, “unlovable”, “incapable”, “not good enough” and doomed to live a second-rate life. Which I call bullshit to anyone who would EVER say that to another human being. But it happened to me, by mostly my parents and other people who I thought were supposed to love and support me the most.
Anyway, I battled a LOT of emotional demons growing up and I made even MORE mistakes over the years because of it. Some things I will elaborate on in my book “Better Late Than Never.”
But even today, I am still haunted by the hurtful words and discouragement from my youth- things that have held me back for most of my life. Thankfully, I am a self-aware writer and can find positive lessons and messages from the past and my pain. But not everyone else is so lucky. And not even I am so lucky to fight off the negative, discouraging, hurtful voices and thoughts in my head that follow me around and weigh me down like boulders around my neck- that sometimes make me feel like I’m literally drowning.
And that’s when alcohol becomes my friend.
Or my “pseudo-friend.”
Yes, over the years of my excessive alcohol consumption, I have made MANY mistakes, got in many shouting matches, ended up in uncountable crying fits, and found myself curled up in the fetal position more times than I want to admit. I have been full of despair and wishing I could die more times than I could count. Particularly as the dopamine high from the alcohol wore off and I came CRASHING down in an uncontrollable feeling of depression and hopelessness.
Alcohol can be a cruel and misleading mistress.
But I didn’t give up no matter how low it made me feel. And neither should you.
If you have struggled with alcohol or substance abuse issues of ANY kind in your life- or felt hopeless and like giving up in ANY WAY- I want you to know that you are NOT ALONE. YOU ARE LOVED, YOU HAVE PURPOSE, and you are MORE than what anyone from your past or the demons in your head have tried to make you believe.
Yea, drinking alcohol can be fun sometimes, and it MIGHT be OK to have in moderation. However, it is NOT a cure for the pain or bad memories you might harbor inside. But if you still struggle regularly, or even occasionally, just know you are not alone. You are worth more than you know and there is a better life ahead of you- regardless of your mistakes or what any negative, thoughtless person has said to or about you in the past.
Alcohol and other substances are not the answer. But if you still drink or are tempted to drink to feel better in anyway, you are NOT A FAILURE. You can turn your life around and modify your coping mechanisms starting TODAY. Baby steps is all it takes. ONE less drink a day, one less negative thought, allowing one less hurtful memory control you IS PROGRESS. Being honest with yourself with why you started drinking in the first place and acknowledging the wrong beliefs behind it is part of the process.
For me it was believing the lies that I wasn’t good enough, that I needed a little “liquid courage” to do certain things… Or sometimes my feeble attempt at trying to shut up the voice in my head that reminded me I was failure and not living up to my potential... or just my attempt to relax after a stressful day at work… or calm my nerves before an intimidating upcoming social engagement… or boredom…or…well, you get the idea.
There are so many reasons that can compel you to drink excessively and even MORE potential issues in your life that can convince you that you need to “self-medicate” with alcohol or some other substance.
Oh, yea, I get it, I’ve been there.
What has it been for you? Are you happy with the path your life has gone? Is your alcohol or substance use really helping? If it’s not, as I know it hasn’t me, maybe it’s time we start thinking of ways to give it up or at least cut back? It probably won’t be easy, but you and I can get there. I care about you, sober or not. We are in this together.
Please remember: YOU’RE NOT ALONE and YOU’RE GOING TO BE OKAY!