Rock Bottom: Nowhere But Up From Here

Everything hurt; opening my eyes hurt, turning my head to squint at my alarm clock hurt, picking up my phone to scroll through whatever texts I’d sent the night before, all of it hurt. My head was pounding, my throat dry and parched, my stomach churning with whatever leftover alcohol was still sloshing around in it. It felt as if I’d gotten hit from all sides by a Blacksburg Transit bus, but without any of the physical damage. Except none of this compared to the mounting dread that attached itself to every morning after I went out, intensifying as I did my best to play over the prior night in my head. I hated this, the uncertainty, the fear, the disappointment and embarrassment associated with learning of whatever havoc I had wreaked while in my oblivious, drunken state. Sometimes it wasn’t anything more than just saying something out of the realm of appropriateness, other times it was unnecessary anger and sadness, occasionally it was passionate decisions that should’ve never been acted upon. But it was always something.  

 

It’s hard to come to terms with the realization that you have a problem, no one likes to admit when they’re wrong. I used to correlate those who had “addictive and/or reckless behaviors” with heavy-duty drug users, sloppy alcoholics who couldn’t partake in society due to their constant intoxication, people who continued to eat unhealthy even though their weight was skyrocketing; I saw these people as the lesser individuals of the world that just couldn’t seem to get their lives together. I’d joke about being addicted to sweets and social media, laugh at meme’s portraying girls who never stopped partying, not once coming to terms with the intensifying issue buried deep within years of drinking as a college student until it was too late.

 

I’d like to say that it was the day that I was sobbing into my mother’s arms, as she tried her best to comfort my broken heart and mind as the long-term ex-boyfriend of mine ended our relationship over one too many drunken fights. But I convinced myself that it was his lack of love and effort to understand my depression.

 

It should’ve been the year after that, when I had to Uber home from downtown after a tailgate gone wrong due to unnecessary amounts of crying over nothing, only after I’d consumed large quantities of rum and coke. But I acted as if it was due to my stressful academic workload.

 

Maybe things would be different if I’d recognized the issue when I lost my wallet and phone again for the fifteenth time while out partying with friends, but I correlated it all with my problems with attention to detail.

 

I wish it had been after the night I got annoyed with my roommate for not listening to my side of a story, but only after I’d drank too much beforehand with a few employees post late-night shift. But once again, it wasn’t my fault. It was hers, it was his, it was someone else’s but never mine.

 

It was only after the night I yet again ruined a budding relationship with a guy I’d met, only after I was told twice in a twenty-four hour period that what I’d been doing just “wasn’t a good look”, after my mother told me she wouldn’t be comforting me anymore because she couldn’t support my faulty behavior, that’s when I finally realized that everything that had been weighing me down and going wrong, it was my doing. There wasn’t anyone left to blame other than myself.  I needed to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t party like other students did, that a couple of drinks played off of my under-the-surface depression and anxiety more than the average person, that drinking to get drunk was how I’d been dealing with my low self-esteem and underlying sadness all these years. I was addicted to the confidence alcohol gave me, addicted to being able to hang in a crowd without going into a panic, addicted to the twisted self-love I accepted for myself only after I met flirtatious guys downtown or took carefree pictures with friends in a bathroom mirror. I’d feel free of fear and frustration, free of insecurity and what seemed to be an incurable need to impress others, free of everything that ate at me when I was sober.

 

In that very moment, I knew that I was playing a game that I’d never win. Trying to be something that I wasn’t, a girl that had the mental capacity and physical ability to drink without a care in the world, leaving all her worries at the door.  I wasn’t that, I wasn’t the type of person that was able to enjoy life while consuming bottles of wine with friends and taking shot after shot at a bar, not right now. I was someone that needed to figure out where I was going in life and how to form relationships without having to be inebriated. I’d cultivated this mindset that if I didn’t join in on the drunken fun, then I wasn’t someone who knew how to have a good time. So, when the time called for drinking, drinking was what I did. But I drank to ignore the fact that I wasn’t happy with what was going on in other parts of my life, I drank to impress the friends I was with and uphold the reputation that I knew how to party with the rest of the world.

 

Life provides us with consistently trying times, some of us are able to deal with these hurdles and course through our formative years without drowning, while others have to realize that taking care of oneself is the most important part of becoming a responsible adult. We live in a world where women are expected to be confident without being overly self-indulgent, a world where going out and partying is a sign of a “fun girl”, but only if this person drinks enough to smile and laugh at an unfunny joke, not enough to do anything that would make them look unintelligent and lacking in self-control. The pressure to keep up with the idea that we females have to have a good time by going out and partaking in the familiar routine of collegiate drinking, but then have to also curtail how much is consumed so that we aren’t judged for being immorally intoxicated, is an unfair and tiresome game of give-and-take. Some of us have the ability to challenge the ridiculous stigma and show-up those who view women as weak and unable to hold their alcohol, while others have to take time away from these expectations and forgo the cocktail. But neither of these options are options to be judged because doing what is best for one’s health is a priority that should be of the utmost importance. There isn’t anything weak about having to ask for water instead of liquor or having to hang back on a Friday night, we all are working towards formulating our best self possible, even if it means missing out on a few wild nights.

 

Drinking isn’t something that should define whether or not you’re living your collegiate years correctly, and sobriety doesn’t mean that you’re uptight and unable to have a good time. If you feel that you’re pressured to be someone that you’re not, remember that the most impressive strength isn’t pushing yourself to do something you aren’t able to do, but viewing your inner demons as signs of what should be worked on, and then actually making an effort to work on them. Hanging out with those who accept your fallbacks and creating a healthy relationship with yourself is the basis of self-care because true internal happiness doesn’t begin to solidify until you take the measures needed to help yourself. Maybe it’s therapy, maybe it’s cutting off those who you feel push you to be a false version of yourself, or maybe it’s just admitting that you’re drowning and need a supportive life raft of good friends. The answer isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always something that you may want to come to terms with, but never forget that there are people who love you for who you are and truly want to help create a life that you’re more than content with living.

 

My story isn’t one that I often share, but if one person in the world can take comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone when it comes to struggling with drinking, that not everyone out there has it all together, I’ll happily take that.

 

Xoxo

 

 

Cook Counseling Center Information:

Main Office: Cook Counseling Center

McComas Hall, RM 240, Virginia Tech

895 Washington St. SW

Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: 540-231-6557

Fax: 540-231-2104

 

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