Tag Archives: why I drink

Why was I so angry?

9 Nov

10:05 pm

As you know, I’ve been rather methodically going through my “stuff,” the stuff that I threw into storage a decade ago and haven’t really looked at since.  All these seven years, while getting sober, I have speculated but never really “corroborated” the conclusions I came to regarding why I drank; I never really looked at all those writings and notes and pictures, just to see, was that really how it went down?  Was that really who I was back then?

Anyway, the question keeps coming to mind, Why was I so angry?  And, after all these years and all that wine–and now, all these weeks spent purposefully going over my “boxes of the past,” so to speak–I don’t really know.  It’s really a tough concept to wrap my head around:  I was SO angry back then, and it defined my life and relationships during that time as well as impacted them for years to come, but I cannot for the life of me really remember what I was fuming about.  It’s crazy-making, albeit I’m grateful to not be anywhere near that angry anymore–and, have had, dare I say, years of feeling relatively stable and joyful.

I have to say, this process of sorting through my stuff (as we prepare for our move back to the island) has been tedious by my own making, and it’s been more a process of reminiscing as well as letting go (of the past, of my youth, I am not even sure).  I mean, I was perfectly fine not remembering all this stuff, and then here come the boxes and I’m all reflective and sad and kind of reliving that horrible past that “caused” me to drink in the first place (caused in quotes because I know that no one or no thing made me drink–I loved drinking until I didn’t and couldn’t).

After going over some stuff, looking for clues as to what made me so angry that I ramped up my drinking, this is what I do know:  I seemed to be my “old” self, bruised and battered like everyone else, but still happy and smiling, confident and well, resilient, up until about 2000 or 2001 (I turned 27 in 2001).  I had already gone through many things prior to then that might have broken me but didn’t–fighting parents; a binge eating disorder in my late teens and early 20s; college itself, which was difficult and maybe a key to my drinking.  I majored in biology/pre-med, something that I wasn’t even really good at (Does a love for animals necessarily equate to studying biology?) because I told myself that “I should”–instead of something that I loved and was good at and DREAMT of doing, writing, specifically writing poetry.  I was too afraid, so I pushed my dreams out of mind and did what I told myself I should do.  I negated my dreams, discarded my self.  It hurts to even write that, to read it out loud, but it’s true.  Pain is behind anger, and maybe this is where it all began?

All this is to say, there wasn’t this one big thing that made me angry.  Did I just feel erased, exhausted by my refusal to express the real me?  Maybe.  I mean, looking back at pictures of myself from around 2000, 2001, 2002–that was when I became uber-angry and started drinking; or, started drinking and became uber-angry–I can’t come up with any one thing that happened that should have made me as angry as I looked and felt.

I hate to admit it, but I think my drinking ramped up with an increasing disappointment over my romantic relationships.  Like, it sucks to admit that my life could have been derailed by a man (haha), but I think that most of the depression and rage that came to a head during my late 20s came from feeling slighted and not good enough and then, finally, unloved and unloveable, or so I told myself.  Of course, I had a role in all these failed romances (I was that crazy drunk bitch), but it was still painful and frustrating–and made me angry.

Another thing that might have made me angry, over time, was the fact that by my late 20s, I was starting to get ground down by always doing what I was supposed to be doing, and hating every minute of it (I mean, I still do the same kind of work, but I have a longer-term plan, and I’ve spent years finding my voice as a freelancer).  I never allowed myself to freely express myself, to not be agreeable, to be loud and ugly and well, angry!  By the time I turned 30, I finally decided to go back to school for one of two things (writing was one), two things that I had determined I liked.  Before then, I felt like I had not lived a determined life, that I had let this people-pleasing mentality go on for far too long.  I was desperate to break free–to fucking break things!  And, break things I did, while blackout drunk.

I think one key aspect to blackout drinking is saying, fuck it, I give in/up, let me just smash the fuck out of it all.  Let me drop the ball.  The only way perfectionists and people-pleasers, the always-agreeable ones, are going to let it go is to not be aware of the fact that they are letting it go.  For me, drinking to the point of not remembering what I was doing not only let me do things that I would never normally allow myself to do, but it also allowed me to not have to account for dropping the ball, you know?  If you can’t remember, it didn’t happen (in your mind, at least).

At the end of the day, I can’t say what ONE thing made me angry.  What I can say is, I cannot blame anyone else for doing anything to me that caused me to be angry, and to drink.  No parent, no man, no biology text book made me drink.  I chose to drink–the way I wanted to drink, which was to erase the anger, the hurt; to erase the self who was stuck inside, trying to get out.

Drinking soothed my angst (I was scared to be a poet, so I told myself that someone was telling me I “should” not do it), my loneliness (I wasn’t able or ready to relate, which is why I picked the wrong men), and my social anxiety (I am by nature an introvert, so drinking made meeting new people actually somewhat fun).

SO, do I have any more answers than I did before I got my stuff out of storage and started rummaging through said past for clues as to why I drank?  Eh, sure, I guess, but like all things related to alcoholism, nothing is cut and dry, and everything is everything.  It’s not like I can close my boxes and computer and say, I know why I veered off track (the scarier question is, was I ever on one?), I know what made me drink.  It won’t ever be resolved, but…there’s good news.

The good news is, I’ve realized with almost certainty that you don’t have to live in the past; you can remember your mistakes and learn from them, and you can process your experiences in order to be a better person or live a lighter, truer life–but, you can take the good bits of the past, and relive those, and leave the bad bits behind.  You don’t have to relive any of it.

Honestly, I feel like I’ve lived LIFETIMES since that time, which was almost 20 years ago.  And, really, does it even matter anymore what made me so angry if I’ve moved so far beyond who I was then?

Let it go, let it go, let it go.  Learn from your past, cherish it; but don’t hold onto it.  Such a simply worded mantra for one of life’s hardest exercises.

Now I chase the reprieve, not the buzz

8 Jul

11:56 am

There was a very brief period–an interlude–either around the time I quit or right before or after, where I didn’t want to drink. I mean, Didn’t Want To Drink. I mean, no idea what drinking was. It was like, I had never drunk, so I didn’t even know that there was something to turn to! It lasted for five hours, to be exact, and it was the most enlightening experience I’ve had to date with regard to cravings–they are not invariably hardwired forever into our brain circuitry.

It was like I had been transported back to my childhood, when there was nothing to do and nothing to try to do. There was nothing to think about, mull over, ruminate on; nothing to escape from, nowhere to go anyway. Life just was, and you just lived it. And it was Good. Good in the way that you don’t know it’s good: the world is round, spinning on its axis, inside the meteor belt, millions upon millions of planets and solar systems and galaxies and clusters of galaxies doing their thing. I could look up at the Milky Way (my dad was a sailor, a merchant marine to be exact, and he relished pointing out the stars) and go, Wow, and Ooh, and Aah, and these were my only thoughts. No, What am I supposed to be doing with myself? No, Arg, I don’t know, and I’m such a loser because I don’t know! No wanting to escape, to be relieved of the responsibility. For what? To be alive? To figure out the meaning of life?

I think when we stop drinking, a lot of us turn to AA. This isn’t a bad thing, but it forces us to focus on our “problem” and our “issues.” To step up and embrace our “responsibilities.” Aside from the fact that I believe in rehabilitating my relationship to (with?) wine, I’ve come to see this as one of the main reasons I stopped going to meetings. We drank, a lot of us, because we had too many responsibilities. We drank, a lot of us, because our egos had already been crushed–by ourselves!

I’ve spent so much of my time trying to “save the world” (in my head, at last)–overachieving, reaching and grasping for what can only be called validation from the outside. And, when our society (Western?) is built upon this ideal, who hasn’t been there? We are socialized to believe that we have to work hard, have kids and sacrifice, play even harder; compete, judge, and compare; self-improve; and yes, even figure out the meaning of life. Um…OK.

I grew up an introvert. I grew up the twin of an extrovert. I have always been artistic, and therefore, likely pre-wired to be self-centered, ambitious, and controlling. I have had to work not on feeling empathetic, but expressing empathy, mainly because I am shy. I have had big problems in my life with being ashamed, secretive, and self-loathing. Depression followed, but that has, I know now, alternated between being influenced by my innate character to being influenced by my choices and my reaction to those choices.

Without going into too much detail, I drank because I could not express myself, would not allow myself to express myself; I drank because it assuaged my depression; I drank because it stifled my existential panic; I drank to procrastinate being creative, which is an expression of fear (of failure, of success, who knows?). I drank because I felt excluded by my introversion, by my smarts, by my androgyny. I drank I drank I drank.

The point is, didn’t we all? Is a loathing of self inseparable from being human? Don’t we all chase a buzz–the buzz of getting what we want, of “fixing” our desire? Mine happened to be a desire to be more comfortable in my own skin. We are shy, or embarrassed–why? I have no idea where my discomfort comes from; my brother never had it. If he did, it was minimal. Maybe it’s an irrational hatred, archetypal? I don’t know.

What I guess I’m trying to say is, instead of chasing a fleeting “buzz” called my “fix” on wine, now I’m striving–chasing sounds lame–for that reprieve, that interlude of light, of fancy, of play. I REMEMBER that it exists. I remember not wanting wine, and I remember not associating wine with reward, or pleasure, or escape, or reprieve. In fact, if there is anything that I would put outside the realm of ordinary, it would be this experience. It was, I have to say, like God rained some fairy dust down on me and allowed me to see it–to remind me that once upon a time, wine wasn’t a part of my world. And, I did just fine. Can I do just fine again? Yes. YES.

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