I Hate Thinking About My Drunken Past, But I Have to in Order to Stay Sober
My past is a constant reminder of where I never want to go again.
When I look back at my nineteen-year drinking career, one of the main things I feel is shame. The number of unbearable, bewildering, extreme cringe-worthy moments are impossible to count. I embarrassed myself on so many different occasions, it’s a wonder some of my friends and family still speak to me.
From the very first time I tried alcohol, up until my last, extra-tall, perfectly-chilled glass of chardonnay, I was the prototypical train-wreck of the night.
If you were partying with me, chances were, I’d end up a complete disaster.
My early drinking days were the real smash hits of my career. Back then, I really knew how to throw it down. I was a legitimate liability to the brave souls who partied with me.
By the end of the night, if I wasn’t sprawled over the toilet puking, I was hysterically crying. If I wasn’t hysterically crying, I was arguing with someone. If I wasn’t arguing with someone, I was probably sprawled over the toilet puking, while simultaneously hysterically crying.
And, if for some reason, I wasn’t doing any of those things, I was definitely making a fool of myself.
The number of times I blacked out, lost the ability to walk, or injured myself as a result of my sheer drunken stupidity is mortifying to think about. Then, there was the moronic, intoxicated word-vomit that spewed forth from my mouth. I wince just thinking about it.
When I reached my mid-twenties and had my two children, I definitely toned it down. But, instead of hitting the town and getting rage-wasted on vodka waters, I’d sit on my couch and get sloppy emo-drunk on red wine. It involved a lot less puking, crying and arguing. But, the fact that those things were still happening, at all, was a pretty telling sign.
One thing that was always certain with my drinking: I’d wake up the next day absolutely hating myself, but I’d lack the will to do anything about it.
My mind would consume itself with third-degree level thoughts of complete self-loathing. In fact, it became an extreme sport just to think about my drinking. Every particle of energy I had went towards the singular woe of hating the person I was. It was excruciating.
I’m very thankful to finally be on the other side of that strangle-hold. I never, ever, want to experience the psychological torture of my addiction again. The longer I spend away from those feelings, the more terrifying they seem.
However, though I never want to feel those terrible convictions again, I also never want to forget them. They’re the most powerful cautionary admonition against my drinking that I have. They remind me how low I’m capable of sinking. They show me where I once was in comparison to where I am now. They’re the piece of my past that compelled me to seek such life-altering change.
Though it can be painful to look back, it’s a vital part of moving forward. With every step of progress I make, I look behind me, and give a little nod of acknowledgement to my drunken past. That period of my life was harrowing, but it taught me so many things, and it continues to serve an important purpose.
Every time I find myself craving a glass of wine, I think back to the not-so-good old days. I recall the bitter, iron pit of nausea that hardened in my gut, and crept up my throat, as I sucked back the first few sips of my golden-colored vice, Chardonnay.
I remember the ditsy, over-sharing, unfiltered fucktard I acted like — the girl who talked too much, and too loud, over things she knew too little about.
I relive the slurred words, the blurred vision, and the inability to walk without bracing myself against a wall. I think back to how the room would spin, and the nausea would hit.
I remember the cold-sweats through dampened sheets, and how I tossed and turned my way through a sickly night of restless, drunken insomnia.
I recall the overwhelming sense of shame, regret and self-hatred when morning assailed. I feel the skull-crushing headache, the lead-weighted exhaustion, and the wretched, all-day nausea that would consume me. I relive the remorse of countless wasted days.
I remember my children, anxious for my attention, while I laid crumpled on the couch like an undeserving, inept, complete piece of shit.
Then, I re-convince myself that my sobriety is far better than any glass of creamy, oaked Chardonnay I may be craving.
I hit pause, close my eyes, and feel immense gratitude for the simple things I used to take for granted. Little things, like having the energy to bundle my kids up for a trip to the park on a chilly afternoon, or the desire to curl up with a good book after they’ve gone to sleep.
Everything is so much easier when I’m sober. But sometimes, I need to remind myself of the misery and hardship of my past to fully appreciate that. It’s easy to tell myself one little glass of wine won’t hurt, what’s the big deal? Until I recall the number of times one little glass lead to me blacking out on the floor of my bathroom on a random Tuesday night. Then I snap out of it.
Without a doubt, it’s important for addicts find a way to forgive ourselves for the drunken missteps of our pasts. We must show ourselves some mercy or we’ll never move forward. We deserve forgiveness as much as anyone else.
However, we should always keep the unpleasant memories at a respectful distance. We don’t need to dwell, otherwise, we’ll remain choked in the miserly grip of our pain. Nor should we forget, as the tribulations of our past taught us many valuable lessons. We should never lose sight of the thing that urged us to change.
If we’re lucky, we’ll find a happy medium. Here, we’ll be able to recognize the purpose of our pain, and we’ll use it to our advantage. It will serve as a lurid reminder of a dark place we never want to go again, while at the same time, urging us to chase the light of brighter days.
Drinking may not be good for much of anything, but at the very least, it can teach us things, but only if we let it.