As a Single, Introverted, Shy Guy, Alcoholism Trapped me With a Great Promise
I remember when my drinking took a turn for the worse. I would get drunk on the train ride home and head straight for the bar near my house. I was super lonely and had made very few friends since moving to NYC.
I went to the bar expressly for the purpose of talking to people and meeting the woman of my dreams. And even in that state of being too drunk to be scared, social anxiety had its grips on me. I simply couldn't find anyone to talk to and couldn't come up with anything to say anyway. Christ.
At least I had some ladies that I was crushing on at the moment. You know, the bartender and that hot regular who I never talked to even once. But at least the crushes gave me hope.
I remember thinking repeatedly that all you really have in life is hope.
It’s funny. Every time I talked to someone while drunk, I chalked it up to a win for alcohol. But I ignored the wins for sobriety, when I would talk to someone while sober. Instead, when I failed to talk to someone while sober, I chalked it up to a failure for sobriety. My scale was broken.
Eventually the scale tipped so far toward drunken wins that I became fully convinced that I needed alcohol to talk to people. And that’s when it really had me in its grips.
I've always been sensitive and I have a long history of shyness. But I love people and have always wanted strong emotional bonds with people; especially with a woman. I could picture her perfectly: blonde hair, blue eyes, beautiful body, loved rock ‘n roll and had a great sense of humor. My perfect woman. Who likely didn't exist.
This daydreaming fantasy wasn't really working out well for me.
Instead of finding a great woman to love, I started loving alcohol and the way it made me feel.
It became a friend that was always there. It made me feel happy, funny, courageous and helped me meet people and do things that I wouldn't normally do (like going for a kiss on a date or hooking up with a stranger, both of which were rare occasions, yet recorded as wins and reasons to drink).
But as I found at the end, I was still alone and the loneliness very quickly started penetrating even my most drunken states. I couldn't ignore it anymore and I couldn't pretend that alcohol was helping me talk to people. All I knew was that I was fucked and I was in a scary, dark place. I was afraid of how it would end.
So when I stopped drinking, I made a vow to figure this shit out. Why can’t I talk to people? Why is it so hard? What did the drunk me have that sober me didn't? Why was I giving this retarded, stranger-insulting, slurring asshole so much credit?!
I think of the time that followed as a time when the dominoes started falling in place. Within months of going to AA, I was back with a really great woman. We moved in together, got pregnant, got married, I got a less stressful job, had another kid. And on and on it goes.
Just releasing myself from the hold of alcohol and fighting back opened up these awesome doorways.
I think that if there’s a moral to the story it’s for anyone who drinks excessively and is hiding from the truth. And it goes like this:
The very things you give alcohol credit for are the very things that alcohol is ruining for you.
Beer goggles make unattractive people attractive, boring people funny and makes you the king of the world.
If it lies to you about other people (I mean, have you ever woken up next to someone and said “wtf was I thinking last night?!?”), then doesn't it make sense that it’s lying to you about yourself too?
In other words, you’re not ugly, boring, uninteresting or any other negative thing you say about yourself. And you’re not happy, funny or charming when you’re drunk. It’s just an illusion crafted by an expertly created pair of beer goggles.
Quitting is how you can see what’s really going on. Getting distance from those beer goggles, getting some small successes under your belt and seeing that you’re actually pretty awesome.
If you commit to 30, 60 or preferably 90 days without alcohol (habit changes stick better after 90 days), you’ll get a lot clearer on the lies that alcohol is telling you. And you’ll get to witness a very real demon that you may or may not have noticed before as he cries, screams and writhes in agony inside of you.
And you will know that he is shrinking, his voice getting weaker and the true you getting stronger. The longer you hold out and starve him, the easier it will get.
And YOU WILL WIN.