CHAPTER 13 – #Alcohol-My-Best-Friend

To be #honest ever since I was in college, which began in 1999, I cannot remember an extensive period of time when I did not #drink. I’m not saying that I was an #alcoholic nor am; in fact I would joke about being a functional alcoholic. Just that I have had at least one drink almost every single day for the past 17 years or so. I mean who doesn’t enjoy #wine with dinner or a drink to wind down after a long hard day at work. The concern became the #quantity I would drink in one sitting, not the #frequency.

I had my first proper drink, as in not a sip of my dad’s wine or beer, when I was 12 years old in the 8th grade. My friends and I would #sneak into the fields behind my school and have a drink as well as smoke cigarettes. It did not happen very often, but that was what we would do after school when we were #bored. We would go a buy a pack of smokes, some beers, and head out to the fields while we were supposed to be at a school dance. I remember one time I was wearing white jeans and of course I managed to get them dirty. My mom noticed straight away and I lied and said that I had fallen on the soccer field. Ooops!

When it came to hiding the #smell of #alcohol I was a pro, but #cigarette smoke was a whole new ball game. When I started high school at 13, I was smoking much more since at the time I was able to buy my own cigarettes. (Back in the day there really was no age requirement and no one would question it even if I looked like I was 6 years old at 13!) So yes, that was when I first started smoking regularly and drinking a lot more. My excuse for smelling like smoke was always to blame it on others. My parents were aware that several students in high school smoked and drank. We were in Italy after all…

The first time I ever got #drunk was when I was 13. Fortunately I was not passing out – #blackout – throwing up drunk; but drunk enough to be a bit #buzzed. I had gone out with my brother and sister, otherwise I would have never been allowed to go out, and then my folks picked us up. I managed to get away with it free and clear. Over the years I began to #develop my #tolerance. Of course there were times when I would get drunk and hungover, but I have to admit that thankfully I never made a massive fool out of myself. Since I was a very introverted and depressed person, the most that would happened was that I would get sad and cry, or slightly angry.

I drank in high school, but not #excessively. I needed to concentrate on my studies as well as dance. But I did start acting out. [See in my family being a female meant not having the same rights and liberties as being a male. Well to be fair my brother was not that free to do what he wanted. My father was very strict.] So I started stealing drinks at home from my dad’s liquor cabinet. The irony was that my dad would hide the key and only tell me where it was because he assumed I was the one he could trust the most. He would allow us a bit of wine every now and then at dinner, but I was interested in other types of alcohol. So I would make myself gin and tonics (#GnT©) when no one was home and I would steal beer and wine to take it to school. My dad would go crazy trying to figure out who was stealing his alcohol! In a way I was also rebelling. I had felt #suffocated for so many years, not being allowed to go out much at all or hang out with friends, or have much of a social life, that in my senior year I #rebelled. I was the only kid left at home, I was a straight A student, I did extracurricular activities; I was going to be damned if I was not going to be allowed to enjoy my senior year.

So anyway, to make a long story short, I drank more than I should. I always figured it was ok because I never really got drunk or sometimes not at all. Many years ago as a young and naïve kid/young adult, I never used to think much of it. I figured as long as I was healthy, bloods were normal, I was working and everything was fine, then it was ok. It was #ok that I needed a drink after a long day of work to wind down. It was ok to drink a lot on the weekend when I just wanted to wind down and relax. It still is ok, but in moderation. I’ve always had a weak immune system and issues with #IBS, but what happened last year (i.e. getting #cancer) was a wakeup call; especially since I would mix alcohol with my antidepressants and anxiety pills. Last year (end of 2016) I finally was honest with my #therapist and #psychiatrist and told them about my drinking. First time I did. Why? I realized that I was not being smart about it considering the amount of medication I lost. As my psychiatrist would say, “Well, that’s how Jimi Hendrix died.” Thank you doctor. Message received loud and clear!

For 2017, I found something that was going to be beneficial and finally help me to kick a lot of habits that I had: drinking too often, drinking too much, aggravating my IBS, feeling like shit some days, not waking up early, instead of strengthening my immune system I was making it worse, drinking while taking medication, smoking (which I did a lot more when I would drink), and others. I have to say that since I have been dry this month (#boozefreeforjanuary #dryathlon2017 #fundraiser #cancerresearchuk #milestonemonday) I have been feeling better. I sleep better, I wake up early and can make the most of my day, my stomach is still a mess but at least I know it’s not only from the alcohol (#stress!!!), I’m not as tired as I used to be, etc. I am not saying that drinking is bad or that I will never drink again. No no no. But it is good to detox and I know that I will not go back to drinking as much as I used to. I have to take care of me.

I will let you know that on Sunday January 8, 2017 I finally stopped my anxiety medication after 16 years. I feel like I am really on the mend, which for me means not having to rely on outside sources to feel good. I don’t want a crutch #anymore. I don’t want to be numb anymore. And I am on the way of not being like that anymore. I am #proud of me for the recent decisions that I have taken and the changes that I have made. I have come a long way and even though at times I #doubted myself, I did not give up, I pushed through.

Going dry for January 2017 and being a #dryathlete is important for many reasons: fundraising, cancer research and awareness, my physical and mental health, my relationship, my life, my ambition, my will to live, understanding why I hurt myself (have hurt myself) subconsciously and consciously, what I feel when I want to drink, why do I feel that way, why do I need it; digging deep and letting people know that it was actually a way of self destruction and not only a source of comfort.

[My life is nowhere near as being a major catastrophe but this is not a competition. I can only deal with what I have gone through and as a result my body and mind deals with it in whichever way it wants – mostly by consuming alcohol. I’m tired. I’ve been through so much mentally and physically that I have tried to take my life many years ago, I have self harmed and I have wished on hundreds of occasions that I would get hit by a car, die in a crash, anything. Anything to make it all go away. But truth be told I am terrified of death. I hate the unknown. I want to be conscious forever and know where I will end up. I refuse to rot in the ground. Side note: (I wrote this section last month in December 2016 and I was a bit tipsy.) I’m still not in a place where I can fully accept my past and present. Alcohol was the friend that helped me feel and become vulnerable so that I could share my life. I fear, and look forward to next month when I will be completely sober for 31 days. How will I manage? Now I’m not an alcoholic. I want to stress that point. But yes I do rely on alcohol for many things. I do not start drinking when I wake up nor do I drink during the day while at work. Yes I drink after a days a work to wind down or have alcohol with dinner and on the weekend with lunch as well. The point is not how often but how much I can drink in one sitting and what it is doing to my insides and my overall wellbeing. I don’t get hangovers (recently yes, but before never) I can drink a lot but not make a complete ass of my self or black out. I have drunken and drove, as I was the designated driver since I could still function as if I was sober. Not proud of it as I put my friends and myself in a very dangerous situation. I also was arrested for a DUI (driving under the influence, soon after New Years 2014) and spent 12 hours in jail – more on that later.]

The point is that getting cancer taught me that I am not #invincible. I may get blood tests, which show that my liver is great and I may not get a hangover but I sure as hell am shitting my guts for 24-48 hours after drinking a lot! So by making the decision to be honest with my therapist and psychiatrist and tell them about my drinking, I knew I would have to address it. I‘m not going to quit but I can no longer use it as a crutch. It’s not helping me anymore. It’s run its course. I want to live for a long time with the love of my life and grow old. I want to have children. To do all that I need to be #healthy. I deserve to be happy and healthy and stress free. It is time. I’m done with all this health shit and refuse to let it run my life. I am stronger than this. Mind over matter. I don’t need alcohol to make me feel better. I need life to do that. I need me to do that. #Happiness must come from within but first there is #acceptance. I am learning to accept myself.

Flaws, defects, illnesses, up and downs, but mostly for the good I have in me. I am intelligent as well as attractive. I work hard and I’m ambitious. I’m disciplined and creative. I’m honest, up front, and a good listener. When I’m in a relationship, I am all in. I’ve even started liking Clement’s cats! The horror! Me an animal person?!! I mean actually liking them and enjoy their company; not just feeding them and changing their litter because I won’t let them starve or live in their filth. I care about them. What is wrong with me?!!! I guess I’m finally becoming human. I’m letting down that wall that is as wide as the length of the Great Wall of China. I’m allowing myself to feel. Well that could also be because I am finally being weaned off my anxiety medication, which have kept me in a comatose state for years. No wonder I drank. It gave me a personality that was buried beneath the shit on top of shit on top of shit that I thought my life was. Maybe the reason I have IBS is that my body is desperately trying to rid itself of all the shit that has piled up over the past 20 years. Now that’s a lot of Shit!! No wonder I have an abnormally long intestine for a human! Now it makes sense. Lol.

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