I wrote earlier this week about my experience with alcoholism and how at the hands of an alcoholic my little sister and I watched our mother at the mercy of his violence. My view of alcohol was, understandably, very negative and when my class-mates all started underage drinking in town at 15, I stayed in watching movies. Then I turned 18 and started University…
I have always been terrified of strangers. Be it because of the bullying, or just my general shyness, there was never a time that meeting new people didn’t fill me with dread akin only to my fear of extreme heights!
I spent my first week at university in my room, alone, crying.
I was terrified of people asking me questions about myself. Afraid that the answers would betray me as the freak I knew I was. The fear was paralysing, but soon the other students started to coax me out of my room and as I sat in silence listening to them, I was amazed at how confidently they were able to converse with one another. I was jealous of the girls being chatted up by the guys as my awkwardness seem to make me invisible.
Inevitably, freshers’ week started and soon we were celebrating our independence with cheap Lambrini and paint-stripper tasting vodka, attending the Universities very own nightclub almost every evening. Having never really drunk alcohol before (apart from some champagne when I was 14), I was completely spellbound by the entire experience of going out and dancing with friends. The euphoria of that mixed with alcohol was intense and effective.
Alcohol made me funnier, more confident, and sociable. When I drank, for the first time in my life, I became someone I liked. Someone other people wanted to spend time with.
And so my relationship with alcohol evolved. I became a regular on the social circuit at my University; a social butterfly. Boys started talking to me and I met my very first boyfriend.
Of course I was masking the real issues. Drinking had become my escape, and while I was lucky enough not to become dependent, I was what you call a binge drinker. I became addicted to going out because that’s when I felt good about myself.
For years I was the ‘party girl’. I may not have been needing alcohol, but I was certainly chasing the euphoric feeling of being that happy, confident, popular girl. The one that I didn’t feel inside.
But I wasn’t happy. How do I know? Because a year and a half in to my degree, I wrote this entry in a notebook. Even back then I couldn’t help but write down how I felt. It may feel a little shoddily written but I have copied it straight from the page as I always want show the un-photoshoped version of my experiences. Reading it is uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it will hopefully show people the state I was in and how different things can be. Be kind and enjoy:
I’m just lying here trying to understand my depressive state over the last few weeks and think I finally understand what is wrong – why I feel so empty. For a while now I thought it was the [insert boys name that I liked at the time] situation, and although I would still like to be with him, I don’t feel enough sadness or pain over him for that to be the reason for my feeling empty, so maybe it’s just a relationship I miss, not him.
In fact, since I broke up with [first boyfriend], I have felt the need to concentrate on a man and have actively gone looking for one. [Boy I liked] was just another one in a line of guys. The difference with him is that we started seeing each other so I got more involved. I seem to have a need to be wanted, even though I didn’t want a relationship and although having guys wanting to go out with me is a confidence boost, it is only short lived – which I have come to realise.
I feel like my life has become meaningless and shallow, and maybe I needed it to be for a while but it has to stop. For the last 4 months my life has been about drinking, partying, shopping and generally just doing what I want. I thought this would make me happy and it did for a while but it has ended up making me feel horrible about myself. I now realise that concentrating on a guy or my image is not going to change the point of view I have of myself and although it may make people think highly of me at first, they may not find much else once they get to know me – which is why I avoid relationships with people who like me – I don’t want them to ‘go off’ me – hurt pride is a painful thing.
It is hard to explain how I feel but it’s like my life has lost all meaning and I am looking for that meaning in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways. I am hereby resolved to do the following:
- Do a lot more studying
- Have a balance of work and play
- Eat properly
- Do not spend money I don’t have
- Stop needing guy’s adoration – I want a boyfriend but I don’t need one – am good on my own.
- Go out less – pick specific nights – don’t go out for the sake of it.
- Drink a lot less alcohol
- Still have fun – after all I am a student but remember this: THIS YEAR COUNTS
I believe that by following these guidelines, not only will I improve myself as a person, but I will also achieve those things that I have tried to achieve in the wrong way i.e.:
- Looks and image
- Look better with better sleep.
- Better skin with less alcohol and good food.
- Look great with exercise.
- Not only will my looks boost male attention [oh the shame of writing this!!] but my confidence will soar for the right reasons and I will have more control of my life which is an attraction and at the end of all this I will like myself again too.
- Won’t be so attention seeking – more attractive.
- Seem more stable – attract the right kind of attention
It is important for me to still think of myself but not in terms of what I want now but in terms of what I need to achieve real wants in the future. Such as a good degree, a steady grown-up relationship, reliable friends (which I have). Living for the here and now is all well and good – for now, but what happens to the future? While I don’t believe in worrying about things that may never happen, it is quite different to expect things to happen for you without you giving it you best shot.
So I want to apologise to God for asking for his help where I have given him no basis on which to support any help – I do however ask him to get me back on track to achieving my life’s aims and objectives.
Of course all this is not going to be easy as the rewards don’t as [I assume I mean ‘don’t come as’…] quickly, richly or easily as with just partying, but when they of come they will last longer, will be real and oh so worth it (I believe anyway).
This piece of writing is a form of confession as well as a way of helping me decide and organise what I need to do to reach my dream of an above average adulthood.
I want to apologise to my parents because I have been in denial of the fact that I was completely lost for the past 4 months. But I have finally resurfaced my priorities and even though they have been there all along, I feel ready to start putting them into practice – and I am going to ask for help from anyone willing to guide me such as [insert best friend].
Well now, isn’t this more positive than at the beginning of the letter?! I shall be able to sleep now.
It really is awkward reading something you wrote 10 years ago! To see if I put my plan into action, please tune in for part 3!