It all started with that one Friday bottle of beer to help relax after a long day at work. Occasionally, she could drink a bit more when partying with friends, but she never let it get out of control. She was able to handle her alcohol. She planned and structured her life very well. This young lady was an overachiever, always prevailing in all she did. She excelled in school and was able to procure a very well-paying job. Life seemed good for her on the outside, but what people didn’t know is that she was hurting inside.
GROWING UP TOO FAST
Something very valuable was taken away from her at the age of 12 due to her family culture and tradition. This left a physical and emotional scar. Her father had been sick and passed away and her mother was not able to financially support the family. As a result, she took the responsibility of becoming a parent to all her five siblings at the age of twenty. She was their sole-provider and was tasked with meeting their daily needs and putting them through college. She still used alcohol occasionally and casually, but it was never a problem. All the while she thought she had control of her alcohol. So, when does that bottle of beer become Alcoholism?
MARRIAGE, BUT NO HAPPILY EVER AFTER
She married at a very young age, and her marital problems began almost immediately. The girl in her had envisioned marriage as the Cinderella story. Unfortunately, she and her husband were from different cultures and countries – and there were many more differences than expected. The trauma she experienced when she was 12 years old became a big topic with her husband. Her marriage reality was a complete opposite of what she had hoped for. Despite the hardships in her life, her twenties progressed pretty much as normal. She became very good at suppressing her pain and pretending that everything was okay.
Taking care of her siblings was very hard. But then, she also had to provide for her husband and put herself through school. Her husband struggled with drugs and was unstable, frequently getting in trouble with the law. He kept finding his way back to jail, no matter how hard she tried to work with him. She did all this with grace and composure and never complained on the outside. Marriage for her was a nightmare. It was filled with pain, agony, belittlement and disrespect. She had a lot of acquaintances but no real friends. With no one to share her pain with, she buried it inside. All this while, she had a grip on her alcohol – or so she thought. Little did she know that her Friday bottle of beer was slowly becoming Alcoholism.
THEN IT GOT WORSE
Life was becoming more unbearable. She lost her brother suddenly to gun violence and she was devastated. Her marriage was crumbling. Additionally, her siblings were being more demanding and were taking advantage of her, financially. She became a party animal and her acquaintances increased in number. Oftentimes, she confused the good-time friends to be her supportive-friends. Little did she know, that the same people she was partying with, were in some ways, her worst enemies. They encouraged her to drink more, but what she really needed was emotional support and healing.
Internally, she was fighting the things she had gone through as a child and the things she was presently going through. She worked so hard to leave her past behind, but her current situation was making things worse. For a long time, she blamed everyone else. Now it felt like she had failed at so many relationships, but even worse – deep down – that she had failed herself. Could all of this be turned around or was she too far gone? She was afraid, alone, and hopeless. Everything was falling apart – but when did that Friday bottle of beer become alcoholism?
THE FRIDAY BOTTLE OF BEER TURNS INTO MORE
Things took a complete turn when she lost her dream job and could no longer provide for her husband or siblings. She felt empty and even more hopeless. Her husband started cheating on her. She learned that her siblings were extorting money from her and did not attend school. At this point she knew she was on her own.
She found solace in alcohol. That Friday bottle of beer now became two, three, four bottles on a daily basis. She started draining her pain in alcohol. The beer changed to hard liquor, because the tolerance developed and she still wanted to forget reality. Unfortunately, her husband had brought up so many memories from her childhood and continuously blamed her for their failing marriage. She got in trouble with the law and felt completely hopeless. The people she once called ‘friends’ turned against her. Truth be told, that Friday bottle of beer had finally become alcoholism.
FROM CONFIDENCE TO HOPELESSNESS
The once determined, confident and courageous woman was now hopeless, discouraged, and unmotivated. She stopped caring and this led her deeper into alcohol. Her husband was nowhere to be found. The first thing she thought about when she woke up was that shot of hard liquor. She started drinking almost any kind of alcohol, as long as it served its purpose. Things went from bad to worse so quickly and there was no one to save her.
She was not motivated to look for a job. As a result she became homeless. Eventually, she decided to move out of the state she lived in. One of her long-lost friends agreed to give her a home. No matter how hard her friend tried, she still found solace in alcohol. She started doing odd jobs to pay her bills. Unfortunately, she was too broken. Eventually she hit rock-bottom. She was at a point of no return. Alcohol had finally taken control over her life. She lost everything, including herself. That Friday bottle of beer was now daily bottles of hard liquor.
So, did that Friday bottle of beer become Alcoholism? Have you guessed by now, that the woman in the story is me?
SOUND THE ALARM
People ask themselves this question so often, “How did I get here?” Unfortunately, there is no fixed answer for that. So, the question becomes, “When do we ring the alarm?” When does alcohol use become Alcohol use Disorder or in other words, Alcoholism? In life, you have to be aware of who you are as a person, what makes you unique, and how you relate to your environment. Unfortunately, the majority of us are still struggling with our identities. There are certain things that will tell us we are drowning and not swimming anymore, but we have to pay close attention. These will include but are not limited to:
- Craving alcohol when you are not drinking
- Feeling the need to keep drinking more
- Being unable to control alcohol consumption
- Putting alcohol above personal responsibilities
- Spending a substantial amount of money on alcohol
- Behaving differently after drinking
GET OUT OF DENIAL – NOW!
If you find yourself having two or more of the above signs, then it’s high time to ring the alarm. If alcohol consumption is starting to take a toll in your life, it’s important to seek treatment options that will help you kick your alcohol addiction to the curb. Oftentimes, we spend so much of our time in denial. We find it very hard to accept the reality. Looking and asking for help is embarrassing. People don’t want to say they are “alcoholics.” They want to believe they have control over their lives even though they actually don’t. It’s time to stop wishing, wanting, wondering and waiting and instead – take action.
We at Mission Addiction are committed to help you through your journey to recovery, no matter where you are. I joined this mission because they don’t use labels and have so many ways to help. The biggest struggle we face as those with a substance use disorder are feelings of emptiness and of being alone. You are NOT alone. And it’s never too late to take control of your life. You are greater than your environment, and it’s time to take your power back from alcohol.
The ‘She’ in the story is me and I’m a testimony and a survivor.
Be on the lookout for more blogs from me, including more of my journey to recovery. I’d love to hear your comments about this one!