I remember.

I went to the St. Patrick’s day parade yesterday.  I didn’t have a single drop of alcohol.  I remember the last few times going to this parade, and not even knowing my name by 3pm. I remember not being able to go anywhere without a drink in my hand.

I remember a time where I was young and nothing mattered but right then and there, and what was going on and where to go that night, and who was going to be there. I remember always wanting to go out, have a good time, and that I was invincible.

I remember how cheap handles of Mr. Boston’s vodka were, and how cheap a 30 rack of Natural Light was.  I remember a friend of ours looking old enough to go to the liquor store for us when we were under age, and getting mad when he couldn’t make it for me some nights.

I remember my high school parties I used to have, and how much fun we all used to have together. I remember looking forward to the end of the week so I could smoke and drink, and just not worry about school or my job or my future for a little bit.

I remember always tying on a buzz going out, or getting a little high.  I couldn’t go anywhere without feeling a little loose.  It wasn’t fun without it, it was awkward.  It meant I had to actually look at people and have conversations with them, which is what I remember not wanting to do.

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I remember getting too high once, possibly smoked something laced with something else, and I couldn’t walk.  My friend had to help me back to my dorm room.  My heart rate was up, and after what felt like hours, I was physically sick.  The next day, I remember her telling me that if I couldn’t get better, the RA would have to call an ambulance.  That I’ll never forget.

I remember the fights, and the crying, and the arguments I had with my family, with my best friends.  I remember being angry. I remember how broke I was all of the time.  I got to a point where I couldn’t drink around certain people, because it sparked something in me that I couldn’t control.  I became a monster.  I’ll never forget the pain I caused the people I cared the most about.

I remember the day I burned myself.  I came home black out drunk, a few months after I officially turned 21.  I wanted to eat, so my friend made me pasta to heat up in the microwave.  She added water to it, and unknowingly, I added more water to it.  When the pasta was done, probably heated in the microwave longer than it should have, I reached up, and went to pull the bowl out, and it caught on the glass rotating trey.  I remember the boiling hot water pouring down my chest, all the way to my stomach.  I remember ignoring it, telling myself that it didn’t burn. After a few moments, it burned so badly, that I ripped my clothes off in front of everyone screaming.  I don’t remember much after that.  That’s something I’ll never forget, and will forever have the scars from the second degree burn to remind me.  I’ll never forget how lucky I am, that it missed my face by mere inches.

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I remember the day I almost broke my ankle.  I tripped and fell on the sidewalk, rolling my ankle. I got up, close to being black out drunk, laughing with my friends.  I shook it off, and then limped for the rest of the night, not realizing how badly sprained it was.  I remember waking up the next morning, hungover, with my ankle so swollen, I could hardly walk on it.  It was a miracle I didn’t break it. I was in crutches for about 3 days to keep the pressure off, missed work because of it. I won’t forget how embarrassed I felt having to tell my boss I accidentally tripped, and leave out the part that if I wasn’t so drunk, I could make it to work for her that day.

I remember how bad I got, that my father knew something was wrong.  He brought me to an AA meeting with him, as he is a recovering alcoholic himself.  I remember thinking I would go for HIM, but it was not for me.  I told myself I didn’t HAVE to have a drink all the time.  I remember sitting there, in a crowded room, looking at all of those people that made it to a point in their lives where they can’t touch any alcohol at all anymore.  I remember thinking I didn’t want to get to that, I still wanted to be able to drink whenever I pleased.  I won’t forget that meeting, and listening to those people share their stories, and sitting there thinking that I was better than them.

I remember how unhappy I was, how disgusting I felt, and the weight I had put on.  I remember wondering why all my friends were in happy relationships, and making memories that I felt I would never have.  Why was I always alone?  Why didn’t any of my relationships work out?

At one point in my life, I had made a realization that it was the alcohol.  And I blamed everything on it.  My unhappiness, my anger, my weight gain, my self-consciousness, my bad judgment calls, my scars – physical and emotional.  From that point, I thought, well if I can just learn to slow down when I drink, stop mixing alcohols, stop drinking vodka all together I would be okay.  It must be the vodka messing me up right?

Somewhere down the road, I can’t even remember when now, I realized that it wasn’t the alcohol at all. It was me. I couldn’t have a good buzz anymore because my mind wouldn’t let me.  I couldn’t just have a couple drinks to have a good time, I had to be drunk.  I couldn’t stop.  I realized I had a problem and I needed to figure it out.

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To this day, I still drink.  I stuck to my word years prior, when I said, I didn’t want to be the person that can’t have a glass of wine with dinner, or a cocktail at a friend’s bridal shower.  That doesn’t make me better than any of those people at that meeting. I was there, my father was there, at any point in my life I could have taken one bad step and had to cut out alcohol all together. I feel for those people, and I pray they will find a way to be happy again without the addictions. I worked through some things in my head over the past few years, and worked on becoming a more positive and happy person.  I learned that I’m okay with or without it.  I can stop on a dime if I needed to.  I can say no.  I can drink in a social setting and not fight with my friends or start crying uncontrollably at the bar.  I can even get drunk out with my friends, and have a good time.  It was all mental for me, and if I couldn’t figure things out in my head, I knew I had to stop drinking all together.

I spend my money on good alcohol now.  On the stuff that tastes phenomenal, so when I have it, I can enjoy it.  I don’t spend my last few dollars on Natty Light anymore, I am buying craft beers that don’t make me wince and gag when I take a sip.  Drinking became enjoyable to me, for the fact that it’s social and I can go out with my friends again, and that it can taste great.  It wasn’t enjoyable because of the place I was at or how drunk I could get anymore.

I went to the St. Patricks day parade yesterday.  And I was okay that I didn’t have anything to drink, and I don’t regret missing out on a frothy bud light for one second.

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