Help us Sober Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope. And our ride home.
Wow, I’ve come a long way since my debut post in blogging aptly titled “Bar Scrawl”. Well I think it’s time I come clean (pun intended) about my journey to sobriety. Yes you read that right, I’m sober now, and this is the first time I’m writing that on the internet. In order to get the full picture, let’s rewind a little ways back to my not-so-glory days.
I was the weird kid growing up. In first grade when we were told to bring a collection of something for a showcase, I brought in a collection of dinosaurs while other girls brought in ponies or dolls or stickers. In third grade I was nicknamed “bug lady” because I loved caterpillars so much. Middle school wasn’t much better. I loved black eyeliner, the Clash, and junky band t shirts. High School were my artsy years, and it was an odd time. While other kids my age sought out the newest Katy Perry tickets, I was stoked out of my damn mind to being seeing Phish with my Mother’s coworker (such a rad concert to this day). I was a bonafide freak most of my life, and I looked forward to the days where my offbeat personality was celebrated rather than condemned.
College, a time to develop into a functioning young adult and expand your mind through conversations with interesting people and enroll in classes dedicated to higher learning. HA. Those conversations, yeah they were all done between people high off the latest indica-sativa blend thinking about the endlessly cyclical way of life and higher learning was really knowing how to properly shotgun a beer.
To lift a line from the ever infamous Animal House, “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” Well Dean Wormer do I have news for you…
My Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and sometimes Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays were almost always saturated with plans to drink, or having already done it on my own accord. I would almost assuredly be armed and ready for Monday with the latest “Kelsey did what?” story from that weekend’s antics. I even earned myself a dope nickname because of my party girl reputation! (K Litch- combination of K Mitch and the growingly popular term “lit” used in the party people circuit). I lived for being the epicenter of shock value and watching people’s faces run the gamut of emotions from intrigued, amused, disgusted, and just straight up confused when I spelled out my drunken adventures. And it was no shocker when I got named Social Chair for my sorority, I lived, breathed, and ate that lifestyle. I was a walking hot mess. But, I finally felt like people were paying attention.
Yet as much as people seemed to like me, I hated myself (I also hate that I typed that out as it sounds much too cliché, but hey once a self-loather always a self-loather right?).
Ever heard of the freshman 15? Well like most things in my life I did that to the extreme- I gained about 30 pounds in my first year and was a solid 50 pound heavier when I left college than when I entered. My skin wasn’t great, my hair was frizzy, and I was still largely the weird kid. So what did I do? If you’re thinking “oh you worked really hard on self-care and self-love and turned that mentality around”, then you’re clearly new here or really don’t know me that well.
I drank! Drunk Kelsey was the funnier, sexier, all around better version of myself. Or so I thought. Alcohol helped me snag guys, talk to strangers, wear that skimpy little top (yikes), and most importantly, make friends.
But with most things in life, all good things must come to an end.
It was my last semester of college, and I was just as confused as ever. The more doubt I had about myself, the more I drank to make up for that doubt. I had gone from being a promising nursing student to someone with an English degree and no clue with what I wanted to do except for write. The more pressure I felt to set a defined career path, and the more people asked me “so if you’re not going to teach what do you want to do?” the more I hit the bottle to calm my nerves. I entered into a never ending cycle of being low on myself, drinking to cope, and hating myself all over again (shoutout to my stoner buddies and the numerous “never ending circle” conversations).
Soon I was drinking as much as I could handle (usually about half a handle) just to, deal. My moods worsened and I was no longer the life of the party, I was the dead-inside shell of myself who really couldn’t see any viable future for herself. I was a glass pendulum of a girl swinging from one extreme to another not knowing when the string holding me would break sending me into full-on fracture.
Shit got dark real quick.
Quick content warning- I’m about to get very real here so if you are unsettled by notions of self-destruction, it’s best you skip ahead 4 paragraphs or so.
I wore clothes that hid my body. I picked at acne. My skin was gray and lifeless from lack of self care. I neglected my responsibilities. I started using drugs to fill the voids, uppers mostly to make up for the binge drinking. I stayed in bed all day because I didn’t have the energy to function if I couldn’t afford or find drugs. I started self-harming myself physically and emotionally. Oh I just cut myself by mistake while trying to make dinner I would apathetically tell people without even questioning me so that I didn’t seem so insane. I would starve myself then binge eat until I couldn’t move (which isn’t hard to do when both your apartment then house are located near bomb pizza places). I pushed away my family and friends. I thought about ending it all.
And I tried to. But as with most things, I failed at that too.
So I got help.
First step in getting help, sober the hell up.
Fast forward 12 months (tomorrow will be 1 year exactly!) and I’m still sober. In fact, my sobriety has outlived my longest relationship ever, yay me! I won’t delve into the process of getting sober or the specifics leading up to it now, those are stories for another time, preferably once my blog hits the thousands in readership because boy do I have some stories.
So, what exactly did I learn?
Well, I was not the perfect victim in all this mess by any stretch of the imagination. With my drinking, I was no saint. I was a volatile and brittle person. I made mistakes, some larger than others, that cost me time, money, morality, and friendships, and more morality. Did I mention morality? Those shock-value stories don’t make themselves you know! I let myself get the best of myself, and in doing so I became my worst self. I was a nightmare, and I wasn’t even dressed like a daydream! Getting sober was like finally getting a cracked phone screen fixed (of which I had plenty of experience having to do thanks to, you guessed it, alcohol). Much like we (and by we I absolutely mean myself) can become accustomed to a cracked screen without realizing how much of a nuisance it really is, I didn’t realize how shattered everything was in my life until I removed the alcohol. I’ve since gone on to repair the friendships and relationships I truly care about, and those who truly care about me have been there every step of the way. Getting sober allowed me to begin to pick up the shards of my life and slowly piece them together, and it secured my phone screen a longer lifespan.
I also realized just how vulnerable I really am. Before getting sober, I thanked the high heavens for the semi magical ways alcohol seemingly allowed me to be braver than I felt. Old Kelsey would have never dreamed of talking to guys at bars, but drunk Kelsey was armed and ready to play Millionaire Matchmaker. Every time I felt anxious, doubtful, or upset, I gulped down a gin and tonic and said “I’ll deal with this later” and ignored my feelings. And it worked for awhile, or so I thought. The reality is that I was using alcohol to drown my emotions, rather than facing them head on. Now that I’m sober, I have to actually deal with these feelings, which is a very new and weird feeling in of itself. It’s like every little emotion is in high definition and I’ve lost the off button. It’s exhausting let me tell you.
But the biggest lesson I learned? Life continues after alcohol, and actually doesn’t suck. When I was first told that I probably would need to get sober, my little addict brain started blasting questions. What if I only drank once a week? Can I make exceptions for special occasions? Ok well what about low-calorie drinks only (yeah that one was more my self-esteem talking). I simply could not picture a life without alcohol, I mean come on happy hour was my favorite hour! I learned that that was my addiction trying to rationalize things, and that I really did need to get sober if drinking was that big of a factor in my life. Slowly I learned that being sober actually has its perks! For one, I can actually remember concerts when I’m not gulping down whiskey sours. I also learned how quickly you lose weight and save money by removing alcohol, goodbye 40 pounds and hellloooooo new wardrobe! Sobriety didn’t end my social life either, in fact, it helped grow it. Everyone needs a DD right? Well I am the perfect candidate for that job because I’m already sober, can anyone say job security?! I get invited out by friends not only because they like me (hopefully), but also because nobody had to take the grunt of being DD, and sometimes they even buy me food because I’m their ride home- score!
I’m still working on everything, but removing alcohol from my life has helped with the process. Am I still just as confused as ever? Well obviously otherwise I’d have nothing to write about. But, sobriety has made it so I can focus on, wait for it, personal improvement, ugh. I’m still far from perfect, light years away in fact, and I sure as hell don’t plan on ever being perfect because that’s boring as heck, but at least I know that I can say I’m not an asshole because of the drinking.
Tomorrow starts the clock for another 365 days of non-alcoholic adventures, and I am looking forward for what’s yet to come.