HI, I’m Lauren and I’m an alcoholic… (That took a number of years to say out loud, let me tell you).
Here is an inside story to my drinking... Before I get into it, I would like to say that I do not preach that people should not drink, etc. Just because I can’t does not mean I would think any differently to people who can.
By all means take it handy though, you wouldn’t want to end up like me in the end of my drinking, I was destroyed.
So here it goes…
My drinking started when I was 12, it was far too young now, looking at it, but it was the ‘norm’ in my generation and being from Ireland, it’s a huge drinking culture where alcohol is glamorised.
I’m also not going to say it was all doom and gloom because it wasn’t, I had a ball for myself for a while, but it did nearly kill me which is the dark and scary side of alcohol that I’m going to show you.
My first night properly drinking, I had my first blackout.
Many people can probably relate to being so drunk that, when you try standing up, you fall flat on your face. Yup, that was me that night, my first real introduction to drink and I couldn’t remember much, I was in bed for two days after vomiting my heart and soul up.
My confirmation clothes were destroyed but ohhh god, did I love it… It had a hold of me nice and quick, I fell in love with the feeling it gave me.
Safe to say my drinking career from there took off. So young and alcohol had me gripped already, unknown to myself. I couldn’t wait for my next night out, so I could fall around in fields and black-out some more. Being so young and naive, I genuinely thought that’s how everyone was after it, I was completely uneducated and hadn’t a clue.
This continued throughout my teens. Sure, I thought it was normal because we were all doing it, Nine times out of ten I blacked out.
The ‘fear’ creeped in very early on. Waking up with shame, guilt, cuts, bruises, etc… getting myself into dangerous situations, getting into fights, in a PG way to put it, I was kissing boys I shouldn’t have been kissing, ‘normal’ teenage carry on. Well, what I had perceived to be ‘normal’ and not having a clue of the world of pain I was about to embark on.
I’ve always had a bold streak in me and loved to be centre of attention, that stems from my childhood, which is a story for another day. I craved attention, and became the ‘class clown’ to deflect from how I was actually feeling. I wore a mask to hide my true vulnerable self, so of course drink was nearly like a magic potion to me, it gave me my wings to fly, and helped me wear my mask so well.
You see, where I am now and after all the work I have done on myself, I now know my reasons for being gripped by drink and drugs at such a young age. I wanted to escape my reality. I hated my reality.
I hated to feel any pain so I drank and used to escape or ‘run away’ from my head!
It made me prettier, gave me confidence, made me funny, made me fearless — as far as I was concerned I was untouchable. I had myself convinced I was living my best life.
As my teenage years went on into my ‘adult’ years my drinking progressed.
I ran away to Australia at 19, with a grand in my pocket, and a one way ticket. I ran from my problems, but little naive oul me didn’t realise I was my problem!
I was on my own in this big, bad scary world I knew nothing about, I had to get a job straight away, which I did, again a story for another day, but of course I had to find something that fitted my madness and my drinking and using… My second night at that job I was given a drinking ban off a manager, that will tell you how chaotic I was. I ran from job to job to enable my drinking, I built up a nice tolerance for myself, I was easily drinking a bottle of Jack a night, whiskey was my baby. I liked beer, in fact I would drink p**s if it got me drunk but top shelf alcohol gave me the effect I wanted. You see, I drank for effect, nothing else.
My life was completely unmanageable, I was powerless over alcohol, but the scary part is my denial out-weighed both those facts.
My suicidal thoughts and attempts became nearly the ‘norm’ after a night out, if that’s not insanity I really don’t know what is.
I was hospitalised numerous times over there, I constantly found myself in even more dangerous situations, I was spiked a few times, I was abused more than once, I moved on to heavier drugs. I can sadly and confidently say I lost my mind, I was waving in and out of a drug- induced psychosis.
The thing that still gets to me though is the violence, I was an animal. A disgusting violent person, I would take on the world, I had no fear, in fact I had a death wish. I would start fights with fully grown men just for fun, getting into fights nearly became a hobby for me and I spat venom at anyone that would challenge me.
I was not brought up that way, but that is what drink and substance abuse did to me. It made me something and someone I’m not, today I would never intentionally hurt or harm anyone.
Imagine, after all of this going on in my life, and I couldn’t blame drink for these behaviours — as I said, it was my baby, I would not give it up that easily!
So this pitiful existence went on for as long as it could. I was stopped in my tracks in Oz, nearly quite literally.
One night after yet again another heavy drinking and using session, I woke up in another hospital, I looked down to see myself all bandaged up again.
I overheard the two nurses talking about how I was unresponsive, that I wasn’t sure of my name and address, etc, that I was after a suicide attempt. My stomach flipped.
Was it that I was pumped and had nothing in my system any more, that meant it was the first time I heard and felt the reality of my situation? I don’t know, to be honest.
I started getting flashbacks… I built up the courage to ask what had happened and I was told that I was found at 6am, by a couple out jogging...
After hearing the details off two concerned nurses, who looked at me like they would their own daughter, with such concern and worry, that’s when I knew something had to change, that’s when the start of my journey began.
I knew the game was up. My friend (I’ll call her Chloe)... she was my saving grace over there and probably saved my life more times than she will ever know.
I will never ever be able to repay what that girl did for me, she became a sort of mother figure to me. My ‘Aussie mama’, always checking up on me and making sure I was OK all of the time… I get emotional thinking about how much she really did for me. I owe that girl my life, it scares me to think if she was not there protecting me… I know I would be dead for sure. So, if you are reading this from the land down under, just know how important you are to me and I love you forever.
That morning I managed to direct my way back to our apartment in a taxi as I was that destroyed mentally I didn’t know the name of my street.
When I came back to my friend that day after another hospital visit, like a bold child wanting to say sorry, she looked at me, saw the bandages again (another concerned look, with a dash of anger) and gave me an ultimatum… either she was ringing my step mom or I was. So I made the call and inconsolably cried down the phone for hours, and after years of lies and deceit, living a double life.
I got honest, really and truly honest! She flew me home on the condition I’d see a counsellor two days a week, so I did… The pain, hurt and worry I caused to my friends and family at that time in my life, I will have to live with for the rest of my life, I still find it hard to forgive myself, but my amends is this, being sober, alive and well is all they wanted.
They are a big part of why I am sharing this with you all, that and trying to help someone get through their darkest days… If I can even give one person hope for their future, that is enough for me.
As I said, this was the START of my journey in recovery and only a snippet of my story, That was back in 2010, It’s now 2019 and I’m nearly three years sober so I’ll let you do the math on that… It was a very long, hard road I had to trudge to get to where I am today.
So, I hope this gives you some idea of how powerful alcohol can be for an alcoholic, no matter what age, status, race, culture, sex, etc.
This illness takes mercy on no one and it will bring you to your knees if you let it! It’s a progressive illness and will take you to one of three places.. a mental institution, prison or a graveyard.
If this is you or you know someone suffering from this horrible disease, please try and take into consideration that it is not the person intentionally doing all of these terrible things they are doing, the disease has a hold of them and they are powerless over it, like I was.
I am talking from the alcoholic and addict point of view when I say it is the one illness you do have a CHOICE to recover from, if you are desperate enough to do anything to save yourself. I have lots of people in my life who don’t get that opportunity with the illnesses they suffer from and it breaks my heart.
So for that reason alone, why would I not go to any lengths to save myself from it? Because if you got anything from this, I hope it’s the realisation that this is life or death!
I am also coming from a family member’s perspective, as I too have suffered with the pain and hurt from family suffering with this disease and I know that desperate, out of control feeling, watching someone you love suffer with it, or even they may know this horrible fact and choose to live that chaotic life and do nothing. For us to watch it is gut-wrenching. I find it especially hard, as I know the steps to take to get well and live a happy, ‘normal’ free life.
My heart breaks for anyone at the hand of this vile disease. All I know is that I pray for them to get well and find their way like I did.
All I can change is myself and accept them for them… (as hard as it may be at times it is all I can do...)
In saying all of this, I would also like to make it known that I am under no illusions here as an alcoholic in recovery. I must keep it in the day. There is no long term ‘cure’ as such, but if I keep doing what I am doing on a daily basis, I should, with the help of god, live a long, sober life.
I would also like to make it known that I am not a professional, and I am sharing this with you is in the hope it will help someone.
So if anyone has been affected by my story or know someone who is struggling with any of the above, there are services you can contact.
Thank you for reading
See Lauren’s blog on http://laurenorlucifer.com or find her on Facebook at Lauren or Lucifer?
Samaritans on their free confidential 24/7 helpline on 116-123. You can email j o @ s a m a r i t a n s . i e or contact Pieta House National Suicide Helpline on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444.
For more on AA see https://www.alcoholicsanonymous.ie/