47 Days Alcohol Free: Who Are You?

A year ago, during the summer, I got somewhere around 40-45 days of sustained sobriety before I caved and decided I wanted to start drinking again. I’d had enough time under my belt to be convinced that I could handle myself, and so I set forth drinking again – with caution, at first.

Around the same time, I had just moved into my very own apartment all by myself for the FIRST TIME EVER, and I was starting to really invest more heavily in Kristian as a potential suitor. I felt invincible. I felt competent and responsible and sexy and wanted and in control. It was relieving to finally get back to the life I thought I was missing: the life as a craft beer enthusiast, a weekend drinker, and alcohol know-it-all.

It was exciting. I was excited about the whirlwind I was going through, and I was excited about this mysterious man who had come charging into my life, disrupting the monotony of things and making me feel like the most beautiful woman he’d ever known. He made me feel so empowered at first. He loved how independent I was. I loved it too. I was the sexy single lady who was making enough money to live on her own in the big city, who could have wine and cheese for dinner while decorating her new apartment walls with all of her artsy posters and photos.

I think I have always somehow connected my drinking identity to my sexual/romantic identity. Much like I used to think that smoking cigarettes made me look more cultured or “artsy”, I thought that my knowledge of fancy craft beer and my taste for fancy cocktails made me some kind of modern femme fatale, the type you see sitting all sultry at a bar by herself, with gorgeous long hair cascading down around her shoulders, red lipstick leaving the quintessential stain on her glass with each sip.

What I failed to see in that femme fatale fantasy was that it truly comes with a cost on the other side of things. The dressed-up woman drinking alone in public shouldn’t really conjure images of sexiness or allure or wantedness; it’s actually kind of a sad picture. While I fancied myself as that femme fatale figure, I was really just a lonely person drinking by myself, trying to uphold some kind of mysterious facade, hoping that I might make a human connection by imbibing in public.

And then there’s the personal cost of what happens once that femme fatale leaves the bar. If she goes home alone, perhaps she slips out of her sexy dress and crawls into some scrubby sweatpants to sit down with Netflix and another bottle of wine. If she ends up meeting someone, what are the chances that someone will see her for the mysterious, sexy, sultry woman that she imagines herself to be – the kind of woman that she wants to be? Perhaps someone will. But, more likely, the person she brings home (or the person who she goes home with) won’t recognize that depth. And she, in her all-consumed state, may not recognize the depth in the other person, because she’s only paying attention to her needs being fulfilled in the most immediate way. To her, drinking alone brought her to this moment of feeling wanted, and that’s all that really matters.

I say these things not to accuse others, but mainly to reflect on myself, how I used to think of myself, and the things I thought drinking could do for me.

That man, Kristian, turned out to be someone who was interested in me only as a means to satisfying his own ends. He loved the idea of what I was, and he loved me for what he thought I could do for him. For a short time, I willingly bent myself into a shape I was never meant to be in, just to embody what I thought he wanted me to be. He reinforced my bending by handing me compliments and encouragements every time I went further. The more I bent, the more he patted my head and made me feel like such a good girl. Such a pretty girl. Such a wonderful, strong, sexy girl. All the while, I could feel my spine starting to snap, until eventually, I’d had enough.

I drank more, and more. I drank by myself quite often, both while I was dating Kristian, and after I broke things off. I drank more heavily during the first few months after the breakup, because he started pursuing me in a very uncomfortable and unsettling way. He wouldn’t leave the idea of being with me alone, and when he finally realized that I wasn’t going back to him, he changed his tune and began his attempts at tearing me down, piece by piece, through his social media.

When I called him out on this, he turned it around and accused me of being a stalker, and accused me of psychoanalyzing and making negative assumptions about him, using his VERY PUBLIC and VERY OBVIOUS social media posts as the basis for those assumptions. He claimed I was slandering him. He called me delusional and paranoid, and told me to behave more kindly if I ever saw him in person again – which, by the way, he assured would happen eventually, whether I liked it or not.

I drank to drown out the noise. And when I drank, I got angry at him – angry with his refusal to leave me alone, his inability to accept my breakup, his public slashing of my character, his insistence that I was somehow broken because I didn’t want to be with him. To him, the obvious explanation for my leaving was that I had fallen apart, and that he did nothing but love me.

I drank because I was furious. I drank because I thought it helped me sleep at night.

I drank to try to regain some of that sexy, sultry power I felt, but no matter what, I always ended up feeling drained, depressed and anxious about it the morning after.

And the things he said about me really, really hurt. Where once I was his beautiful goddess, a woman who could do no wrong, I had turned into some paranoid she-beast who had to be defective or broken, because how else could he explain the fact that I didn’t want to be with him?

I drank because I was lonely. Because I was worried. Because I was exhausted. Because I wanted it all to go away. Yet over and over again, I woke up to the same problem – a hangover and no cure for the Kristian problem I was facing.

So for that reason, and many others, I decided it was finally time to try again. A year after my first real attempt, I committed myself to getting sober, and staying that way. And even though it’s taken me a bit of difficult reflection and running in mind circles to get here, I finally feel as though I’m at a place of peace, where his words don’t hold the same weight as they did when I was drinking. I’ve come to a place of unity within myself, which makes it harder and harder for his words and actions to break my spirit.

Moreover, I’ve learned to tell myself that he cannot define what I am. No one can. No one but I can define my personal state.

He can’t call me broken and have it made true.

He cannot call me paranoid or delusional and simply wipe out every concern I’ve had for my own safety over the past 10 months since I broke up with him.

It doesn’t fucking work like that.

He doesn’t hold that power. I do.

I’m still working hard to uncover all of the interconnected lines between my drinking habits, my emotional states, and the many (failed) relationships I’ve had over the last 10 years, but the closer I get to understanding, the more difficult it is to allow someone else’s words define who I am.

Because if they get to define what I am, what kind of word do I get in the matter?

I’ll tell you right now who and what I am:

I’m a 27 year old (legally) single woman, who doesn’t have children and is 95% sure I never want them (for many, many reasons).

I’m a divorcee of nearly 2 years who sees that experience as being a pivotal point for my personal growth. I’m also 50/50 on the idea of wanting to remarry, versus staying single indefinitely.

I am a runner, a weight lifter, and a pizza fanatic. I also really enjoy cooking when I have the time.

I’m a music lover, who indulges in everything from rough-and-tumble rock music and gangster rap to the sweet sounds of acoustic guitar and the adrenaline-pumping vibes of electronica. Music is another language that I can’t really speak, but that I love listening to.

I am a Mental Health Counseling graduate student who works full-time in an unrelated field to pay for my schooling out-of-pocket. I have the great fortune of being able to live at home while doing so.

I am a writer, a storyteller, and a story collector. I love reading and connecting to others through shared stories. Someday, I want to run a creative writer’s workshop in my city, and connect with beautiful people from all walks of life through their words.

I am a traveler who craves novelty. I’m still learning how to balance this craving with the need to create a stable life for myself.

I am an urban explorer who loves to document my experience in photographs; that being said, I’ve grown weary of my once-favorite medium, Instagram, and have turned to a more inward process of creating, rather than feeling like I have to push every photo I take out into the world for approval.

I’m an intuitive and a feeler – a Cancerian, an extroverted-introvert, a poet, an INFP. Even though I recognize that astrology and the Meyers-Briggs test have no validity in actual personality science, I find them fascinating and fun to think about.

That being said, I am a non-religious person who tries her hardest to be accepting and open to other’s ideas on faith, religion and morality. I aim to avoid being dogmatic or overbearing in any approach I take to life, whether it be about sobriety, politics, the importance of mental health, or my non-religious status.

I am a survivor of a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. I’m a survivor of an eating disorder. I am someone who has experienced mild depression for most of her adult life, who is now seeking help from the outside. I am sometimes indecisive and have the tendency to internalize my pain and frustration. I am a recovering people-pleaser. I have the tendency to self-sabotage when things are going too well.

I am someone who has experienced a fair amount of heartbreak and hardship. But I am not broken. I have never fallen apart without being able to put myself back together again.

Oh yeah: I am a non-drinker, and I plan to stay that way.

The nice thing about all that? No one can try to define me otherwise. And that feel pretty good.

Day 47 in progress, day 50 right around the corner! I’m thinking a celebratory pizza from my favorite pizza joint is in order 🙂

6 thoughts on “47 Days Alcohol Free: Who Are You?

  1. DREW5000G says:

    You are really brave as well as all the other qualities you have, that Kristian like you mentioned was just your piece of knowledge, you finally realised he is insignificant. To hear you list your qualities is inspiring, you are surely carrying a warrior spirit inside and I commend you. Keep doing you and I send a message of encouragement hoping it helps

    Like

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