November 22, 2017

The Price we Pay when Alcohol is our Soul Mate.

I believe that some people are just meant to drink.

I mean…some people are so good at drinking, they can drink any and all of their friends under the table. They have such a passion for intoxication that they will stop at nothing to achieve it. They sacrifice for it. They dream about it. They wake up in the morning and plan their day around it. They look for reasons to need to do it; creating chaos and stress to justify their end of day bereavement.

You know what I mean right?

“Ugh it’s been such a long day. I know I said I wasn’t drinking today…but damn, I need a cocktail.”

I was the queen of the cocktail. My favorite, at the end of my drinking, was Cas Amigos on the rocks with a splash of sour mix. If there was no sour mix, I’d take a lime and an orange, please.

As I type this, I can feel it burn in my mouth. I can feel my nostrils flare from the harsh wash of that first sip that always made me shudder a little. And then, without fail, I’d exhale in relief.

There is a piece of me (the piece I often silence these days) that upon saying those words, starts to creep back into my awareness and try to find ways to justify me having a drink again—just one…more…time.

But you and I both know how that goes, right? One is too many; a thousand are never enough.

I believe that some people are meant to drink. And I am one of those people.

If I am being honest—alcohol was my most treasured and trusted companion.

When I fell in love for the first time with a woman, alcohol helped me numb the self-hate I felt. When she broke my heart, alcohol helped me erase the ache.

It helped me get on stage and sing the songs that it also helped me write.

When I didn’t fit in in college, alcohol helped me let loose and flirt with the boys (and kiss the girls) so I could feel like I belonged. When alcohol took it a little too far (and got me a little too drunk) one night and let a stranger and his friend take me back to their hotel room while one took advantage of me and the other videotaped it—alcohol apologized by helping me drink the shame away.

It helped me through every break up.
It helped me fit in at new jobs.
It helped the self-mutilation hurt less.
It helped me feel comfortable having sex.
It helped me say “I do.”
It helped my wife and I reconnect.
It helped me through divorce.

I was meant to drink. Me and alcohol…we are soul mates. I am hopelessly and helplessly in love with the worth that I thought I could find at the bottom of an empty glass of booze.

But I was also acutely aware that my worth only lasted as long as the burn in my belly did—and so to keep it, I had to dive deeper and deeper into an abyss that became harder and harder to crawl out of.

Because while alcohol might have been by my side, helping me forget, it was also always whispering in my ear.

Things like (but not limited to):

“Put that cigarette out on your arm.”
“Drag that knife across your skin.”
“Sleep with him—he thinks you’re pretty.”
“Text her—your wife won’t look at your phone.”
“You’re better off dead anyway—what’s one more pill…”
“It’s okay that he’s in a relationship, you love him.”
“She f*cking hates you.”
“She’s cheating on you. ”
“Don’t go to bed—someone is going to break in…”
“She’s not listening. Throw something…punch something…make her listen.”

Or my all-time favorite, and alcohol’s sweet refrain:

”The next drink will make this all go away.”

But my soulmate was a dirty pathological liar, because the next drink never did.

And so I write this, not because I have accomplished some big feat by walking away from my greatest companion and darkest demon, but because I want you to know that if I could do it, someone who was meant to drink, then you can too.

And I know how much you love it. I know what it’s done for you.

I know that it has been there—that it has gotten you through some of the most gut-wrenching moments of your life. That it’s erased the memory of your actions, that it’s numbed the pain of your regret, that it’s removed the barrier of insecurity, if only for a few hours.

But the price you have paid for that comfort has been high.

Because I know it’s been whispering in your ear too—alcohol might be committed, but it certainly isn’t loyal.

I know that the ransom you have paid to relieve your pain for even a moment has been your self-worth, your freedom, and your right to choose.

There are some things we are meant to love. There are some things we feel called to and pulled toward—but I am assuring you, we don’t have to answer to everything that calls us.

Because the thing is: when I stopped seeking my self-love in a bottle, I realized that wasn’t what I was getting from it, anyway.

That numbing the self-hate wasn’t the same as loving myself. That erasing the pain wasn’t the same as letting it go. And that the only glass I ever found self-worth at the bottom of was the one glass I never filled again.

And so while I believe that I am just meant to drink…I now know that I am also meant to stop.

That’s my choice today, and the choice that I make every morning when I wake up. And I know that while I might not have found the key that absolves me of my shame, that forgives me of my doubts, and that solidifies my self-worth (yet), I know I have a fighting chance.

And if you’re like me—in love with a substance that will never leave your side, but will never leave you standing—if you are just meant to drink, if you ignore the whispers and keep the bottom of that glass empty…

So do you, my friend. So do you.


Author: Kristen Hubbard 
Image: Author’s Own; Chris Montgomery/Unsplash
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis

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Kristen Hubbard