Alcohol and I have had quite the relationship over the years. When I was younger, I would use it as a way to be more social – an attempt to conceal the shy and sensitive parts of myself – and as a way to tamp down any emotions that I didn’t want to feel; in case you were wondering, there were a lot.
My late high school years and University days were completely saturated with shots of hard liquor. I can remember the feeling and intention when I snapped my head back every time, like I was desperately trying to keep those different aspects of myself under wraps.
As I matured and got older, my emotions – thankfully – started to flow out again and I started to drink more responsibly. I didn’t feel like I needed to use it as a way to cope anymore, and I became more confident and grounded in my previous insecurities.
Now, all of this might sound very familiar to you – I know this story isn’t unique in the slightest. Many people use alcohol as a coping mechanism growing up – many people still do. Life is complicated and messy and although the reasons may vary as to why, it’s all pretty much from the same pot of bubbling stew.
When you’re coping, you’re trying to manage and deal with a type of stress or conflict – maybe it’s external, maybe it’s internal, or maybe it’s both – without actively confronting, or expressing, or attempting to remedy or resolve it in any way, which can create a pretty dangerous battleground within yourself.
Luckily, in my case, my drinking never became an actual problem – it was never debilitating – but it did become somewhat destructive.
Depending on what was currently happening in my life – in terms of specific stressors and my own personal journey of growth – when I would drink, even in moderation, things would start to get distorted and combative again.
My sleep was always affected – and tiredness has never helped anybody – but I would also seem to sink down into this dark hole of depression and sadness, that would not only be all consuming but would completely change and alter my perception of reality; debasing and totally ungrounding myself.
And it was really fucking hard to get out of it.
In retrospect, I think it was related, again, to me trying to tamp down some essential emotions that were vital to my truth and my voice that desperately wanted and needed to be heard.
And I think I knew the consequences of it all for some time, but for something like drinking, that is so overly normalized in our society, and at times was even expected of me based on my past behaviour, it was hard to see it clearly.
But having kids has really changed a lot of this for me, and as the years have gone by, I have become even more conscious of it all. To the point that I’ve recognized, at least for myself right now, alcohol is just a fucking land mine for me.
To consciously make the decision to drink, knowing full well where it will take me, not only for the next day, but sometimes for the next week, is nothing short of self-sabotage.
So instead of feeling out of control and powerless, instead of continually digging myself out of this hole that I would just willingly jump into every week, I started to navigate around it instead.
And of course, this isn’t the case for everyone, and that’s not what I’m trying to imply here. We all have our own respective land mines, with varying degrees of danger, and choosing to navigate around them or not, is not only a personal choice, but a very timely one.
I could just feel it in my gut. I was standing on top of something that at times seemed incredibly harmless, but at other times could detonate with no warning, throwing me clear off my course, just from one misstep.
So I did what I felt needed to be done, at least for right now, and although some days it’s very hard, it’s much more reliable and predictable for me, and that’s what I need right now – just some firm, solid ground.
And regardless of the person I’ve been in the past, or the person people expect me to be in the present, I only have one person to answer to and that’s the person I want to be in the future.
So if you find yourself battling a sense of uneasiness as you’re walking around in your life, and all you desperately want to do is just confidently plant your goddamn feet on the ground, then don’t hesitate to change the scene, or even walk in a completely different direction. There’s lots of solid ground out there, you just have to be brave enough to find it.