I got drunk recently while on vacation with friends in Madrid.
It was easily done during a sun-filled day infused with endless laughter.
However, it wasn’t the countless vinos blancos, nor the friendly Venezuelan waiter, Humberto, that did me in.
It was that damn second G&T!
As soon as I said ‘yes’ to a second round, I heard the little voice inside my head:
“Are you really sure you want another G&T?”
Sadly, my laughter drowned out the little voice.
So, with my guard down, I continued to partake.
Now is a good time to say, that I have a love-hate relationship with alcohol.
First came Hate
Growing up with a hard-core alcoholic mom, I grew up hating alcohol. I’d seen firsthand how it destroys bodies, lives and relationships.
To be fair, it’s not the alcohol that does it, but the addiction to it.
Alcohol addiction is like a leaky faucet: a slow drip of a harmless buzz, later filling into a well of despair.
Happy hour hopes are washed down one by one, where they sink and wallow. One by one they settle beneath the surface, reflecting back our darkest fears.
After an alcohol fueled freshman year in college, where I’d wake up in strange places, couldn’t remember what I did the night before, or having ruined my cutest outfits, I decided to limit my drinking.
At the time my decision had more to do with the stupid stuff I did while I was drunk, than my hatred for alcohol. After my freshman year, I became a social drinker, having the odd 40 ounce of Olde English (in a brown paper bag!) with friends while eating heroes hanging out in the streets of NYC.
My hatred for alcohol fully fermented by the time I graduated college, and legally able to drink. I made the active decision not to drink.
Then came Love
My love affair with alcohol began with a Margarita on the rocks with salt in my late 20s.
After a decade of a brewing hatred for booze, I fell head over heels. Namely with the Mudslide, Strawberry Daiquiri, and Mai Tai. Love easily turned to lust once tasting the rich delights of a Godiva Chocolate Martini from Mohegan Sun’s Martini Bar!
During my 30s, I had a paycheck and title in a global corporation which gave me opportunities to explore my alcohol fantasies.
I luxuriated in cocktails after work, during offsite meetings, and trips to exotic places I’d only seen in travel magazines.
The little girl who grew up hating alcohol grew up and fell in love.
End of a love affair
My love affair ended during my 40s with a global recession, a transatlantic move, endless job rejections, and the sudden death of my mother.
Boxed wines (easily flattened and hidden) replaced happy hour cocktails. Arguments and blackouts replaced love and laughter.
Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, then years.
Five years passed before I realized what was beginning to happen.
My love had turned on me and was now my escape from life’s bitter kiss.
Thankfully, I have made amends with my relationship to alcohol some time ago.
Today, it is based on respect, not hate, for its destructive powers, or love, for its exotic cocktails.
Today, I mark on the calendar when I drink, which is mostly white wine (out of a bottle lol!) on weekends with dinner or during special occasions.
I also mark on my ‘calendar of truth’ how much water I drink a day, when I exercise, when I eat wheat, meat, and fasting days.
My calendar is my lifesaver. It is a tool to help me value and respect myself: reflecting my achievements and guiding me when life gets tough!
The Bottom of the Bottle in Madrid
While I was drunk, an old fear emerged. One that I thought I had overcome.
I saw how this fear was still present and impacting another part of my life.
That’s when it hit me.
I realized that it wasn’t the second G&T that did me in . . . it was me!
It’s always been me.
It was never about the alcohol.
This time, I was happy that the alcohol helped me to identify this fear by forcing it out of its secret hiding place within my subconscious.
When I woke, I realized my love-hate relationship with alcohol was just another way for me to ‘blame’ something else for my own lack of courage to face my fears!
While it was hatred that fueled my decision not to drink in my 20s, it was a disguise, hiding a deep fear: the fear of becoming an alcoholic like my mother.
In my 30s, when my fears subsided, I fell in love, mainly with the false sense of security (or lack of fear) that the alcohol imbued.
In my 40s, it was my fear of pain which led me to drink excessively. I did not want to ‘feel’ the extreme losses I’d endured: lost hopes, lost expectations, and the loss of my soulmate, my cherished mother (who had been sober for 20 years before her death!).
I no longer love or hate alcohol, as that is the key to its power.
I respect alcohol, as with all things, it is a mirror, reflecting back how I value and respect myself.
I seek the courage to face my fears, as I know that is the key to my power.
And, if by chance, I do stumble across a well-hidden fear at the bottom of a bottle in Madrid, then that’s okay.
Because when I’m sober, I’m gonna get that little sh*t and deal with it head on.
Thank you second damn G&T!