I don’t know if anybody actually believes me when I say I’m an alcoholic. When I was in college, first year was fine. I had good friends. We had a good time. But by “good time”, I don’t mean I drank every day. By “good time”, I mean, I went out one or two nights nights at the weekend and we got drunk. (It wasn’t even expensive to get drunk. Thank you, cheap Student Nights and Student Prices.)
Second year, however, was Hell. The people that I roomed with either didn’t come back for a second year, or they got rooms elsewhere. And the college really screwed up my room and board, to the point where they ended up putting six guys in a flat with me. Six guys, who insisted on hanging pages from Nuts magazine up in the kitchen and whispering behind my back whenever I walked into the kitchen. I moved rooms just before Christmas into a different flat… full of people I didn’t know, didn’t care about. By that point in time, though, I was drinking every day, just enough to dull the sensations of loneliness. I’d gained so much weight that I physically couldn’t make it to college because it hurt too much to walk, and I couldn’t afford to get the bus because I was spending it on alcohol.
I was buying alcohol before I was buying food. I was buying alcohol (and what little food I did) before I paid rent.
So I drank. Because I was alone.
I went from before sometime in approximately October 2005 in February 2006 hardly coming out of my room, and I got kicked out of college (for not turning up to class among many other things – despite the fact that the college at the time had duty of care[?] towards me, and never once actually checked in to see if I was okay despite not turning up to class more than three times in four months) and worse than that: I’d become an alcoholic in less than a year.
When I got home, I knew it had to stop. Not only because I A) didn’t have the money and B) was starting to feel the actual physical side-effects of the alcohol addiction, but because I was back with family, and with support, I knew I could. I never told anyone. I just… stopped drinking every day. When I got a job again, I drank (to excess, costing anything up to €150) on the weekends, but I never drank every day. Instead, it changed back to food addiction – a problem I never actually had in college. In college, my diet wasn’t dreadful. But Mum, Dad (and sometimes Linda) and I enjoyed our weekends out in Ireland. Minus the cost, of course.
And when we moved back to Scotland, that stopped entirely, because I don’t have a job, and we don’t have any friends here, and there don’t really seem to be any places like The Greville Arms here in Hamilton – there’s The Palace, but that seems to be for kids. So we just don’t go out. I don’t drink.
I don’t drink to excess.
I’m still an alcoholic. I don’t drink every day, and it’s very, very rare that I even take a drink. I will never call myself a recovering alcoholic, because that would indicate that I’ve made a decision to stop drinking.
This weekend, though?
I made the conscious decision to drink.
I made the conscious decision to go out, and buy a 500ml bottle of Absinthe, and a 50ml bottle of Glenfiddich Scotch (because if you’re gonna burn your throat with Whisky, at least get the goddamn good stuff), and I bought a bottle of Bailey’s too, but had intentions of Irish coffees.
My parents went out to my Aunt’s 60th birthday party on Saturday night (happy birthday, Aunty Christine!) and I stayed at home, because my name wasn’t on the invite and social anxiety says IF YOUR NAME IS NOT ON THE INVITE YOU ARE NOT INVITED OKAY and also oh god huge family gatherings and PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW AND no. So I didn’t go with them. I stayed at home, and I talked to my friends on the Playstation Network. And we all got drunk.
And I drank probably 450-475ml of Absinthe. Plus 50ml of Whisky.
I had a two and a half hour blackout. And I do mean a blackout. I can’t remember what happened. My parents tell me that they came home to me, slumped in my computer chair, listening to Queen at the top of my voice, and when I (eventually) turned it off, I started screaming.
I got up, stumbled to the bathroom and cracked my head on the basin and eventually got up to use the toilet. Stumbled back out to the hall. And lay down on the stairs, where I apparently had a conversation with someone who wasn’t there, in a conversation that wasn’t English. When they told me about it, I said I was probably “away with the green fairy”.
My parents were at the point of calling an ambulance to take me to hospital to get my stomach pumped.
I’m wishing they had.
Since Saturday, I’ve been in a worse hell than that.
I didn’t even get a hangover, but my stomach’s been so sore, that I’m worried that I’ve done something. I mean, it’s entirely possible that the alcohol’s upset something in my gut, or that I really do have an inflamed gallbladder, because it sounds exactly like what Mum’s been describing. It’s nothing like what I felt when I was having the non-heart-attack-heart-attack, but it feels like what Mum’s being describing.
It feels like my stomach’s eating itself alive.
Now, the good news is:
My mother threw out the alcohol (yes, even the unopened bottle of Baileys, sadface) and warned me that if I ever drank like that again, that she would beat the shit out of me. I don’t doubt her for a second. She was literally kicking my ass when I was on the stairs – I have the bruises to prove it.
The other good news is:
I am still an alcoholic. I’m just an alcoholic who won’t ever be getting drunk again. I have a problem with alcohol, in that I don’t know when to stop. (Sound familiar?) But I know that if I say to someone, “don’t let me drink more than one, because I won’t know when to stop,” then I’ll be fine.
But right now, I’m not fine.
Right now, I’m in pain, and I’ve lost about 6lbs in the past week – because I’ve been in too much pain to eat properly, and I haven’t had a bowel movement in more than a week… which may be part of the problem.
My name is Tracy Webster, and I am an alcoholic.
Privat-Livemont-Absinthe Robette-1896” by Henri Privat-Livemont – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsca.10090.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.Printed by Des Presses de J.L. Goffart, Bruxelles (Brussels), 1896.This version from flickr.com/photos/trialsanderrors. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.