my not-so-fun 24th

My 24th birthday just passed in July, and instead of going bar-hopping like I would any other Saturday night, I wanted to spend the weekend camping. I had never gone camping, and it seemed like a great alternative to just sitting at a bar getting hammered.

I genuinely told both my boyfriend and myself beforehand that I didn’t want to dedicate the whole weekend to drinking. I told him, “I want to appreciate nature and enjoy the weekend and actually remember it.” Of course, that’s not what happened at all.

The second we got camp all set up, the drinking commenced. One drink led to another that led to another, and like always, all self-control flew out the window the second I started feeling even the slightest bit tipsy. My mindset when I’m sober is “Stay in control, don’t do anything you’ll regret”…and then alcohol starts pumping through my bloodstream and my sole mission is to lose all control.

I love the feeling of not thinking twice about what’s about to come out of my mouth. I love the confidence that I’m not used to. I love how it feels like all my senses are heightening, even though in reality they’re all actually dulling. I feel cooler, more dangerous, and like I just slipped into the personality of somebody who is more fun to be around. When I first start to drink, I love this version of me. I want to do everything in my power to make sure that I keep it going, even if that means sneaking off to take shots or chug beers when people aren’t looking. I don’t want anybody to try to stop me. I also feel slightly embarrassed that I need to drink so much when everybody else seems to be drinking casually.

I don’t remember much about the weekend after that. I do remember waking up the next day and feeling guilty about the fact that I blacked out, so naturally, I walked over to the Bacardi bottle sitting on the picnic table and took some chugs. This will help me not care about whatever I did last night. I’ll just hop back on the train and have a good day. I don’t think the day was very good. I wouldn’t really know, anyways. I vaguely remember floating down the river, making strangers sing me “Happy Birthday”, and jumping off the rope swing. Other than that, nothing. I was passed out in my tent while the night was still young. Some birthday…and so much for remembering the weekend.

I’m a naturally anxious and self-conscious person. I get overwhelmed easily and numbing myself with alcohol has always made certain situations more tolerable. I very rarely socialize sober, unless I have to. My single “dating” years were a blur. I couldn’t go on a date unless it involved heavily drinking to calm my nerves, which defeats the purpose of actually getting to know somebody. Alcohol destroys true intimacy. You think alcohol helps you let your guard down, but you’re actually just putting a huge barrier in front of a real connection.

I hate thinking about my 24th birthday weekend for a couple reasons. First, I was so excited to have an amazing time. We bought a new tent, all the camping necessities, s’mores, hot dogs, burgers, rain jackets, fishing shirts, the whole nine yards. I couldn’t WAIT to have a good ol’ fashioned camping extravaganza. Alcohol turned what could have been a fun, wholesome weekend into a really bad memory. Secondly, when I started this blog 3 years ago, I definitely thought I’d have my shit together by my 24th birthday. I might not drink as frequently or often as I used to (I wouldn’t be able to work a regular job if that was the case), but when I do drink, I drink a lot more intensely to make up for lost time.

Like I said in my last post, just because many areas of my life have improved over the past couple of years doesn’t mean my unhealthy relationship with alcohol has disappeared. My negative drinking habits have just changed, but not for the better. I don’t drink on weeknights or on Sundays (most of the time) unless I’m prepared to call out of work the next day. Friday and Saturday are my days to waste away. Sunday is my day dedicated to recovering, regenerating brain cells, and asking my boyfriend 45 times if I did anything embarrassing. I still usually feel like shit on Monday and Tuesday.

It’s been 17 days since my last sip of alcohol. Even though thinking about my birthday weekend makes me sad, it reminds me that I do not have a normal relationship with alcohol. Alcohol does not make situations more fun for me. And most importantly, alcohol does not make me happy. I’ve repeated the same negative cycles for so long because I somehow find a way to convince myself that I can handle alcohol and that I don’t have a “problem.” Well, I do. And accepting that is okay. It means that I can finally move on.

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