The Dark Half: Descending Into Alcoholism
My dark place is alcohol. I love to drink. It makes me who I wish I was - confident, carefree, good looking, and everyone likes me. That taste of the first drink I already feel happier, and by the third drink I feel like I could make best friends with anybody and take the cutest girl in the bar home with me.
My confidence becomes strong, my composure great, my tongue silvered, my ego firmly in place. However, when I am sober, that is not me. I am shy, hard on myself, unhappy with my appearance, lack confidence, quiet, and most of all lonely. I can’t stand myself, and I am depressed, and alone.
When I walk into a bar in my little city I live in, I know everyone from the doorman, to the bartender, to half the patrons at the bar. They are all happy to see me, I buy them drinks, and they buy me drinks. We laugh and converse, joke and hang out.
They reason they all know me so well is because I am at the bar all of the time. Sometimes I felt like I lived there, I was there more than I was at home, blowing every dime I made there. It made me feel important, and liked.
Pretty girls would come up to me and flirt with me, and I would on most occasions take advantage of that. I felt like a rockstar. And on top of it I was drunk, usually very drunk, so I didn’t feel the pain of being myself, I was someone else…my dark half.
The next day I would wake up dreadfully hung over, feeling the pain of being me again on top of being really sick. I couldn’t stand it, and it was too much for me. So I would go to the fridge, pull out a beer and drink it. And then another, and another, and the cycle would start over, until I was on my way to being drunk again, and the pain would go away and I would become my dark half again, the drunk.
At some point, whether it be a week, or a few days the money would run out and I would have to quit drinking. Then the pain turned into unbearable misery. It’s called detox, but I prefer to call it knocking on death’s door. I would pass out drunk and wake up after a few hours, already feeling the effects, usually starting with the feeling of dread.
I think the first stage was dehydration, because I would be extremely dizzy and disoriented. With no beer or vodka to ease the pain I would have to wait it out, every awful second of it.
After hours of laying there overly anxious the first physical symptoms would occur. It would start with my hands starting to shake. Not bad at first but as the day progressed they would start to tremor more badly. They would shake so bad I couldn’t even dial numbers on a phone.
At this time the hot and cold sweats would begin. The only thing I could do was drink as much water as I could, while trying not to heave it up. I would just lie in my bed writhing in hell, with the lights off, shutting myself off from the world. Sometimes while detoxing I wouldn’t leave my bedroom for up to three days.
I was so sick, and they physical symptoms are nothing compared to the mental symptoms. My mind would just spin out of control with feelings of dread, death, and terrible anxiousness.
I don’t remember the next time I detoxed after that, but it was after I got an extreme DUI in December, 2009. After the DUI I became so depressed that I drank heavier than I ever had in my life. I started drinking vodka at work all day long, and then hitting the bars afterwards, drinking well into 3 A.M., and then waking up for work at 8, and starting the cycle over again.
I was hardly ever sober. I must have detoxed five or six times during this time. I detoxed in court while getting sentenced for my DUI, my hands were shaking so bad when I had to sign the papers the bailiff commented on it. I blamed it on being nervous. I was detoxing when I had to check into jail to serve 45 days, the guards checked me into the infirmary because I was shaking so uncontrollably, and my blood pressure was so high.
After jail I continued to drink at my old pace, drinking vodka all day, and then drinking all night. Every day, all day, until I ran out of money and booze and I would have to detox. I would take days off of work because my hands would shake so bad and I would be so sick that I couldn’t function.
I would go to work with the flu, but not the brown bottle flu. It would make me so sick that I couldn’t get out of bed. And of course after 3 or 4 days of not drinking I would feel great and head right back to the bar and begin my dark half all over again.
I started drinking again, and I got back together with the girl I was dating. At that point I drank very heavy, but not enough to become sick. It was usually after work with her, and it was in much more moderation then I was used to. I wasn’t happy, but I drank enough just to cover up the pain of being me, and tolerated life. After a year of dating, my dark half finally won again, and after a friend’s suicide, I dove headfirst into the bottle drinking all day, and all night, and then I cheated on her.
It was after our rocky and dishonest and hurtful breakup that I started to hit rock bottom. My life truly started to revolve around drinking and nothing else for the first time. Any hobbies I enjoyed, spending time with my family and friends, eating, sleeping, my job, nothing mattered except drinking around the clock.
I would drink beer all day at a bar, and then go to work in the evenings and drink a liter of vodka. I would then pass out for a few hours and then head to the bar and drink even more. I didn’t even get that rock star feeling anymore, I was a stumbling, slurring town drunk.
Pretty girls would laugh at me when I would try to talk to them because I was so drunk I had no game and only made drunken sexual references. I would start getting cut off in bars. I took cabs everywhere because I was always too drunk to drive my car. People started to truly worry about me, but I didn’t care about myself at all, I could not stop drinking.
During this time the detox were getting more painful to bear. I would get sicker because I would do nothing but drink, I wouldn’t eat or drink any water. I wouldn’t sleep I would just pass out. I never had delirium tremens, but I sure felt like I could die from the detox. I had never been that sick, not with any flu, or stomach virus. It was sickness beyond sickness.
The one week that I finally hit rock bottom is what sealed the deal for me. I got drunk on Christmas and went to my family’s house drunk. I acted like a drunken idiot in front of my whole family.
Then the drinking just progressed from there. I managed to piss off a bar owner, four cab drivers, and countless bartenders. I started a bar fight with my ex girlfriend’s new boyfriend. I let my performance at work go to the brink of almost getting fired because it became bluntly obvious I was very intoxicated while there.
I blew off my son’s birthday because I was too drunk. I passed out in a bar, and then got thrown out of another bar. I started becoming very disrespectful to anyone and everyone.
Finally during my final detox that was the worst ever (it lasted five days), I knew I had to stop. The madness of the dark side had spun out of control. I was going to either let it kill me, or I had to get it together.
I started by reminding myself of the first step: I am powerless, and I admit I have a drinking problem. I can’t just go and have one beer. It worked here and there, but 99% of the time if I had one, it would lead to ten or twelve more, and then to vodka. Hanging out in bars like I did you meet a lot of alcoholics, and they would never admit the first step. They deny they have a problem.
The second step wasn’t as easy. I’ve never been a spiritual person. I believed in the here and now, and didn’t give thought to a higher power. How could a god be so cruel to make me feel like I do? Then I thought about it and it wasn’t god’s fault, but my lack of him in my life that I feel like I do.
Just to believe that there is a power greater than yourself is humbling, but to me that’s the only way I could get over myself. God has had my back through so many rough times with my drinking, like a guardian angel. I could have died so many times, or killed someone else with my car driving drunk, or been in jail a lot more than I could have been. He was watching out for me.
Now I thank him every day for being in my life and protecting me, and keep him by my side at all times to keep that dark half of me at bay. This also covers step three, I can’t do this by myself so through god, and his power, I feel like a burden has been lifted from my chest, and there is hope.
I am still working step four, it is a scary step. Writing this story is part of it. I sit and wonder “What is wrong with me?” I see so many happy people that have that “rock star” feeling I got when I would drink, without the alcohol. I want that so bad, but first I need to really examine myself.
Why do I feel this way? As I search deep within myself realize my addictions have always come first above my happiness. Whether it may be my longing for a girlfriend, or wasting money, or material things, or of course booze. I still work this step at this point, and that is where I need to be in my sobriety.
A little about me, I am a 34 year old college graduate, single father of two boys, journalist, and a professional chef. I am an avid boxer and a loving son to my parents. And I am proud to be sober. Without sobriety I would just be a pathetic town drunk, or worse dead. Keep coming back, it works if you work it.
--Scott, January 8, 2012