Substance Use and Childhood Scars
Exposed to the over-consumption of alcohol (and drug use) my entire life, I was the quiet little girl in a corner. I tried to stay away from the partiers and not be heard or seen. Domestic violence was a familiar scene, as well. The half-opened eyes, bruises, broken bones, and chaos of alcohol burned images into my mind I can’t burn away.
Given this history, it is no surprise that I rarely touch liquor, never touched a single drug in my life. My only incident of domestic violence involved me fighting back and frightening my boyfriend. My childhood experiences formed my adult reaction.
For someone who wants nothing to do with substance use, I am surrounded by those who refuse to leave it behind. For the first time in my life, I recognize I sacrificed a part of my beliefs for the happiness of others. Today, I ask why? Why did I allow myself to accept certain behaviors in my life?
When did I start caring about everyone else enjoying their life, that I refused to enjoy mine? They like to drink, seems innocent, right? Witnessing so much pain and sadness through addiction, or recreational substance use, left me with a bitter taste and an aversion for all things altering.
Take the non-addict drinker- once they’ve had a few, their entire demeanor changes. Words leave their mouth unfiltered and unaccounted for. Physical touch becomes a bit more aggressive. Humor turns dark or inappropriate. Add in more alcohol, get even more drastic changes. The sad part is, they never understand or care about your comfort level or that they morph at all. The selfish motives of ‘feeling good’ are the bottom line.
I do not matter in their entertaining equation. My feelings, anger, hurt- all find themselves laughed at, mocked, and stomped on.
I fought the pressure my entire adulthood.
“Just have a drink. One won’t kill you.”
“You have to have a drink with me.”
To be clear, I’ve had a beachy drink while on vacation or the occasional date night. I am not bashing the use of recreational alcohol. My point is the excessive use and unintentional consequences of changed behavior while over-drinking.
Those with this problem never know they have a problem and usually say things like, “I’m not that bad.. I can stop.. I don’t have to drink.”
For some, there is no one side or the other. They enjoy a couple of beers and go on with life. They remain the same throughout the night.
However, some escalate to an awkward phase that I want to walk away from and leave for good.
It matters to me.
I don’t want to be judgmental. There are plenty of people who go there. Within addiction, I grasp the realness of a complex problem. Outside of addiction, in the every day hurt of drinking enough to hurt those around you, I am lost. My guess is the aftermath of trauma from my childhood. When the cycle goes: drink, argue, get beat up, go to the hospital, recover- you are left traumatized.
Is there such a thing as a small addiction? I don’t think so. Is the need for daily Crown and a few beers even addiction? Does the term addiction matter? When consumption comes with changed behavior that no one wants to engage in; then, it is a problem.
Moreover, is there any part of substance use that I choose to be okay with? If I can’t handle it in another, then I need not consume it myself. After all, maybe I change, am dangerous, loud, rude, obnoxious, or emotional!
I am tired of living in a decade’s long lie. Honesty and integrity may be the best policy. I hate alcohol and drugs, and I want no part of them, not for myself or in dealing with others. I wish I could walk away, disappear, and never look back. My existence and feelings are a downright inconvenience in the worst way.
I don’t believe it is up to me to decide what another does with consumption. There is wrong and right, legal and illegal. There is also room for me to accept that I would rather walk away and allow that person to be free to choose; than to be miserably restrained in their freedom.
I matter. Others may not value me enough to leave alcohol or drugs behind, but I am worth the effort. My relationships shouldn’t be tense because of alcohol use. I permit myself to loathe every sip, breath, inhale, or choking down of substances that cause me pain. I choose to walk away for good. Substance use changes things-in and out of addiction.
I have no other way to express this concern. It is not eloquent or an easy write – a sign of the complex emotions and feelings it rises in me. All I can do is be authentic and transparent in my efforts.
Goodbye alcohol, I’m done.