By Natha Perkins
The truth about my relationship with alcohol is something I’ve managed to avoid for years, I’ve basically refused to look at it. I don’t even really want to examine it right now, but it’s been up. It’s been calling me to hold it in my hands, turn it over and really look at it. It wants me to examine the texture and the flavor and the way it feels settled in my body. It wants to be seen.
Like everything else in my life wants to be seen. Like I want to be seen. And so, rather than pretend that I don’t hear the call, or avoid the request and just have a glass of wine instead, I will delve in.
I’m ready to face some uncomfortable truths. I’ve self medicated with recreational drugs and alcohol for years. The drugs lost their appeal to me in my late twenties though, and for that I’m grateful. Once I had children, the drugs were no longer logical to me and the truth is that they never made me feel as good as they seemed to make other people feel. But alcohol, that was sustainable. Socially acceptable. Everyone was doing it.
I was never a heavy drinker. Just a few glasses of wine at night. I wasn’t the girl at the party who was passed out, or even slurring for that matter. Thanks to a few dismaying experiences in high school that triggered a lifetime of shame and embarrassment (stories for another time), I learned that binge drinking was not my thing; being completely out of control was unacceptable. But a little buzz, yes. Something to take the edge of an exhausting day off, yes. Something to help me numb the pain and help express the incinerator I had burning inside of me, yes.
I have a wall that I wear around myself. The wall is a little cold, a little shy and standoffish and definitely more than a little uptight. It keeps me protected, but it also keeps people away. My wall causes them to misinterpret who I really am, because while I am shy and standoffish and I do have a nasty little habit of requiring people to prove themselves to me before I give them anything in return, I’m also not that person at all. Behind my wall of seeming arrogance, there’s a highly charged woman. A woman who’s intelligent, hilarious, sexual, sensual and easygoing, someone who’s outrageously dirty and extremely likable, and alcohol invites her out. Alcohol seduces her into opening up and exposing more of who she really is. The parts of me that alcohol helps unveil to the world are what I’ve always considered to be the socially acceptable and desirable parts, and so in my mind, I always felt that drinking made me more valuable.
I made that presumption early. I was so quiet and nervous around boys. I’d get tongue tied and silent, giggly. Alcohol loosened my tongue and made me witty and comfortable (and actually, sometimes down right obnoxious) but that was still better than silence and nerves. In my twenties, alcohol served to help me fit in with the people I wanted to be friends with in a brand new big city where I knew no one. It allowed me the kind of freedom and carelessness that I always wanted. It helped me release the hold that being uptight had on me. I got the be the sparkly party girl and I worked that character well, oh how I loved that version of myself. When I was the tipsy life of the party, I simply didn’t care about ‘my standards’ as much as I did when I was sober, and what a relief that was.
So yes, alcohol and I, we’ve been tight. We’ve spent a lot of time together and have been there with each other through a lot of insecurity. But like any dysfunctional relationship, there are some major downsides, some real deal breakers. Alcohol makes me feel like shit. It keeps me awake at night with anxiety and it wakes me up in the morning with headaches. It makes me puffy and distracted. The more time I spend with it, the less able I’m to say no to its 5pm siren call and as much as I hate claiming the label; alcohol renders me a powerless addict. The biggest flaw in the relationship though, is that it keeps me numb. I spend my evenings not present to my experience and then I spend my mornings trying to function and to feel better, which leaves a little time in the middle of the day to process emotions and be with myself, but much of that time is of spent in a state of limbo, just waiting for 5pm to arrive. Waiting to once again go comfortably numb. I’m tired of it.
Numbing the pain also numbs the pleasure. This is what Ive come to understand. I’m in the business of teaching people how to really feel. Like really, really feel. Fuck what you think you should feel. Fuck your coping mechanisms. Fuck all the millions of ways you’ve convinced yourself that it’s not okay to be who you are. Fuck all the ways you’ve learned to repress your greatness. It’s time to feel. The love, the hatred, the anxiety, the joy. Let it all be there as it arises and use it to get to know yourself. This is what we’re here for, the expansion of the universe depends on our own personal expansion and in order to expand…we must learn to feel.
So I’m saying goodbye to my old friend alcohol. I cannot dabble casually with you. I cannot feel with you around. And I’m ready to feel. I’m scared to death to say goodbye… uncertainty is creeping in; how will I have fun? How will I be valuable without the social lubricant? How will people ever like me? I don’t know yet, but I have to try. I have to forge that trail. I’m not a nervous 16 year old with low self confidence anymore and it’s time to stop telling myself that story. So goodbye alcohol. I will miss you and at the same time, I will not. I’m glad to send you on your way.
Natha Perkins is a mama, an artist, a writer, and an intuitive life coach. For many years she owned a successful jewelry and lifestyle brand called Luscious Metals (featured in Cosmopolitan, Parenting Magazine and more). Making beautiful adornments out of metal and stones was definitely a dream job, but she decided she wished to be of service in a more meaningful way.
Nowadays, she helps clients from around the world figure out what the hell is really going on in their lives which is still an art, just of a different kind. On a daily basis she also finds herself fighting the age old internal battle of whether to fake being perfect or just go ahead and risk exposing her own truths to the world. The struggle is real y’all. You can find her at www.nathaperkins.com or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wellbeingengineered/?ref=hl to learn more or to work with her personally.
I feel the same. I’ve been trying to numb myself for a couple of years since my daughter was diagnosed with severe epilepsy. I’m curious how you plan to quit? AA? Here is how I’ve been living the past year. Every Monday I swear it off, then by Friday night I reason with myself that it’s perfectly normal, acceptable thing to have a drink. Then I finish off a bottle of wine and a couple of six packs over the course of the weekend. I’m ready to leave it, just not sure how once the weekend rolls around.