Monday, 10 July 2023

why i quit binge drinking

This is a story about a break up. A toxic relationship that I should have left a long time ago; but sometimes, it takes being bruised and abused before you finally realise that it's time to walk away.

The name is alcohol.

I wrote the prose below in my drafts early last year, which pretty much sums up my relationship with alcohol, and how it slid into toxicity in such a subtle manner that I did not notice how much damage it was doing to me. But I guess that's how toxic relationships exist - you stay because you don't realise how toxic it is. 

"my best friend - feb 20, 2022

who would've thought that you would end up becoming my best friend?

i met you a little late. most people would've met you when they were eighteen, or some even earlier. 

i don't think i liked you then. but you were cool, and i wanted to be cool so i hung out with you. a lot.

i think it was after my first break up that we became close. real close. i was lost, and i had no one to talk to but you were there. people came and went, but you? you. were. always. there.

whenever you were with me, all my problems floated away. and nothing seemed to matter anymore.

i mean, the problems, they would came back the next day but i could just find you again. and they would float away, again.

i don't think you're the best for me since my problems are still here. but these days, it seems like when I'm sad, you're all that i've got."

I picked up drinking in the army. There's always a reason to drink - happy hours at the mess, initiation, company cohesions, celebrating promotions, or simply just having a chat over beer. And in the army, there's no such thing as "too much drinks". You drink till you drop. In a culture where drinking is normalised, it's hard to ever think that you have a drinking problem. I mean, wouldn't that mean that everyone has a drinking problem?

So, up till 27 Jun 2023, I truthfully did not think that I had a drinking problem (although perhaps it was clear as day to the people around me). Now, let me bring you back to the epic day on 27 Jun 2023 that would perhaps save me from greater destruction further down the road.

canon event - jun 27, 2023

i had been in berkeley for almost two months. the berkeley narrative was one of healing and growth. a semicolon to my life story that had gone down a rather chaotic path.

it was a rough start for a supposed era of healing and growth but i was considerably content and at peace, and hadn't gotten wasted since i arrived in berkeley. i mean, i popped a few cans every night but that is still within the realms of "everything in moderation", right?

a typical weekday stay-home kinda night

on the evening of 26 jun 2023, i was at a friend's birthday party. there was a campfire, and drinks, finger food, chick-fil-a sauce, party hats and dancing - can california get any better?! i was definitely in my element.

a party to remember

what happened six hours later was beyond my wildest imagination.

at 1a.m. on 27 jun 2023, i heard knocks on my door. i was too tired to get up and decided to let it pass. it did not. the knocks became louder and more rapid. i tried to prop myself up but it was impossible. instead, i passed out. at that point of time, i did not realise that i was on my kitchen floor.

in the next few moments, it was a blur of events that up till today, i do not clearly remember. some men in black uniform appeared in my apartment, i was carried on a stretcher into an ambulance, i struggled a lot, and next thing i knew, i was in the hospital. with a broken collarbone.

someone, i suppose the doctor, asked me how i broke my collarbone. "i don't remember" was all i could say. up till today, i still do not remember. 

my hospitalisation report

i was later told that i had been highly intoxicated and found "unconscious and unresponsive" on my kitchen floor. and it came to me as a shock, as i had absolutely no recollection of anything that had happened after i left the party. all i knew was that i surely did not have a broken collarbone when i left.

i was hospitalised for the next two days, and i spent the first twenty four hours recovering from the shock and processing what had happened. my family and partner had received the news and were terribly concerned. i felt a mix of guilt, shame, and determination to never let it happen again. yet somehow, it never occured to me that the solution was to stop drinking.

on the morning of my discharge, a concerned hospital staff passed me two books to read and said that it would help me overcome my problem. i was slightly offended. alcoholics anonymous? i'm not an alcoholic! i've never had a desperate need to consume alcohol or withdrawal symptoms like the alcoholics do in the movies. nonetheless, i decided to flip open the book since i had nothing better to do anyway. 

two books given to me by the hospital staff

in the prologue of "Living Sober", the author starts off by telling the reader that they probably think this book is not for them, as they are not like the alcoholics that they hear about in AA. i felt immediately called out. the author then goes on to say that you have an alcohol problem if you are always finding reasons to drink.

"it was such a long day at work, i need a beer."

"we should celebrate, let's open some bottles!"

"there's so much going on in my head, some whisky could help."

i read that line over and over again, and thought about all the reasons i would give to drink. i was always finding a reason to drink.

the author then talks about the problems that drinking could cause, including harming your body, your relationships, and your future. as i was sitting in the hospital ward with a broken collarbone, having to take time off classes and making my loved ones extremely worried, that was the moment that i gained self-awareness about my drinking problem. 

over the past few years, i have been gradually giving my power away to this inanimate, emotionless thing and it has cost me so much. my mother's tears, my weekends, my ability to have fun, deep meaningful conversations, my peace, and so much more.

that was the moment i decided to stop binge drinking. and as my mum would always describe me, "once she's determined, she will make it happen."

Hi, I'm Melody, and I'm fourteen days sober!

Addiction, be it to alcohol, smoking, gaming, or spending money, is a very common problem and it can happen to anyone - even the best of us. The first step to recovery is self-awareness.

Again, this is my humble attempt to normalise conversing about taboo topics so that, hopefully, the world will be a better place.

If Mel can do it, so can you!

at the end-of-summer-term party, abstaining from alcohol for the first time!

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