Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Alcohol is bad for you. Alcoholism can ruin your life. Alcohol changes who you are, it's addictive, it's dangerous.

We've heard it before. In different ways, from different people. In movies, in books. Yes, there are those media outlets which glorify alcohol and its effects, but that's a topic for another day.

What you will never be told, is how alcoholism affects the people around you. How addiction is not something that exists in a microcosm of you and your problems, but how it can insidiously and thoroughly permeate every aspect of the lives of the people closest to you. Your family, your friends.

They don't tell you how when you live with a person who struggles with alcoholism, family or friend, it changes your life. It affects you in ways you can't even recognise or identify.

They don't tell you the long monologue that will play in your head the first time you are offered a drink. The intense thought and analysis that goes into the decision to just take a glass and take a sip, even if it is in the most trusted of company. And they don't even say that it happens every time and that eventually, though you get better at drowning it out, it will never go away.

They don't tell you about the way you read obsessively about addiction, just to see whether you can become an addict too. About how you read all the studies which talk about it being genetic and about nature vs nurture, just because you are so scared that you'll become one, just because it runs in your family.

They don't tell you how early on you are faced with a choice. Either to take in the things you see around you and use them as an excuse forever or to use them as an example of what you never want from your life. And how you will wrestle with that choice constantly.

They don't say how sometimes living with addiction around you makes you grow up too soon. And also how it can make you want to hold on to every childlike thing in your life because growing up means too much possibility of pain.

They don't tell you how you instantly get on guard when anyone around you is drinking. How you suddenly feel like you have to be the responsible one. About how you can become judgemental and argumentative but how you can't completely explain that it comes only from a place of concern. About how social drinking makes you anxious because somehow you didn't know that people could actually have fun with alcohol around. And how long it will take you realize that but that tiny nugget of fear in your head will never disappear. How that fear isn't even something you can articulate and how you will never stop wrestling with it.

They don't tell you how you question anything anyone says to you when there is alcohol around. How you scoff at it being liquid courage. How you can't trust because you have heard the worst things come out of a person's mouth just because they were drunk. How you question the authenticity of something that comes from chemical influence. How you don't even trust yourself when you have had something to drink.

They don't say that it might take you years to ever be in a comfortable enough place to drink with your closest friends.

They don't say how terrified you are of drinking alone even if it is in the comfort of your own home. Even if it is just a glass of wine with dinner. How it becomes reckless and wrong to enjoy yourself even in the privacy of your most secure place.

They won't tell you how to deal with the crushing guilt that comes from not being able to forgive. How you punish yourself for being a bad person. About how you don't deserved anything because you are too small-minded to move on.

They don't teach you how to forgive yourself for being angry and hurt. To forgive yourself your hate.

People don't talk about these things.

So yes, alcoholism is bad and you need to be careful. Not because you will be affected. But because you can leave wounds that never heal.