At some point along the way, I really thought that I was ‘back to normal’. I don’t know what I thought ‘normal’ was, but in reality I was far from it. The issue I had, and I’m almost certain I’m not the only person to do this, was that I wanted to appear on the outside like I was absolutely fine and over everything that I’d been through. I was trying to mask the harsh reality of how I felt on the inside, and every time someone asked me if I was ok, I wanted to say with confidence that I was fine. But I wasn’t, and the people closest to me were able to see straight through it. The problem I had was that I was desperate to be back to the person I was before all of this, too desperate and too eager too quickly.
I don’t really know at what point alcohol went from being a social thing to a “I don’t want to go home, I want to stay and drink” thing. Maybe within the first couple of weeks and I just didn’t realise, or maybe when I’d left my job and had no real responsibility. Or maybe it was when I realised just how much alcohol managed to numb the way I was feeling on the inside. Alcohol numbed the bad feelings I had which in essence made me feel happier, which then meant I wasn’t having to pretend that I was happy on the outside, because I actually was. Or, I was for the short time that I was out of the house and in the pub. It took me a long while before I realised that the heightened feelings and emotions I had once I was home, were probably due to the alcohol I’d just consumed. But back then, I had an answer for that. I’d just try to stay out as long as I could. No going home, no problems, right? Wrong, actually.
A couple of months after everything had happened, I started to socialise more again. It wasn’t regular, maybe once or twice a week, but I think this was the point that I realised just how much being out, around other people and with alcohol, was helping me to feel “normal”. Unfortunately, as I said above, it was once I got home that the feelings and emotions came back again. I was in a relationship before any of this journey had started, and it’s pretty common knowledge that you take things out on the people closest to you. Unfortunately, he took the brunt of how I felt an awful lot. I’m not going to say it was every time, because there were a lot more nights when I would keep things to myself and go to bed and cry than there were when I would take things out on other people. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that almost every argument we had was because I’d been drinking, and I didn’t know how to control my emotions or articulate how I was feeling properly. In truth, almost every disagreement I had with either him or with my parents were due to this very thing.
I felt alone, so alone, despite how many people were trying to be there for me. I just didn’t feel like people understood, and I couldn’t understand why people weren’t getting it. The truth was that people weren’t being fully understanding because I wasn’t being fully honest about how I was feeling. How were people supposed to know how bad I felt when I was plastering a fake smile on my face, fake laughing at jokes and faking my emotions. I started pushing people away because I was feeling guilty for how I was making them feel and how I was treating them. I felt that if I pushed people away then they wouldn’t care about me as much, which would mean I wasn’t hurting them by my own hurt. I also started to feel like people might be bored of listening to how down I was. I felt like I was a burden. So many times did I genuinely think that it would be better and easier if I had nobody around me (which, by the way, I realised later on is absolutely not true). But at the time I was blind to how much love and support I actually had. I look back now and I know that people only had my best interests at heart, but back then, so many times I felt like everyone was against me. I was being incredibly selfish and quite frankly, not a very nice person. On top of this, I was on medication. Medication who’s job it was to heighten my mood and lower my anxiety. At the same time, I was fuelling myself with alcohol, who’s job it is to lower my mood and heighten my anxiety. I mean, I really was doing myself no favours.
Once I’d officially left my job and knew that getting a new one wasn’t right for me yet, I had the realisation that I was essentially stuck in the house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. By this point, I’d become so good at acting like everything was ok that I’d even convinced myself that I had everything under control. Unfortunately, this meant that I convinced myself that I’d absolutely be able to go out and only have 1 or 2 sociable drinks, because I was no longer drinking to forget, or so I thought. I think it started by going to the pub with my parents one evening a week. Which became two. Which became three. My parents knew and understood how much I felt stuck in the house, so going for a drink on an evening seemed like something which would help me to feel like I was getting out, even just for an hour or so. But fairly quickly it got to the point where I wouldn’t go home until last orders had been called and I’d gone way past the “1 or 2 drinks”. Again, I was being selfish and ignoring the fact that my parents would have work the next day, because I was out of the house and feeling ‘happier’. Alcohol not only helped me to numb my feelings, but it gave me confidence which I’d lost the last few months. At the time I never realised that how relaxed, happy and confident I felt was a lie. It wasn’t me. It was alcohol, and once that wore off I’d be bumped back down to Earth and back to reality with a bang.
It then started that I’d meet up with my cousin or friends on weekdays and we’d go for some lunch and a “couple of drinks”. And again, those couple of drinks would lead to me having to be forced into going home. At the time, I was taking it really personally if somebody didn’t want to stay out and drink with me. It made me feel like people were against me and weren’t wanting the best for me. I couldn’t understand why, when I was out, happy and enjoying myself, people were wanting me to go home. I seemed to completely forget that people had their own lives. This went on for a couple of months at least. Then there was one night when I’d gone out in the early evening and by 5AM the next day, my parents had no idea where I was or whether I was ok. I’ve always had a very close relationship with my parents and would always text them to let them know that I was ok. And given everything that had happened over the last few months, I knew how protective they were being of me, and how nervous they got when I went out. But fast forward to this particular period of time when I’d become selfish and was only thinking about myself, I was pushing them further and further away and acting like somebody I’d never been. After this night, I apologised and we moved on, but 4 days later I went and did the same thing again. And the worst thing was that I knew what I was doing wasn’t right, not only in terms of my parents, but it wasn’t right for me. None of this was going to be helping me in the long run, but I just didn’t seem to care.
The weekend after, I’d gone to stay with my friend for a couple of days and this was the point when I realised that things had to change. For as long as I could remember, I’d never gone a single day without speaking to my mum. But the whole weekend I was away, she didn’t text me once. I knew I’d pushed her too far with the way I’d been acting and it really hurt. On top of this, I was able to take a couple of days away from ‘normality’, and even though it was only for 2 days, it helped me to see things so much more clearly. I knew that the person I’d been pretending to be wasn’t the person I wanted to continue being. When I got back home, we sat down and aired everything. We spoke about things that we’d all been too nervous to say in fear of hurting each other, and it’s safe to say that many tears were shed in that conversation. But they told me a lot of home truths that I needed to hear, and I opened up to them about a lot of the things I’d been covering up too. From here on, things got better between us and I stopped being the difficult, selfish person I’d been up until now. I needed that wake up call, and I’d hate to think how things could’ve ended up had I not have woken up to the fact that I needed to change.
This whole time really was an awful period. I was in a bad way and I let it take over me. I became someone I never want to be again. I pushed my loved ones away, almost too far, and I’m extremely lucky that it didn’t end up any worse than it did between us. But I had a wake up call, I realised what was important, I stopped being selfish and I stopped using alcohol to mask how I was actually feeling. I started to open up when I needed to and started to be honest not only with others, but more importantly with myself. And if there’s one huge lesson I learnt, it’s that you can’t run away, hide from or cover up your issues, because all you’re going to do is make things worse. Admitting my issues rather than trying to hide them was a really difficult thing for me, but doing all I could to run away from them definitely wasn’t going to be a long term solution. I had no choice but to face it head on, even if it meant things getting worse before they could get better.
Pretending to be someone you’re not in order to appear happier or more fun to others is the worst thing you could do. Because those people will go home at the end of the night and all you’re left with is yourself. You’re the only person you spend 24 hours a day with. You need to make sure you’re being honest with yourself, and being someone who you would want to be around.