It was around 11am and I was at work when withdrawal began to take hold. My hands started shaking and my body temperature started to rise.
The previous night had been witness to another round of binge drinking, around an alcoholic beverages between 7pm and 12am. This was a late start and an early ending to an average weekend. As I stood in the back room of my place of employment, I realized that this may be the longest period that alcohol had not been present in my system.
The reality of my state quickly sank beneath my skin.
I am an alcoholic.
This had certainly not been the first time the thought had crossed my mind. I knew that my drinking habits were out of control. I knew that I had lost friendships, jobs, and even housing because I would rather invest my time into the bottle than anything else. However, this was the first time that I was able to open the doors and see the skeletons I had kept hidden away.
The next few days were spent going through withdrawal, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and confessing to my friends and family the nature of my problem. Just like coming out as a transgender individual, very few saw this coming. However, there is much more to being an alcoholic than heavy drinking.
The more I reflect on the last few years I find that this issue lies deeper than I first imagined. It wasn’t simply that I drank far too much or too often. The issue is that I have no idea how not to drink. I have no idea how to allow my body to function for more than 10 hours without alcohol in my system. I have no idea how to be alone and quiet with the thoughts racing through my mind. I have completely forgotten what it’s like to function in a social situation without a bottle in my hand. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Nearly every facet of my life has been drenched in alcohol. It would be far too easy for me to blame the scenes I am involved with, to blame the fact that I live in a world where binge drinking isn’t simply tolerated but nearly downright encouraged. I could blame growing up a closeted transgender youth in a severely conservative religious environment. I could blame the fact that for much of my life I have suffered from chronic depression. I could blame any number of people or situations that I have found myself placed in over the years. But this wouldn’t solve anything. Hell, I could remove myself from my entire life and things still wouldn’t change.
It’s only a matter of days before I enter a treatment center to begin the intense process of healing my mind, body, and emotions. My admission of the problems that I have refused to address and seeking any means to change the person I have allowed myself to be isn’t much more than accepting responsibility for my actions; typically a trivial task for a healthy individual. But for those of us battling some form of an addiction, it’s a monumental task. I guess that owning up to your mistakes is the first step of becoming a decent human being.