Goodbye Letter

The book I’m reading, Alcohol is Shit, has exercises at the end of each chapter. Today I’m going to do one I found…interesting. It says to write a “goodbye” letter to alcohol. You’re to include your history, your present, whatever you feel necessary in order to tell your story and say audios to the toxic liquid.

Here’s mine:

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Dear, CC (“Cocktail Cunt,” aka alcohol),

We go back a long way, you and I. Twenty-nine years?? The first time I tried you I was in the 8th grade. I was out with my older sister, Amanda, and some of her friends at Standing Bear Lake. We brought a bunch of  junk food, and you. To be precise, we brought grape-flavored wine coolers. I enjoyed you. You tasted like a grape Jolly Rancher with a “kick.” Do I remember the night? Not so much. I do remember I didn’t get sick off you, which worked against me b/c I didn’t have an awful reaction that would keep me from you for several years. No, we were reintroduced only one year later in high school.

Our relationship during those four years? I remember thinking I was cool, so grown up, whenever I got my hands on you. Whether I was bribing my oldest sister to purchase you, stealing you from a liquor cabinet at my parents’ or some other friends’, convincing a stranger in a convenient store parking lot to purchase you for a GREAT tip, or simply begging kids who already had you, I always felt worlds beyond the high school halls when I put you to my lips. You were my escape. With you in my system, I could dream about life past senior year, what college could look like, what a move out of state could be like. With a cheap mixed drink or wine cooler in hand, I could be anywhere else other than Nebraska.

In college, I used you to loosen me up. Make me more sociable. After a few drinks, I could get past my shyness, my awkwardness in talking to guys. If I had you in hand (and a cigarette in the other), I could blend in with all the other girls at the fraternity parties. I didn’t care so much if I said the wrong thing, tripped walking up the stairs, or made out with a random guy. It was college, this was considered “fun,” the norm, and after feeling like an outsider all through high school, I had reinvented myself.

The more I drank you, the more I dreamt of what came next. I pictured life after graduating, and I again felt older than my peers–going back home on the weekends to party with my older sisters downtown, out with people who were in their early-to-mid twenties. You rushed me through life. You put these thoughts in my head. And you made me sick. I can remember times when I was REALLY sick by you. Puking on my sister, Kiley’s, bed? When I couldn’t make it to the bathroom after downing so many Country Time Coolers (of all colors, the red one)? Puking in the trees in Tannison Woods during a party Lindsay Forman threw while her parents were out of town? Puking alongside of the road in Denver on the MORNING drive back from Morrison? I literally thought I could die that day.

I watched others get sick by you, too. I remember Kiley, on the night we celebrated winning State Tennis, and how we all drank shots of alcohol that tasted like Red Hots. She probably had alcohol poisoning, but we were all too drunk to realize. She hurled over and over, and we finally had to toss her in the shower to get her cleaned up and keep her conscious.

I even knew people who died by you. The two boys in my high school sophomore class who went joy-riding in the country while drunk? They took a jump at 80 MPH and hit a tree, were thrown through the windshield, and died in a cornfield before paramedics could arrive. Or the guy in my college acting class who went to a party out at a lake, got hammered, and fell off the dock into the water? He drowned in an area where he could have simply stood, but he was too drunk to know.

In my later years you crept up on me even more. I started giving myself permission to drink you during the workweek, and not just on a Thursday. If left by myself in the house (while my husband traveled), I would treat myself to you while I watched a movie on a Tuesday or Wednesday. I would sometimes even add you into my coffee on a Saturday late morning, or pour you into a travel mug to take down to the park on a Sunday afternoon with my daughter.

I would use you to self-medicate when I got off my anti-depressants. I would use you to fall asleep instead of taking an Ambien, (until I started doing BOTH at the same time b/c I wouldn’t stay asleep when I just drank you; no, I would wake up in the middle of the night and be up for hours.)

Yes, I remember our “good” times. I remember the way you cut through my inhibitions, toned down my serious nature, made me giggly, excited, and up for anything. I remember you on vacations, at parties, at all kinds of celebrations–weddings, funerals, baby showers, graduations. But what’s funny is I don’t really remember these WHOLE nights. You stole my ability to implant them in my brain. You stole my life.

Now, I’ve been wrestling with you for the past 15 months. I’ve managed to take breaks from you for 15, 30 or 50 days. I’m trying. I’m reading a bunch of quit lit. I’m journaling. I’m keeping you out of sight in my house. I’m setting goals for myself. I’m seeing a therapist. I’m listening to podcasts and subscribing to blogs, I’m participating in AF social media outlets. I’m… trying.

And today, I’m saying goodbye. Because I’m done. I’m done losing time to you. I’m done having you take my weekends away from me, my kids, and my husband. I’m done waking up in the middle of the night and hating myself because I drank you. I’m done mixing you with sleep meds, and therefore worrying about my mental health, my memory. I’m done worrying about my physical health, whether I’ll get cancer because of you, whether I’ll suffer liver disease. I’m done getting emotional, getting into arguments with my husband, getting snappish with my kids. I’m done projecting the message that I can only have fun with alcohol to my children. I’m done feeling like crap in the mornings, with popping Motrin, with having to take numerous trips to the bathroom because of indigestion problems. I’m done drinking empty calories while trying to diet, done with eating junk food while having you in my system, and therefore having no willpower NOT to open the pantry late at night. I’m done with the blotchy skin, the tired, puffy eyes, the poor circulation, the lethargic overall feeling I get after a night out with you.

I’m done with YOU.

Yours NEVER more,

Shannon

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