The nineteen year-old lying in her own vomit outside a bar with her group of friends shrieks in mirth as she staggers to get up, inadvertently exposing her G-string to the passing crowd of boys, who all make crude and disdainful remarks about her.
But the boys, seeing her later in the club, buy her more drinks so she won’t resist one of them feeling her up in the alleyway behind the disco. She can’t recall the boy’s name and he didn’t ask for her number. She pulls down her skirt, aware that passersby can see, and she feels fleeting shame that is quickly extinguished by the amount of vodka she has drunk.
The boy disappears, she isn’t sure how she got home or where her friends ended up. Her head is spinning as she passes out fully clothed on her bed.
The next morning she wakes with a hangover. Nothing a fry up and Bloody Mary shouldn’t fix.
Recollections of the night before float through her mind. Who was that boy? He wasn’t even good looking. Why did she let him do those things? This time shame floods through her body and this time it doesn’t leave her.
She calls her friends and ‘spins’ what actually happened and how she truly felt. They tell her she was ‘out of it’, she tells them what an amazing night she had. Her friends lie too and agree they had a ‘blinding’ night. “It was a scream,” they said.
The nineteen year-old swallows her shame, her loss of dignity, the unworthiness she feels and she ‘re-frames’ the night’s events under the category ‘good night out’; she cross references it with ‘fun and excitement’ and it is filed in her memory. She has created the belief, through her own spin, that her behaviour the night before adds up to a good night out.
The pattern is set. She repeats the pattern.
The nineteen year-old begins to feel anxious when she goes into college on Monday. Everyone is laughing about how she behaved on Saturday night.
She laughs too, but can’t shake the feeling that they are laughing at her rather than with her. She feels confused.
She thought she was just like everyone else, except that she doesn’t feel right inside despite her ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude. A knot of anxiety develops in her stomach and doesn’t leave.
She doesn’t understand herself any more.
She feels like she is a good person, a considerate person and yet she has behaved terribly to one of her friends. A couple of them are barely speaking to her because of stuff she said when she was drunk. She doesn’t remember, but she feels frightened every time she sees them. She doesn’t know if they like her any more and that frightens her.
These fears creep in and take up residence in her mind. They are never quiet, always nagging at her. Someone asks her if she is ‘all right?’ She says, ‘of course,’ because she doesn’t know how to put words to the darkness spreading through her mind.
It’s better to close it off, push it away, pretend it doesn’t exist.
For brief periods she can forget she’s afraid of anything. She looks forward to those periods more and more.
She’s going out again this Friday, and Saturday, and probably Sunday as well.
It’s something to look forward to. It takes her mind off things.
This is an exclusive extract from my book ‘Why you drink and how to stop: a journey to freedom,” published in July.
If you subscribe to my blog I can let you know when it’s available to buy.
It’s based on my personal and professional experience of alcoholism. I wanted to publish this extract because of the previous post I did on Serena Williams.
I believe her remarks were indicative of a culture that perceives rape is a women’s fault and abusive/alcoholic drinking is a choice rather than a need. My book illustrates how an alcoholic feels and thinks, why their drinking is just a symptom of an emotional and spiritual illness, and how to recover.
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