An Ode to my Hometown: Rock Bottom

I’ll cut to the chase. This one is rough for me to write. As I wrapped up my last post, I was spiraling out of control. I was deflecting and refusing to look my demons in the face. I was scared. But I was still arrogant.

The drinking had become my escape. I wasn’t an alcoholic in the sense that it is portrayed in movies and television shows. I was drinking 2-3 nights a week, which now seems like a lot. But I was in college, newly 21, and wanted anything to make me feel better.

I ran out of anti-depressants, but the damage had been done. I needed to keep feeding that beast. And at the time, my job was located two blocks from the downtown nightlife scene. Perfect.

I know most of this probably sounds like normal early 20s behavior, but the problem wasn’t the drinking. I don’t particularly like the taste of alcohol. But it was that removal of my mind from reality that I became addicted to. If I was conscious, I wanted to be thinking, doing, being anywhere else, but where I was. And to compound the problems, I was hellbent on trying to figure this out alone.

I was drifting between work, the bars, and home, and I got lost in the haze that had become my life. I was staying busy at work, going to the bars and drinking, and then sleeping, none of which involved me thinking about my own issues. And I existed in this bubble for a couple years.

It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom, a drunken night with friends that I decided I needed help. A group of us had gone downtown, my usual spot, and were having a good time. My friends decided they wanted to leave, but I wanted to stay. They left me with someone I had known for a minimal amount of time, and the next thing I knew, I was alone.

No problem, I’ll just go back in and keep drinking. It wasn’t like I had never done it before. But there was an allure. I wanted to meet back up with my friends. And, in a moment of drunken decision making, I tried to drive myself to them.

Now, I was fortunate that night. Not because I made it to the next bar safely, but because I didn’t even make it out of the parking garage. I had started to drive but wasn’t coherent enough to figure out where the exit was. Finally, a security guard stopped me. And to this day, I have no clue how I wasn’t arrested. He took my keys and told me to call my friends.  There’s part of me that wishes I could ask him why that had been his decision. The more substantial piece of me wants to stay as far away from that night as possible.

But my night wasn’t over. I sat against the wall of the parking garage, calling my friends with no answer, drifting in and out of sleep, while getting sick on myself. I was a complete embarrassment. I sat surrounded by those stone walls, thinking about my life to that point, a prisoner in my own mind.

What felt like an entire evening passed before my friend came to pick me up. In reality, it had been a couple hours. And the real twist of it was, I knew I could have called someone else to come to get me, and they would have been there in a heartbeat. Much quicker than what had actually happened. My parents, the woman I was dating at the time, other friends, and family, all could have gotten there ASAP. But I was ashamed. I couldn’t even muster the courage to do the right thing, after doing the wrong thing all night. I was a coward.

I still drank after. Still do. There have been low points and rough days when the willpower hasn’t been there. And nowadays, I can drink without delving into those negative emotions. But I’m careful. I rarely have more than two drinks, because two turns into seven very quickly for me. And I never drink if I’m not in an appropriate mental headspace.

Eventually, I’ll stop drinking altogether. There are social circles, especially in Louisville, where it’s hard to not drink. And I haven’t figured out how to tackle that. I don’t believe this an acceptable excuse, especially given my past, but I’m working on it.

The good news is, this is my rock bottom. Which means from here on out, it’s much happier. There are significant things that happened to pull me out from this stretch in my life, but it took roughly five years to get to where I am. No matter where we come from, we can always be better and do better. But we have to want it for ourselves.