It has been 100 days since I decided my life needed to change… 100 days since the darkness took over and I let myself go. 100 days since I let the evil inside of me take over and I lost control. 100 days since I let alcohol take over. 100 days since a simple night out with friends turned into one of the darkest nights of my life. 100 days since I blacked out and got behind the wheel. 100 days since I decided alcohol was not going to be the death of me.
I have social anxiety. I don’t know when it started. I don’t know why it started. I don’t know when it will happen, but when it does, it is hard to overcome. I try to find outlets for it when I am in a large crowd, but sometimes I have no outlets and no way to redirect my nervousness other than in alcohol. It is not an excuse for the dumb thing that I did, but looking back, it makes sense as to why I did it. It is not a pretty story and not something that I am proud of, but if it gets through to one person, that is enough.
It started as a simple night out with friends; Friends I had not seen in a very long time. As far as I could tell from social media, things were going well in their life and mine was at a stand still. They had blossoming relationships and I was still single. Their jobs were going well and mine was not changing. They were all moving on with their lives and I was still in the same place I have always been. I was embarrassed, I was ashamed, I was feeling so much less of the person that I actually am… That is when the anxiety had set in… I wasn’t good enough to be around these people, I was too old to not have my life together, I am not good enough in general.
I had one drink. And then another. Before I knew it I was being dragged out of the bar by my friends. I don’t remember what happened. I don’t remember drinking that much. I don’t remember vomiting on myself or smoking the cigarettes that I had smoked. I don’t remember getting in the car that they had got me to take me home. All I remember is jumping out of that car and running. Running down a down the street, in a strange place, trying to find my bearings. I just kept running. Running from that driver I didn’t know. Running for help. Running from that person I fought so hard not to become.
When I finally figured out where I was, I knew I wasn’t okay. I had just lost an hour of my life and I don’t know how. Was I drugged? Was it the alcohol that took over? Was it my anxiety blocking out the fear I had? I will never know. I honestly don’t want to know. Every day I dwell on that night and over think what may have happened, but I also what to forget everything, because that wasn’t even the worst of it. That night I got behind the wheel, knowing damn well I shouldn’t have.
I sat in my car knowing I should have let that driver take me home. I sat in my car knowing my parents are going to see me hungover, or even worse, I will still be drunk when I get home. I sat in my car crying over the fact that I had done this in the past and I was going to risk it all over again. As I chugged my water, I knew I didn’t want to be this person, but something took over and I pulled out of that parking garage knowing that I was risking it all.
I wrecked my car. I don’t know what I hit or how it happened. I took off my side mirror on a sign. Was I looking at my phone? Did I pass out? Did I just misjudge? I will never know, but I broke my beautiful new car. I broke my family and friends trust. I broke my own heart in that moment. I told everyone that someone had hit me while it was parked, but the look in my Dad’s eyes told me that he knew the true story, and that was earth shattering. That look was enough to straighten me up. That look was enough to make me change my life.
They always say that it could have been worse and I am fortunate that it wasn’t. I am a fortunate soul to learn from that one mistake and know that it will never happen again. I can’t let it happen again. I need to save myself. I need to save someone else. I need to protect all from the harm that it could cause. I always said I don’t know how people could lose control like that. Now I know how.
I will never forget that night or the fear that it instilled in me. I take it with me every single day and know that I will never stop learning from that experience. I will never put myself in the position where I am not the one in control. I will never stop fighting for those like me that are stuck in that position of alcohol being the only outlet with no way out. And I will most certainly, never stop fighting those who say that they are ‘okay’ to get behind the wheel.
Stop and think about what you are doing, not just to yourself, but to everyone around you. The friends that are trying to keep you safe. Your family who is sitting at home waiting for you. Your dog or cat who will not understand if you don’t make it home to them. And especially, to that innocent person whose life you could have destroyed just because you didn’t want to leave your car in the city or because you thought you were ‘fine’. There are a lot of chances you should be taking in life, but that is not one of them. Don’t ever forget that.