What a difference a day makes
Yesterday morning, I woke up early, made coffee, researched candidates for the primary election, then exercised spontaneously because it just felt good. I made plans with an old friend to have breakfast the next morning – something I had put off doing for weeks.
I felt healthy, happy, loved and excited for the weekend ahead.
32 hours later, I sit on that same couch, in that same apartment, but in a wildly different place.
I am bloated, shaky, quiet and sad. I am anxious and dreading the girls-only road trip I have planned for this weekend. I canceled plans with my old friend, because I couldn’t get out of bed.
What happened over those 32 hours that made such a difference?
My old friend who promises so much, but delivers so little.
Here’s the funny thing about booze: The thing that makes it so enticing is also the reason it is so dangerous and addictive.
Alcohol promises to help you forget your problems, fears and insecurities – if only for a few hours. It promises to loosen you up, to make you more fun. To deceive you into having a good time when you actually don’t want to be somewhere. To make your conversations better and your Instagrams cooler.
The thing is, alcohol lies.
Instead of making you happier, freer and more at ease, it makes you foggy, slow and confused.
It makes you say things you don’t mean and later regret.
It makes you forget who you are, what you care about and what you’re working for.
It makes you want more, always more, because if one drink feels good, 10 has to feel amazing, right?
It’s the reason that – despite spending the past week eating spinach salads and going to barre – I downloaded the Dominos Pizza app on my way home from last night’s party.
It’s also the reason I bailed on a friend – one who I was really looking forward to seeing – because I wasn’t confident I could get through breakfast without vomiting.
Alcohol lies, lies, lies. But we keep believing it.
Here’s what I’ve learned after several months of therapy around booze, food and feelings.
Alcohol advertisers are brilliant. Their steady, 26-year stream of messaging has made me believe that if a party is fun, it will definitely be more fun with a bucket of Bud Light. That birthdays, holidays, engagements and vacations must all be celebrated with booze. (In fact, booze is often the whole point.)
They’ve made me believe that going to a pool, concert or golf course without a drink in my hand is ludicrous. That “happy hours” really mean “alcohol hours.” Get it? Alcohol = happy.
And so many of us have bought in – hook, line and sinker. I can’t even go to a baby shower any more without drinking. I’m celebrating a woman who can’t drink… by drinking. But it doesn’t even seem strange, right? Because nearly every social event I go to involves alcohol – even the ones where the guest of honor is drinking Pepsi.
My boyfriend and I have celebrated three anniversaries together. Each time, I have gone home drunk.
I was drunk at my cousin’s high school graduation party.
I was drunk at a concert with my family at the Kauffman Center.
I was drunk walking down the hill at my college graduation.
I was drunk for half of our family vacation in the Bahamas.
I was drunk at a concert in floor seats I had spent a fortune on.
I was drunk when a friend FaceTimed me to say she’d gotten engaged.
I was drunk at my high school reunion, around people I hadn’t seen in years.
I have boozed my way through so many events, losing hours and hours and hours of time with my family and friends because I was simply not all there.
But don’t forget Drunk’s nasty cousin: Hangover.
For every hour I’ve lost while drinking, I’ve probably lost three being hungover.
I was hungover while getting the fanciest massage of my life.
I was hungover at my aunt’s burial.
I was hungover when I picked my boyfriend up from the airport after not seeing him for days.
I was hungover when I left work early, ran over a curb and blew out a tire.
I was hungover at my grandma’s birthday party.
I was hungover driving back from my first lake trip with my boyfriend.
I was hungover on Mother’s Day.
And I am hungover as I write this.
I know what you’re thinking.
“Lindsey, you have a great job, you pay all your bills, you’ve got lots of family and friends – you clearly don’t have a problem.”
Maybe… But that depends on how you define “problem.”
To me, it’s a problem to go from happy and healthy to sick and scared over the course of one day. It’s a problem to sleep away an entire Sunday, because when you’re sleeping you don’t have to think about what you said, did or texted the night before. And it’s a problem to look back on some of the happiest times in your life, and then remember how drunk you were.
75% of the time, my drinking isn’t a problem at all. But does that mean my life has the potential to be 25% better, and I’m just leaving it on the table?
That’s why I’ve spent several months, countless hours and more money than I can afford trying to get to the bottom of this habit that seems so normal and innocent, but in reality is dimming my light in a way that terrifies me.
I don’t have all the answers (clearly, as I sit here with no pants eating a Jimmy Johns Hangover Sandwich™), but keeping things silent and hidden and secret doesn’t seem to be helping.
So I leave it here with you. Because maybe you’re struggling with something of your own. Or maybe it will make you view those sun-kissed Instagram posts in a different light. Or maybe you just needed to be reminded – as I often do – that life is fucking HARD and nobody is anywhere close to perfect.