Recently, I was lucky enough to go and see Hall and Oates in concert at a winery. It was a gorgeous sunny day, I met some fantastic people and I had a great time with my parents, Mr. Cesy, and a good friend. We also enjoyed the product of the winery. Over the period of the evening, we drank a large amount of wine, and I drank more than my fair share.
By the end of the evening, how much I had drunk became apparent. I was having conversations with random strangers, telling them how much I loved their workplaces. When it came time to leave, I had no idea what was going on. We went to get on the bus, but I realised I needed to pee so I just did, then and there in front of hundreds of people. On the bus, I continued loud conversations with strangers; that is until I copiously threw up all over myself. The walk home from the bus stop is a blur, all I can remember is putting one foot in front of another, somehow not being hit by cars as I crossed the road and making it home on auto pilot. I was put to bed, where I managed to again throw up copiously all over myself, my bed and my floor. I then blacked out.
In the morning, I woke up to a dry mouth, the stench of vomit and the conclusion that I had a problem with binge drinking.
You see, this is not the first time this has happened. As a 17-year-old, I spent my first party throwing up in my friend’s garden after quaffing a large amount of stolen Coruba. If you didn’t drink to excess every weekend, you just weren’t cool. I left home to go to a university notorious for its drinking culture. I spent every Friday and Saturday from the ages 18 to 22 drinking cheap alco-pops and dancing at dingy bars in a drunken haze, the days after in a darkened room moaning through my hangovers. There is a two week period of February 2009 where I can’t tell you what happened, except I know it involved a vast amount of Smirnoff and many Domino’s pizzas. Several months ago, I came home from another winery concert covered in grass and vomit, holding a wine bottle behind my back trying to hide it from Mr. Cesy. In short, binge drinking has been a large part of my life for a while now, and it is only now can I really see how not on it is.
Mr. Cesy didn’t sleep in our bed with me the night after the Hall and Oates concert. He was understandably and justifiably upset, embarrassed and angry at how I’d behaved. Also, who’d want to sleep with someone who had vomited everywhere? When I was cleaning the contents of my stomach off my bedroom floor, the gravity of my actions finally hit me. Every time I get shit-faced, Mr. Cesy has had to literally clean up my messes. That’s not fair on him. I had to send my friend who came to the concert with us an apology for my actions. It’s not the first time I’ve had to do that. At that point, I knew I’d hit my low point. This could go on no more.
So here and now, I have to face up to the fact that I abuse alcohol and it is affecting my life and the lives of those I love. It’s something I’ve had to do a lot of thinking about. Alcohol has been a defining feature of my life for many years now. You can see this from my author bio, where I say “I drink a lot of wine.” For me, it has seemed like I’ve hit adulthood, now that I could drink and buy my own alcohol. The delight of a cold beer on a hot day, or a crisp vodka after a hard day at work makes me feel just plain good, like all is right with the world. But more and more, it seems I need that vodka more often, and I’m drinking more of it when I do have some. It’s never just one glass.
So I’m currently looking into professional help to discuss why I act the way I do when I drink, and I’m also using some of the hints found on the ALAC website. The one I think will be most helpful for me is the suggestion that I should diarise my drinking: how much I drink, who I drink it with, how I felt when I drink, what the outcome of the night was. The reason this website exists is because binge drinking is a huge issue in New Zealand. Currently, ALAC is running a series of ads that deal with several binge drinkers having a conversation with friends, wives and workmates after a night of drinking. The friend, wives and workmates ask the drinker to “leave their friends at home” when they drink, friends such as “Punchy Sam,” a personality trait of the drinker that only comes out after many beers. There is a variety of other personalities who steal, spread malicious gossip and miss out on family commitments because of their drinking. When I have seen those ads, I never thought it could be me, but it is now clear that yes, there are such personalities as “Inappropriate Cesy” or “Oblivious to Danger Cesy” or “Money-Wasting Cesy” who show up when I’ve had far too many wines.
I’ve written this partially for public accountability to force me to resolve my issues, partially for catharsis, but also to let people know that if you have concerns about how you use alcohol, it is OK to ask for help. While I don’t see myself giving up alcohol entirely, I have to think very carefully about how I use alcohol, and I will be seeking help about how to go forward. The big patch on my carpet where we had to clean up my vomit is a constant reminder that how I am using it now is not healthy in any way, and some changes have to be made. It is unlikely to be easy, but I have to start somewhere, and I choose to start making those changes today.