Dancing On the Bar

If you had told me three years ago where I would be today, I would’ve laughed at you and told you to hand me another beer. What my life is today is incomparable to anything I could have dreamed for myself. I am a 24-year-old college student with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I am currently finishing up a masters degree in cybersecurity, graduating in December 2016. I am moving halfway across the country in January to start my dream job – one which has merely been a vision since I was five-years-old, and is now my reality. But what is more important than what I have on paper, is who I am. I am an alcoholic. A grateful, recovering alcoholic.

First, let’s back up to the beginning. I am, and always have been, a lot of things: a computer nerd, a soccer player, a bossy girlfriend, a good student, the type who color-codes her closet, the wild friend, the girl who always dances on the bar and a pain in my parents’ asses on occasion. But an alcoholic? Definitely not. I am just your average college student who likes to drink (a lot). Everyone does it – it’s normal.

But what’s not normal is losing your cellphone and wallet every time you drink. Going to an eating disorder specialist for a year to keep up a lie you told your parents the first time you got caught throwing up drunk in high school. Blacking out most nights of the week and waking up covered in bruises and dried blood. Being so broke from your habit that you convince your mom you need money for celery (you’re trying to be healthy and lose that freshman 15 but veggies are just too expensive, right?) to buy a pint of the cheapest whiskey. Scouring sidewalks and couches for spare change to buy a pack of cigarettes with all pennies and nickels. Getting in cars with complete strangers in big cities with promises of free booze and a good time. And getting arrested three times in a year, never blowing anything below twice the legal limit.

Although these are just a few clips of my “highlight reel,” it was apparent that my life was out of control, at least to others. To me on the other hand, I thought I was just fine. I had still managed to maintain an above average GPA, which was my only measurement of success. But I was consumed by my addiction. I was in a fiercely loyal, dedicated relationship with alcohol. I was selfish, unmotivated, reckless, emotionally vacant, unreliable, hateful, helpless and miserable. These were the traits that began to define me. I navigated my daily life on autopilot, making the same mistakes over and over again. Driving a wedge deeper and deeper into my relationships with my parents, my sister and my friends. How long could I live that way before I was completely alone, in jail or dead?

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