“First instincts are usually right”.
“Never second guess your first instinct”.
“Trust your instinct”.
I call bullshit. Especially for an addict. First instincts does not always mean it’s right.
For years the first instinct was to grab a beer. Who am I kidding? It was a whole bottle of wine… and, on some occasions, very likely the beer, too. All this to stifle one little scary emotion. To block off a memory or ten from the past. Usually a memory of pain. Sometimes embarrassment. But, mostly pain. Not physical pain; mental pain that feels physical. The pain of love gone awry coupled with hurtful words and abandonment. Perceived abandonment or real. The pain of childhood and a strained relationship with my dad. The pain of witnessing my parents slowly and agonizingly kill their marriage. The pain of my own love life. It starts as a pinprick in your chest and a dullness in the pit of your stomach. As the days go by, the sting of a hundred needles puncturing your heart become nearly unbearable. That dullness in the pit of your stomach is crushing everything inside. Breathless and no longer have an appetite, the heartache absolutely consumes every aspect of you. Desperate to climb out of this black hole, alcohol was a welcome friend. Alcohol had an open invitation to be my accomplice to bury emotions.
Since becoming sober, I have been quick to anger. My first instinct has been to defend myself with haughty attitude. Most of the time towards those I love. Protecting from whatever it is my brain believes is “danger”. Despite this fact, I go looking for things to be angry at. Why the hell am I angry? Maybe it is a substitute to hide and not deal with emotions swelling up that I do not know how to handle. And anger is easy…so was drinking.
I don’t want to blame my childhood- my parents. My childhood as a possible starting point was never a consideration. What in the world should I be allowed to complain about when we were very comfortable financially? Most of the time I got whatever I asked for really. My sibling and I were provided with a good house over our head, plenty of food, all the utilities, even a cell phone when I started driving. (In case you were wondering. It was a Nokia circa 2004-ish. Similar to the 6120b. Google that :D) I love my parents, I feel lousy to even think of an outside contribution to what I am experiencing. More-so, I really don’t want them to blame themselves.
All four of us were enjoying a meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant in town in a booth near the archway to the entrance. I must have been 15 or 16 at that time. We were all getting along. Our food arrived and beer after beer was consumed by my dad. Beer was (and still is) his water. As dinner moved along, the more belligerent he became. Berating me about softball and getting angry at my mom for no apparent reason. I firmly believe some sort of resentment. But that isn’t my story to tell. I just let him go on like this for a little while. Watching my mom and dad fight in public. More my dad ranting about something and my mom getting a word or two in. Finally, I lost it. Anger swirling around, hot air inflating its balloon, had exploded and mean words flew out at my dad. I can’t remember how loud I became or my exact words I used. I do remember bursting out for him to “STOP”!. I couldn’t take the hatred spewing from his mouth. After my outburst, suddenly the outside world came back into view and I reality reminded me we were in a very public place in a small-ish town.
I didn’t start drinking yet. I managed to hold on until I turned 18 and my friends started to hold parties. It was then the effects of alcohol showed me I can be numb. There wasn’t a single time when I would be reasonable and not drink because I had class or work. Although, if it’s any consolation, I did typically wait until the weekend my first two years in college. College was also my first real heartbreak. He was a guy who had magnetic charm. He knew just what to say and do to put you under his spell. I can’t say for sure if it was “love” but I can certainly say I fell for him. I let him string me along even though I knew he had a girl he would drop me in a hot second if she would be with him. One weekend this girl came to visit. I may have recovered faster if he didn’t live on the same floor as I did at the dorms. I guess I didn’t HAVE to walk past his door and chosen a different route to leave. I honestly think I forgot. Deep down it was probably curiosity. My heart dropped. My breath left my lungs. The message on the board on his dorm door “‘She’ is here 🙂 Something about don’t disturb”. Gee thanks for advertising. Looking back, that move was incredibly insensitive. His attention was all on me when she left. She ended up leaving his life for good after that though. Sophomore year rolls around and he bowed out like a magician ending his show. He would keep coming around. I can’t remember whether I told him to stop or he had the idea but we didn’t see each other until the last day of the semester and I told him I was transferring schools. He didn’t like that, but too bad.
So, first instincts in an alcoholic mindset is rarely a good thing. There is some sort of past that will linger.
The only thing to remember is there is always time to make it right and forgive. Yourself and others.