*Trigger Warning: self harm, suicidal ideation, language*
I want to be very clear and upfront that this is not going to be an easy read for some. Mainly for family members or those closely related to my intimate life, but may be triggering for various others. However I cannot change the story, only tell it.
I know I am not unique in this experience I’m about to share and deep down I know some, if not all of this, lives inside of you, too.
I was a 21 year-old young woman, yet I felt as though I was a little girl wearing my mother’s high heels and had stolen her ruby red lipstick to parade around. I was a fraud in my own body, wearing this adult mask that just didn’t fit. I cocooned myself in my mind which grew to be a dampened bog of moldy, dead thoughts that clung to my soul like tar.
My heart was broken; a love had just disintegrated through my fingers. I knew it wasn’t because love was no longer there, but because alcohol was the king that ruled over our relationship. We both chose to follow our ruler and parted ways.
I was living on my own for the very first time in an apartment that was a maze of cold tile and sterile walls. The ceiling almost grazed the top of my head. I didn’t fit. No matter how many lights were on or how bright they were, it was always dark. The only saving-grace was it being located down the street from my favorite local pub that I had turned into my church. I was there almost every night like a dutiful bar fly to worship alcohol, drugs, sex, the jukebox, whatever. Whatever would drown the little bit of Audrey that was left for the day.
There were many moments of lighthearted fun: laughing until my ribs ached, singing throwbacks like Usher’s ‘Confessions’ at the top of my lungs with the whole bar in camaraderie, like pirates on a ship. The butterflies that fluttered in my belly when the cute guy at the end of the bar sent me over a shot of Jameson whisky. It was fun to be young and desirable, to sing and dance, to lose myself in the haze of alcohol’s trance.
I was always a step behind. I had to borrow money from my mom every month to pay my rent. I’d work on paying her back and by time I had the money to replenish what I had borrowed, it was time again to borrow more money for the first of the month. I was making loads of fast cash at a restaurant, but couldn’t figure out how to fit alcohol/drugs/chicken wings AND rent in to the budget. So, I decided I was going to cut out rent and move back home. Ya know, keep my priorities straight. The days were ticking away, a countdown starting from 30.
“I’ve got plenty of time to pack up my shit.” 29...28...27...
“it’s not even gonna take me that long.” 15...14...13...
“Well, I don’t have that much stuff, and need pretty much everything that’s out.”
4...3...2... What the fuck?
I had ONE day left to sort, pack, clean, and transfer every single item that exists in my life. There were thousands of stitches of clothing sprawled across the floor. There were innumerable pens, caps, lotions, trinkets, forks, shreds of paper. It was a swamp of an incalculable amount of pieces of my existence staring me in the face, demanding my attention all at once. I was overwhelmed.
I turned to the only solution I knew at the time; Oblivion.
I slithered over to my beloved pub. Liquor slipped down my throat and hugged my insides, instantly warming and calming me. Nothing else existed. Nothing even mattered. However, I have no recollection of the time I spent at the bar that evening. But I assume I had fun.
I arrived home, cracked the door open and to my surprise, my shit had not packed itself. How rude?! A rage welled up inside of me. Unable to contain the heat of the anger that was boiling, I blew up. Every fiber of my being exploded out of hell. Unearthed was a violence I had never before experienced. Guilt and shame drug me to the ground and I let out a wail that felt primal. My hands knotted into fists. Hard as rocks, they crashed upon walls, my own thighs, face, windows. I grasped at everything that was mocking me, flew it as hard and far away as I could. Glass shattered around me, walls caved, punctured with craters from the asteroids I was throwing at them. There was a gallon of paint my mom had brought over so that I could do a little touch-up work on some of the small nicks on the walls. It oozed out onto everything. My bed was saturated. Much of my clothing, tv, belongings, were now marked forever with that white paint. I ripped a drawer out of the counter and took out a knife. I was barely conscious at this point and most definitely not in any sort of reality. I started to slash. I tore open skin and hacked at my body in no particular fashion; careless whips of hurt and punishment. “WHY AM I LIKE THIS?!” This question -this anthem- rang out and shook my little apartment to the core. Just as the dust was beginning to settle, a knock came at the door. It was the police. They just wanted to know if I was alright, if I’d finally shut up so my neighbors could stop calling them and go to sleep. I forgot I wasn’t actually in an isolated cavern in the ground, but in a paper walled apartment in the middle of suburbia. I kept the door locked and shooed them off with an, “Oh, yeah, I’m fine! Thanks for checking!”
It was quiet now. I looked around at the rubble: blood, sweat, and tears streaming down from nowhere and everywhere. There was no space to even stand because paint and shards of glass blanketed the apartment. I was exhausted and needed to sleep, but unfortunately my bed was soiled with paint and debris. I set each foot down carefully, one in front of the other. Glass crackled beneath my bare feet as I slowly made my way to the bathroom. I ran the faucet as hot as I could stand it, I was freezing since the heat of my anger was no longer coursing through my veins. I don’t even remember if I took my clothes off or not, but I climbed into the water regardless. I was still so drunk. At least that hadn’t left me. I laid there, the soft ripples kissing my nostrils, as I attempted to get comfy and use the blood-tinted water as a blanket. ‘I might drown’ was my final thought before I welcomed unconsciousness.
But I didn’t care.
I woke the next morning and looked around at the war zone. I had really messed up. My cat, Roar, crawled out from whatever shelter she had taken through the night. She was pasted with paint and I thought her ears would never perk again. I hadn’t even thought about her that night, if I’m being honest. To this day, this breaks my heart the most.
I was clearly inept. Alcohol was my master. I was defeated and needed to be rescued. My family came and swept up the mess with me, moved me, and absorbed me back into the home without a single glare of judgement. I would love to say that this is when I stopped drinking, but it’s not. This is only an example of the torment I dug into, clawing for the bottom of the bottle.
When I think of days like this, it’s almost like watching the movie of somebody else’s life. It’s surreal. My little Roar (aka Kitty, Kiki, PstPstPst, Stretchy Cat, Ferocious, Cwazy Cat, etc. Literally she’s never actually referred to by her name) is an actual angel. One of my greatest and highest gifts of sobriety is my ability to be the cat-mom that she deserves. Now her biggest complaint is that I don’t feed her wet-food 17 times a day like she wants, only twice. My family has not had to worry about an event like this in quite some time. I know it will never go away, but hopefully by now, it’s a dull and dusty memory they can just leave on the shelf. I have been living and supporting myself in an apartment for several years now and I bet I’ll get my security deposit back. I don’t think it really needs to be said, but the landlord at the other place didn’t give me my deposit back.
What kind of wars have you fought in your life?
When you reflect upon your life’s progression can you see the strength that was needed to get here? Do you know when ‘enough is enough’? I encourage you to ask yourself what you need in order to thrive and ask for it. Go and get it. Be fearless in sharing yourself with others; I think you’ll find, you’re never alone.