“I think I have a problem.”

I was curled up on the bathroom floor, my face against the cool tile.  The stench of sweat and vomit hung heavy in the air.  I was coming down off a three or four day bender, and the withdrawal was hitting me like a freight train.  It was in that desperate moment that I finally admitted what I had known for a long time—alcohol was ruining my life.

Ever since I was nineteen, I’ve been a drinker.  It used to not be a problem.  I could pass all my classes, make it to work on time, drink enough to get loosened up but not go overboard.  Sure, there were times when I’d have a few too many and make an ass of myself or hear people say, “Oh yeah, you’re the guy that drinks a lot.”  But I brushed it off—I was having fun, and it wasn’t like I was going to live this way forever.  I could stop whenever I wanted.

Until I couldn’t.

Suddenly, what had been a weekend activity was creeping into the week.  And I was starting earlier and earlier in the day.  It was usually just whatever drink was leftover from last night to get me going in the morning.  But then it became a few drinks to steady my nerves and prepare for a stressful, shitty day.  Get back from school or work, have a couple drinks to unwind and de-stress.  A few more at night either to go out and be social or simply to give me something to do.
Awake.  Arise.  Repeat.

It wasn’t a problem; I only missed unimportant classes.  I could make those up easily.
It wasn’t a big deal; it was just a Nalgene of vodka/redbull—it was going to be a long night studying at the library, and I needed something to keep me going.
I didn’t see why people were worried/pissed at me; sometimes I need some alone time, and that means ignoring every text, call, and email for a few days.
Of course I’m fine.

I’m getting married, this will help me get a handle on it.  I wouldn’t want to be the sort of husband with a drinking problem.
God, I wish she would just go to work so that I can be alone with the fifth I have stashed in my sock drawer.
It isn’t that I am hiding anything really; I just don’t want her freaking out about my drinking because it isn’t a big deal.

The anxiety is getting so bad; I just need a few drinks to feel calm again.
The panic attacks are happening so early; I need a few morning shots to function today.
Maybe I’ll just stay in bed drinking.  The world is so overwhelming; I need a day off to just dive into booze-soaked oblivion.

Suddenly, it is three or four days later, and I am on the bathroom floor.  I don’t even really remember how I got here, or what I’ve been doing for the past few days.  I’m so sick, I can’t even hold down water for more than fifteen minutes at a time.  My stomach is in agony, and my heart feels like it is going to explode.  I am shaking uncontrollably.  I can’t stop sweating, and the stench from the booze and toxins leaking out of my pores is sickening.  The insomnia has made it so that not even sleeping pills work.  There is no relief.  No peace.

Tears in my eyes, I call my wife and choke out, “I think I have a problem.”

That was roughly a year ago.
It has been a rough year.  I’ve relapsed a number of times, but I am trying so hard to maintain sobriety and control.  Each day is a challenge and a struggle.

Hi, my name is Paul, and I’m an alcoholic.

Paul Menn
Paul ('10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma ('10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.

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