It Wasn't Always Bad
It wouldn't be fair to say that drinking was always bad because the truth is it wasn't. It's an important point because this is one of the biggest reasons I kept going for as long as I did. I've heard a lot of other alcoholics share that they too had a lot of good memories and that when their drinking transformed into something dark they never really saw it coming. It was a subtle and sneaky decline.
Even though I had some of the darkest hours of my life in the later stages of alcoholism, for a time I had a lot of fun. During high school my friends and I would lay in the park and drink wine coolers, cut school and smoke weed down in the park, drink at the beach, go on day long booze cruises, and take camping trips with only cases of beer to sustain us. We would play strip poker, truth or dare, quarters, and beer pong - all of which I loved and got pretty good at. In my early twenties, we would hang in dive bars, dance on tables, make friends with complete strangers, flirt with men we had no interest in, and go to brunch the next day to replay the night. I loved the freedom a wild night gave me. The occasional bad night did happen, but nothing like the hell that was on the horizon. I was about twenty-five when my blackouts became more frequent, my behavior got erratic, and shame and self-hatred started to kick in. That freedom was disappearing.
At twenty-five I was confused, lost, insecure, and angry. I just kept pretending like it wasn't happening. I wanted my drinking to go back to the nights where I could throw all my inhibitions and responsibility out the window. I wanted to go back to the nights where I didn't blackout, say something fucked up, or wake up feeling like the world's biggest piece of crap. I wanted to have dinner with my friends and focus on them rather than frantically searching for the waitress to bring me another drink. I desperately wanted to go back to being that fun, carefree, party girl but she was gone - completely vanished. The final three years my alcoholism transformed into something I had never imagined - I started drinking to forget about my drinking. *I'll have to follow up with that it needs its own post :)
Every alcoholic chooses their own path, how they view their history, and what their relationship to alcohol becomes after sobering up. My old boss loved to say "You have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad. Love what you got, and remember what you had. Always forgive, but never forget, learn from your mistakes but never regret. People change, things go wrong, but just remember life goes on."
There's a lot of wisdom in that poem - the hell that ensued earned me my seat in AA but those wild and fun nights did too.