You Fall Apart Again. . .de·ni·al [di-nahy-uhl] –noun
1. an assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc., is false: Despite his denials, we knew he had taken the purse. The politician issued a denial of his opponent's charges.
2. refusal to believe a doctrine, theory, or the like.
3. disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.
4. the refusal to satisfy a claim, request, desire, etc., or the refusal of a person making it.
5. refusal to recognize or acknowledge; a disowning or disavowal: the traitor's denial of his country; Peter's denial of Christ.
6. Law. refusal to acknowledge the validity of a claim, suit, or the like; a plea that denies allegations of fact in an adversary's plea: Although she sued for libel, he entered a general denial.
7. sacrifice of one's own wants or needs; self-denial.
8. Psychology. an unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously intolerable
Say two names to anyone who has been in a room with a television, computer or newspaper in the last year and you will certainly get some sort of reaction. Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears. "Train wreck." "Out of control." "Wild child."
I bring these examples up because I have found myself similarly distinguished in my own world. My m.o. for the past couple of years has been "The Girl Who Will Always Do One More Shot of Jameson Even When It Is Clearly Evident That She Doesn't Need Anymore."
For me, hanging out with the crowd that I run with, turning down another drink is never an option. Competitive drinking has become a way of life, and my competition is typically taller, bigger and younger than me. And male. That's right. I graduated from college ten years ago, but my liver has not.
I spend my Sundays playing beer pong. Twenty percent of my monthly income is spent on whiskey. My drinking partners have been Merchant Marines and West Point Cadets. I have found myself the only female at the after hours party that goes until it is full on morning. And wondering where the after after hours will be.
Now mind you, until recently, my rabblerousing has been great fodder for conversation. I have great stories about all nighters and fisticuffs. Ballyhoo. Mayhem.
People love to hear about my excessive behavior. Marvel at my Energize Bunny ability to keep on keeping on.
It seems though, that the party does indeed come to an end. And that end has come.
Everybody is worried about me. Suddenly. Something has changed.
I have reached the point in life when people are so concerned for me that they are no longer approaching me with compassionate concern; they are vigorously upset with me. Apparently, what once was fun and amusing is sincere cause for concern.
I have been lectured and scolded more times in the past few days then since I was a defiantly rebellious teenager. A friend called me because he received over a half dozen voice mail messages from different people inquiring about my well being.
People are talking.
"You need to do some serious self examination."
"You got yourself in this position. This is your fault."
"Do you really want to be this girl? Can't you see there is something wrong with you right now?"
"Most people go through what you are going through and learn a lesson and it seems you haven't been learning anything."
"Your friends need to have an intervention. I'm telling you this as a friend who cares." (Voiced in a manner that can only be described as "yelling.")
I get it. I'm not unconscious of who I am and what I do. I realize that I drink excessively and frequently and I am not blaming anyone for making me into this. It is part of who I am. I understand that it is not healthy and, now that I have reached a certain point (age) in my life, it's just not as cute. It may be, in fact, a little sad.
I understand that I have been making frivolous and irresponsible choices for the sake of enjoyment and pleasure. My decisions could be interpreted as juvenile. I'm not taking life seriously. I am being excessive in my unreality. I'm not taking personal responsibility.
The perception is that I have hit a place one might call "Rock Bottom." It is a place that I have visited enough times that I may as well have a time share there. It is the way I exist - plummeting to extreme depths and ascending pinnacle summits. I have often felt that my ability to achieve such extremes is not only a hallmark of my personality, but a reason for my existence. It is fuel for the inspiration that created these words that you are reading.
I know someday I will look back at these days and understand the purpose of this shit storm. There is a reason to this madness. I can only hope it will be clear to the rest of the world.
It seems that most people have given up on me and I hold no malice towards them for that. The last guest at the party needs to know when to say goodbye.
Everyone has their own problems and I am significantly better off than a lot of people. Perhaps I have taken that for granted.
I can offer no reason for why I have gotten here. Again. There is no valid rationalization for why I am toeing the line of appropriate intoxication. I can only apologize to anyone I have disappointed or caused concern. Perhaps I am not what everyone hopes/wants me to be, but I am not trying to plunge to the depths because I have given up. I am not a lost cause and I am not spiraling out of control.
That said, I can't help but wonder what changed.
When did Britney and Amy and all the other party girls out there become people to pity and fear for? When did I stop being someone who could party like no other and turn into someone who should not party ever? At all.
I often refer to Augusten Burroughs memoir, "Dry," in which he writes about how he thought he would go to rehab to learn how to drink like a normal person. He was promptly made to understand that he could never drink like a normal person. That some people just cannot do such a thing.
Although I know my way around a drink, I don't know if there is a simple formula for determining an alcoholic. If you ask a majority of people in my world right now, they will tell you that I am One Of Those That Cannot Drink. I wouldn't argue that I have exhibited behavior that is certainly worrisome, but I think there is more to it than a list of mistakes and behaviors. I don't think it's something that a person cannot change.
I don't know if this is true. I know that I shouldn't continue the way that I have. I also know that I do not always go off the deep end when I drink, but that I have chosen inappropriate times to go to that extreme. And that is my biggest regret from all of these recent events in my life. What I consider to be my private life is now cause for public concern. I cannot believe I am writing these words, but I think I understand a little what Britney and Ms. Winehouse must feel.
We all go through periods where darkness seems more distinguishing than light. We all have times when it seems we can do no right by anyone and when it seems the more we try to be happy, the unhappier we become or seem. I am not contesting any of that. I am not thrilled with where life is now.
But, I don't think my problem is one of substance, but of circumstance. I am putting myself in situations that aren't right. The drinking is a byproduct not a cause.
But, I also know that there is something to intoxication that can be enlightening and, dare I say, productive. That some of my best writing has come from the experiences of excess that someone like me is privy to access. I do not think I am a hopeless cause, but I do think I have a lot of work to do to regulate my life. To regain control of what I thought I had.
I do think I can drink like a normal person, but I don't think I should tempt fate for a while because it seems that I haven't been in the favor of the universe and I cannot afford for things the get much worse.
The end of the party is most certainly not the end of the living. And the end of the trying will never be the end of the failing, but the ride can be exquisite.