In March of 2011 I was 165 pounds, working out daily, eating well (not drinking well of course) and felt in decent physical condition. The one issue that I continued to struggle with was periodic anxiety and worry—but I blamed that on the challenges due to the break-up with Lila’s mother and constant hustle of being a single father. When I met my now ex-girlfriend (Katie) in April of 2011—she thought I was really attractive physically, intellectually, etc.
My self-esteem at the time was low—I was still getting constant negative communication from Lila’s mother, for instance: “you’re a loser” “you’re broke” and her always favorite “youuuuu motherrrrr fuckerrrrr.” I am not exaggerating at all by adding the extra u’s and r’s to how she said, and some-times still does say “mother fucker” to me…it takes her a good 30 seconds to spit that line out. So, when Katie started giving me more positive feedback and compliments I would smile, but deep down I didn’t believe it to be true. I think, at the time, I didn’t realize the lack of love I had for myself—which most likely contributed to my progression as an alcoholic and the eventual demise of Katie and I’s relationship. I love Katie with all of my heart, but I could never truly accept her love because I didn’t 100 percent believe that it was possible that anyone could love me in return.
If I fast forward to December of 2012—I was 185 pounds, not working out and felt in very poor physical condition. At this point, and for the better half of 2012, I was drinking heavily on a daily basis. I started to experience severe bouts of panic and anxiety several times a week—and became acquainted with “migraine headaches with aura (seeing spots/lights).” I remember experiencing the first migraine head-ache—I literally thought I was having a stroke…the pressure in the left side of my face was excruciating. I began going to the doctor at least once a month to pin-point why I was experiencing anxiety and head-aches so frequently—as I just wasn’t ready to blame the most logical culprit…my choice to drink alcohol. Each time I would visit the doctor my blood pressure would border on high—and I had put on a few pounds since the last visit. Increasingly I became an unpleasant person to be around for Katie—I was beginning to isolate myself from the outside world—and the downward spiral was in full effect.
By the summer of 2013 I was even fatter and more miserable. I began working out frequently to gain control of my weight—but of course with the heavy alcohol consumption I didn’t lose a pound. I lived only to be a father—I love my daughter so much that something inside of me wouldn’t let myself completely collapse as a human being. I also loved Katie with all of my heart—but as I read more about how alcohol effects the brain, I was incapable of properly expressing my love for her. They say that heavy alcohol consumption alters neurotransmitter levels that control thought process, behavior and emotion…which makes complete sense, again, in hind-sight. I remember watching Lila and Katie play in the yard, or reading books together—I appreciated Katie’s constant participation in Lila’s life—but couldn’t tell her how much I loved and appreciated her. It’s almost like every positive emotion was trapped in my mind somewhere—and I became unwilling to express positive feelings.
But, I’ll tell you what my dear alcoholic—those neurotransmitters begin to fire like a dry forest in southern California again once you stop drinking. The feelings, logic and emotion begin to come back ten-fold. I kept telling Katie shortly after we broke up: “I am a different person now—I can feel again, and I now realize the error of my ways.” I think a lot of alcoholics, when they begin to feel again and have a short amount of sobriety time, think those we hurt will automatically forgive us. It doesn’t happen. What is 90 days of sobriety to someone you neglected for the last year of your relationship? I now look at my tears as a form of progress—as I couldn’t squeeze a tear out of my eye for any reason when I became my coldest and most bitter—but now, it’s all different. I know with time Katie will realize that the true me, the me she initially met, was temporarily drowned out by alcohol and poor decisions. I never meant to hurt her, myself and those around me—it’s frustrating how blind one can become.
I have been doing a lot of research, specific to how alcohol impacts the brain—and it’s not pleasant. Alcoholics do damage to the most critical parts of their body and thought process—and we do this without a second thought. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder during the peak of my alcoholism—but what I now diagnose myself with is Generalized Stupidity. Almost 90 days off of the booze I am back down to 170 pounds, minimal anxiety, my blood pressure yesterday was 111/75 and almost no migraine head-aches. I am not forgetting as much, and I am starting to feel a love for myself that I never experienced. It is amazing being a father and not only loving your daughter unconditionally, but yourself too. I just wish Katie were here so I could give her an endless hug and somehow make her believe that the me I lost is now found…we can be a family again. However, I understand why that can’t happen.
I am learning to manage the more challenging aspects of life in a more productive way—and when I get the long-winded “youuuuuu motherrrrr fuckerrrrrr” from Lila’s mom—I can smile and say “I’m sorry you’re having a bad day—please call me back if it’s something that pertains to our daughter.”
If you are an alcoholic and still actively drinking—you are most likely experiencing ramifications specific to your health…I assure you that not drinking will be a helpful remedy. If you are an alcoholic new to putting down the bottle—I assure you that things will get better, and 90 days from now you will be happier, healthier and enlightened. If you are a veteran to the world of alcohol recovery—I thank you for the constant wisdom and encouragement—you are an inspiration to those hiding in the shadows trying to stay sober.
One thing that helps me keep things in perspective is research—I guess that is the journalist in me (B/A Journalism). I read articles like the one linked below to remind me of the self-inflicted emotional and physical suffering that I not only put myself through, but those around me as well.