When I was 18 years old, I moved to the big city of Vancouver. I was full of big dreams and big hopes and few concrete ideas of how to realize them. I’d come from a small community in BC and the city seemed like such an exciting idea. Going from knowing everyone to being a small fish in a huge pond was exhilarating.
I had been given a job by my uncle to work in a little call centre while I attended school for film studies. I figured I’d work until I got my big break and take over the world.
Vancouver has a lot of excitement to offer. Seemed like millions of restaurants, lots of pubs (though I wasn’t legal age yet), clubs and shows any night of the week. A friend gave me an exciting offer – he’d lend me his ID until I was 19 so I could begin to check out the city. I happily took him up on the offer and once I was set up in my job and new apartment, I began to take in the nightlife and explore what there was to see.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that this was when alcohol would begin to take its slow creep into my life. My journey into alcoholism wasn’t something that happened overnight; it wasn’t as though someone switched an on/off switch in my brain and I was an alcoholic. Instead, it was a slow progression that started off as just “having fun.”
Being able to buy alcohol whenever I wanted to began with me going by the store after work and, though, it wasn’t clear to me then, I started making more and more opportunities to justify the consumption of alcohol. On the weekends it made sense, my friends and I would all go out on the town and languish Sunday away regretting our choices with hungover glee. Then it started happening during the week, be it organizing at a barbecue, or having a friend over to watch the hockey or baseball game and drink beer.
The difficulty that comes from my alcoholism is I didn’t realize I wasn’t giving up control of my choices – that’s not what happens. Instead, I was prioritizing drinking as my choice. I wasn’t going to do things. I was going to drink alcohol and create circumstances that made it happen. The line became blurred over time and so began my ten-year journey down to the bottom of the bottle.
In my future posts, I’m going to continue exploring my journey into my alcohol use; how the little choices occurred and added up over time, how I felt powerless and unable to choose otherwise, and how I eventually found the knowledge, strength, and clarity to adjust my own choices and reclaim my ability to choose. Addiction is a paramount struggle, one that can make you feel like there’s no coming out of it, but with hard work, study and introspection, life can be reclaimed. The ability to choose and overcome is one of the greatest achievements I’ve managed and maybe my story can help you look into yourself and realize you can make other choices too.