It was suggested to me to write a break-up letter to alcohol and lay out my feelings, thoughts and memories on my relationship with alcohol. As putting pen to paper makes things a lot more real in deeply personal work like this I sat on it for a long time. The next step after writing it was to read it out loud and share it with someone else. In our episode entitled "Why is for It's so hard to say goodbye to alcohol" we did just that. What follows are those letters.
I am writing this letter to you because, I do a podcast with John about our experiences coping with breaking up with you, and trying to live life without relying on you… The other reason I’m writing this letter is because John is really into making this podcast seem “professional” and we should probably “plan them out beforehand” and also John loves homework (this is just one of the passive aggressive portions of this letter).
You were like most relationships I had in the past. You started like a grease fire in the kitchen and quickly grew out of control. Once it started going badly, I knew it in the very core of me, but chose to deny the obvious. (it was like ten elephants in the room, and I acted like it was just Wednesday). I would trudge through it completely miserable and in pain. But it was routine and ritual. This is who I am and this is what I do. This defines me and shapes me.
But, unlike every relationship I’ve had, I ghosted you. I cut off contact and caspered my way out this, and I haven’t reached out for you since. But true to form, I obsessed over you and came up with countless scenarios in which we could work it out, maybe something bad would happen and I could turn to you and we could move back into that coffin we shared. That would be rad (insert dripping Gen-X sarcasm here).
I came to the conclusion (one of many, just like the passive aggressive parts of this letter) that pursuing any relationship with you would be actively seeking my own death.
I also concluded that although you were the around for and caused many of my hardships, you were only a catalyst and not the true root of my disease. I believe this infirmity has existed in me before i met you. You just amplified the symptoms (you crazy little minx). Just like a physical debility, you must be treated in order for me regain health. So I sought a remedy.
I found my remedy in church basements around other people who dumped you -- people who got used up, chewed up, and spit out by you. We drink rough coffee, we tell stories about you, and we laugh. We share the turbulent parts of our lives with you and we cope. I COPE, because you’re always there, lingering around like a vampire expecting and invitation in. The wild part is that you’re an element of me. You live in me. I hate that. I resent that. But you’re there, so I have to accept it or be damned. Damned to be walking wounded and back in my disease without taking a drink.
All that being said (or written as it were), EVERYTHING IS SO MUCH BETTER WITHOUT YOU! None of my problems went away, some even got harder for a while (hear me out though); they finally became manageable. The unsolvable became easily solved. What was insurmountable became surmounted effortlessly (is surmounted a word?), contentment was achievable, my sense of entitlement has started to dissipate, and gratitude has become a genuine feeling. Not just something I would say in the rooms to other drunks to make it seem like I had it together. I still don’t have it together, but I believe I can achieve it! Trip out, right?
In all honesty I’m glad I rode with you, and I’m glad I got messed over by you. Because if I didn’t, I would have never realized that life is a good thing. That it doesn’t have to be chaotic and unmanageable. So in a way, thanks for that. I owe you my gratitude.
Now, if you could kindly get lost on this good night, that would be great.
In the beginning there seemed to be so much promise with you and I. I was lost and hurt and young. I had already endured so much trauma at such a young age. Pain, anxiety, and fear were daily. Raised with mistrust and abuse, always being on guard was just a way of life.
I remember the first time you shared yourself with me. You spilled your secrets and poured your promises in my glass. We ditched class together and went to a friend's house. We sang the Beatles, "Take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life. You were only waiting for this moment to arise."
Your first taste was foreign and jarring but your feeling was sweet and warming. You calmed my mind and relaxed my body in a way nothing else ever did. From that day on I knew it was meant to be.
Those promises and feelings stayed true for a while. But little by little things started falling apart.
Some mornings you would leave me feeling battered and bruised always coming back to say, "I'm sorry, baby, I didn't mean it. Take me back, I promise it'll be different this time." This cliche went on and on and on. I kept thinking things would change. You kept on being you and doing the same damn thing every single time. Things got worse. You hurt me more and more. You took my money. You yelled at my friends. You hurt people I cared deeply about and led me into situations where I was nearly arrested. Some, where I certainly should have been killed.
And still the:
"I'm sorry baby. It'll be different this time."
Which turned into
"You need me.
"You won't leave me."
"You are nothing without me.
"You disgust me."
"You disgust yourself.
"I'm the only thing that will make you feel better." And that was true for a while or at least I believed it.
And on and on it went for so many years. Broken promises lead to failed attempts to make it work. So many people were hurt by our toxic relationship. So much time wasted and money spent chasing a dream, a high, an ideal state of being that, with you, was never going to exist, ever. I tried to make room for you in my life but you wanted every part of it. All my mornings spent cursing you in sickening physical, mental, and emotional pain. All my nights in foggy vagaries of distraction leading to numbness and always ending in darkness. Both literal and figurative.
The level of destruction overshadows the fun, good, and memorable times we had. And there were some and I will cherish those memories
I have changed. Three years on since we last spoke. that last night after our last fling even I was unsure if it was our final kiss but I knew that I couldn't trust you ever again and that, in fact, it was me, not you. Truly. You were always the same. Never changing. I heard what I wanted to hear and lied to myself time and time again.
In the first months after our break up I still wanted you back. Thought about you constantly. Had vivid dreams about you. It was so hard to let you go. We had been together for decades but it wasn't hard to remember how much I hated myself when I was with you.
In the years since we split I have discovered other things that have made me happy. Helping others, connection and relationships based on self-esteem, exercise, eating better, and creating art. All the things you used to tell me we didn't need as long as we were together. More lies.
Now when I think about you the moments of missing are overshadowed by the lessons learned, memories of the pain and loss and hurt I caused and endured because of you. So today I stand in the truth, experience and knowledge I have gained by letting you go and say emphatically...