Years ago, before the days when my life was ruled by pain, I was the life of the party. On weekends I’d go out with friends to bars, clubs, restaurants, and my fave karaoke spots. I’d always been a social butterfly, and at nighttime I was at my best.
I loved getting dressed up in tight jeans and a glittery top with just the right amount of cleavage to insure I wouldn’t have to pay for my drinks. I loved spending an hour in front of my makeup mirror, blending eyeshadow colors, outlining my eyes with geisha precision. Getting ready to go out was almost as fun as the night out itself.
My friends and I would descend upon a bar like we owned the place. We might as well have. The bartenders always knew us, shots would be waiting, bar stools emptied quickly so we may take our thrones. We would play til the wee hours of the morning, singing our hearts out, eating delish noms, and embibing on what we deemed to be the elixir of life.
My tolerance was phenomenal too. Maybe it was growing up with a wine loving Italian family, or maybe those hard hitting college days, but I could enjoy a bottle of wine at home before moving on to vodka drinks at the bar. Hangovers were few and far between, and most night were recovered with a good sleep in and a Denny’s late night breakfast.
This of course all changed when I got sick. Not so much in the first year as I fought the reality of my disease as much as its symptoms. But by my second year I started medication that disallowed and drinking at all. To go from a few drinks a few times a week, to coffee being my only vice, was sobering. Literally. The first months were hard, and I found myself dropping out of the social scene entirely to keep myself from wanting to break the rules.
Eventually, though, not drinking became commonplace and I found it easy to return to bars and parties and not embibe. By year three it was hard to remember the life I had before I didn’t drink. Of course I remembered what it felt like to be pain free. I will never forget what it felt like to live with a freedom of knowing I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I remember waking up after a big night out with a slight headache and an aching to go to the beach and work on my tan. I missed that happy go lucky lifestyle of course.
What I didn’t miss was the lack of control alcohol gave me. The dizzy nights where I misplaced my purse, my keys, my sanity. The bad drunk texts or slurred conversations with strangers in dark streets. How unsafe that seems now, even though then it was just normal.
I didn’t miss the angry alcohol-fueled arguments that I had with my then boyfriend. The slamming doors, the screaming at each other, the constant stale wreak of whiskey in the morning. No, that is not missed. The fuzzy memories, the misplaced articles, the blackouts…none of that is missed.
Fast forward to my new life now. Almost two years since I lived a life with alcohol. Sure I have a drink every now and then but it’s really not the same. I’m not allowed hard liquor in any form upon warning of possible death. I can have one glass of wine. ONE. And even then…I have to decide if I really want it because I can and will get a hangover. And boy is it a doozy… Nausea, migraine, dizziness, and the occasional vomiting. So I have to decide if that glass of wine is worth it. Is it a good vintage? Is it Pinot Noir (really the only wine I truly love)? Do I need to feel a buzz tonight? Usually it’s a no.
The other change is my oh-so-fabulous medication induced narcolepsy that follows me in my every waking hour. It’s pretty embarrassing when you’re out with friends and you start to doze on your bar stool. Or at a cocktail party at the neighbors and you’re fast asleep on the couch within minutes of arrival. Take a nap earlier in the day you suggest? Yeah, tried that. Doesn’t help. I could have gotten 12 hours the night before and a good sized nap in the afternoon…come 2 hours into an event and I’m being woken up by my head nodding downwards. Embarrassing.
So, yes, I was once the life of the party. I would receive invites to happy hour, cocktail mixers, bbqs, house parties, and formal dinners. But those days are long gone. Doesn’t mean I’m not still a fun person to be around though. I’m still full of laughs and smiles. I just happen to also be on a first name basis with Mr. Sandman. Cut me some slack, will you? It’s hard being 34 going on 80.
If you would like to make a donation to help support my financial and medical needs please visit : Christine Lilley’s Life Fund