There have been so many experiences over my life when my relationship with Alcohol has intensified, and through soul searching I realise that in addition to all my other excuses to drink, loneliness was a unique trigger.
When I was in my mid-twenties I often spent alot of time housesitting, it was a great arrangement because I lived at my parents house (rent free) and would look after work colleagues, family friends or acquaintances houses and pets when they were away. This was a great (and smart) deal from my perspective because I had the independence of a twenty something, without having to pay a mortgage on my own (or pay rent). Whilst I loved doing this, one of the disadvantages was that I would often be living in outer suburbia, thus travelling for a social life was challenging and also, I was studying part time so my free time was limited.
Upon reflection this time of my life was both a positive and negative experience, it was the time of my life where I was rebuilding myself and my confidence following a major mental health crash so having privacy and the opportunity for soul searching was great. But also, as a twenty something year old woman, living on her own a long way from family and friends was very isolating.
When I was isolated or lonely I would often notice this was a time that I would drink heavily. In fact, I would usually stop by the liquor store on my way to my house sitting assignments and collect a dozen bottles of wine (because the dozen meant I would get the bulk buying discount). I would set myself up in my new home, pour myself a glass of wine (because all distinguished professionals drink wine) and sit with my laptop, wifi and my cigarettes.
After a few drinks I would get the confidence to start chatting to people I saw online on MSN messenger (remember those days..), people I had met travelling, old flames that I had been on a few fizzled out dates with, or just other lonely people that were likely doing the same thing as me. I could never just start chatting to someone cold, I would always need my social lubricant to get started.
The longer I was living on my own, the more often I would drink, I found it filled in the void, it filled in the silence, it helped me sleep and it became my friend. That is the affect that loneliness can have on people. Some people buy cats and surround themselves with cats, some people have craft, I had alcohol and my studies.
I would remember sitting on my computer and writing assignments over a few glasses of wine, I remember having long D&M’s on the phone with long lost friends over the phone, friends that I wouldn’t necessarily see if I was sober, but friends who became amazing to connect with when you were lonely.
That’s the thing about alcohol, it plugs the feeling of loneliness, temporarily. Often there were days when I would wake up in the morning and have that immediate sense that I went a little overboard the night before. I wasn’t hungover, but I wasn’t exactly thriving, but somehow I pushed through. The more I drank, the more that feeling dissipated as I gained my tolerance.
Today, we are in the middle of a global pandemic and governments across the world are forcing everyone to stay at home, work at home, don’t go out. This is a scary and lonely time for alot of people, for people that don’t have family, for single people, I can see how much emptiness they would be surrounded by, I know for me, if I was still drinking it would be so much easier to pick up a glass of wine, instead of a more meaningful hobby.