I'm in a bathroom. I know that much. I know I have a casting today. I know if I don't go my incredibly scary agent is going to shout at me. A lot. Again. I look in the mirror, and note with relief that I can't go because I'm covered in bruises and must have been sick a lot this time because I've burst all the blood vessels in my eyes. On the downside I've ripped my clothes to shreds and have no shoes. So I'll have to go home and get changed before I commence today's drinking.
Alcoholism is ugly.
I'm lying on the road. It's the early hours of the morning in a part of town that no one wanders about alone. A taxi stops. A man gets out, picks me up and lays me on the back seat. He must have found my phone because he gets me to my house. Carries me through my front door. He is crying. Telling me over and over that he has a daughter my age. Won't take any money from my flatmates (also crying). I crawl up the stairs, hit my head on the bath tub and pass out.
Alcoholism is ugly
I am in a pub. It's night-time, (hard to tell in this sort of place because the curtains are always drawn but it is night-time) and I have been drinking for around 12 hours. I am with my boyfriend. He is angry at me because I am very drunk, and apparently embarrassing him with my lack of control at this late point in the day. He shows his displeasure by dragging me across a table full of empties. Our empties. Obviously. Blood everywhere. Days later I'm still picking shards of glass out of my skin.
Alcoholism. Is. Ugly.
There's nothing unusual about any of these excerpts from my early twenties- other than the fact that unlike so many incidents I can actually remember them. It is often quoted that an alcoholic negatively impacts five other people with their drinking. I can tell you my drinking affected way more than these mysterious five. My family. Kind hearted taxi drivers. Pub landlords. Long suffering, terrified flatmates. And yes even horrible abusive alcoholic boyfriends.
Alcoholism is ugly. And though only the drinker feels the physical impact of the drinking - the pain of the self-inflicted injuries - the toxicity of our lifestyle tarnishes every single person we come into contact with. And yet nobody will talk about it. Everybody looks the other way. Because nice girls are not alcoholics. And if you aren't a nice girl-or at the very least clean your act up enough to do a decent approximation of one? Then no one will want you. And you will stay ugly and alone.
I have been sober for seven years now, but the chaos and damage that my drinking has caused will never leave me. I'm not proud of any of these tales. I have no excuse for my behaviour. But it did happen. And it is happening right now. Probably no more than a few feet from where you work and live. Young girls dying slowly from the outside in. And it will keep happening until we realise that alcoholism is something that also happens to girls in pretty dresses. Is it embarrassing to have these incredibly ugly confessions in print for anyone to see? Yes. Do I wish my story was prettier? Yes. But the secret ugliness of addiction is destroying young women. Slowly. Horribly. Enough is enough.
Why does this ugliness not have a face? Why could I never find one woman alcoholic on the television or in newspapers who looked like me? Who I could identify with? Who shared my ugly secret, no matter how hard I searched during my years of alcohol abuse? Why can I still not find her now after seven years sober? Where is this ugly girl who looks just like me? Because Alcoholism is ugly. I lived this ugliness for a decade. My drinking past is horrible. It is disgraceful. And there is nothing I can do to change it. But I know a secret now that I am standing on the other side of it. A secret that I want every other ugly alcoholic girl to know too. And it's a secret I'm going to start shouting now, and keep shouting until everyone has heard it.
Alcoholism is Ugly.
Recovery is Beautiful.
I'd like to see some more beauty now please.
Follow Carrie Armstrong on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarrieArmstrng