This is another one of those stories that has been a long time in the making. Trying to come up with the combination right words to adequately explain just what happened that night (and over the following days). This is the brief version of events from my point of view.
I had a party for my eighteenth birthday. I invited the people that I use to hang around with at school. I wasn’t really close to a lot of them but they were the closest things I had to friends. I don’t remember how many people came exactly. Probably around ten to fifteen I guess. I was excited. It might sound a little self-absorbed but I was happy that this party was for me. I was the reason for the party. These people may not have come for me and were only there because they had an excuse for a party, but I didn’t care. It was happening for me. Nothing big had ever happened because of me before. I wasn’t on the outside this time. I was at the centre.
Guests arrived, the music played and people started drinking. Especially me. My memory from that night is patchy but I remember enough to piece together what happened. I chatted with a few people. I was having a good time. I stopped caring about anything and was right in the moment. I was drinking. A lot. I wasn’t counting and it didn’t matter. At that moment I was letting go of everything and doing what I wanted. Even if what I wanted wasn’t the right thing.
Then I started feeling woozy. I needed to throw up. I knew I’d had too much and tried to make my way to the toilet. Patchy memory comes into play here. I know I made it and I know I missed and made a mess everywhere. I vaguely remember trying to clean it up with toilet paper but after that my memory goes blank for a while.
This simple truth is this – I got way too drunk, way too fast, by drinking shots in quick succession. My choice of alcoholic beverage was poor. I was drinking vodka and black sambuca. I should never have mixed drinks and to be honest I don’t even know why I had the black sambuca, I don’t even like it, but at the time I wasn’t thinking which meant I made a bad decision.
Re-enter memory. Somehow I’d ended up sitting in the bath with a mate standing by (one I actually did like and was fairly close to) and my Mum telling me to keep my eyes open while I kept insisting I was just resting. Memory out.
Re-enter memory. Ambulance. Someone telling, I assume Mum, that I had purchased marijuana that night. True. I had. But I had also not used any of it and distinctly remember refusing to smoke it despite being egged on by a couple of guys because I didn’t want to mix it with drinking. Yet I still decided it was OK to mix drinks. Go figure. Memory out.
Re-enter memory. Lying in a hospital bed in the emergency department, hooked up to a drip. Being aware of what was going on around me but being unable to move or open eyes. I kind of liked the feeling. I was incredibly relaxed and thought it kind of funny that I was hearing everything around me but no one knew it. Alcohol poisoning was the term being tossed around and I wasn’t at all surprised. Memory out.
Re-enter memory. I woke up and managed to mumble something to Mum who was sitting beside me about wanting to see Natalie (an older friend of mine who I trusted with many secrets). Memory out.
Re-enter memory. I woke up again. I needed to pee. A nurse escorted me to the toilet where I realised I was in a hospital gown and not my original clothes. Shit. Who has seen my legs? At the time I had some self-harm cuts on my upper thighs. I closed my eyes and got told off by the nurse who was still standing there watching me and then I got taken back to the bed. Memory out.
“…I realised I was in a hospital gown and not my original clothes. Shit.”
Re-enter memory. I woke up again but this time feeling completely fine. Whatever drugs they were pumping into me sure were effective. I sat up in bed and a nurse saw me. Not long after I’m told I can go home. Mum helped me dress and I tried to cover my legs in the process. She said she’d already seen the cuts. Double shit.
Some people I talked to about that evening suggested that the hospital was irresponsible for sending me home without having someone talk to me more about my self-harm. I guess to them I was just another teenage drunk taking up space in the emergency department. One of many that they see every day.
We got home and I went to bed. I was worried about the inevitable conversation that was going to happen the next day but I was so tired it wasn’t long before I fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning and I could hear my Aunty in the kitchen with my Mum. I laid in bed for ages, partly because I was too lazy to get up, partly because I didn’t want to face them yet. I was majorly avoiding what I knew was coming.
Eventually I did have to get up though. When I did the conversation didn’t go exactly how thought it might. Mum made me ring all the people that had come to my party and apologise to them for what had happened and for them having to leave early. Some of them had planned to stay the night. I made the phone calls. Most people didn’t care, some thought it was funny. It wasn’t them I was worried about talking to, but it did delay the talk I was worried about.
I muddled through the day, somehow avoiding any meaningful conversation. I had been invited to a fortieth birthday party that night and I was still determined to go despite what Mum was telling me. I knew she wasn’t going to let me so I packed a bag with some clothes and other things and while she was busy hanging out the washing I called out to her that I was going and ran out the front door before I could be stopped.
While I wasn’t looking forward to the ‘you got too drunk’ chat, I could deal with that. I deserved it. It was the chat about my self-harm that I was really running away from. I didn’t want to talk about it. I couldn’t explain it to myself so how could I explain it to my Mum? I just wanted to disappear and hope it got forgotten about.
“I couldn’t explain it to myself so how could I explain it to my Mum?”
I got some distance between me and the house in case Mum decided to follow me in the car. I found a phone box and rang Natalie, who had also been invited to the party, I briefly told her what had happened and asked if I could get a lift with her. I got the train out to her place and we went to the party.
Mum knowing where I was headed but not knowing how I planned on getting there, had already rang ahead and requested to be rung when I arrived. I didn’t know this till later though.
I knew I had drunk to much the previous night and I wasn’t stupid enough to do it again. I, quite responsibly I thought, was downing bottles of water the whole time I was at this party. Not a single drop of alcohol passed my lips that night, or for quite some time after as it happens.
I went home with Natalie that night and crashed at her place. I didn’t go home till the following afternoon. I remember having a brief talk with Mum about what happened. She said she was surprised at my self-harm but I don’t recall going into much further discussion about it. That’s not to say it didn’t happen. I just don’t remember. Things seemed to calm down a bit after that.
Now I come to the part where I need to apologise. I’m sorry. Sorry to my family and to the people that came to my party for having to put up with me. Sorry to everyone that had to clean up the mess after me, both literally and emotionally. I made bad decisions, stupid decisions, that night. But I guarantee you I have learnt from it. I have NEVER been drunk since. In fact the handful of times I went out clubbing and to other parties since then I’ve nearly always been the designated driver and haven’t touched alcohol at all.