Real Talk: How Alcoholism Impacted My Experience of Womanhood
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. If you think you might have a problem with alcohol, please speak with a friend, family member or doctor. Or visit NCADD.org.
Recently, I bought a pregnancy test. My period was over a week late and I was worried, as one would be when “the plan” does not include a plus (little) one anytime soon.
I went to CVS and rehearsed the joke I would tell the cashier while I waited in line. She didn’t laugh.
As I went through the sweat soaked process of taking the test (it was negative), I was reminded of a markedly darker time in my life when pregnancy scares were my norm.
I’ve been sober for over seven years. I was 15 when I started drinking (to get drunk), 18 when I lost my virginity (I was drunk), and 23 when I quit drinking (it stopped working).
There were the obvious fuck ups and mortifying mistakes that came with my alcoholism, and there was the debilitating depression that brought me to my knees. I sacrificed so much to get drunk and high, including, for many years, my self-worth. Until I got sober, I had never really valued my womanhood.
I never had sober sex until I stopped drinking. While I was active in my addictions, I sought validation in the arms and beds of men I barely knew and sometimes didn’t even like (I did this sober too). Remembering to use a condom wasn’t really something I concerned myself with while drunk – who cares, right? And the caliber of men with whom I was consorting wasn’t the highest (with some notable exceptions).
That meant, that most of the one-night-stands were sans protection. And no, I wasn’t on birth control (I avoided the doctor a lot back then). A few times, after such dalliances, I took Plan B the morning after, hungover and hating myself. A few times I didn’t. The instability of my life was such that I just did things when I remembered to and left the rest to fate.
And of course, because of my drinking and the constant abuse to my body, my period wasn’t regular (a common side-effect of alcoholism). I didn’t know when to expect it; I certainly wasn’t using an app to track my cycle or anything so mature (see also: they didn’t exist).
From time to time I would remember my period was a thing and freak out about it. In such moments, I was sure that I was pregnant, even though a.) I had no reference for when my cycle should be and b.) Sometimes I hadn’t even had sex within the relevant timeframe. But it became an obsession immediately, and I would take pregnancy test after pregnancy test ($$$), not trusting the negative sign I kept seeing. Did I go to the doctor then? No, of course not.
Somehow, I survived that turbulent time in my life, somehow I made it through without getting pregnant or an STD and I’m grateful for that every day. I shudder to think of how little I respected and understood my body; how I consciously disconnected from it.
In sobriety I’ve made tons of mistakes, and I still am making them, but I do feel in control of my body and that’s something I’m very proud of. I’ve finally embraced and learned to love my womanhood.