Here are the two questions I get asked most often:
1. What do you mean when you say you used alcohol as a crutch?
2. Are you telling me it’s bad to enjoy how drinking makes me feel?
I’ll start with the first.
Think about when you first learned to ride a bike. If you were anything like me, you weren’t very good. My parents knew I needed a little extra support and so they put training wheels on my bike to help me out. But at some point, if I was really going to learn, I had to I ride without them.
The training wheels came off. I was still unsteady and I still fell down, but I was determined to keep trying.
Now what if I had never taken those training wheels off? If I had convinced myself I would never be able to ride a bike without them? They would have become a crutch.
A crutch is something you rely on too much for support because you’re convinced you need it or are unwilling to experience the discomfort of not having it.
Am I really comparing alcohol to training wheels? Well, yeah, I am.
Alcohol has been with us for thousands of years. Humans have fermented fruit, grain, and honey in order to make alcohol since the Stone Age. It has a long history as an integral part of religious rituals, medicines, and daily life. It’s easy to see why. Alcohol can temporarily make us feel happier, less anxious, and more social.
The problem wasn’t that I enjoyed how it made me feel. The problem was I was convinced I couldn’t do certain thing or cope with uncomfortable feelings without it. The more I relied on alcohol to feel at ease in social situations, the more I developed a tolerance to it. You can go your whole life riding a bike with training wheels and those wheels will work just fine. But my crutch was getting less effective the more I used it.
And here’s where the second question comes in. No, it’s not bad to enjoy how alcohol makes you feel and the fact that you do, doesn’t mean you’re using it as a crutch.
But that wasn’t the case for me.
Being a teenage girl wasn’t easy. I was unhappy throughout high school. I hated my body. I seemed to lose friends as fast as I made them. I felt disconnected and alone. But above all, I felt intensely uncomfortable in my own skin, especially around other people. I had zero coping strategies for dealing with these feelings before I went to college.
Now just imagine what happened when I got drunk at my first party and discovered that the very feelings that plagued me were the same ones that alcohol relieved.
Alcohol became the perfect crutch for 17-year-old me, and during my four years of college it never occurred to me that I needed to take the training wheels off and figure out other ways to deal with how I was feeling inside.
What I didn’t know is that with each passing year my unease was actually growing. I kept feeling worse, and was still didn’t have any healthy ways to cope. Instead of learning the skills to resolve these issues, my brain kept relying on the same trick: have a drink.
I know that there are women out who are like me at 22. They’re tired of using alcohol to deal with social anxiety and insecurity. They are tired of the repercussions, but they have no clue where to begin.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and I can show you how.