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You are not alone: What I’ve learned through four years of sobriety

Nicholas Filipek, Managing Editor

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Hi, I’m Nick, and I’m an alcoholic.

It might seem to be a bit of a cliché way to start an article about alcoholism, but it took me a long time to be able to say the words, and truly understand what they mean.

I loved drinking, truly. When I first started going to parties and hanging out on the weekends, I considered it a sport. I wanted to be MVP. I had made a weird connection somewhere in life that the more alcohol you were able to drink, without passing out or puking, the manlier you must be.

 In that awkward stage of life where you start transitioning from an adolescent to an adult, it seems like you want to speed the process up and act like an adult sooner than what you are actually ready for.  

Soon however, those awkward years passed and I was an adult and I had now taken my “weekend warrior” status and switched it to full time player. Every day I had to drink. At first, it was like I was some weird vampire, waiting for the sun to go down in order to feel like I had waited to socially acceptable limit of when to have your first drink of the day. That would go on to change, and I would find myself day drinking on the weekend, and starting to drink almost immediately after getting off of work.

This went on for years, and I was honestly really content. As long as I was able to get up and go to work for my 40 hours a week, what did it matter what I chose to do with my remaining time? This was strengthened by the fact that my frame of mind had led me to believe that I was not hurting anyone either, other than myself–technically. With that small detail, I was able to rationalize it out. I was exercising my own free will and if I wanted to destroy the body I had, what did it matter to anyone else?

I would go on to in fact destroy my body, and toward the end of this second job, I could barely perform my first, actual job that paid me. I was going to work either so hung over that I was still in fact drunk, or grabbing the “hair of the dog that bit me” before going into work, just to be able to function.  

Thankfully, I have four years of sobriety as of Feb. 9, but cannot guarantee that as you are reading this on its print date, or maybe weeks later that I will still have not had a drink.

It is a day-by-day process, which really had to be started out as an hour-by-hour process in the beginning. I cannot overestimate myself at any point, because that’s when things could start to go wrong. I used to always say, “ I could stop whenever I wanted to,” not realizing the hollowness of the words coming from a drunkenly belligerent blowhard.

The true test of strength for me did not come from me relying on myself however, but seeing that I could not handle my alcohol obsession on my own. In fact, it would take the help of several people, some of them being medical professionals, to get me feeling better about not having alcohol in my system. That was just the physical addiction side of it; the mental hurdles were taller, scarier and forced me to be truthful with others and myself.

Jumping those mental obstacles could only be overcome with a security blanket of a room full of strangers to help me. Their words would fill my head and mentally relax that paranoid feeling that we all face at one point or another, “no one is going through what I am going through, no one can relate”

The truth of the matter is that there were a lot of people around me, who knew exactly what I was going through. Many of them helped guide me on my way to being the person that I am today.

The lesson here is that despite the fact that most people want to be “self made” and stay away from seeking help, it is unlikely that you can make it through this life alone. If you are going through something, there is more than a probable chance that someone around you could be going through something similar, so why should the two of you suffer in silence? Reach out and let someone know.

This place we exist in is large, and quite honestly frightening as all hell. I mean, think about it, we live on a giant rock spinning around an even bigger ball of ignited flammable gas, circling around in endlessness, BUT we are doing it all together. All seven billion of us are in this together.

I would welcome anyone who read this and felt the need to want to reach out to me, to do so. I know that first step is the hardest , and you do not always know who to talk about it to. I can be that random person who helped you out once, or can become that person who you talk to every day.

You don’t have to be alone.

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Nicholas Filipek, Managing Editor

Nicholas Filipek is a senior communications studies major with a concentration in broadcast production. This is Filipek's second year on The Beacon and...

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You are not alone: What I’ve learned through four years of sobriety