When I guessed, and when I knew
It was 19 May 2008 and I stood, swaying slowly on the spot, the incredibly high heels I was wearing putting up and amazing show of good shoemanship, and squinted for the cab I was waiting for to arrive. The incredibly cute guy who had basically taken it upon himself to look after me all night was standing next to me. I knew he was my friend Tasha’s friend. I knew his name was Johnny, but by that time I was suffering such acute embarrassment and it was taking so much brain power to stay standing, I pretended I couldn’t see him.
We had been attending Tasha’s birthday party and to say that I had been the life and soul of the party would be an understatement. I had ruled the entire joint and by the morning I was probably the subject of hilarious tales across the city. My phone began ringing incessantly from midday from about six people I had met and made firm friends with the night before. I was gratified that all of them were women. They all invited me out again and for a dizzying month, I was the showpiece and often the only black person in pubs around Linden, Greenside and Sandton.
But on the morning following that fateful May day, I began to suspect my life was about to change and if I didn’t adapt, I would die. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was heading downward and I knew from experience that climbing back up from the abyss was a journey I could not do twice. I had had my chance and it was that chance that I was gambling with now.
In the beginning of July I woke up from a days-binge of alcohol with the garbage bin in my bedroom reeking of puke, my ankle was badly sprained, the TV was on and my swollen feet were stuffed in yellow high heels. Under the pressure of keeping up appearances, of partying with now-faceless and nameless people, I had finally buckled. To this day, I am so grateful it was the holidays and my children were away visiting. I had ushered them away as soon as school closed so I could continue to bury myself in alcohol. I was mourning the death of my ex, a recent discovery of an untenable situation I found myself in and a perceived personal failure. I was a mess.
That is when I knew. My life had changed. It had irrevocably changed and I needed to change with it. It was TJ who helped me find the right path and the strength I needed to follow that path.
Over the past two years I have been so tempted to go to the liquor store and buy myself a case of beer to just drink and drink and drink until I pass out. But the memory of that bin, nearly brimming over with vomit, the stink of the bedroom, the cigarette burns on my very expensive linen, my inability to get up and wash myself because my ankle throbbed so much, serve as a reminder to me that I may be amazing in other things, but I cannot handle my drink.
And I have proved to myself in the past two years that I am an amazing person. Hiding behind alcohol so long I never gave myself a chance. I thought I had to be OUT THERE, I had to be crazy and I mistakenly thought that I could only be those things if I was drunk. In the past two years I have only drunk less than three full glasses of wine if one had to measure, and those in the company of my boyfriend, in celebration. I do not want to fear alcohol, but I know it is not my friend.
In the past two years I’ve realised a few things, I’m AWESOME, I’m CRAZY, I’m IN YOUR FACE, I’m OUT THERE and I’m outrageous. It has absolutely nothing to do with booze. I’m mad and I love it.