I started binge drinking when I was 13 years old. All of my friends were older, mostly boys I was trying to impress, and I was eager to fit in. Shortly after my first experience with 2 bottles of cider, it was clear to even my irresponsible, weed-smoking and equally idiotic teenage friends that I had a problem when it came to alcohol. But rather than be embarrassed enough to stop, I thrived on it.
During a pretty traumatic childhood, the only person who truly loved me for who I was was my beloved Grandad. He was the only decent male I had in my life and we were inseparable. I had lived with him all my life since I was returned from foster care as a baby. I was devastated when we lost him when I was 13. Without him around, I had nobody left to disappoint.
I had always felt inferior to everybody in one way or another and without my Grandad around I desperately craved attention. So I decided to give anorexia a go for a while, and I was delighted when my friends finally noticed and began to take turns bringing lunches to school for me and ‘force’ me to eat. I’d argue weakly with them, willing the conversation to fast forward to the part where I’d reluctantly give in and I would eat, just to please them of course. Not because I was absolutely starving, you understand… (A few years later a very close friend of mine was diagnosed with anorexia and to this day I feel horrible about that behaviour.)
When the novelty of that wore off for everyone, I thought I’d give cutting a go. I stole a blade from the school art room and practised at home. I cut myself in really obvious places like my forearms or hands, and tell people the marks were from my new kitten. I’d leave the blade in my pencil case, just to help those close to me put two and two together. I was horribly manipulative…
I found that in my search for attention, getting drunk provided the quickest gratification. I didn’t need to wait for my bones to jut out from my neck for someone to show they cared. I didn’t even need to wait until I was so hungry I’d faint, or put myself through the pain of marking myself in secret hopes that someone would show concern. All I had to do was put up with the horrible taste of whatever cheap booze I could get my hands on, and soon I had the attention I wanted – easy!
I wish I would’ve known then how much I would lose in later life because of it.