My desire to be the “life of the party” started back in highschool when I became the girl who would say “YES” to everything. The girl who could hang with the guys. The girl who was always down for a good time. My need to please people carried over into my drinking life. My drinking was always based around the fact that I was the “carefree one” of my friends, and I believed that to be carefree and cool, you had to drink so much that you blacked out. I always felt the need to make sure I was making people feel comfortable. And by comfortable, I mean entertained, because what kind of life of the party would I be if everyone wasn’t having a good time, even if it was at my expense?
It wasn’t until recently that I started to recognize that my drinking habits were never quite normal. What was being the life of party really like for me? For one, it was never glamorous. Mostly, it was just filled with shame, which turned into even more reasons to drink.
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The Unhealthy Life of the Party
Let it be known that it’s possible to be the life of the party without going overboard. The healthy life of the party is outgoing, extroverted and charming. I just happened to be a sick introvert who wanted to be heard, and the only way for me to do that was through substance and alcohol abuse. For me, alcohol provided a kind of confidence I was not able to attain when sober. It allowed me to take down the walls I always had up, forget about whatever was causing me anxiety or depression at that moment, and become someone else. Someone I was only able to be when the drinks started flowing. What I refused to see was that no matter how much alcohol temporarily made my life feel easier, there was always still a looming sadness that came back when I sobered up. By becoming the life of the party and avoiding what was really going on in my life, it was easy to make it seem like I was a happy person. In reality, I was just numbing a pain that demanded to be felt.
A New Life in Recovery
My stint as the life of the party came to an abrupt stop when I found myself at my own personal rock bottom. Before that point, I never once thought my behavior was something to be worried about. Eventually I kept finding myself in positions that should cause someone worry, and became aware of my addiction. And that lifestyle that I had grown to love for far too long? Well, I realized that it was not all that glamorous or fulfilling to begin with.
No one ever sets out with the intention of discovering that they are the perfect candidate for mental health and substance use disorders. But in the end, life is just a matter of learning who we are and doing our best to cope with what we find. My life in recovery is the best life I have lived thus far. Discovering who I am, accepting what I cannot change, and learning to be the healthy version of the life of the party have all been key factors in my recovery journey. I no longer feel the need to live for the approval of others, because I finally approve of how I am living for myself.