I have been in love three times. My current partner is someone very special, who I want to spend eternity with, blah blah blah, healthy love is fantastic, insert rant about how I never thought I’d find someone here. But I don’t want to talk about the present. We’ll get to my relationship with Seltzer another time. Today I want to talk about Whiskey and Vodka.
I met Vodka when I was 18. We hit it off right away, because we were both judgmental oddballs who were entirely too concerned with partying our brain cells away the way you were supposed to do in college. Vodka and I started off friends, but as we got to know each other better I realized I liked him in a way I hadn’t liked any of the guys or girls I crushed on in high school. It wasn’t until the end of the school year that I realized I was in love.
This was unfortunate for me, and generally regarded as a Bad Decision, because as it turned out, Vodka was the epitome of Immaturity incarnate. He was an emotionally closed-off rich kid. He wasn’t exactly what you’d call a “fuckboy“, but he was close. He knew (or at least had an inkling of) how I felt about him, and it worked in his advantage. Thus started an 8 YEAR non-relationship where I was bobbing in his wake, happy with any scraps of affection I could barter, steal, demand, or cajole from him. It was literally like this:
Anyway, this one-sided relationship (which, by the way, was extremely fucking WEIRD, like I could write a dissertation on how strange our relationship was. It’s too much to even get into, but let’s just say that we were addicted to each other in the unhealthiest kind of way, and subsequently I think we both ended up getting our hearts broken) went on for a very long time. Way past college.
Why, you might ask, did I put up with this shit for so long? I shall tell you. Vodka (the real vodka, the drink) was also my first. The first time I got drunk, the first taste of alcohol I ever had was that stupid smelly potato juice. And it got me trashed. There was something about vodka that was like beautiful, irresistible poison to me. Literally. I got alcohol poisoning multiple times throughout my drinking career, and each time involved vodka. I tried to avoid it occasionally. I would take breaks from it. I’d switch to a different liquor. I’d say I was swearing off it entirely. I would readily agree that yes, vodka was not the drink for me. It would always fuck me up in a bad way.
But I always ended up coming back to it.
It had a hold over me. I loved it, even though it made me cry in bathrooms, and do things I didn’t want to do, and even though it would kiss my friends right in front of my face. I was able to convince myself that the few things it did that made me feel special and strong were enough. Are you starting to get the picture? I based HUGE life decisions around Vodka even though I knew it would ultimately fall apart in the end. I loved Vodka. And a common pattern in my life is that I don’t fucking think clearly when I’m in love.
Which brings us to Whiskey.
I met Whiskey at a close friend’s wedding. I don’t remember our first kiss because I was blacked out for it. Whiskey was the reason I moved to the Midwest. If you ask me now why I moved here I’ll bullshit and feed you some lines, but that’s the truth: I moved for someone I had known barely half a year. Hence the “not thinking clearly when I’m in love” thing.
Whiskey was very, very different from Vodka. This lead me to believe that Whiskey was a good person, which turned out to be very, very wrong. Just because someone is the opposite of someone else doesn’t mean that they are automatically a wonderful human being. Whiskey was my first legitimate relationship. We were official, dating, in love, and all that shit. (Well, I was in love. I’m 96% sure he never actually loved me and was playing a role because he liked the novelty of it all.)
There were huge red flags and warning signs the entire relationship, but I ignored them because of two reasons:
1.) I really wanted a healthy and normal love life. Whiskey was extremely good at presenting himself as something he was not, especially because it was a long-distance relationship. At first, I thought he was the most mature, kind, and authentic person I’d ever met. (Spoiler alert; narcissists are really good at hiding who they truly are until you get to know them better.)
2.) Deep down, I really wanted to get away from Vodka. I knew that if I stayed in NYC with him I’d be stuck under his influence forever. I knew I didn’t have the strength to cut ties with him while he was still 20 minutes away from me. But a new relationship, and then moving halfway across the country for said relationship, would effectively kick Vodka out of my life. For good. (It did NOT work out like that, but that’s a different story.)
To make a long story short, Whiskey was emotionally abusive. His love was VERY conditional, and he liked reminding me of that. He gave me emotional whiplash because of the amount of times he professed to love me, only to take it back a day or a week later. And because I am a monumental dumbass, I moved for him anyway. Which ended, predictably, with him breaking things off immediately upon my arrival in Wisconsin and then skipping off to date the next girl who came along. And then gaslighting me, because who doesn’t love a good ol’ gaslighting session among former partners??
Ah, whiskey. Whiskey was my other favorite hard liquor. It made me feel classy at first. Like a real badass grown-up sipping on Woodford and reveling in the fact that I wasn’t vomiting up cheap vodka anymore. Whiskey was what I drank when I was convincing myself that I was fine, that I didn’t have a drinking problem, that I could be happy living my life like this. Whiskey was the drink of illusion. It purred and allowed me to pet it, until I was half-conscious. Then it would bite me until it hit bone. And I’d cry that much harder, because whiskey was supposed to be different. It was supposed to treat me better. It wasn’t supposed to be selfish, cruel, and manipulative.
In both of these relationships, alcohol played a huge role. My “thing” with Vodka was staying up until 5 am, drinking and doing drugs, partaking in various debaucheries. I would leave (or be kicked out) the next morning and would continue drinking the rest of the day at my local bar. With Whiskey I tried to be less messy but it didn’t work. We were long-distance, so we did a lot of FaceTime calls. The ones where he asked me out, where he told me he “loved” me for the first time, where he convinced me to move to his state? Yeah, I don’t remember them. I was able to pick up from context clues and texts what we had talked about, but I can’t remember the actual conversations because I was drinking so heavily during that time period.
The moral of the story is that I should have dated more women.
Okay, okay, I’m kidding. Kind of. No, the real moral is that relationships, like alcohol, can be TOXIC AS HELL. And if you have something that is bad for you and you keep poisoning yourself with it because you feel like you don’t deserve anything better, you are going to fucking die. And how is that helping anyone, least of all you?
I’m not trying to emulate Whiskey, who liked to portray himself as the eternal victim. I’m not trying to imply that I was perfect and blameless in these relationships. Because the truth is I made big mistakes, I allowed terrible behavior to continue, and I was definitely not the best version of myself. My relationships with Vodka and Whiskey were doomed from their beginnings, but my addiction did NOT help things. My drinking was encouraged by Vodka and Whiskey, but they didn’t force me to get blackout drunk, or day drink for no good reason; those were my shitty choices and mine alone. Alcohol is like lighter fluid for toxic relationships; it makes it far easier for them to go up in smoke. And harder to recover from the burns they give you. But I did recover. It took a long time, but I did heal, and when I did, I met Seltzer.
I’m glad my third love – the one that doesn’t play mind games, the one that fizzes happiness like bubbles, the one that stabilizes and hydrates me (drink your water, bitches) – is the one that gets to see me sober. Your drink of choice should make you happy. It shouldn’t make you suicidal, or hopeless. Alcohol never gave me true happiness, just fleeting moments that were painted over by despair. Find your seltzer, friends. It washes out the nasty taste of cheap liquor pretty damn well.