Broken Hearts Anonymous #3


Trigger Warning; Alcohol Abuse and Suicidal Ideation

This is a weekly column about abstinence based twelve step recovery, finding small moments of beauty, and getting over your ex.

When my ex and I broke up around this time last year, I was drunk, and she was high.

We sat on opposing sides of the glass top table you find out the back of most share houses belonging to people in their twenties.

We were both going through things that seemed unexplainable. We’d spent every day together for almost a year and yet we’d never felt so far apart.

I told her that I was unwell, and I didn’t think I would ever get better. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that still I loved her. It felt like a lie.

We both cried and, when it was over, she asked me to stay.

A month later she was leaving. Back to England so she could reapply for a visa and return here to finish her degree. We’d moved all her belongings into my mother’s house for safe keeping.

At the airport she held me for as long as she could. She kept searching my face for any indication I had changed my mind. I told her we could sort it out when she came home.

I did not tell her I loved her. I did not kiss her. And then she was gone.

I went home to get drunk.

I do not remember the last time we had sex. I do not remember the last time we kissed.

Two weeks later I quit my job and withdrew from university. I told my family I needed space. I needed time to think.

I spent that time drinking.

Sometimes I would go out with friends, but mostly I was alone. I’d order whiskey, beer and cigarettes to the house and listened to music and watched movies. Particularly ones about other drunks.

In Leaving Las Vegas Nicolas Cage demands of the woman that he loves to promise him that she will never ask him to stop drinking. He wants to drink himself to death and he succeeds. He dies in her embrace.

I thought it was beautiful.

I read that the author of the book died under similar circumstances. I admired his bravery, to go out like that on his own terms.

I started to drink even more heavily in the last 2 months of the year. When I was younger and had MDMA or dexamphetamine in my system I could stay up for 48 hours and continue drinking. But now –in the middle of this months long bender— I found that I didn’t need any other drug to keep me awake. I could stay up for days and not eat. The beer had enough carbs to sustain me, and the cigarettes kept me sharp. I did my best to avoid my mother and grandmother. If they did find me around the house I’d hug them, kiss them and tell them I loved them.

Many times, my mother found me passed out in strange places, sitting at a table or on the ground beside the couch. I would always wake up and assuage their fears with long emotional talks of how ‘I was just going through a tough time’ and ‘I’d get better’. On two occasions I blacked out and punched holes in the walls or I’d destroy furniture by stamping on it in heavy boots while in a state of spontaneous rage. In these moments I’m sure they were terrified, but I wouldn’t be talked out of it.

My self-loathing had become so complete that all I thought about was every mistake I’d ever made. Lashing myself with them and then using alcohol as a salve on the open wounds.

I was a failure. All I did was hurt those who loved me, and I couldn’t be around other people without fucking them up too. It was better that I be alone.

One morning, on the third day of being awake and drinking myself into various stupors, I found myself in bed with a bottle of my mother’s rosé. I had been watching The Sound of Music and crying. I had watched the scene of Christopher Plummer singing Edelweiss over and over. I loved how Julie Andrews flattened her palm against the sideboard as he sung. As the sun rose, I laid on my back to sleep, but every time I drifted into unconsciousness I would awake suddenly gasping for breath. I was so intoxicated that I was unable to automate my own breathing. I had to focus very hard on each breath and each one came with a sharp pain in my chest. If I stopped concentrating, I would stop breathing.

I knew that I had to roll out of bed and get myself to the bathroom to vomit or I might not wake up. I was too weak physically to do it, but I still had the wine in the bed with me and all I could think to do was keep working my way down the bottle and eventually I would just pass out.

I remember thinking that if I died in my sleep that it wouldn’t be a big deal. I had never enjoyed living in the first place. My entire life had been a series of disappointments. I was unable to love anyone but myself. This might be best for everyone.

I woke up maybe 3 hours later. Still on my back with my head cocked to the side on my pillow. I noticed a stickiness on my cheek and some dampness around my neck.

I had thrown up in my sleep. Just a mouthful. It was dark brown and thick. If my head hadn’t rolled to the side I may have asphyxiated.

It didn’t bother me.

I took off the pillowcase, threw it into a corner, and walked to the bathroom.

I looked at myself in the mirror. I saw my face was bloated and red and my eyes were bloodshot. I smiled as big as I could to see what I looked like happy, but my eyes would not change. They just hung there like the eyes of a corpse.

I stumbled back to my room and saw the wine bottle still in my bed. I’d promised my ex and my family that next year I would stop drinking but that was three weeks away. For now, that bottle seemed like all I had left. It was only a quarter full, and I was craving a drink.

When I stopped drinking for too long my head would throb and my liver felt like it was being cut out of me with a hot knife. I had to keep drinking and I did.


I’m sorry if that was unpleasant to read.

I wanted to share this memory of one of the most intense periods of my active alcoholism because it illustrates something that I have only come to understand since I’ve been sober: the way that I feel in the worst moments of my life is not the way I will feel forever. The person that I was when I made those mistakes is not the person that I am now.

In the moments of my life like the one I have just described, any concept of personal growth being possible seemed like a sick joke. I had become so nihilistic and uncaring towards those around me that dying through alcohol poisoning didn’t even register as something I should take active steps to avoid.

I told myself that I was alone and that my death wouldn’t affect anyone, but that has never been the case.

More than that, 8 months after giving up alcohol and 3 months into AA fellowship, I am now beginning to form a working understanding of how to become free from the pain of my past.

I have experienced true moments of joy. I feel stronger and more in-tune with my emotions than I ever have.

On September 4th it will be exactly a year since I dropped my ex at the airport. The regret I feel for how our relationship ended still haunts me. I spend countless hours a day raking myself over the coals of what could have been. Having conversations with an imagined version of her that is willing to hear me out, but I am at peace now with the fact that will never happen. I will never see her again. In the end she made the decision that was safest for her, and I will respect that and stay out of her life.

Through my sobriety I have deified her as the only person that was able to change me. I stopped drinking for her, and I went to my first AA meeting when I knew I had truly lost her. I thought she was what had been standing between me and the abyss of alcoholic self-destruction.

But, in truth that was never the case. I had been drunk and alone on New Year’s Eve when I had my last drink. I had dried myself out through the following week with Panadol, melatonin, and hydralyte. It had been solely me that resisted the urge to drink thousands of times in those first few months. It had been me who reached out to Brendan to take me to AA. It is me in those rooms now, working and fighting to be a better version of myself.

That is something I’m very proud of.

It takes more than self-will and teeth gritting to truly change, however.

In our next instalment I’ll be sitting down in an interview style format with my sponsor to go over the work I’ve been doing in AA and the twelve steps as he understands them. I hope we can give an understanding of how this program has helped me come to terms with the prison of self-loathing and substance abuse I am in and where I can go from here.

I hope to see you then.


If this column has raised issues for you about your own alcohol consumption and you’d like to talk to someone, you can contact AA General Service Office 24 hours a day on (03) 9529 5948. A family member or a friend may be a great option too. We’re never alone even if we feel like we are.

The world is better with you in it.

Artist: Sarah McLachlan is a third year Bachelor of Creative Writing student who likes to draw in her spare time. She wishes to combine both her art and writing skills to create a webcomic of her own one day, but she’s also open to illustrating for books and book covers. Sarah is also a major The Legend of Zelda fan and can be found drawing a lot of elves. You can find her at @hideriame02 on Instagram.

Editors: David Farr and Eliana Fritz