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“With you I could dance; with you I could sing; with you I felt like a somebody when, in spite of all my achievements and talents, I’d only ever felt like a nobody.”

Dear Alcohol,

The more I think about it now, the more I realise that we were always destined to be together. From that moment before I was born, when a bemused gynaecologist raised an eyebrow at my mother and asked, “Are you really going to name your daughter after a drink – Tia Maria?” Yes, that’s right, apparently, I was very nearly named after you. On 8 November 1996, after being kept apart for 18 years, we were permitted to meet for the very first time, under the stern, ever watchful, critical eyes of my parents. Just a single glass of ‘Trina Maria’ as it was known in my family – my drink! Granted, it wasn’t love at first sight as so many alcoholics say, but you certainly had my attention from the very beginning. Throughout my music degree, I didn’t spend anywhere near as much time with you as other students did, but wow, when we did get together, we always made up for lost time and partied until the bitter end. I’m not going to lie – we were brilliant together! We went to production parties together, foam parties, toga parties, we even lost our togas together! With you I could dance; with you I could sing; with you I felt like a somebody when, in spite of all my achievements and talents, I’d only ever felt like a nobody. I can’t help but smile when I remember those parties under the stage in the opera studio! If only things could have stayed that way – innocent, enthusiastic, fun and full of life. We could have been happy forever. You gave me courage, strength, creativity and at times, the artistic flair that I needed to get through my degree. I am truly grateful for your help and I will always have fond memories of the opera parties under the stage.

However, now I know better. Now I know that you were just biding your time, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. The moment when I would need you most; when you would reveal your true nature to me. You were the ultimate ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’. Death its very self, masquerading as life, whispering sweetly into this maiden’s innocent ears, all the while grooming me for something so much more sinister. We did that degree together, so today as I look up at my Bachelor of Music hanging on the wall in my music room, I see that both of our names are written on it. I have decided to take it down. I don’t need to look up at my degree and be reminded of your broken promises, lies and deceit anymore.

Fast forward many years – I’m now a nurse and along came Covid. With Covid came my very first lesson in getting through a day at a time, a shift at a time, an hour at a time and sometimes even a minute at a time. Initially, things were just a little bit grim so naturally once again you were there to help – thanks for that! In contrast to my university days where you showed me a good time, you now showed me you could alleviate my bad days with equal simplicity. A bad day, abusive patients, unreasonable workloads, uncaring management – nothing a bottle of Chardonnay couldn’t take away. Once again you were there, preparing me for what was to come next. This was your grand plan and you were now crouched and focused on your prey, ready to home in for the kill!

When Covid really hit in Australia, it was around Christmas 2021. For me, this time consisted of little more than a blur of 18-hour shifts, my face covered in pressure marks from a mask, continuous sweating in plastic gowns during the height of summer, watching each patient struggle and fight for every breath and having conversations with families who weren’t even permitted to visit. Watching trolleys with bodies being rolled away at the end of my shift is a sight I will never forget. The final straw came when I found myself responding in a less than ladylike manner to the security guard at the front door who cheerfully smiled and wished me, “Merry Christmas!” “Merry – what did you just say to me?”

Throughout every minute of those days, you were with me, sitting on my shoulder, telling me what I needed to hear “Wait Trina! Just wait! It will be OK once the shift ends. Then we can be together again.” If one bottle of Chardonnay takes away a slightly bad day, then these days that requires two bottles, sometimes three, sometimes more and now you have me exactly where you want me. You had won and I was now your slave whether I liked it or not. Where are all the parties of my youth now? Where is my toga now?

I hate you for what you did to me. You promised the world – you promised to always make things better for me – then you rendered me completely vulnerable and powerless while you stood by and allowed some of the most vile and degrading events to occur. I’ll never forgive you for that. I hate that you filled me with guilt and shame and I hate that your only objective was to see me continue to keep coming back for more pain, more heartache and ultimately more death – each and every day. I won’t miss all those days waking up shaking like a leaf in my bed, wondering if or when I was going to start having a seizure. Sure, I miss the numb feeling you always gave me and I still miss having the ability to take myself out of this world, even if just for a short while when things get too hard. I hate that you still arrive, unannounced and most certainly uninvited into my head. I hate that you still whisper sweet lies into my ears and try to entice me back into your evil clutches once again, but most of all – I just hate you. Now you are no longer welcome here, not in my house, or inside my mind, or within my body.

I bid you, “Adieu alcohol” – once and for all.

Home group Oxford NYC
Exchange, Sydney, Australia