That time when I was on a downward spiral

This is a true story. For privacy reasons, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the people I've met, the rest has been told exactly as it happened.

Living on the road for several years is a surefire way to alcoholism. You will always be drinking, especially if you're an outgoing person. At the time, I already knew that I'm drinking way too much, but still, it didn't seem like a real problem.

I was always a diligent worker. Even if I drank like hell one evening, I could always find the strength to get up in the morning, go to work or do whatever else I was supposed to do. Now I realize I was a highly-functioning alcoholic. It all changed a few days after New Year's Eve. I was still on Koh Chang island.

Like I mentioned before, in the morning, I used to smoke weed with Derek, then I took care of my remote business on my laptop, and in the evenings, we would help Will at his beach bar and keep the clients' company. We were drinking a lot since New Year's Eve. You know how it goes. 

I think, subconsciously, I already knew I'm hitting rock bottom. I was puking every few nights. My remote work started to suffer a lot. I just couldn't concentrate. My stupid travel blog wasn't going anywhere. I was too lazy to write anything substantial other than my journal and way too lazy to promote it online. I was sweating at night, and I was restless all the time.

One of these evenings, Chloe messaged me. She wanted to catch up. I invited her to join us at the beach bar. She was a pretty Australian girl with flowing, light-brown hair and blue eyes. Her cheeks had a pinkish hue. And she came from money. I've always preferred sleeping with either piss-poor or wealthy girls. Guess I'm fucked up.

Chloe came up to the bar later this evening with an attractive girlfriend.

She was pretty shy and cold when sober. Luckily she drank like a fish. She didn't mention the beach incident at all, and I wasn't planning to. She was in a good mood. We joked and gossiped a lot, while Derek entertained her friend.

— Do you guys want to go back to our hostel? — she asked.
— Girls, that would be awesome, but we've got to work here, and I'm trying to avoid drinking after midnight.
— What?
— I've got a problem with alcohol. I'm getting drunk almost daily, and in the morning I've got some stuff to do. My productivity is virtually non-existent. I did jack shit today.
— You're going to be fine. So you want to refuse two young, beautiful women that got an eye on you? Come one, Kemo. We'll take care of you. You won't regret it.
— Girls, I can't.

Not sure if she did it on purpose or by accident, but she slid her hand up and down a tall glass. I clenched my teeth and agreed. Who wouldn't?

— Fine, but you need to give me a minute.

I had to ask Will to let us go earlier. He didn't care at all and wished us good luck. There was a good party going on the beach bar already.

The girls looked at each other and smiled. Before heading out, I went to the toilet to buy a condom from the vending machine. Better to be safe than sorry.

— Eat this, you little slut! — said the vending machine.
— Thanks a lot! — I answered.

I hid them in my wallet and got back to the girls.

We got a cheap local ride-share taxi and arrived at the hostel. We sat on the terrace, opened a large bottle of Thai whiskey, and started smoking cigarettes.

I enjoyed talking to Chloe, and she seemed to be into me too. Derek was taking care of the other girl. I asked her if she wants to go somewhere. The problem was we were at a hostel. We couldn't have sex in her bunk bed. I was never a fucking degenerate.

blurry photo of a pretty girl in the dark

Lacking a better alternative, we went to the shower, and she went down on me.

— Chloe, can we have sex? — I asked after a while.
— No. — she replied.
— Why not?
— Are you not enjoying this?
— It's okay, I would just like to try the regular business.
— No way.
— What? Why?
— That's reserved for my future husband!

I almost believed her. I never imagined I would hear something so ridiculous from a twenty-two-year-old Australian backpacker. Still, I thought she would change her mind eventually. Oh, how wrong I was.

After we were done, we went back to the terrace and drank whiskey together until the early hours of the morning.

The next day was a legit fucking nightmare. I woke up at one p.m. and barely managed to get out of the bed. I couldn't stomach anything, and so I figured I'll have a beer to kill the hangover. I sat in front of my computer and started checking my email. I had a lot of work to do that day. I had to help my dad with his important Ad campaigns. When I looked at the graphs, I knew there is no way I can do it.

I understood that this was it. This was the end of an era for me. I couldn't think straight. My head was throbbing. I just wanted to have one more drink. I closed my laptop and went outside. A single tear ran down my face for the first time during my travels. It's really difficult to explain how I felt exactly.

I was dizzy, and my hands were shaking. I admitted in front of myself that I have a major alcohol problem, and I can't carry on like this for much longer. Having the opportunities that most people can only dream off, I reduced my life to a series of blackouts.

It's a vicious circle. When you're living on the road with other backpackers, nobody treats you seriously when you say you have a problem with alcohol, and you need help. Everybody thinks you're just a drama queen. Until you can party and you're not particularly violent, everything is just fucking beautiful.

This especially rings true in the more impoverished areas of the world, where the tourists are dead-on focused on only two or sometimes three things—getting drunk, getting high, and getting laid. Sure, you can always say no, but what are you going to do then? Hang out with these drunk bastards sober?

I started thinking about death again. I wrote up a page in my journal. I'm pasting it here without any corrections.

I'm dying. With every particle of my body and every particle of my soul.

I was bumming around the world just like that. Maybe because I'm an exile. Not an American, not an Englishman, not a Pole. I cannot feel the ground under my feet, the land—as they say—my own, my family, my motherland.

When I'm writing, it gets better. So I write. I can write for several hours.

Who has planted this seed of constant doubt and anxiety inside of me?

I would be lying if I said that I don't often think about suicide as a means to free myself from my mind. But it's not clear what I should do. There is not a single obvious thing in my head. I am looking for a place in this world that I care for, and I can't find it, although I would love to.

I've traveled half of the globe. I've been to so many places. Me-the-nobody felt good everywhere. Me-whatever-his-name-is felt decent here and there. I, the-shadow-of-me, didn't feel right anywhere. I can't find my place.

How hard it is to take this first step. I've been getting up for a long time now and telling myself: "I'm going to be perfect from now on!" But I never changed anything.

I'm dying.

All these people who wished me the worst all my life can relax now. I won't be coming one day to take their women away anymore. I'm done. Fuck me.

— Heard about this bald fucker that drank himself to death? He traveled so much. Didn't work a day in his life. And then just died in some piss-stained alley in Saigon. Wonder how he fucking looked like then.

And this will be the end of all my popularity and recognition that I craved so much. A few people will come to my funeral and forget about me while doing the dishes next week.

I felt relieved. The next morning I decided to change something. I knew this line of thinking would push me into real depression and eventually kill me. I don't know what it is—my genetics or upbringing, but I'm lucky enough to be capable of change. I needed a long, sincere talk with myself to decide what I'm doing next.

I wasn't mature enough to address the root of my problems, but I could at least fight with the symptoms. I've decided to spend some time outside of the usual backpacker crowd. Little did I know that getting better would take years. But that's a story for another time.

About the author

Living on the road for over ten years felt a bit unreal. Traveled to more than a hundred countries and met my wife along the way. In the end decided to settle down in a smaller city in Spain.

Please don't leave comments that are in any way hostile to me or my readers. They won't be approved. Constructive criticism is welcome, but I simply don't have the time to answer all of the trolls. This comment section is only welcome to friendly, positive-minded people who wish to add something meaningful to the conversation. If you don't like the language that I'm using or stories that I'm telling, you are free to choose one of the million other blogs where you can read the usual politically-correct fairy tales. You won't convert me. Hats off to those who get it!

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