As someone who is so vocal about the need for communicative, sexual consent, I was a walking, stumbling contradiction - Bx Sassy
Our founder, Bethany Burgoyne, shares with us her story of becoming teetotal, and the rocky ride that led to her decision to sober up. This story contains references to sexual acts and may feel a little challenging to read. However, and as always, we hope that the Sassy display of honesty offers others a sense of courage to confidently tell their story.
In the lead up to Christmas last year, I found myself healing from a touch of heartbreak
and my go-to methods of coping were becoming a little bit of a problem.
Alcohol had been a pleasurable drug in my life and despite some regretful experiences with Malibu, back in the Summer of 2010, I was a fairly responsible drinker. I liked a good old Guinness, bottles of wine would happily be drunk with friends over dinner, and tequila was my favourite friend on a night out in whatever city I found myself in.
However, for the colder months of 2019, I could be found rummaging around cupboards with a greedy need to find those bottles, hoping they'd help brighten my mood. With the instability of not having my own home, yet a wonderful selection of friends letting me couch surf for nights, or weeks, at a time, I confess that I started to help myself to their supplies. Often without thinking twice.
Looking back I noticed how a combination of sadness and insecurity were the two emotions that drove me to start drinking more. I was struggling with being left in my own company, and constantly looking for something to ease that heavyweight of darkness. The more insular I became with my feelings, the more I sort out social situations. Because going to a party would give me an excuse to get drunk, and in doing so, I could secure my desperate need for someone else's attention.
I felt ugly and undesirable so it made sense in my brain to seek validation from another person so as to make me feel beautiful again
We all know the saying: 'The best way to get over someone is to get under somebody else'. I thought that by getting another person to have sex with me, I'd feel better. But I'd shaved off my head hair, and for many days I didn't like who I saw looking back at me in the mirror. I felt ugly and undesirable so it made sense in my brain to seek validation from another person so as to make me feel beautiful again. Does that make sense?
To boost my confidence, and fix a drooping smile on my face, I'd down that tequila, consume far too many glasses of wine, and (because drinking is expensive and I was living cheap) I started to minesweep tables for anything I could get my hands on.
Part of my work is to go out and meet people; find artists, musicians, and projects that are transforming our cultural society. Yet I was heavily leaning on the crutch of booze so as to manage those events and situations. I know I'm not alone when saying alcohol became the thing to give me that dutch courage. It can be scary and anxiety-inducing going out into new situations, not knowing anyone, and trying to connect with strangers. But I had spun a lie in my mind that I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself, or even talk to anyone unless I was at least a little bit tipsy.
I had spun a lie in my mind that I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself, or even talk to anyone unless I was at least a little bit tipsy.
This hit a pretty low point in December when I went to a close friend's 30th. Having unsuccessfully found anyone to 'get under' since losing out on love, I was feeling desperate and insecure. I was yet to understand the benefit of healing on your own rather than through other people, and this party was a marked occasion in my mind to find someone to push my pain onto. I was drinking on the journey to the party. I drunk throughout. Parts of the night get a little bit blurry but at one point, I asked a guy to come to the bathroom with me. To which he obliged.
I asked him to kiss me. He said no. I tried to force myself on him. He excused himself telling me he'd be back. I stayed in that loo for a while. He didn't return.
My knee jerk reaction to his rejection was to skim through my phone book looking for someone to booty call. My pickings were a little bit slim, and a past fuck buddy had already told me in the Summer that he didn't want to have sex with me anymore. Ignoring his wishes, I send a message, orchestrating a way to be invited over to his home.
I will forever be grateful that this man did not abuse my vulnerabilities but instead escorted my messy ass from A to Z.
The next couple of hours were a bit of a blur. I was one of the last to leave the party and took a lift with two people I don't even remember the faces of. I was dropped off somewhere in the Isle of Dogs, and can't for the life of recall booking or even getting into an Uber. The next thing I know I persuaded the driver to get out of the car with me to have a cigarette by the Thames. I will forever be grateful that this man did not abuse my vulnerabilities but instead escorted my messy ass from A to Z.
Halfway to North London I throw up out of his car window. He gives me a mint. I arrive at my ex-booty calls house and go straight for his downstairs bedroom window. I fall into his room, a drunk loud mess demanding he has sex with me. After a couple of playful jokes about the attractiveness of vomit infused lovemaking, he tells me I can give him a blow job. I spend the night crawling around his body, not receiving anything but his dick and heavy breathing until I pass out.
I put myself in numerous, potentially dangerous situations that night. But worse still, I put other people in unfair, sexually coercive corners. If I was stronger, larger, more threatening, I don't know how far I would have gone to be sexually fulfilled.
As someone who is so vocal about the need for communicative, sexual consent, I was a walking, stumbling contradiction.
Alcohol can bring out many different sides to our personality. It can induce behaviour we don't even know exists in our psyche. Violent, sad, manic, ugly, forceful, dramatic, out of control, sick, stubborn. I was looking at a different person that I don't want to be me.
Christmas Day came and went; I drank too much too soon which meant I napped all afternoon. I was rocking between merry and sobbing until New Years Day was finally over.
Dry January was the first step. Despite some setbacks, I started to say no to glasses of wine, and on my 29th Birthday in February, I was officially sober. I can count the sips of alcohol I've had on one hand since then and I'm so happy with my mind's clarity.
Though this story is one that I still feel so ashamed about, I'm proud of myself for making it a lesson to learn from. Alongside my teetotalism was my decision to be celibate (though I'm only 80% sure that felt like a choice...). But the freedom of not relying on alcohol or sex from other people to make me feel good has been life-changing, healing, and transformative.
I now feel confident, beautiful, and aware of my own worth. Sober and steady in my own peace of mind.
Written and illustrated by Bethany Burgoyne (also known as Bx Sassy)