When I was in my twenties I did find a way to not drink for some time. I was introduced to AA by a friend who saw my drinking as a problem.
I got involved with all aspects of its active service and so on. I loved the community aspect of it that it felt like having a family. I do not remember ever having a real connection to my body at that time. In a lot of ways, it felt like someone else’s life, to be honest, and that I was going through the motions. I wanted to fit in, to be a better Mum, person, friend and so on. It was very little to do with myself.
I’m not sure how long I lasted I think it was maybe 18 months. It is 20 years ago now! I can’t recall exactly what happened but I can say for certain that I picked up the first drink.
That one drink led to drinking on and off for another 20 years. When I write that down it amazes me because I see how very little control I had over it.
All of my drinking after that was in the full knowledge that I had a problem and yet I couldn’t seem to stop or I didn’t have enough willpower too. So I tried different ways to control it. Only drinking at weekends, drinking stout, drinking beer or wine or cider. Only drinking from a certain time in the evening. Which drink can I feel less sick with sore with function better on? Which drink can I present myself to the world on… I believe its called a functioning alcoholic.
It did not get any better the more time went on. I had many rock bottoms and continued to drink. I drove on drink, tried to shoplift alcohol and was caught. I lost many jobs because of my inability to keep good time. One job I drank the night before I started a brand new job. I went to the pub for two pints to unwind the nerves(the stories we tell ourselves!) and be home early. Of course, I could not stop after two. I was way too hungover and sick to go to the job and so I lost it. I remember I attended a funeral where whiskey was served. I mostly managed to stay away from spirits but not that evening. I drank some and then some more. Eventually, I blacked out. I woke up on my sofa half-naked and with a black eye not remembering what had happened. Nobody had hurt me only myself that time.
I need to remember these times. This is what one drink led to and this is only what I’m comfortable sharing here. . Alcohol enabled me to function but never live. I was only living for the next drink and that’s the sad truth. With the drink came nicotine and marijuana when I could get it. I loved being comfortably numb…I was consumed. And it allowed me to shut off from any trauma I was still feeling or not wanting to feel in my body. I did not know that at the time but I have learned and now understand it better. For the last couple of years of my drinking Id had enough.
My body had had enough. I had turned 40. No matter what I drank it almost always refused to stay in my body. Such a waste of alcohol I thought then.My liver hurt. Everything hurt. I would be out of breath waking up my stairs to bed. I had a persistent cough and even took an asthmatic inhaler at times to help me breath. As much as I tried to ignore my body as it was screaming out I was sick of feeling sick. Things got in the way for a while…A wedding, a birthday party a Christmas! How could I ever get sober before any of these occasions?
I began to notice certain people. The sober people I hadn’t noticed before. I saw them even on social media and I saw their light and I wanted that. They shone and they didn’t hide the fact that they didn’t drink. For so long I thought there was shame in the not drinking that it had to keep a secret. The shame was all caught up in the drinking, not in the stopping drinking!!
Christmas 2018 I tried to drink a little as possible. I failed. I drank at some stage and it carried over for a few days.
But on January 5th 2019 something happened. The easiest way to describe it is this.
Step One: Admitted we were powerless over alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable. When I did this step I believed in it so I also included nicotine and the green stuff. Why would I want to hold onto either addiction? So I admitted I was powerless of all of it.
Step Two: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step Three: Decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
I always believed in the existence of a God so step two and three from the 12 steps were workable for me. Whatever it is about turning my life over to the care of a higher power it has worked for me as I have not picked up a drink since that day. Recently I have started praying again more. For different people mainly and myself. Sometimes well often it is the only thing I can do. And I find solace in the that. A lot has been taken away during this pandemic but prayer remains and I find it hopeful. I also find it hopeful that it feels like I got another chance. The chance I didn’t fully take that I was not ready for in my twenties came around again. In between I managed to not die,not kill anyone or end up in prison and so on. Sure I have amends to make I made mistakes that cost. I wish I’d done better and so on. But I was suffering and only able to do what I could at that time.
Forgiveness is a big part of recovery going forward. Feeling into that not being consumed by guilt and forgiving myself. Recognising Allow Investigate and Nurture is a great resource I’ve been using by Tara Brach an amazing author and meditation teacher.
I’m greatly encouraged still by people I’ve grown closer to in recovery those who continue to shine there light and live there best lives too.
I like the idea of shining my light out now that I’m finding it.
Hoping as you read this your light is glowing.