It’s been a very long while since I posted. You can guess why.
My big falling off the wagon was almost 2 months ago (yikes!) and apart from a 10 day break when I was so ill I could barely move (included a hospital visit, I was THAT ill), I have been drinking.
The thing is, I have enjoyed it. I have really enjoyed it.
I read alot of sober blogs, and I hear about the extent of people’s drinking, and I simply think “That’s not me.”
My problem isn’t the volume of my drinking, or the things I do when I’m drunk. Most people would say I’m a sensible drunk, that it helps me relax and I’m fun to be around. The horrible incident I described in my last post was because I went from 0-60mph in drinking terms in a very short space of time. It was a simple equation of:Period of sobriety + letting loose far too quickly = DISASTER.
My problem is that once I start, it carries on nightly for days.
I have drunk pretty much consistently every night for 2 weeks, and alot in the preceding 6 weeks before that, on & off.
I know the reasons I drink, and how my patterns go. I drink in company because I enjoy it. The taste, the ritual, the sense of relaxation that comes with it. That’s fine. If that were it, I’d have my 3 drinks with friends or colleagues and call a night of it.
The problem is, whereas for the past 10 years of my drinking career, those nights with friends would come, I’d have a couple of drinks, stop drinking mid-way through the evening, and go home happy.
Things have changed.
It’s been an insidious creep.
When going through a very tough time in my personal life, going through severe anxiety, combined with an eating disorder, the only nights of relief where I would relax, or feel comfortable eating, was when I drank.
I remember seeing my CBT therapist and she asked whether I had a problem with drinking. No, I said. She asked how much I drank and I said 2 bottles of wine a week. It was true.
I remember the weekend my boyfriend (now ex, thank God) moving away for 6 months. I was having a terrible time with him emotionally abusing me, my obsession with being an unhealthily low weight and being bullied at work. The last night we had together before he moved away, I got so horrifically drunk on the drinks trolley at work I wasn’t home until 11pm, when I was supposed to be home for dinner by 7pm. I could barely hold a conversation.
Two nights later, the first Sunday night he was gone, I vividly remember drinking 2/3 of a bottle of wine, getting accidentally very drunk watching Homeland, and thinking “This is dangerous, I shouldn’t do this.”
With him away, who had controlled me for so long, and drinking making me feel so much better, why the hell shouldn’t I drink?!
Despite feeling somewhat liberated, my anxiety and depression was so bad over this period, after years of resisting, I agreed to go on anti-depressants. This was the best and worst thing I ever did. The best, because finally that horrible chemical imbalance that had warped my brain and thinking for years was restored to some sort of normality, as was I, but the worst because it made me relax.
It made me RELAX. About drinking, it made me relax about not performing my best at work. About putting on weight. About coming back after a normal, unstressful, unremarkable day at work clutching a bottle of red. About drinking it all. About calling in sick.
After years of being so deprived, so uptight, I deserved it, right?!
The 18 months that have happened since then have seen me kick 2 abusive relationships into touch (I’ve said it before on this blog, but I say it again to remind myself): my horrible job and my terrible boyfriend. Yet now I continue to abuse myself with alcohol, despite being stronger in so many ways than I’ve ever been.
I’m in a real transitional period, where I’m accepting myself for who I am, or at least who I have learnt myself to be so far, yet I drink.
I love drinking, and yet I know my life would be fuller without it.
Every set of therapy I’ve had (and I’m now on my 3rd therapist, and someone who finally I respect and trust) has identified my drinking as a “companion”, someone or something I turn to to fill a void. At first I vehemently disagreed- it was a relaxant, something that helped me get away from my stupid, uptight, anxious self. Now, I know it’s a companion. Now, living alone for the first time in my adult life, (therefore my ENTIRE life!) and being single, I feel the empty space, the lack of contact acutely. Both physically and emotionally.
When I had my period of sobriety in August (it lasted 26 or 27 days, the longest since I gave up alcohol for lent when I was 16 years old- yes i started drinking when I was 14…) I began to learn things about how my new single, confident-yet-confused adult life is panning out.
Those lessons were so valuable. I felt I could take on the world. Now, I feel back to lacking energy, vivaciousness and crucially, clarity to continue.
I have spent 8 months of this year drinking quite heavily. At the risk of sounding hugely arrogant, (which I am not usually , promise!) I have excelled at my new job: I was told yesterday I am operating at the level of someone 10 years my senior. I completed a triathlon this year. I couldn’t swim last year. Next week, I am running a marathon. My friends and family love me and admire me. I got an Oxbridge education, am fun to be around and a good friend.
IMAGINE WHAT I COULD DO IF I DIDN’T DRINK?
I want to try and have an extended period of sobriety to see. I want to try and find who I am without filling the gap of loneliness with alcohol. I want to try and get back to my best health so my running (which I put huge amounts of time into) reflects my work, and isn’t hindered by boozy periods.
I want to learn to be comfortable with empty time.
I’m very sorry for the ridiculously long blog post, but it was important for me to write this, right now.
If you read this, please leave a comment, however short. Every word of support or knowing I’m not shouting at the stars gives me huge strength and I appreciate every word.
Here’s to the journey ahead.