Three Whole Years.
Who could have ever dreamed that this day would come. I turned 3 years sober on Friday, Saturday or possibly Sunday. I can’t quite remember where my sobriety date falls, because sobriety has become normality. What a departure from those early days of obsessively checking my Day Count. Sometimes several times a day, in the hope that I’d be shocked by the result: “Eight days sober, you say?! Goodness, when I checked this morning it was only four!” That kind of madness, you know?
How brilliant for 3 years to slip by quietly, unceremoniously and to be so immersed in My New Normal that I barely bat an eyelid at this massive achievement. Because it is an achievement. And I had make sure I dusted off this blog to underline that to myself.
In early sobriety, I read my old posts many times, to constantly knock myself over the head with the message: YOU ARE AN ALCOHOLIC. Now, I get a bit confused with the idea of being an alcoholic. A touch of the ‘What? Who, me? No… I couldn’t possibly be… Oh wait. I am.’
This morning, before putting pen to paper for the first time in ages, I decided to look at some posts and take myself back down memory lane.
Here is an extract from one I wrote one morning at work, barely able to type:
“I have empty bottles stashed in my draws and wardrobe. I threw up so hard last night, when I woke up this morning my teeth hurt.
I think I’ve probably spent more evenings drunk in 2013 than I have sober (that is definitely the case). November and December 2012 were similar, as were August and September. I don’t really recall October, which speaks for itself.
If *anyone* I know were to read this, they’d be shocked, horrified and really quite sad. I would be if someone showed me it and said I’d written it.
I’m here typing this with such a sense of detachment it scares me. I really need to sort this out, but I don’t know if I have the will power. Every time I start, I have a couple of good days booze free, think I’ll be fine if I have a drink and then spiral into 3-4 days of drinking every night. I need to read this back and remember that having a glass of wine with dinner when out will turn into sharing a bottle, needing to buy more on the way home and turning a casual Monday evening into an unnecessary waste of my health.”
I want to cry for 2013 me when I read that. I cannot believe I managed to hold down a job during that period and didn’t do myself more damage. That post was written at the stage where I thought drink was a temporary problem. Then it got worse:
Here I am, again, 6 months after I first started this blog to articulate my worries about drinking.
The lack of posts indicates that things haven’t been going well. I’ve just emerged from what could be categorized as a 5 day controlled bender. When I say controlled, I mean I just drank a bit every night. You know, 14 units or so. 25 on one night.
I’ve been having therapy to try and work through some of the other issues I’m experiencing and this morning my therapist told me in no uncertain terms that we can’t continue to work together unless I kick the drinking. She almost threw me out of the session for being hungover (tough love eh?). Little does she know I turned up drunk to one of the evening sessions. Brilliant use of all that money I’ve been spending on the sessions eh?
I was full of resolve. I battled through the first period of the 100 days, thanks to support from this community and the wonderful Belle, who was an angel. It felt like she was some sort of divine being who spread her sober benevolence. And it was amazing to read the stories of other women getting sober, knowing I wasn’t alone.
I made it a few weeks, felt great, strong and confident and then:
Well I made it to day 24, then fell so spectacularly, it has terrified me.
I was doing brilliantly. I was full of pink clouds, knowing I was doing the right thing, socialising without booze, happy, fulfilled and calm.
I knew a big work conference was on the horizon, talked about it with my therapist and lovely Belle, and thought I had my strategies in place.
Night 1 I went running, was happy, thrilled with not drinking, had a great time.
Night 2, wolfie wrapped his hands round my throat slowly, decisively and throttled me. I got so drunk a colleague had to put me to bed, I fell over at a huge industry part, I was the talk of the town the next day, everyone was worried because I didn’t surface until 3pm. The list goes on.
I WAS SO WIPED OUT I SLEPT THROUGH AN EVACUATION OF THE ENTIRE HOTEL.
I am so fucking ashamed. My anxiety has been off the scale since. I spent my 27th birthday mostly in bed, ashamed, or apologising.
Sometimes I think I’m ok with drinking, but that incident shows why I used to drink so much on my own- to get the hit without the shame.
I really do need to stop.
But of course I didn’t. These posts go on and on until in January 2014, I took myself to Alcoholics Anonymous. It was the most painful thing I have ever done. Yet in 90 minutes of sitting in that room, my life changed. The first few months were so difficult I never thought I’d get through them, but around 100 days it got easier, and at 6 months easier still, until it become second nature to be a sober laydee. If you are struggling, please take know it gets better. Read Belle’s sobriety is like a little car post and know it feels easier every day.
I have gained so much in sobriety, which I don’t reflect on that often. Here’s a few things that have opened up in my life since I cracked the booze: being in touch with my true emotions, trusting myself, falling madly in love, travelling the world, getting the job of my dreams, being delighted with my body after sobriety has shaped it into a little happy healthy thing, skin that glows so much that people comment on it, buying & renovating a home, learning to say no, some crazy wild experiences I’d never have dreamed of having sober, valuing my own self worth, running marathons, discovering yoga, learning to say no, learning to say yes and supporting myself through the scary bits, living a life bigger than I can sometimes cope with, going it alone, letting people in, discovering my authentic self, starting to tell people about my experiences with alcohol, starting my own business.
Not bad eh, in 3 little years?
Giving up alcohol is undoubtedly the best thing I have ever done. Long may the happy years continue.