I honestly don’t think I would have stopped drinking had the pandemic not forced me to be alone with myself. These past 4 months since the onset of covid have changed everything. I’ve never spent so much time alone, and to spend a majority of that time in a sober mind, facing my thoughts and emotions has been hard work, and possibly the first time I’ve really spent time with myself since I was a kid. I see it as a gift, something worth cherishing and taking seriously, and I am so proud that I didn’t drink my way through this period of time.
I have started emailing authors whose articles I appreciate, maybe I’m annoying to some, but a few have written back, are interested in answering questions and talking with me about my own fetus-aged research project. I would not have done this a few months ago because so often my work was joyless, I often felt I was just getting by, and I had so very little genuine gratitude for what I was doing much of the time. I had a self-image of being a trickster and imposter, I felt I didn’t deserve the opportunities I have, that it was some kind of fluke and I just had to keep the charade going or I’d…fall through a crack in the earth or something. I harbored a combination of false pride and real wounded self-esteem that made it so I would not engage as deeply with my own life projects for the fear of being “found out” as a fraud. And the reason I’d drink was often to ameliorate this stress of not feeling genuinely engaged in my endeavors. I felt like an outsider in my own life, so I’d drink, because that was what I perceived to be my escape…escape from my own life. WTF kind of self-imposed hell is that?! One of the greatest gifts of my very new sobriety is to feel more authentic in my work and to not want to escape from my boring little even-keeled life, and maybe even to start enjoying it & putting myself out there more often.
I felt that the only way to deal with feelings was to drink them back down. …thinking that drinking isn’t my problem…I drink BECAUSE I have problems.
I love a good redemption story, but the truth is that I didn’t burn my life down to get here. My drinking grew deeply problematic, but probably only for a few years did drinking alone, blacking out regularly, and binging on weeknights become a habit. I was functional, kept jobs and continued to build my CV. I was managing on the outside, even if I was a pickled little tragedy on the inside. I cringe at the damage I’ve done to my body in this time, but with the knowledge that I am very lucky to have had a shift in perspective before it got much worse.
The truth is, I kind of impulsively flopped into sobriety. I didn’t have a lot of conversations about it, I didn’t have anyone watching me or keeping me accountable, no interventions, no hurt spouses, no neglected children, no arrests, no bankruptcy, no crashed volvos…just me, alone, in a new country, growing progressively more exhausted of my own BS.
Two winters ago I was in a therapy group, which was so lovely, but I noticed that I cried a lot more than the others, I was not able to tell my story well, and I just had this feeling of stuck-ness, of not having a way to communicate my feelings, or even understand them internally. I’d listen to these women working through their stories, making some real progress, and I sat there thinking “what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do this?” Everything felt painful, like I was a ball of exposed nerves. After our weekly group, I would SPEED home to get drunk in my car in the driveway…I felt that the only way to deal with those feelings was to drink them back down. The therapist talked to me about AA, and I shrugged it off, thinking that drinking isn’t my problem…I drink BECAUSE I have problems. And I really didn’t think about it for months and months afterward.
Moving to England was a dream for my booze-loving lifestyle. No judgement for having a pint before lunch, shy pub men would buy me a beer and then fuck off, not lingering around hitting on me, just giving me beer. It was awesome, I thought. I fell into a crowd of regulars; it felt good to go to the pub after work and see familiar faces, we’d buy rounds and tease each other and laugh…my anxiety melting with the buzz of pints, just talking nonsense and wasting time, really. I was becoming a pub person. It was just a few months ago, but I cringe at how false that sense of security was…(this crew included that man who pinched my vag and called me a slag). I was willing to overlook SO much in order to surround myself with people who helped to normalize my drinking habit.
Then, the pandemic hit and these pub friends went to drink together in a make-shift speakeasy. I felt very strongly about our personal responsibility to slow the spread of covid, and I refused to join them, thus sort of breaking from the “pub people”. The first weeks in isolation were often drunk. Drinking alone had become a hobby, and I had no issue moving from the pub to my kitchen. But after days of solitude, I started to think that something has to change. I had moved to England as a research fellow and this should be an amazing opportunity and time for growth, and I just felt kind of lousy and childish a lot of the time. I hated being around myself. I can be anything, why do I remain someone I don’t want to be around? Why do I need to be drunk to be with myself? I had heard of Holly Whittaker before, and I ordered her book on sobriety. I joined a free online community called BOOM Rethink the Drink with an alias, and here I am now, 3 months sober and unstuck!
I remember my first post was this long, weird, flowery thing about drinking throughout various chapters of my life. I think that I was actually a bit drunk when I wrote it, but this is when I started to tell my story and take off the blindfold.
The last night that I drank, about a month after joining BOOM, I was on a video call with a good friend & colleague and for no real reason I got so drunk that I don’t remember how our call ended. I woke up, got sick, and found a pile of cans in the kitchen. I had bouts of not drinking before that, and I think that having had some “Alcohol-free islands” (days of not drinking with the occasional slip up), helped me to see my drinking for what it was…I had been sleeping better, remembering my evenings, and then BAM! a weird black out that stole the entire next day with a hangover. I was disgusted and I was done.
I feel so lucky to have the chance to change course and get sober before getting sick, hurting somebody, or losing my job…And, aside from avoiding consequences, I’ve gained so much more than I could have imagined. There is so much real magic to be seen and experienced, I regularly feel genuinely happy, content and self-assured. It isn’t easy, it’s been potentially the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I have no doubt that staying sober is the right thing to do. I like myself, and maybe this is the first time I can say that in my entire life? My inner child, my wild twin, my little spark of wisdom feels so loved and happy that I am doing this for myself. Not running, not silencing, not lying to myself anymore…just being here now.
The fact that I decided to stop drinking when I did makes me feel esteemed in my inner wisdom, it feels that I am capable of caring for myself and others.
I am 3 months sober tomorrow, which is peanuts compared to many people I’ve been talking to in BOOM, but it is so huge to me. If you are in early days and staying alcohol-free for months feels impossible, just keep taking little steps, I promise that it will add up and you will feel so much more capable soon. I am totally prone to slipping up still, as we all are, but I am sure that my attitude around drinking has changed forever.
More from this author : How I Went Sober During the Covid19 Lockdown and Courting My Wild Twin or My Self-Reconciliation in Sobriety
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