Musings from Five Years Alcohol-Free

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I can remember being in awe of people who had gone for a long time alcohol-free. I never thought I’d do it. In fact, to be truthful I didn’t think I COULD do it. I’d tried to reduce, moderate, change the drink in my glass, go a month without and start again.

When I drank I was pretty damn good at it.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t pretty damn good for me anymore.

I was silent about my ‘problem’ and very, very scared. How many of us are silent to others with this problem that we thought was just ours and ours alone? If you’re like I was you’re not going to tell anyone. They’d judge you. Maybe tell others.

Nope nope nope – cover it up. I’m not that bad really. But But But……. you just KNOW.

You know you’re in this grey area where you don’t look like or maybe don’t feel like society’s definition of an alcoholic or a heavy drinker – but deep down you do know that your drinking is too much.

– and yet the thought of never drinking again is unthinkable- I knew it was down to me alone to commit to my decision but I was scared and relied on alcohol to numb and cope with my life.

woman's eye and fence

I was so lucky. I found a website called Hello Sunday Morning. I had gone onto the Hello Sunday Morning site reluctantly and was wary after yet another ‘significant incident.’ I didn’t want to admit anything to anyone. I was too ashamed that I couldn’t control alcohol when everyone else could. I had decided that maybe I could just cut down. Maybe stop for a bit

– but I certainly couldn’t imagine becoming a teetotaller- But on HSM there were so many of us! So many people with the same problem as me. How could a legal drug be doing this to so many people???!!

I was and still am aghast. So I committed for 3 months Alcohol-Free then very soon a year. A whole year! I was so scared. I thought my ‘fun’ life was over.

Whenever I felt like drinking I went onto the site for hours and hours – to read and comment and to get as much support as I could. By reading over and over again and having to accept just how much alcohol affected not just me but so many other people I saw the reality. -That this legal drug is causing problems for too many.

Slowly, very slowly, I moved onwards and I counted every day as another day I’d got my life back. And here I am at 5 years. Believe me, I’m as shocked as you. If ever there was an ‘if I can do it you can’ it would be me.

I see alcohol for what it is now. A powerful drug that affects my brain in a way that is negative to me. I wasn’t the problem. This drug was my problem. It took many months and more to slowly learn why I drank. I didn’t learn them all at once and I’m still learning even now.

I was reliant on the drug alcohol from age 16.

(I never drank it on both times I was pregnant and for a long while afterwards, I couldn’t stand the smell and obviously I knew it was a no-no) I found it and it masked aspects of my personality I was confused by.

You see I always felt a little scared of life. Even when I was very young I found the World and people in it scary and at times ‘a bit too much for me.’ My mind raced a lot, always thinking. Always wanting something to be ‘happening.’ Always ‘doing.’ Wanting to be liked and accepted by ‘everybody.’ I’ve always felt a little ‘different’ – not felt I ‘belonged.’ It’s hard to explain in words.

To find alcohol at age 16 must have been like a fabulous dream.

So I never grew.

I never learned to cope with my anxieties just to mask them. Alcohol filled my time.

I never learned that you don’t need to be liked by everyone and that you never will be anyway.

I thought it made me think deeper/dream more.

I believed it made my future dreams and hopes sharper in my mind.

I believed it filled the hole in my soul.

What I’m trying to say is that at 16 onwards I should have matured slowly over the coming years and found coping strategies to cope with ‘who I was.’ But instead I used the drug alcohol and so never moved forwards. Instead, I used a drug that was making me more anxious and sometimes adding more anxiety and shame because of what I did and said when drinking it. Instead, I used a drug that caused me to not sleep properly, all too often waking in a cold sweat – thirsty and head full of negative thoughts. Instead, I used a drug that crippled my World. Instead, by the end of my drinking career, I used a drug that at times made me forget the night before. Unsure what I had done, if I’d watched a tv show to the end, read my book etc. A drug that caused me to have no idea why I had sustained bruising and wounds.

Once you see more clearly why you drink alcohol it becomes easier to let it go. Because you realise what you have to do. You have to learn other coping strategies and not drink alcohol. Like when I was pregnant no matter what happens in your life alcohol is a no-no. It’s not an option you have any more. If you keep introducing alcohol whenever life kicks you a curve ball (or some other reason you find) then you’ll never find other strategies. It’s that simple. And that hard…….

Looking at a glass of alcohol or smelling it – I know that for me it’s poison in a glass. Once touched the stop drinking button is jammed. Once touched all bets may be off. I know I’m not alone in that. This site tells me that. There’s no shame anymore.

So yes. Some of us have to let it go. We maybe owe that to some people in our lives. But most of all we owe it to ourselves. We owe ourselves the chance to mature and change who we are and how we cope with the ups and downs of life. We know what life is like with alcohol and it brought us here. (The one amazingly fabulous thing to come out of my hidden problem was finding all of you) For some of us, we have to wonder if we’ll ever know an alternate World. Many of us know without a doubt what our life is like with alcohol – what would it be like without?

So you make a huge decision. You either continue the same life or you decide it’s finally time to say fuck you alcohol I can’t let you do this to me anymore…..

I refuse to let you do this to me anymore.…..

So that’s what I had to learn.

Coping strategies for life’s ups and downs.

Changing of the parts of me I wanted to change that could be changed.

Acceptance of parts of me that I couldn’t change.

All without using the drug alcohol.

If others continue to drink it then good on them. I have no interest. I am focused on what I want. It’s not selfish it’s survival. I don’t notice what others drink or how much and you would have to slur very badly or drop down at my feet before I would realise you were drunk. (Another thing I’ve learnt about myself is I live in a sort of bubble in my ‘own World’ 😂)

Unbelievably the biggest problem I have ever come up against is the ones who question m

‘why on earth you would give alcohol up?’

‘why can’t you just cut down?’

or my personal favourite

‘just have the one’ 🙄 To which I REALLY….! want to say

“Wow do you have a problem?

Why would I drink ‘just one’ when I’ve just told you I don’t?” I may do one day though …..

I also sometimes tell them I’m a health freak, menopausal and it gives me migraines. That usually shuts them up. If they persevere and I’m that way out I turn it around asking “Why do YOU drink alcohol?”

Then they may give their reasons – because ‘it’s a party, to let myself go, to feel happy, to celebrate, because it’s the weekend, because it’s a funeral, because I’ve had a bad day, because it’s Monday, Tuesday Wednesday…..etc because my dogs died”

I tell them I don’t have to drink alcohol to do that anymore. I can do that all on my own. Yes it probably pisses them off but then they piss me off when they ask me why I don’t drink alcohol.

It’s nobody’s business why I don’t drink alcohol but mine and mine alone.

Oh and all of you of course

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