I always knew I was wired differently from a very early age. I always felt like the outsider looking in, never belonging, wanting to fit in but just didn’t know how to.
I was good at lying, manipulating a situation and had a devious streak in me.
The Jekyll in my head had started. Talking me into a situation and I would always react impulsively always failing to see the consequences.
I had my first taste of alcohol when I was 13 and the thoughts, worries and fears disappeared. I felt like me. Confidence oozed out of me.I became fun, outgoing and carefree, the character traits I longingly craved. I also didn’t know when to stop drinking. One drink was never enough and it resulted in me experiencing my first blackout.
The next day was horrific. I woke up unsure how I had got home, who I had offended and trying to remember what uncomfortable predicaments I had got myself into. When my peers told me what I had done I would cringe with embarrassment and vowed to myself that I would never drink again! I repeated this countless times until my rock bottom.
My parents divorce was the green light for me to stick my middle finger up to the world and abuse alcohol to my hearts content. I drank on every single emotion. I was happy I would drink. I was sad I would drink. I was bored I would drink. I felt resentful I would drink. Alcohol was slowly becoming my dirty hidden secret and I was starting to rely on it. My love for alcohol also enhanced my deviousness. I started sneaking it around the house hiding bottles in the most obvious places and making excuses to go to these hidden places so I could drink. Alcohol was encroaching into my relationships with my loved ones. They would smell alcohol on me frequently but I was clever at manipulating them. I was “not drunk” nor did I have a drink problem.
Alcohol blurred my judgements and I wasted the most important years of my life in a volatile, abusive and erratic relationship. I came out of this experience with a broken self worth, no identity and a lack of purpose for what I wanted to do. Alcohol took me under its wings and tried to block out what had happened and created even more turmoil in my already messed up existence.
A broken relationship, family ties severed, a career I was working on in jeopardy you would have thought that this was my rock bottom? Absolutely not. I was ready to have many more disastrous experiences with alcohol fuelling it. Deep down I wanted to have that first buzz where that fun, bubbly, carefree character came out. I now know I was not wired to have that normal experience of what alcohol does for people who aren’t me.
What I couldn’t see was that my family wanted to support me, my now husband could see the real fun, genuine me. I couldn’t see any of this this. All I saw was that they were out to get me. Alcohol comforted me again, supporting the voices in my head that it was okay to drink before work. It was acceptable to drink and drive. My head told me it was normal to wake up with a hangover and continue to find hidden bottles and continue drinking.
I got sat down by my family and husband. I got that lecture where they were worried about my drinking and they thought I had a drink problem. I went into fighter defensive mode. “I do not have a drink problem” I would say. I went cold turkey and after counselling and other non AA movements I stopped drinking for 18 months. The worst 18 months of my life. I woke up thinking of alcohol. I went to bed thinking and fantasising about alcohol. I was going mad in my own head. I took this addiction and cross addicted - I now started obsessing over the gym, exercising and work.
I got married during this time. My family thought I was cured from this obsession. The innate deviousness in me was out in full swing. I am cured. I can be a social drinker like you lot. My drinking took off from where I left it 18 months ago. I knew this time around I had to be clever about this so I didn’t have to put myself through that 18 months again. My behaviour on a drinking spree was erratic, argumentative and just plain right embarrassing. I woke up then next day full of remorse, shame and guilt. And the vicious cycle continued.
I would psych myself up to buy alcohol. I had to keep shop hopping so that people wouldn’t find out my dirty secret and wouldn’t recognise me as the girl who would always by pink gin. As soon as I had my stash I could breathe again. My bedroom was my park bench. My hiding places for hiding bottles was becoming predictable for my loved ones to find out where I was hiding bottles. Every nook and cranny of my drinking pit was full of empty bottles. What was even more annoying was how I would dispose of these bottles. It was a full time job.
I fell pregnant and I had a shift in my thinking. I was growing a beautiful innocent soul and I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t tainted by the poison that I was putting into my body. For the first time since I could remember I didn’t wake up thinking of alcohol. I felt free.
Our daughter was born and it was as though I had this pure soul leave my evil body. I was back in that mindset of thinking of alcohol in an obsessive manner. As soon as I got that green light I was back at it and this time my mannerisms of drinking went to a whole other level.
I get quite emotional thinking about what dangerous situations I put my daughter in. The bottom line is i put alcohol above my own blood. I did not care about her well being, safety and basic care. I wanted that swig of alcohol and I would do anything to have it.
I was drinking daily at work where I have the responsibility of others. I had no consequences and quite frankly I felt invincible and did not care anymore.
After another explosive row my final green light was to have the all mighty bender. I ruined my daughters Christmas and I left to be a 13 year old again. I drank like I had no care in the world. I know now I was drinking to die. I didn’t want to be living anymore. I didn’t want to be in my head anymore. I had planned in my head who would look after my daughter. She didn’t need me in her life and I was not that positive role model that she needed. I was done.
I couldn’t even kill myself properly and when I woke up bleary eyed the next day, I knew deep down I was done. Done with the horrific hangovers. Done with waking up with these negative feelings. Done with not knowing what I had done to upset others whilst I was possessed. Done with hurting those that wanted to help me. And most importantly done with destroying me. This time around I was going to stop drinking, not for my family, my husband or my daughter. This time I was going to stop drinking for me.
I was lucky to have the chance to go to a treatment centre. I had to go away from home as I would have been that person who would have escaped and found my way back to my old drinking habits. I had to go away and completely focus on myself. The whole experience was the most scariest of my life. I felt so vulnerable, exposed. My dirty secret was out. I’m an alcoholic.
Saying goodbye to my daughter still causes aches in my heart. This time I was going to stop drinking for me so my family could eventually have the authentic person they could see.
My first exposure to anything A.A. related were the promises written on the wall in the rehab centre. I read them and cried. I wanted a new freedom and a new happiness. The promises touch my heart in such a special way now that I am in recovery.
I was welcomed with open arms. The people in there were going through their own individual addictions, but for the first time in 31 years I felt like I finally belonged. People got me. People understood when I said that my drinking was like ‘as though someone tells me to go and get a drink’. I’m not crazy. This is addiction.
I had the opportunity to go to my first A.A meeting and I was blown away. The main share spoke about what was going on in my head, what their experiences of alcohol was and the despair that alcohol took them to. I wasn’t going through this alone and there were people out there like me. I can’t even begin to tell you how that made me feel knowing I was not alone.
After three weeks, I had some exposure of treatment from within. My biggest challenge was to now be put into the real world and to be able to put all of the techniques that I had learnt into practice. The staff in rehab advised my loved ones that she needs to go to A.A meetings and after some hesitation I knew I had to park up my ego and do as I was told.
My experience of Alcoholics Anonymous has been nothing but love. My first meeting in the real world was a busy one but the ladies in there took me under their wing and gave me their telephone numbers. For someone who liked their own company I was baffled with all of these new contacts I had been given. I sat on that chair and listened. Listened to the similarities of experience, strength and hope. I felt like I was being injected with recovery and slowly but surely that craving of alcohol was fading away.
I was advised to get a sponsor so that I could go through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This was something that I took my time in finding. I wanted what my sponsor had. I wanted a connection and I wanted someone who would get me. I waited until that right person came. Asking them to be my sponsor was like asking someone out in a date. But she said yes.
My recovery journey accelerated with the support and guidance from my sponsor. I was an onion peeling the layers of raw emotions which I had never experienced. Which I had drunk on and feelings and thoughts which I had repressed, vowing myself I would take them to my grave. She gave me the guidance to share these painful experiences and then to learn and grow from them. I had to learn who I was as a person. What did I like? What experiences did I like? Who am I? Alcohol took this all away from me and I aloud it. I was now in control of my love for life, thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous.
The steps are painful but they are also the most rewarding experiences that I could have gone through. I had to be completely honest with myself and even though this was full of emotions, I had to do this if I wanted to be free from alcohol.
Alcoholics Anonymous has taught me how to be grateful for life and what life has to offer. It has taught me that I cannot control every situation and to let it go. I live my day one day at a time and if it’s a tough day it then turns into a hour at a time.
Most importantly Alcoholics Anonymous has aloud me to embrace a journey with my higher power. God is a word that is used quite often in the A.A literature. This threw me off quite a bit when I first came into A.A as I blamed ‘God’ for quite a lot of my bad misfortunes. My sponsor taught me that this is a god of my own understanding and for me it is nature. When I connect with nature I feel like my soul is open to a connection that words cannot describe. My Higher Power kept me safe and protected when I could have quite simply killed myself or other innocent people around me in the midst of my alcohol infused haze.
Recovery has been a rollercoaster of emotions which I never thought existed. But I am so honoured to have gone through them - sober!
I used to feel quite ashamed to call myself an alcoholic. Today, I am extremely grateful to be an alcoholic. I have been given a new lease of life. I have everything and more in what the promises offered when I first looked at them through my tears and fears at rehab.
I keep going to the meetings, whether it be on zoom or physical. I Listen to the similarities and not the differences. I embrace the fellowship. It does get better. Life has meaning and I have purpose. I wish I had gone to Alcoholics Anonymous sooner.