That describes my attempt at dry January to a ‘tee’. But as much as I attempted to stick to just drinking ‘tea’, this was very much not the outcome. Why? Because I didn’t do it for the right reasons, and I hadn’t accepted the ugly truth of the situation.
I’ve been struggling a little with where to begin telling the history of my relationship with alcohol, because, like for many of us, it spans back to those hormone fuelled days in the park armed with a couple 3 litre bottles of Blackthorn. These babies were very handily priced at a bargain fee of £2.50 meaning that we could buy one each for the Friday, and another couple for the Saturday. Weekend sorted.
I was a shy child, often being the new girl, and I most definitely stood out with my blonde Swedish locks and ‘hurdy gurdy’ Scandi accent. This is every child’s nightmare of course, because whereas at this age it’s attractive to be a bit different, as a kid actually all you want to do is fit in. So with this in mind I think alcohol was a quick fix to overruling my resident introvert, allowing me to brave those awkward social situations.
Like I touched on, in my ‘my story‘ post, my life hasn’t exactly been run-of-the-mill, off the shelf type of stuff. So as well as relying on alcohol for ‘dutch courage’, it also became my crutch for dealing with (or running away from) stressful situations or times of turmoil. And I wish I could say that it was only in more recent times where I can reflect back and see signs of destructive behaviours due to alcohol, but this is very much not the case. In fact if we were to focus on purely romantic relationships I can trace these issues back to even my very first boyfriend, but more so into my twenties. This is where I realised that not only is alcohol great for helping me come out of my shell in social situations, but also the fix I needed to overcome some of my body hangups – of which there were a few. All it took was a couple glasses of wine, and poof! Out comes a confident lingerie clad, gyrating alter-ego of myself. Liquid sorcery!
Anyway fast forward to where we are now and things started escalating quickly in the last few years. I went from being rather smug about the fact I could go on an all day (and all night) neat whiskey sesh with ‘the lads’ (one of which I considered myself), to being absolutely bladdered after a few large glasses of wine. Blackouts were a twice weekly occurrence and I would constantly be chasing the night.. well into the morning. Often with people I didn’t know and would never associate with sober.
But it gets worse. I became a cryer. And if I wasn’t crying I was most likely being argumentative, obnoxious or somehow inappropriate. All great qualities right? I mean why wouldn’t I have wanted to spend my twenties in a blur of mass destruction. The truth is I have been using alcohol to suppress my emotions, but when you get that rat-arsed the sneaky little bastards come up to the surface in the most violent of ways. And the result is.. well, dramatic, ugly.
I did start waking up to the fact that something wasn’t right though. And I naively put the blame on absolutely everything aside from my precious alcohol. When I was unable to lose weight I couldn’t work out why, as I have generally always eaten well. And when i realised that I’d just about lost all creativity it must have meant that I lacked in talent. Those days I would wake up feeling utterly hopeless, anxious or depressed it couldn’t be related to my drinking because I wasn’t even hungover on that particular day. But what I’ve come to realise is that it sits deeper than that. It’s ingrained in our lifestyles. When we’re celebrating – we drink, and when were commiserating – we drink!
And because we grow up with this influence from such a young age we never learn how to navigate through the blustery seas of daily life without it. So it’s no surprise then, that so many of us end up in this predicament.
Another lesson I’ve learned is that I am not a bad person. And I am not the problem. Alcohol is the problem, and I need to learn to forgive myself. Alcohol is a drug, and can be hard to control. And it most certainly does not bring out the truth, or your best side… not even your mediocre kind-of-okay side..
So here I am in February of 2020. I am 8 days, 8 hours and 8 minutes sober. It’s a new decade, and I myself have also reached a new personal mile stone being my 30’s. And I’m excited. I’m finally ready to find out who the heck I am, and what I am capable of.
Ive included some links to books, podcasts, communities and groups which I have found really useful in my journey so far. Please feel free to share your own in the comments because I am always looking for good recommendations!