I have been an official alcoholic for 1 month and five days. I have been sober for 21 days today. I suspect I have been a functioning alcoholic for my entire adult life, thinly disguised as ‘just drinking to help me relax’ or ‘I deserve a glass of wine because I achieved something today.’ One glass turned into two, and before I knew it a bottle of wine every night seemed reasonable.
Lots of people drink that much and function, and I did too in a high pressured job, and as a single parent for six years before I remarried. The drinking gradually started to become more central to my life, and as a long term health problem developed I was signed off work. I took the opportunity to drink around three bottles of wine a day. My hands started shaking. I stopped being able to remember what I had said or done the night before. I was less and less interested in the outside world, never mind my own children. People started to mention that I was drinking a lot. It took me becoming so disgusted with my own behavior that I realized I had a problem with drink that was both a physical addiction as well as psychological. I will write about these events in more detail in another post, for now I just want you to get to know me a bit.
I actually still think of myself as a good person, but a very flawed one who made poor life choices. I am (or at least was) good at my job, and I got to do good in the world. At my best I am a great Mummy, at my worst I am so ashamed of myself I feel like a lifetime of love and cuddles won’t make up for how emotionally not present I was for my children. Most of the time I am somewhere in the middle of intense guilt, frustration with myself and a desire to do and be better. Forgiveness is now a concept so central to my life, that I can’t imagine living without it. I need to forgive myself for what I have done, and give my family the time and space that they need to be able to forgive me. It’s so true that whilst we might love people who do us damage, we rarely like them. Building positive relationships is key for me to moving on a making a success of my life without alcohol.
So here I am. Basically middle aged, a Mummy, working part time. Having an addiction to alcohol is certainly not something I planned for my life. In my minds eye I can still see the parallel universe version of me who hasn’t made such catastrophic mistakes, and is able to drink socially and then put the damn bottle down. I can’t- so for me now moderating my alcohol intake is not an option, I have quit completely. I am going to write here every day about aspects of my recovery. I am hoping to help others going through the same process, but also crucially to help myself. After all, (as someone pointed out at my group therapy session) we are stuck with ourselves an awful lot, so you need to be happy with who you are.
That’s all for today, and thank you for reading.