My mantra for looking after my kids used to be:
Children are most in need of love when they are least deserving of it.
After my experiences of the last few weeks, I think I would like to revise that too:
People are most in need of love when they are least deserving of it.
Don’t get me wrong, in my heart I knew this was trueall the time, but I really felt when facing my addiction for the first time that I didn’t deserve love at all. Or anyone’s time and effort, or the forgiveness that is so crucial for my to rebuild my life.
Once I had admitted that I had a problem with alcohol, and I stopped drinking, the shame at my behavior was overwhelming. I don’t think even at my most drunk I have ever felt so wretched about myself and the hurt that I had caused. Taking the steps to get help was really hard. I know everyone says that, but it is about being brave enough to forge a new life for yourself, and I felt that I didn’t really know who sober me was.
Getting sober on your own, with no support must be a hellish experience. Never mind the initial physical withdrawal, which left my entire body shaking like I had Parkinson’s, or the night sweats and bad dreams that meant I had very little sleep. What must be really hard is not having an emotional fall back. I am very lucky to have a supportive husband and family. I should add they are supportive despite all the lies I told them; nothing shows you who your true friends are like admitting an addiction. Getting sober has taken me having not only the support of those closest to me, but also a wider network. Here are some suggestions:
- Speak to your GP. Book a double appointment, as if you are a crier like me you will need the extra time. Be honest with them, ask for help. Find out where you can go locally.
- I was sign-posted to a local organisation, and I now go to group therapy once a week as well as having one to one meetings with my key worker. I admit to being a tad cynical about this to start with, but being in a room with people who understand you and have the same problems is very powerful. The shame I feel has started to evaporate, and I have begun to understand that I need to draw a line under my past mistakes and now work to rebuild trust and relationships. I really don’t know if I would have stayed sober without this group. It is a place of privilege to be in a position where people share their stories with you, and I have found many of the people there inspirational. It was hard to walk in the door for the first time, but it has been so well worth it.
- I told my close friends what was happening to me. They have been nothing but supportive. It has been a weight off my mind that they have not judged me.
- Many people find organisations like the AA or Church groups useful. I have no direct experience of these, but I really think giving them a go might well be worth while.
- I discovered a book which I found very useful. It is called The Naked Mind, and it works hard to dispel the myths around the pleasure of alcohol consumption as well as challenging our often implicit beliefs about why we drink in the first place. I know there are lots of other books about living alcohol free, but this is the only one I have gotten around to reading so far. I would recommend you give it a go.
- I also joined a support group on Facebook called Club Soda, who are a mindful drinking movement. A nicer and more supportive bunch of people you could not hope to meet. They are from all around the world, and so even when 3am is feeling pretty taxing there is always someone who is will to lend an ear. I love that social media can have such a positive role in my life.
- I also downloaded an app called Sober Today which keeps a track of how many days I have been sober, how much money I have saved (spoiler: it is shit loads!) and how many units I have not drunk. I am kinda geeky and like apps that are actually useful, there are others around for different platforms.
- Finally being able to ask for help has also meant that I had time and space to do some of the things that actually make me happy. It is literally amazing how productive I am when I am not drunk or hiding empty bottles. I have started running again, baking, and at the moment making quite dubious looking Christmas crafts. (which I say my kids made if they turn out really rubbish looking!) Find what makes you happy and give yourself permission to do it, You are no good to anyone, no matter how guilty you feel, if you are still broken.
I know that recovery is a personal thing, and what is working for me might not work for others. I guess in sharing this I was just hoping to inspire anyone teetering on the brink of asking for help to be brave enough to do so, and to feel like they truly deserve it. We all do, please remember that even when we are least deserving of love we most deserve it, and there is no greater love for yourself and your family than working to be well again.