It's two years ago today that I gave in and crumbled at the knees of alcohol. Alcohol had smothered me and made it hard for me to breathe for many years. I was trapped in a world where everything was pointing me towards a bottle of wine. A culture that zapped my brain into thinking I had to drink. An environment where my habit was applauded. I was lost in a big barrel of beer and happily sinking to the bottom with no idea how to come up for air.
I didn't know another way to be, another way to socialise. I didn't believe sober interactions were even possible. I never wanted to be one of those boring people I hated, you know, the ones that order an smug orange juice, the drivers or the people that were ill or on antibiotics..
'Drink through it!' I'd demand
'Get a cab for fucks sake'
'Now, who's round is it?'
If you were a non drinker I was the sort of person you'd want to avoid at all cost. I would have twisted your elbow until your arm snapped off or berated you until your brain broke in two.
Drink with me or I don't like you. It was a simple message ingrained in me since childhood. Drinking is fun. Drinking is how people communicate. Drinking is how to relax.
As a child these messages were subliminally pumped into my young squidgy brain. I took in my surroundings and absorbed the behaviours of my peers. I never questioned the path I took, I never considered the journey before I stepped on to it.
I never stopped and thought...
'Is what I'm doing ok?'
I just presumed my life, my habits were unstoppable, unchangeable. I wasn't smart enough (walnut brain) to know that my bad habits were made to be broken and that making changes is what living is all about.
I was stuck in a place where my drinking was socially acceptable, where friends cheers'd me and laughed at me. I was tricked into believing my drinking was normal. It turns out I was just always hanging out with a load of piss heads! (sorry piss heads - I love you)
Everyone I've ever known has been a big drinker so I never had to question my problem. Addictions get absorbed sometimes, ignored until the nightclub lights are switched on, and POW! you're the only one left bumbling around on the empty dance-floor.
Still we repeat the same procedure the following weekend. It's easy to get stuck in the cycle.
Drink, dance, vomit, shag, sleep, hangover, work, repeat. and on and on it goes.
One day I woke up and had enough. The cycle was uphill and I was knackered. Thats when I began asking questions..
Why am I doing this? Is it possible to not drink and have fun?
Why are my knickers on backwards? Why is there a Saveloy in my handbag?
But the main question was - Can I stop drinking?
I'd never considered before.....
That was when I became sober curious.
I felt a sense of change creeping into my flip flops. There was whiff of self growth in the air, but no matter how hard I wanted to breathe it in and step out onto a new pathway, I still couldn't imagine being one of those righteous twits that stands at a bar and borders a fizzy water.
I never trusted people that don't drink, in fact I've never liked people that don't drink. I couldn't understand them. Why? Why don't you drink? Whats wrong with you? These sober dullards were so far off my radar that I wouldn't waste my beer breath even uttering their names.
'Drink with me! Drink! god damn it or forever be condemned to a life of boredom!'
Yes - I was that person. A tub full of put-downs, a bottomless pit of unsympathetic gibes that I spooned out in heavy dollops over any unwilling participants.
'Fucking party poopers. Go home then. Miss out on me having fun and being popular!'
(having fun and being popular also translates to - getting rat-arsed and being a gibbering idiot)
I never accepted excuses, I shunned those hateful 'staying for one' warriors. You were out of my tribe with one mention of an early night. Dispelled from the posse if I felt an inkling of backing off. I simply didn't know that these people, these boring soda pop drinking weirdos, were in fact, the smartest people in the room.
These boring people were doing the right thing and there I was slurring at them to join my circus. What a mess I must have looked.
When I look back... I try not to regret some of the messiness and antics. I do accept most of my drunken ways. Yes I was silly, but I'm not like that anymore... I move on. But I do have one major regret. I regret being that awful person that has-a-go at t-totallers or nice people having night off. Doing that, telling someone off for not gulping poison down their throat, is dumb, it's thick and it's stupid. I hate that I tried to make smart people do silly things. I'm embarrased that I thought my way was the only way. It was so shallow minded of me to think I knew better.
I thought I was better for being a drunk.
I wonder what they thought of me. Did they hate me? I would hate me.
So, (it's very AA of me) but, on my two year anniversary of giving up the grog, I'd like to apologise to all those beautiful intelligent non-drinking friends and family members. I'm sorry I did that. I was drunk. I didn't know I was being a knob-head. I am aware now that I was a giant one and that doing that to people is bad.
I've learnt and I've changed and I won't do it again.
Being the sober person at a party... becoming one of those people I hated, has been the best lesson of my life. I changed places. I traded my old life for this healthier happier one.
I now say 'I don't drink‘ and await the torment of others. I don't get it, people just smile and say well done.
Maybe things are changing, attitudes and cultures. Maybe I hang out with a more mature crowd that down put people down for being drinkers or abstainers.
whatever's changed is working because I feel no shame when the barman hands me my water.
Stepping out and questioning was the beginning for me.Questioning means we know something is astray.
2 years in and I'm proud when I order my pineapple juice and soda and if anyone dares question my choice of drink, which they never do, I would tip up my glass on to their bulbous boozy head. I would have hated the old me. The old me had a few pints of beer tipped on her head.
A few people have emailed me to ask how I cope with cravings, does it get easier? The answer is that I does, 2 years in, I still crave that crisp glass of wine. I imagine it slipping down my throat. I yearn for it some days.... I bare witness to that feeling. I consider it then I watch it pass. It's a stranger that comes knocking on my door that I don't let in. I don't trust strangers. I say 'not today thank you' and gently close that door.
The only way I am able to do that is by getting therapy. Finding out my reasons why. You can't just stop. that is impossible. You have to get help. Being the creator of your problem makes you the one thats unable to untangle it.
My message is always the same - reach out. Get help..... oh! and don't be mean to non-drinkers... You never know.... you might be one one day!