I didn’t have a low bottom end to my drinking. For a long time I was kind of waiting for something awful to happen, a sign or maybe someone to tell me I needed to stop.
I wasn’t someone who could binge drink only every month, or at weekends only or once in a while. Nor was I someone who would drink every day. I didn’t drink to excess every time I drank. I was somewhere in the middle, usually depending on other factors in my life. In times of stress or crisis, I could drink every day for weeks. In the holidays, or during a spell of good weather, I would up my consumption too. I had periods of being ‘healthy’, keeping myself in check, when I could manage to drink only at the weekends, without actually getting drunk for weeks, months even.
No matter where I was at, the feelings in my head were always the same. Abstaining was hard but always felt like I was being ‘good’ and getting it right for once. A normal whole person. Drinking was associated with failure and shame. That I couldn’t keep a promise to myself really upset me, disappointment at my flawed character was a common emotion. Gradually but increasingly, I felt an almost constant pull to drink and every single time I gave in ,I felt like I’d failed and it would be anything but pleasurable. I thought that I was a person of weak character who had no willpower and was just a greedy cow. I longed for the time when I could simply desire a drink, have one and enjoy it. Eventually, I came to realise that no matter how much I chased that dream, it was never going to return. Once you flip the switch, you just can’t go back. I could cut down for a while but over time it would gradually creep back up and gain momentum.
Ever since I realised that I had a drinking problem it became impossible to drink pleasurably. Denial was a constant companion, but deep, deep down, I knew it just didn’t feel right anymore…
Accepting that whether I wanted to call myself an alcoholic/problem drinker or not… I no longer derived anything good from drinking alcohol. Throw into the mix the financial cost, the time wasted, the hangovers, the embarrassing situations, the regrets, it’s mind blowing that I didn’t quit sooner. How low was I prepared to sink? Who knows when you cross the line? I’d crossed mine, it’s a personal journey.
But quitting is not easy. It’s a really hard habit to break. And it’s tough to know when the right time is going to be for you. Personally, I was sick and tired of chasing the buzz and the feeling that had long gone. Finally deciding to give sobriety a proper go, I took a chance that there might be a different way to live.
It takes courage to embark on a life changing challenge. To swap the chaos and excitement of reckless drinking for a calmer, real, raw way of life is scary. To trade the sophisticated, sociable wine drinking for the sensible, boring observer that is the tee total label is gutsy. It’s not a challenge I felt I had any choice about, I had been doing the same old something and getting miserable results for years, it was time for a change. To continue drinking would have just been dumb.
Do I feel better? Yes, without a doubt this is the best I have felt in years, I spent too long feeling crap.
Do I think it’s forever? I still can’t go there but I know that I wouldn’t trade how much better I feel, for a drink today. I gave some of the best years of my life to drinking, I am prepared to give sobriety a fair go.
11 months and counting (sometimes!)