It's never too later, and never give up hope.
For me, the thought of not drinking was terrifying. Booze had become such an emotional crutch, quite literally self-medication and even though I knew I had a problem with it, even though it make me feel sick and tired constantly, even though my health was declining it was still less terrifying than facing my past facing the very reason I started drinking in the first place.
I know now that I couldn’t have stopped drinking whilst still in contact with my dad, for me to reconcile all the emotional abuse, manipulation and gaslighting that he had been doing my entire life, I had to blot out as many memories of it as possible and getting drunk helped that. In other words, cognitive dissonance alone wasn't quite enough, it needed a chaser.
By the time I woke up on a winter morning hanging out of my arse and wondering what year it was, I had been in no contact with my dad for 6 months and it was a hell of 6 months. The act of telling him, albeit via text (too risky to speak to him because he is too manipulative), was the first piece of self-love I think I ever actually achieved. And it felt great.
The next few months weren’t so great. First I had an ongoing panic attack for about 2 weeks solid every time I saw a car I thought looked like my dad’s. Since boundaries don’t exist to narcissists despite me telling him I wanted nothing more to do with him, he would have tried to contact me. He didn’t though, and my sister rightfully pointed out that there was nothing in it for him. I wasn’t according to his life by having a high flying job, or was rich or famous there was nothing he you brag about me, so he wouldn’t bother.
Once that panic stopped the memories started coming back, some good but most bad. For instance, the time we had agreed on a time and day for him to take me from Essex back to Shropshire where I was living at the time, but because he had argued with his then-girlfriend he showed up the night before unannounced and drove us back and on the way overshared about their argument and then told me he was thinking of killing himself. Then in the morning acted as though nothing had happened to leave me with yet another memory to bury.
It was brutal and I drank more, I then got made redundant which was panic because it was only on that salary that I was able to afford the rent for the flat I had just moved to and the final nail was splitting up with my boyfriend. He instigated, that it was the right decision, with no animosity just a huge amount of heartbreak and largely on my part. I know now, that I had invested far more in that relationship than he ever did which is not a reflection on him, but indeed on me for essentially placing him responsible for my happiness. I wanted him to love me, and in the end, I realised how in the world could I expect him or any else to love me when I didn’t even love myself?
6 weeks of heavy heavy drinking followed this, and then that winter morning came 28th December 2018.
I decided enough was enough.
I wasn’t ready to tell anyone about stopping drinking so I did a sugar detox instead and took up running to run the Brighton Marathon in under 4 hours.
With each day that passed I grew stronger mentally and physically, and my self-esteem soared. For the first time I had my headspace back it wasn’t pre-occupied with booze.
I had a chance to think about who I was, and finally figure out my identity and what I wanted out of life, at the end of the detox 92 days later I decided to try to moderate drinking. This had always been the plan and it was horrifying how quickly old habits fell back into place after 2 weeks of attempting to drink in moderation, I decided nope, I was better when booze was out of the equation.
It was tough, to begin with, the first week or so was mostly just trying to figure out what to do with me in the evenings, once this passed though I barely thought about booze. The moment I reintroduced booze into my diet the moderation thinking came back into play. You see here’s the thing, in those 2 weeks I didn’t get drunk once, I didn’t drink more than one bottle of wine in one sitting (it had reached a point of me drinking two bottles of port in one sitting). I didn’t drink every day either however booze was always ALWAYS on my mind and it was exhausting.
What’s bonkers is that was 3 years ago and so much has changed.
My original goal was to become healthier mentally and physically tick and tick, to get control of my drinking problem tick and run a sub 4 hour Brighton Marathon which is the only original goal I have yet to achieve though I am getting closer. September 2021 I ran it at 04:29:06, last week (April 2022), I ran it at 04:16:21, so I reckon third time lucky April 2023.
Although that goal has yet to be achieved I have ended up creating even more goals and achievements along the way and as always I feel that reducing them to numbers can help me see just how much.
In the last 3 years:
I have not had a booze drink for 372 days
I have taken 21,870,702 steps
I have run 4,225.7 miles
I have eaten approx 156kg of peanut butter
I have run x4 marathon races and x2 half marathon races
I have completed my Foundation in Social Science
I became an Auntie.
The only deeply sad news was losing my Flash, we had 12 and a half brilliant years together before we parted ways and he is now living in the best afterlife in Never Never Land with the Lost Boys.
I used to be a complete screw-up, managed to sabotage every friendship I developed, was a nightmare to be around and lost more than one job due to drinking, all in the vain attempt to hide from my demons if I can land where I did there is hope for everyone.
It’s never too late, and never give up hope.