On 28 October 2016, I became sober.

My decision was finalised after a hideous hen weekend away. My own hen weekend.

I vowed never to drink again.

We went camping on Shell Island. I got so drunk that I fell into the fire pit, smashed up all the tables and completely terrified all the kids, including mine.

I woke up in a shocking state with an awful feeling of dread. I had no memory of what had happened and when I was told of my actions, I felt so ashamed.

At that point, I swore to my partner I would never drink again but he didn’t believe me. After all, he’d heard it all before.

But I knew that this time, my relationship with red wine was well and truly over.

Red wine and I had been friends since I was 15. I’d come from a broken home and had found comfort in both wine and drugs. The pattern of getting off of my face was a weekly thing. Aged 18, I had a well paid job which meant I could party hard on my days off. If I think back to some of the situations I got myself into, it makes me shudder and again, feel very ashamed.

My job eventually led me to work abroad. I worked in nine different countries but every time, I either got sacked or walked out of the job because I was too hungover or coming down from drugs to do my job properly.

In 2000 I moved to a small town, looking for a new start after yet another failed relationship. Every relationship I had failed because I was always so smashed! It was here that I met my husband. Both of us were into drink and drugs and it continued for quite a few years.

In 2005 I snorted my last drug ever. I literally couldn’t take any more come downs however I made sure my friend red wine stayed faithfully by my side.

Aged 36 in 2008, I was totally shocked to learn that I was having a baby. I had never been pregnant before and had always believed I couldn’t have children as I’d damaged my body too much.

I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol for a whole year.

In 2009, my beautiful boy was born but as soon as I got home from hospital, I went to straight the shop for red wine.

And so the cycle started all over again.

Every night I drank wine. It helped me to relax and unwind after a long hard day.

In 2015, I started suffering with a bad neck. I couldn’t sleep at night and even wine or gin didn’t help the pain. I then lost the feeling in my hand and had horrific pains shooting up my arm. It took me 3 weeks to get to the doctors as I was scared I’d had a stroke and that they’d take my boy away from me.

But I had a touch of luck as the doctor put me on really strong painkillers.  Mix these with a bottle of wine and I was flying.  Happy days!

In January 2016, I decided to do sober January despite my neck getting worse and struggling to cope. I managed to stay sober for the whole month but come 1 February, I was straight out to the shop to buy more alcohol.

In March 2016, I was diagnosed with a slipped disc in my neck. The only option was to have surgery but I refused, knowing if I had the surgery, they would stop my painkillers and I wasn’t having any of that.

Lent came, and I gave up again but as soon as it was over, I went straight back to the shop for more.

In June 2016, my now ex husband decided to get married, giving me yet another excuse to get smashed.

When I finally stopped in October 2016, I’m still not sure where my strength came from but I was utterly determined. This time, I was doing it.

I had a sober wedding day 2 weeks after I made my pledge to stop. I got through Xmas and New Year and not a drop passed my lips.

In April 2017, I couldn’t carry on with the pain in my neck as the painkillers weren’t touching it and it was affecting my whole.  I’d taken up running and lots of exercise but I couldn’t carry on.

I had elected surgery in June 2017. Very scary operation as it’s so close to your spine. But I survived and not once did I reach for alcohol to help me out.

I finally stopped taking medication in September 2017.

My journey isn’t over. Every day I think about drinking and I think this will happen for the rest of my life.

But I’ve come too far to give in now. This is my life.

Written by Monique, edited by Sober Fish 2018

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