I have been sober for 48 days. Quite the achievement for somebody whose automatic response to any situation was to celebrate (or commiserate) with a beer. Or wine. Or prosecco. Or gin. Good day at work? Have a drink. Bad day at work? Have a drink. Cat fallen out of the bedroom window again? Drink. You finished watching every episode of 13 Reasons Why Season 2 and only cried 8,362 times? Drink.
I have been binge drinking since I was 12 years old. Back then I hated myself. I hated everything about myself and did everything I could to try and be somebody else. The discrepancy between ideal me and actual me was so huge I could never live up to it. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t anxious. There were many factors that contributed to this and whilst I have spent my life trying to resolve these, I have always fallen back to my old friend booze to forget a problem that I could not fix.
But alcohol is the type of friend that ghosts you for months at a time. Or deletes you from social media for no reason. Or invites everyone to the pub except you. It’s not a good friend. But you’ve known each other for so long and sometimes, it’s just so hard to break the bonds of time and habit and parasitic symbiosis that you fall back to them in your weakest moments, unable to remember which one of you is the parasite.
Drinking has always enabled me to lessen the wriggling worms of my anxiety. I know they are still there and they know they are still there, but we’re all drunk and languorous. We can’t be bothered to cause problems. If I could stop there, what a delight that would be.
To have one drink, or two, to take the edge off and enjoy the moment. To stop there, with the gin glow and brighten up the world.
But three starts getting louder and louder and louder and louder.
Four starts slurring and insisting, really loudly, that they are NOT FUCKING DRUNK.
Five wants to take on the fucking world and has forgotten about the Morrisons delivery that’s just turned up at its house.
Six. Well. Six gets so wankered by 4pm on New Years Eve, that it has to have nap and leave its husband to entertain their guests until 10pm when it manages to pull its shit together and join the party.
Then appeareth the morning after the night before. The flashbacks of shameful memories that can’t distinguish between reality or dream. The sticky sweats, the sickness, the shits. The thumping of a thousand tiny plastic swords against the surface of your brain. The lethargy, the hunger, the sickness. The suffocating dryness of your mouth, infused with the taste and smell of stale beer, vomit and cigarettes.
You don’t even smoke.
The inability to keep even a sip of water down. Having to drive home knowing full well that you are not safe to drive. Cancelling plans because no, you can not get out of bed today.
Topped off with the incessant fucking writhing of the wiggling anxiety worms that are now full grown, two metre long snakes and they are beating you to death from the inside. AND NOW THEY’RE IN YOUR BRAIN. The shame spiral that swoops you up in it like a tornado and banishes all logical thought. The texts you think you should send to apologise for being a dickhead but you can’t even write them because to do so is an admittance that you have a problem and your behaviour last night is only the beginning of it. When you say never again, but you mean until the next time, the next party, the next stressful day at work, the next night.
And the cycle begins again.
There was no defining moment this time. No hellscaped hangover to promise never again. No argument with a friend that made me feel like shit. No shame, guilt, humiliation that triggered this decision. Just a butterfly effect that created a change in mindset.
My anxiety has decreased. My capacity to see joy everywhere in the world has increased. My mental health is flourishing. I have so much free time that I have almost got the house in order and started ticking off all the to do list jobs that I have been deliberately ignoring for months!
I have started writing again, with an avid passion. I wrote my first ever short story and submitted it into a local competition where it was one of eight shortlisted out of forty. I didn’t win but putting myself out there has given me feedback from publishers that I can use to develop my work. And for the first time ever, I am blogging regularly about my sobriety journey.
I start reading books and finish them within a month. I meal plan and have time to prepare my lunches for work so I can stick to a healthy regime. I exercise every day. Who knew there was so much you could do instead of being in the pub?!
I had a fear that alcohol was the only thing that made me interesting and yet, having had multiple days and nights out sober and laughing until my throat hurt, I know that this isn’t true. I’m every kind of magnificent and even more hilarious sober. My relationships have improved. I have more patience and time to be supportive, loving and to really listen. Looking after myself means I have more to give to the people I love the most in this world.
All of this motivates me to continue on this overgrown and slightly tumultuous edge of the mountain path I am on. It might not be the right path for everybody, but it’s definitely the right path for me.
Beautifully written by Kia, barely edited by Sober Fish
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