If I were to pinpoint what lead me to my turning point, I would first have to point to how I’d really had it. I’d had enough and I couldn’t go on any longer – I desperately wanted out of my addiction. What has solidified this desire to not only get sober but STAY sober was deconstructing what alcohol was for me: what I thought it did for me vs what it actually did. Those were almost opposites. To my mind, pouring that glass of wine was to sprinkle glitter on life. Alcohol to me represented celebration, joy and fun. Any time a happy feeling hit – which was most of the time – I wanted to pour wine aka glitter on it.
Often, when we want to untangle what’s lead us to where we are, we take a look at our childhood. I grew up in a happy home with loving parents, neither of whom ever drank to excess. My mother might sip at a small glass of wine at Christmas or around Midsummer but rarely other than that. Dad does like a good knees-up and occasionally he’ll have a whisky or two when he watches ice-hockey but I’ve never ever known him to have a drink on, say, a random Tuesday. There aren’t any big drinkers in my family and alcohol was never present except for times of celebrations and only ever in moderation. In fact, in my family I was the only smoker and I now include the wider family – aunties, uncles and cousins. Correction – my granddad on Mum’s side smoked but had quit by the time I was born. What I’m saying is that for me personally, drinking or addiction of any kind wasn’t something I grew up around and certainly not the type of drinking I ended up engaging in. It just didn’t exist – I grew up surrounded by moderation only. I say this because I want to demonstrate how addiction doesn’t necessarily depend on your background or wallet. Addiction is a very democratic beast.
Alcohol has many uses. We use it as a disinfectant – it dries out cells at contact so very good for killing bacteria. This also makes it excellent for cleaning. We also put it into our cars. Conjure up an old time image of someone having a tooth pulled – I can bet you that they’ll also have a bottle of booze in that picture. It’s a proven anaesthetic that numbs us both physically and mentally. Beyond this it’s a strong poison and a powerful depressant.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? For me, this is exactly what it does. It destroyed me from within and it makes me shudder to think where I might have ended up. Well, I know exactly where – six feet under – but I guess it’s the remaining stops along that awful journey that I sometimes ponder and the devastation I would have had to suffer before reaching the inevitable destination. Eesh.
Then there are of course all these people – including my husband and most of my friends and family – who can enjoy alcohol in precisely the sort of way you see in the adverts. It’s fun and you get a bit tipsy and goofy and it’s just enhanced the moment. That’s what I wanted too but it never happened. There’d be that brief window around the third drink that DID feel that way – I’d feel buzzed and melty – but it never lasted long and instead I’d hurtle full steam into black-out like a runaway train. Hopeless. But that’s me and I do accept that for those strange creatures who can drink in moderation – weirdos! – it’s different. At the end of the day, if there isn’t a problem, there isn’t a problem. I think because it seemed to me that the rest of the world could have what alcohol promised, I refused for the longest time to accept it wasn’t true for me. Gosh, there’s an advert for a Swedish lager called Pripps Blå and it sums up alcohol’s promise as well as fills me with nostalgia and images of the place where I grew up. It encapsulates how I used to see alcohol:
OK, ignore the ridiculous shot of the naked guy pouring water on himself *snigger* but there you have it – sun, sea, friends and pure loveliness somewhere in the archipelago. Fine, I’m more of a forest lake kinda gal and don’t much care for the sea, but you can just swap the sailing boat for a little rowing boat and row that out into the middle of a quiet lake during any of those summer nights when the sun never sets. There’s my snapshot of heaven right there, which used to contain booze in my world. Now, not so much, but I do think the key to my alcoholism can at least partly be found in the illusion of alcohol and my own beliefs around it. My desire to drink all but died when that illusion shattered and I finally saw what alcohol is for me – poison in a pretty bottle.
Spring is coming. This, I imagine, might be spoken of as the dreaded winter in Game of Thrones to any sober alcoholic. Fast approaching is the season of drinks by the river, picnics and BBQs, sitting in beer gardens and heading to the sea front. Mulled wine and pints of Guinness in all their glory, but isn’t the warmer half of the year the real drinking season? Yes, I drank as heavily no matter the season – I guess you could call me a seasoned drunk, hahr hahr – but when the weather gets kinder it’d seem those normal people drink more too. Thankfully, it doesn’t bother me because it’s still just poison in a pretty bottle and I hope my devious brain won’t fool me again, but it’s worth bearing in mind because it’s more in our faces during this approaching part of the year. Rekorderlig cider by the river! Those pesky Swedes who’ve now provided us with those strawberry and lime ciders that you drink with plenty of ice and taste like schampoo at the first sip.
Well. Just rambling…
Today I’m not going to drink.