One of the many things I have learned over the course of my journey through alcohol is not every person gets to tell theirs, I am one of the fortunate ones.
When I was growing up the societal view of alcohol misuse was not only the norm, it was positively encouraged everywhere you looked. Both of my parents were alcoholics but because they did it when socialising that was okay. A consequence of seeing them abusing alcohol was my teenage rebellion took the form of abstaining from booze until much later, and whilst I don’t think I had the mindset of playing catch up when I did start drinking, it led me to believe that I would always be able to take it or leave it.
Over the years I have never considered myself an alcoholic, justifying my intake as the odd binge instead of everyday drinking, like somehow that made it okay. Looking back, I realise just how much it dictated what I did. Any activity or excursion was based on doing whatever and having a drink.
I wouldn’t walk the dogs around the park, I would need a destination like a pub to head towards. I couldn’t meet a friend for a coffee, I would have to get a taxi and have a couple.
A couple. One was not enough and two was too many. As trite as that cliché sounds, it was so true for me. Life continued in the same manner for many years because that was ‘normal’, that was what everyone else did. My father died of pancreatic cancer at the age of fifty-two, exacerbated my decades of alcohol abuse, but it wasn’t a wake call for me because I wasn’t ready to see it as a warning sign and besides, my dad had just died so I was upset and had every reason to get drunk.
As life went on, I dismissed how it was affecting those closest to me as if they were the ones with a problem, not me. Somehow most of those closest and most important stayed with me, for which I will be eternally grateful, but two didn’t.
Churchill described the turning point of the war as not the beginning of the end but rather the end of the beginning. For me, that was when my best friend died. For years we had been the best of friends, a terrible twosome who lived for the monthly sesh where we would get absolutely wasted and I would regularly wake up in a puddle of urine, having no idea what had happened the night before.
Whilst for me it was a monthly blitz and that was that, I didn’t realise that for my friend it was a weekly occurrence for him. I was blinkered to the fact that he was constantly drinking so much and blind to the fact that his frequent trips to the toilet weren’t because of a small bladder. Perhaps deep down I was suspicious of his behaviour but felt it wasn’t down to me to raise the issue, as God forbid someone might do it to me. Perhaps if I had then he wouldn’t have died at the age of thirty-two of alcohol and drug abuse. His death hit me hard, and it was whilst I was mourning him that my mother then got ill. I was as close to my mother as I was to my best friend, so when she died six weeks after him, my entire world collapsed. The months and years that followed nearly did me in.
I was devastated over the deaths of my best friend and mother, and despite just how they died, I yet again hit the booze as a coping mechanism. The difference between then and when my dad died was I had been damaging my mind and body for years. I was also older and less able to bounce back, but the factors that were most damaging to me were my mental state and also the world around us. Lockdowns were in effect and being unable to leave the house due to having to medically self-isolate, unsurprisingly, caused me to feel isolated and alone. Being inside so much became the norm and I became agoraphobic, scared to leave the house even when I could. This led me to begin taking antidepressants, which of course I took whilst continuing to drink.
The combination of drinking, taking prescribed medications and antidepressants, as well as a negative mental state caused me to fall into a deep depression, being sectioned and having.
blackouts. I attempted suicide on more than one occasion, but it was another act that endangered my life and those around me that took me from the end of the beginning to the beginning of the end for me.
Many times in the past my resolve was never stronger than the morning after the night it was never weaker, yet it never amounted to anything. This time however, I was ready to accept it and I am proud and humbled to declare that as of Sunday 27th November 2022 I am 28 days free of alcohol. It took me a while to stop dismissing each new day as a trivial achievement and I am now so proud of myself and what I am accomplishing. My mental and physical well-being has improved drastically, and I have a new lease on life. I am losing weight, the quality and quantity of my sleep is amazing and I truly believe I am the Michelle I should be.
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