For every person in recovery, there is a recovery story.
Every person is unique, as is every story.
Over recent months we have gathered and published a number of these stories. Tales of misery, tales of triumph, tales of strength.
Today we hear from Lola.
In “Alcohol & Me”, Lola pulls no punches in a story so many of us will empathise with.
Lola, thank you for sharing. You properly rock!
Alcohol & Me.
I started drinking regularly around the age of 14 and in all honesty, I’m not sure I ever understood the concept of having just one drink. I always drank for tipsy or drunk and if tipsy, I always wanted more. And because alcohol is such an accepted and normalised, deeply ingrained part of our society my drinking was never considered particularly problematic; I was just the girl up for a laugh, the life and soul of the party.
Whilst alcohol gave me confidence, made me funny and outgoing during my twenties, it pretty much robbed me of all that in my late thirties and forties.
What was it like at the height of my addiction?
Life was pretty much planned around topping up supply. I was, by this time, drinking at home and needed a constant supply of wine in order to survive each day. This wasn’t due to any kind of withdrawals as I didn’t suffer from these, however, every single day I needed to change the way I felt and medicate the pain of ‘being me’. I could only achieve this by numbing out with alcohol during the day and eventually blacking out every night just to do it all over again the next day.
In addition to sourcing supply, there were the regular trips to the recycling to clear the mounting pile of empty bottles. There would be a brief moment in time once the bottles had gone that I might even convince myself I didn’t have a problem.
I don’t like to dwell on what my addiction cost me over the years. Financially it really doesn’t bear thinking about and I’m not sure I could stomach adding up the figures. It cost me a whole lot more than that. I watched my youngest daughter self-harm and take overdoses knowing deep down that I had a part to play in her pain. She desperately wanted me to stop drinking, but I didn’t. Eventually, she left home three times and each time she refused to return unless I stopped.
It took THREE times, yes THREE times for me to eventually not put alcohol first.
I drove drunk, I went to parent evenings drunk, I did the school run drunk, I went to a job interview drunk, got the job and worked drunk, even drinking at work. At the height of my addiction, I would say I spent the best part of 9 years under the influence of alcohol 24/7.
Towards the end, I simply wanted to die.
Alcohol had robbed me of all the self-esteem, confidence and humour. No longer the life and soul of the party, the great laugh to be around; I was lonely, overweight, depressed and considered myself to be such a failure that I didn’t even have the guts to end it myself. I reckoned I would simply drink myself to death.
Every night I would convince myself that I would eventually get ill and that it would kill me. My liver was suffering under the stress; I was wretching yellow bile most mornings and suffering stabbing pains which were most likely related.
Towards the end of 2015, a family intervention eventually brought me into services kicking and screaming. My epiphany moment eventually came when blood tests revealed that I had been spared the nightmare of liver disease and that my liver would recover its full health.
This was my second chance, which I grabbed by the balls and started running. Literally!
Today I experience the same mix of all the feelings and emotions that I always felt before.
There is no magic wand that is waved to remove all that we feel. Just like before, I invariably want to be not feeling any which way that isn’t comfortable and I will always seek to change it, numb it, medicate it. It’s just that today I have built a solid defence against going back to the old ‘comfort zone’ of alcohol and today I always want to be sober far more than I don’t want to be feeling the feelings.
Two and a half years in, I like to look at my sobriety in the same way I feel about leaving my ex. As cliché as it might sound, don’t go back to what broke you and when the past calls, don’t answer; it has absolutely nothing new to offer.