The Day I Quit Drinking.
First published 30th October 2018 by Em, aka Sober Symposium.
Given my hell raiser past, people’s interest in my non-drinking hasn’t come as a huge surprise. Comments during the first few months were always attached to pregnancy, with raised eyebrows or wry smiles surfacing when I talked (sparingly) about my choice to go sober.
People just didn’t believe that a piss head party girl like me could choose a life of sobriety over alcohol. I must have been pregnant. That was the only logical answer to my out of character behaviour, right?
Wrong. So wrong.
When I surpassed the 12 week sober mark peoples’ expressions began to change when I reinforced my alcohol free decision making. ‘Oh, you’re still not drinking? How long has it been now? Nearly four months? Crikey, what happened?’
And there it is. The new question that replaces the pregnancy whispers. The ‘what happened’. As if I would begin to out-pour some horrific drunk scandal because people like me just don’t ‘choose’ to be sober.
Well actually that’s exactly what I did.
On Sunday, 8th July 2018 I decided enough was enough.
I couldn’t do it any more and didn’t want to tolerate a life controlled by booze. So I made a pact with myself to quit. It really was that simple.
This decision came after one of the filthiest weekends I’d endured in a long while. And by filthy I mean alcohol, cigarettes and junk food. The lot. One of my oldest and booziest friends was getting married, so on Friday, 6th July 2018 we beetled off to Brighton for two days of hysterical hen party fun, amazing activities and of course, an abundance of booze.
I can’t possibly count how many units of alcohol went in me that weekend. But we started at 11.30 a.m. on the Friday and I drank solidly until 4.00 a.m. on Sunday morning. The bride-to-be had to drag me to bed as we had to be up in a few hours to catch the train home. Safe to say the 9.00 a.m. wake up call was hell.
My body ached all over and my lungs were shrivelled from chain smoking. Up until this year I was always someone who could take or leave cigarettes. I smoked at Uni and throughout the whole of my twenties continued to dip in and out when drunk. It only took two glasses of wine to make me crave a smoke, and before I quit booze my smoking had rapidly increased to secretive daily puffs. I’d sneak off and smoke cigarettes during the week and plough through packs of 20 on Friday and Saturday nights. I must have smoked over…60 cigarettes in Brighton?
I genuinely felt like I was close to hospitalisation.
So waking up to a screaming headache, battered kidneys and razor blade lungs saw me leave the hen party a broken woman. I was still hammered and looked horrific. All I needed was to be on the train home – I couldn’t stand to be seen in the light of day and my legs could barley hold me.
We got to the station and due to technical problems the trains weren’t running. Kill me. So we were shoehorned onto a bus replacement service and at 12.00 p.m. the temperature was showing 28 degrees. We were sat on fuzzy seats in a bus with no air conditioning or windows that could open. I took a selfie and sent it to my friends complaining of the world’s worst hangover and appearance from hell. Maybe one day I’ll pluck up the courage to post it – but my youthful face and good makeup had been replaced by a puffy, spotty faced hag. I was sweating profusely and felt like I was suffocating.
Everything seemed to be piling on top of me that day and I wanted to scream. I hated myself and I hated everything about my situation.
It was only until I made the journey home, crawled into the living room and inhaled a Domino’s Pizza that I decided enough was enough.
I felt fat and polluted. My athletic 5’3 frame had inflated to 10 stone of wine belly. I took myself into my bedroom, stripped off and just stared at myself. I hated everything I had become and launched my body into the shower. No more abuse, no more booze. I decided there and then to wash the alcohol off of my skin and out of my life. I was done. I wasn’t its puppet any more.
At 6.00 p.m. I was already craving a cold Corona to ease the hangover but I ignored the voice in my head, which I’ve now named Blix, my booze demon, and drank tea instead. I was withdrawn and miserable but my body was too sore and weak to argue. During the year I had collected a number of rock bottom moments that subsequently evolved into a ‘fuck this shit’ protest. Multiple black outs, endless looks of judgement from Rob in the morning, compromising and out-of-character decisions, smoking, slurring, zombie eyes, face-melting embarrassing behaviour.
I’d downed tools and stopped playing ball. As Allen Carr says in his book ‘Stop Drinking Now‘, I’d had my last drink and immediately became free. I’d crawled out of the trap that I’d been stuck in for so long.
So what is an ‘addict’?
Someone who reaches for booze first thing in the morning? Someone who fills their water bottle with vodka to get through the day? A person who can only calm their shakes by taking an alcoholic drink? An old man who passes out on a park bench at night clutching a bottle of cider?
That’s what I used to think, but actually it’s me. And you, and millions of people on this planet who are struggling to cope with the effects of alcohol but continue to put up with the bullshit because they feel ashamed or stupid for fighting the system. A drug that is so socially acceptable, so widely forced on society yet is one of the most harmful and damaging poisons thrown down the necks of educated and normal people – like you, me, our family, friends and loved ones – who still view it as something positive, endearing and necessary.
In my opinion you don’t have to be reaching for the bottle at 8.00 a.m. to identify as a problem drinker.
If YOU think your drinking is starting to hold you back – in any way shape or form – then you absolutely have to do something about it.
I’d been trying to cut back for years and failed, and before I knew it my consumption was worse than ever and I was completely dependent. This is the alcohol I know and choose never to know again.
Everything wrong, or going wrong, in my life stemmed from booze and it’s life-ruining side effects – so I decided to quit – there and then – and it’s been the best decision I have ever made.
About our author, Em:
Em describes herself thus:
“I’m Em aka Sober Symposium and my blog documents my recovery from alcohol dependence. I’m 31, married and Director of my own company – which on paper sounds pretty good right? In truth, for the past five years or so, I’ve been hanging on to life by the skin of my teeth as a result of my disastrous relationship with alcohol. Writing and reading is like therapy for me which is why I’ve decided to offload everything here. If you’re in the same position I really wish you the best of luck x”