I started writing this blog in December 2014 because I believed that there must be another 24 year old out there experiencing the same trauma, confusion, resentment, and vicious cycles that were increasingly taking their toll on my life as a result of my relationship with alcohol.
The last year has made me wonder if I had ever really looked properly in the first place to find people I could connect to. My school friend, Rebecca, reached out and subsequently shared elements of her story with alcoholism and sobriety on this blog back in October. She celebrates her 1 year booze-free on the 10th of January, 2 days time – mad props to her on a fantastic achievement.
|Harry and Gabs: Christmas Dinner 2015.|
Last April, I met Gabrielle, or Gabs – a good friend of a good friend. A couple of years older than me, I found we had a lot in common – both with a love for a good time, both of us working in London, a similar sense of humour, and also both dealing with our booze-related demons.
Today, I am honoured to host Gabs’ post on this blog – I never knew her when she was drinking, but I’m sure that drinking-her and drinking-me would have been best drinking friends, perfectly positioned to validate the other’s behaviour whilst the next round was being ordered. As it is, I’d like to thank her for the connection we share now instead, as from a selfish point of view it really does mean something to me, to be able to have those conversations built on pure understanding and acceptance.
Anyway, quite enough from me (enjoy the break while you can people) – and without further ado, and plenty of applause, its over to Gabs.
I wake up, cold, shivering and with the all too familiar feeling of knowing that last night was not good. It is 6am, I am on the sofa fully clothed, an empty bottle of red wine next to me. A quick scan of my phone shows that I tried to FaceTime about 7 different people at 3am… had any of them connected?
I creep upstairs to bed, and all I want to do is curl around Paulo and sleep - not the drunken stupor I had been in the night before but a proper sleep. This isn’t going to happen, I am going to have to power through and make out that I am ‘fine’. Paulo doesn’t want to hear the usual excuses and we have plans - we need to get our fancy dress outfits for the 80s party we were heading to this evening. With my mouth dry tasting like an ashtray I plaster a smile across my face and go out.
I try to broach the subject of my drunken antics the previous night but he has heard it before, he has picked me up, dried my tears and listened to my excuses a million times about why this was the last time.
We dress up, rocking out the 80s look and pick our friends up to go out. The anxiety, it’s building. I am going to have the one drink to settle my nerves and then go onto water. I mean the stony silence all day hasn’t helped and I need something. I’m not going to go overboard after last night.
We arrive and there were so many people that I don’t know. I am dressed up, I feel stupid and completely out of my comfort zone. A cold pint of Magners would do me nicely.
I nurse the first half because really I am still dying but as the others are now nearing the end of their drinks, I neck the last half down and gratefully accept second. Two is my limit.
I am beginning to loosen up and Paulo is smiling. We head to the dance floor and the drinks flow.
We head home about midnight after a mighty 6 pints, and with the boys now wanting feeding - the kebab shop it is for them. Me…. Well the night is only early… does nobody else want another drink? I open another cider and swallow it straight down. I go for another but alas we are right out. I will open a bottle of red. Nobody else?? Ok well, I will just have the one.
|When you wake up with a cracking headache..|
I wake up, it’s freezing. Where am I? I peel my eyes open and survey my surroundings. The kitchen, ok so I’m at home. What time is it? Where is Paulo? Has everybody else gone home? I feel sick… hungover…. I try to get up and fall over…. No, I’m definitely still drunk. Did I finish that bottle of wine? Yes there is the empty bottle, oh wait that’s not the one I opened. So that was 2 bottles gone. What happened to just the one?
I gingerly hobble up the stairs to bed…. I’m actually in physical pain… did I fall last night? Damn I can’t remember. Paulo isn’t there. He’s in the spare room. What happened? I rack my brains to try and remember…. But nope, just another black out moment. I stumble into the spare room ready for a fight… he doesn’t understand what I go through. I’m not taking his criticism again. I try to act nonchalant as I realise he is up, washed and dressed. It can’t be that bad can it…………… can it? The look in his eye tells me it can be……... He walks passed me.
His words bite - “look at the state of you.” I glance in the mirror and do a double take… yep ok 1-0 to Paulo.
‘Do you remember passing out last night on the kitchen floor? I had to step over you to go to bed’
I expect him to be angry, instead I’m met with something worse than anger. Resignation. I’ve pushed him to his limit. I snap back that he doesn’t understand and sink into bed.
|Sober and tattooed - Gabs' favourite 'sobriety treat'|
Midday and I wake up with the sinking feeling that actually this can’t be fixed. I’ve hit rock bottom. I’ve lost all sense of rationale when it comes to drinking. I cry for the rest of day. Paulo stays, he listens, he tells me this can’t go on, he tells me he does understand but I have to help myself.
It is then that I remember a couple of months before…. I had a fleeting idea to just cut back when I emailed Belle. Belle and her 100 days sober blog. I wasn’t an alcoholic - 100 days sober, how hard could that be? I log on, I’m still waiting for my place to be a sober pen pal. I realise I can’t wait any longer. I vow to not drink for 100 days with or without a sober pen pal.
I sit here now 557 days sober.
When I wanted to ‘cut back’ on my drinking I googled and came up with the usual AA links. For reason I won’t go into, it just didn’t sit right with me. It was then that I stumble across Belle and her blog
I liked the honesty of her blog and for the first time I had a ‘yes she gets it’ moment. What I appreciated about Belle was her humour and her understanding. She doesn’t claim to know it all, she just offers an alternative. An alternative that worked for me. . I read the challenge and pledged the 100 days…. For me I hated the thought of quitting forever – such a ridiculously long time.
What I realised along the way was that yes it’s ok to reward yourself, look after yourself, allow yourself to be frustrated and shout ‘fuck you wolfie’ (read blog to understand the phrase!). It was a relief to read that it was going to be a struggle and therefore treat yourself to that cuppa, that piece of cake… hell you deserve it right? Each month I remained sober I rewarded myself with a manicure/jewellery etc etc and at 14 months I treated myself to my favourite treat of all. My soberity tattoo….. a bit cliché some might say but to me… a reminder of my achievement and a constant reminder to stay sober.
Go check out Belle's 100 day challenge if you fancy this for yourself…. I can honestly say it was the best thing I’ve ever.
To read more about Gabs, or get in touch with her head on over to her blog 'Gstarstarting'.
Find out more about me, or drop me a line here...