Am I An Alcoholic? (Day 67)

Dear Universe,

So I decided to get the fuck sober and stop living at internal war with myself.  But what was going to make this time different to all the other dry spells I’d attempted? Yes, I’m one of those drinkers who could white-knuckle it for a month and use it as evidence that I didn’t have a drinking problem. I even attended a friends 40th birthday party (with a DIY cocktail bar thrown in) completely sober. “Look at me!” my ego ranted, “I”m so totally together and so in control of alcohol that I can abstain and still party and have fun and be cool and not even think about those delicious looking mojito’s over there. Oh yes siree, I’m over here having the most fun ever. Just look at this ghoulish fake smile I have plastered over my face!” And I had witnesses to corroborate my story: “God, I wish I could go booze free for a week let alone a whole month!” “You’re amazing! You must feel sooo healthy!”  And I did. Until the four weeks was up (nobody said it had to be a calendar month) and I’d be right back in the saddle, guzzling pinot even quicker to make up for lost time.

This time had to be different.

What does a gal do when she’s feeling hungover and wanting to effect a major life change? Why, she gets in her comfy pajamas, downs a bucket of M&Ms and a few gallons of ice cream, and GOOGLES baby! It wasn’t long in my search before AA websites appeared.  But I’m not an alcoholic.  And I don’t ‘do’ God. (no offence intended to anybody who does).  But as my search for help continued, again and again those two letters would appear in my results.  But I’m not an alcoholic. And I don’t ‘do’ God.  Let’s unpack these for a second.

Unlike other diseases, there is no test for alcoholism, and my definition of an alcoholic as someone with manky hair residing under a bridge with a brown paper bag stuck to their mouth was looking pretty flimsy.  I come from a family of alcoholics. We all knew my nan’s ‘orange juice’ was pretty much straight gin, and her wobbly head and hands had fuck all to do with Parkinson’s. My grandfather had his septicemic leg amputated as a complication from alcoholism for fucks sake.  Both lived above sea level sans paper bags and from what I remember had pretty decent hair.  But don’t alcoholics drink in the morning? How come I can stop for weeks at a time? How can I hold down a job? But I only like drinking red wine and bubbles…

I clicked into the AA website and blow me down, there’s a quiz you can take called ‘Are you an alcoholic?’.  Probably the only test in the world you want to fail, right?  I answered the 12 questions quickly and honestly and scored a grand total of 11.  Apparently, anything over 4 means I ‘could’ be an alcoholic.

But that still wasn’t a diagnosis was it? I mean what did being an alcoholic actually fucking well mean anyway? And then I found a quote that seemed to pound through all the bullshit and make it’s way to the church bells inside my mind: 

That’s just it: alcoholism is self diagnosed. It didn’t matter that the lady down the road had told me countless times what a wonderful job I was doing raising my boys. It didn’t matter that I’d managed to score countless promotions throughout my career, despite turning up to work with a brain that felt like it was marinated in battery acid.  It didn’t matter that I wasn’t a dreadlocked mess under a bridge guzzling meths.  In other words, it didn’t matter that I could still just about hold my external life together. What did matter was that my internal life was an absolute shit stinking mess. What did matter was that I knew I couldn’t carry on waking up every morning with a head awash with regret and remorse and a soul that felt nauseous walking in it’s own skin.  And if admitting I was an alcoholic was going to do something to help me out of this goddamn living hell, then I wish I’d have scored 12 on the fucking test.

And, the ‘doing God’ thing would just have to remain packed up for now.

This is day 67 of my sobriety.

Love, light and energy.


My first post (Day 66)

Dear Universe,

So today starts my first official blog entry.  I’ve been thinking about doing this since I started on this bumpy road, and just haven’t gotten round to it.  Too busy facing my feelings, attending meetings, getting my shit together, eating an insane amount of sweets, practicing yoga, wincing with flashbacks of drunken behaviour…but here I am: 66 days sober on the 6th day of the 6th month.  I’ll choose to ignore the reference to Lucifer and just enjoy the funky ‘6-6-6-6’ number pattern.

I often find the best part of sobriety blogs is reading about how the blogger got to their decision to get sober: their ‘rock bottom’.  Perhaps it’s the appeal of a happy ending after a nightmare, the sunshine after a thunderstorm, or (and if I’m honest more likely), it’s that grisly side of me that can’t help but look after a car crash, that morbid curiosity that enjoys hearing tales of physical, emotional and spiritual harm.

So what was my lowest point? Well, I’ve had numerous moments of feeling like an utter wino shitbag.  In 2014 I was caught ‘high level’ drink driving and lost my licence for 12 months.  That didn’t stop me.  I’ve fallen down and woken up with significant cuts and bruises I don’t remember getting.  They didn’t stop me.  I’ve screamed viscous obscenities at my husband and dangled myself off of a 12 storey balcony (all completely erased from memory in the morning), and that didn’t stop me.  I’ve fallen out of an Uber and crawled on my hands and knees from the gutter to my front door in front of my two children and guess what? That didn’t stop me either.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’d have to rely on my phone to track my mood and movements from the night before (evidently I’m an excellent texter when wasted) and wouldn’t you freaking know it, that didn’t stop me either.  Indeed, there wasn’t one defining moment that brought me to the decision that I needed to kick the booze for good, but rather a collage of headaches and dry mouths, glances of disappointment and insecurity from my children, receipts from expensive nights out with  nothing to show for it except a toilet full of rank, rust-coloured wee, broken promises to myself that I’d stick to just the one bottle, would only drink on the weekends, wouldn’t drink before 5…yadda, yadda, fricking yadda.

So, instead of one defining scrape of the barrel, it was a culmination of incidences that came together to form a stinking pinnacle of self-loathing, heart-hardening self disgust and gripping, gut-churning, toe-curling anxiety.  A point where it was either stop battling, lower my standards and accept that I was and would always be a middle-class suburban booze hag likely to make a major life-threatning mistake that I’d never get over, or dig the fuck deep, pull my fucking big girl pants up, and sort this shit out once and for all.  And so, on Sunday April 2nd 2017, I chose the latter.    I don’t know what it was about that particular day, but I’m so glad it came.  That’s not to say that life’s been a box of bloody birds since I stopped, but if I felt like I was living in a cyclone of despair when I was boozing, then this has lifted to patchy drizzle with moments of intense and brilliant sunshine, and the odd bird chirp in the background.

So, that’s my first post and this is day 66 of my sobriety.

Love, and light and energy