Alcohol takes us to places that we would never go when sober. Dark places. Dangerous places.
I’ve done some terrible things under the influence of alcohol that make me shudder today. Things that I have never shared publicly which says a lot about how dark they are because I’ve written many hundreds of thousands of words – in blogs and books and social media posts – about my addiction. I’ve written about many shameful, embarrassing and humiliating events. I’ve written about falling over and vomiting. I’ve written about being emotionally absent and careless. I have shared a lot. But there are one or two things that I haven’t shared and never will.
The only reason I’m admitting this here is because dysfunctional drinking breaks us down slowly.. inch by inch eroding our self worth and self confidence. Add in a couple of extremely shameful or dangerous incidents and we’re deeply weakened. And in that weakened state it’s so hard for us to find the strength to turn things around.
But I think it’s worth recognising that not everything we do when boozed is true of our natural character. We are not our boozy selves. We are not the sum of our drinking exploits. We are not. Our natural character is our sober selves. It’s vital to recognise this and be able to momentarily step outside of our boozy persona to find strength to turn things around.
The moment I re-discovered my inner strength and started on my path to recovery was the moment I realised that my drinking problem wasn’t about me – it was about alcohol. I had a profound moment of separation (sitting on the loo in tears at 3am after my last ever booze binge) when I had a very clear thought: the problem isn’t me, the problem is the alcohol me.
The problem isn’t me, the problem is the alcohol.
Take the alcohol away and the problem is gone.
Last week I revisited the site of one of my most awful drunken memories. I honestly shudder to think about what I did in this place many years ago. I’m hardly ever there any more as it’s near my old house on the other side of town. But last week I found myself in the vicinity and paid a visit.
I walked around the place slowly, reliving my past exploits, accutely aware of how much of a changed woman I am today – over six years sober, grounded, calm and full of respect for myself. I pictured the old me doing that terrible thing and felt very sad and ashamed, but also deeply compassionate for her (me) that she (I) was reduced to such behaviour.
But mostly I felt pride and gratitude. Pride that I have turned my life around. And gratitude that I found my true self underneath all the alcohol, and left that shit behind.