Monday, 27 May 2013

Once an Alcoholic, always an alcoholic

They say, "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic".

So, I guess I'm an alcoholic.

It started, when I was 21 and my childhood sweetheart broke up with me. We'd been together just over 4 years and I was devastated. I don't deal well with being dumped, I get reeeeeeally ugly. Except in this instance, it hurt so badly, I didn't tell a soul.

Life was different back then, there was no Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to ventilate to. 'Talking about it' meant picking up the telephone and calling someone, but there's no way I would've done that. It was my final year of university, so during the daytime, I studied and come 5pm, I started drinking. I was a fairly high functioning alcoholic, who managed to get decent grades and hold down decent jobs.

I lived alone in those early days, no one could've known how much of a grip alcohol was starting to have over me. Even if they had, I was too hellbent on a path of self destruction to have cared. When I eventually started going out again, I chose friends and boyfriends who didn't mind me drinking. We all had our own demons, and none of us really cared.

I spent the majority of my 20's either working, or drinking. I made a lot of bad decisions, I lost a lot of good friends, and I did some really stupid things, which I still pay for today.

By the time I reached my late 20's, I could out drink most grown men. All my friends were drinkers, every night we'd polish off a slab of beer or I'd drink half a slab on my own. I knew I had a problem but I felt completely powerless to stop. There were days, I literally felt pain in my liver.

I felt so ashamed of myself for not being strong enough to quit, I tried so many times to stop, but only ever lasted a day or 2. Every failed attempt at quitting, only fueled the addiction even more. What was the point in even trying to stop, when I was only going to fail?

Then one day, I discovered I was pregnant and I stopped drinking. Just like that. It was hell. The pregnancy hormones were raging and although the physical withdrawals didn't last long, the psychological withdrawals lasted well over 2 years.

When Max was in ICU, I wondered how I was going to get through, without alcohol. For almost 10 years, I used alcohol to block out every emotion imaginable. Yet, here I was, living a total nightmare with no way of numbing myself.

The ICU nurses often encouraged me to leave his bedside, in order to maintain my own sanity and prevent burnout. I always denied that I needed time away, but in reality, I did. On two occasions that week, we went to a pub not far from the hospital. I drank a bit on those nights, but made sure I stayed sober enough to still know what was going on.

Those two nights of drinking, only reinforced, my drinking days were well and truly over. There was something far more important in my life now and I needed to find a new way of coping. From that point onwards, I stopped craving alcohol. I'm still not entirely sure, how I coped during the early stages of this journey. There's every possibility I was completely batshit crazy but no one was brave enough to tell me.

Nowadays, I still have the occasional drink and have no problems stopping after one or two. I'm extremely cautious about the amount I drink and how often, because there is no chance in hell I'll let alcohol control me ever again. I'm happy for Max to know who I used to be, but he will never meet the person I was. That person went out the trash, along with a few hundred empty beer bottles.

My name is Faith and I'm an alcoholic.

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