I was asked by an American rehab to submit an article for their website. They said "write a letter to your past addicted self. Be persuasive and empowering ".
I didn't hold back.
Dear Mrs D,
Here’s the thing. You’re hooked on booze.
It’s got its claws into you and that’s just a fact. Don’t hide away from the truth, get your head out of the sand and admit it. Come on! You know you’re sinking far too much wine most nights. You know you’re wrestling with yourself every day about whether to buy any. You know you’re doing deals with yourself about how much you’re going to drink and you know you keep breaking those deals. You know you keep waking up at 3am feeling guilty, with a bursting bladder, pounding head and sick guts. You know this is all true.
Don’t hide from the truth. That’s just stupid. This is your life, no one else’s. You’re the one in charge of it, no one else. You get to live how you want to live. What other people know or want is irrelevant. This is just about your relationship with yourself. So do you want to live like this? Do you? You need to be brutally honest with yourself. What anyone else thinks doesn’t matter. So face up to yourself and accept the truth.
Right. So we’ve established what the problem is. You can’t control or moderate alcohol. Now we need to get to the solution. First things first – the booze has got to go. Completely. No more wasting time and energy trying desperately to control the stuff. You’ve been doing that for long enough and you know you can’t. You just can’t! Once you touch wine you just want more and more. So don’t touch it ever again. Take it out of your life and learn how to live without it.
Now don’t go all ‘woe-is-me’ on it girl. Don’t waste energy wondering why you’re like this. There are probably a multitude of reasons why you’re an addict, but the bottom line is you just are one. I thought we’d established that fact – get over yourself and accept it. It’s a bugger of a fact about life but there you have it; some humans can control alcohol and use it moderately and some can’t. I know it’s unfair! I get it! This is the most socially acceptable drug on the planet and its wedded into our culture and daily lives. It’s everywhere we turn. It’s seen as the vital ingredient for fun, it’s poured liberally at every social occasion, celebration and event. It’s cheap, it’s acceptable, and it’s readily available. But it’s not for you any longer.
Don’t freak out, admitting this doesn’t make you weak or a loser. It just makes you someone who got addicted to an addictive substance. Jeez! We all know alcohol is addictive! There’s no big mystery there. Millions of people are hooked just like you are, struggling day-in-day-out to control alcohol. The biggest bummer about today’s world is that it’s not common to openly admit you’re hooked, so lots of people keep their struggles private. But know that you are not alone. Don’t waste any more energy asking ‘why me?’ Just accept you got bit with the booze bug and get it out of your life. Do what you need to do but take it away and learn how to live without it. Others do it. You can too.
I’ll repeat. It’s irrelevant how other people respond to what you are doing, just press on with the truth that only you know. You can’t control alcohol, it’s bringing you down and you need to get it out of your life. Simple.
I know it’s scary to contemplate living without touching alcohol ever again. I get it. It goes against everything we’ve been conditioned to believe – that alcohol is a necessary part of life. You just have to challenge your thinking around that and shift your mindset. Other people do it. Look around … look at Rob Lowe – he lives completely sober and he doesn’t look miserable at all. What about Keith Urban? He’s completely sober and he looks pretty happy sitting there on American Idol. Keep looking.. there are many happy sober people out there in the world, so it must be possible to get to that place. It is possible to get to that place. Get to that place. Do whatever you need to do but get there.
How? Well that depends on what you uncover once you take the booze away. You may find you can get to a happy sober place just by writing a blog or participating in online recovery. You may find you need to go see a counselor or therapist regularly. Maybe face-to-face meetings in your neighborhood are just what you need. Maybe taking the booze away will uncover some underlying mental health issue that you need specialized help with, or you’ll start to realize some other fundamental aspect of your life needs changing. Maybe the perfect thing for you will be to go into full-time residential care for a while to get intensive support.
You’ll figure out what you need to do as time goes on. Just get started. Put the drink down and decide you’ll never touch it again.
It’ll be the beginning of an amazing journey of discovery for you. I promise you won’t regret it.
Love, Mrs D xxx