It’s hard sometimes to convince other people that we have a problem with booze. They might see us have the occasional bender at a wedding or party, or know that we like to crack a wine open when visitors arrive… but for them that doesn’t necessarily spell ‘big problem’. Especially if we are managing to hold down our lives and achieve most things we need to achieve on a day-to-day basis.
I know most of my friends and family were shocked when I announced I had a problem with alcohol and was giving up drinking forever. They knew I was fond of my wines, but they had no idea I was waging an intense internal battle with myself about alcohol.
This wasn’t the fault of the people around me. Of course they relied on outward signs of trouble to know there was a problem. Otherwise how would they know! I was running my life very well, looking after our kids and keeping the household ticking over. I was working part-time, studying to do my Masters, even going to the gym semi-regularly. High functioning to the max! Why would anyone suspect I was an alcoholic?
Because they weren’t in my brain.
They weren’t inside my head at 3am when I woke time and again feeling hungover, guilty and miserable. They weren’t in my head at 10am when I was beating myself up for over-indulging yet again the night before. They weren’t in my head at 12pm when I was beginning to convince myself that maybe I wasn’t that bad. They weren’t in my head at 3pm when I was making the decision to buy more wine. They weren’t in my head at 5pm when I started fizzing as the alcohol hit my brain. They weren’t in my head at 9pm when I was inebriated, zoned out and numb. And they weren’t in my head when I woke up at 3am hungover, guilty and miserable again.
They weren’t in my head when I went through this 24-hour cycle over and over and over and over many thousands of times.
No-one was in my head but me.
So frankly, convincing others that I had problem wasn’t a priority for me. Sorting out my own head was.
Even now I’ve been sober for over 3 years (and have written a book about my problem and blog about it left, right and centre!) I still sometimes have this crazy notion that I need to prove my alcoholic credentials. I can do this by trotting out vomiting stories, highlighting just how much wine I would drink week after week, pointing out exactly how obsessed I was with drinking, ramming home how stifled my whole experience of life was… but frankly it’s just dumb that I feel the need to do this.
I don’t need to convince others that I had a problem. It is a complete side issue to the main issue which is me needing to sort my own shit out. I have to keep my eye on that prize. My sobriety is about my relationship with myself, and my relationship with alcohol. My recovery is, although often carried out in public, deeply personal and intimate.
It’s about what I know, and what I feel. And what I know is that I feel one million trillion percent happier, healthier, calmer and more proud now that I am not necking wine like it’s going out of fashion.
I’m convinced of that.
Love, Mrs D xxx