WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS HOW GRATEFUL I AM.
Firstly, you meet some people in your life who truly reach out and help you. Sarah is one of these amazing people. She has changed my life and helped me become alcohol free. Now I enjoy every-day to the full. Words cannot express how grateful I am for her help, support and encouragement.
I was born into a loving family to parents in their forties. They never thought they would have children, so they were thrilled when the stork delivered me. They didn’t go on to have any more children so I was the only one. One may presume spoilt, well yes for the nice things I had, my own bedroom with a TV etc, but definitely not spoilt in attitude – my father was very strict and ensured I adhered to his rules and regulations.
My father and grand-father were nightly drinkers…enjoying one or two glasses of wine with dinner and then a few whiskies before bedtime. My mother had the odd snowball, but on the whole preferred to drink galloons of tea rather than any form of booze.
I cannot remember how old I was when I had my first drink – not because I was drunk but because I was given whiskey on my dummy! My grand-father used to give me sips of his whiskey from a very early age and then my father would give me wine with dinner, and give me drinks on social events and on holidays – not many but as he said enough so I would build up a tolerance. He believed he was doing the right thing, his strategy was to ensure that no man would ever be able to drink me under the table and have his wicked was with me!
When I was 13 and 14 years old, I went through some traumatic events, which I would rather not discuss, but needless to say they have scared me. Soon after these events stopped, I started going out to pubs and clubs with friends. We lived in a big city in the North, where under-age drinking was the norm – they weren’t many youth clubs around, so we choose pubs and clubs to listen to music, dance and socialise. Given my tolerance I would often get merry whilst some of my friends would be in state, I rarely got drunk (my interpretation of drunk being staggering and slurring words).
I started a family at a young age and my going out days were few and far between. I never drank in the house, never had the urge and couldn’t afford it anyway. When I did go out, yes I would enjoy many drinks and be quite inebriated…suffering from the old hangover! But as these nights were few and far I did not worry.
I went through university and built up a good career, evenings out became more frequent, about once a month, and again I would go out get drunk and have a bloody good night (well so I thought anyway).
As my career progressed I moved into the world of sales, so as well as socialising in pubs and clubs with friends, I was now drinking with work colleagues. I was still never an everyday drinker. Some months there would be one event, others there maybe five or six events. But I worked hard, I was bringing up a family so I deserved to enjoy myself – ‘because I’m worth it’!
As my friends started having families we moved away from the pub and club scene and onto dinner parties. I could always be relied upon for the ‘entertainment’, consuming lots of alcohol, getting drunk, being the life and soul of the party. Of course I was getting older so the hangovers lasted longer. For me I still thought this was fine. I was a happy drunk, more often than not buying more bottles of wine and champagne to keep the party going. I never got angry or aggressive.
However, all that changed when my daughter turned 13 years old, the feelings and emotions of what had happened to me when I was that age started to surface. I became depressed, I felt worthless and dirty. So much so, that on nights out or at dinner parties, I would drink so much alcohol that I would pass out. I did not want to leave a party, I didn’t want to go home when everyone else did…I wanted to carry on drinking. It made me forget, it tricked me into feeling better about myself. I felt happy and content when I drank. I didn’t want an evening to come to an end. Clearly, in the morning I would feel terrible. Hangovers would last two-three days and I would have what I can only describe as anxiety attacks.
I still never had the urge to drink every-day but I would get in a state once a fortnight at first and then it crept up to once a week. I knew I had to change. I tried to moderate…but over the course of 18 months I only managed moderation once or twice. I wanted to stop binging but I couldn’t. Once I had had one drink a switch would click in my head and I wanted more. The voice inside my head would say “Go on, you have worked hard you deserve it,” or “You’ve had a stressful week, you need a few drinks to relax”. Once I was drunk this voice would inevitably encourage me to carry on “Well you are going to have a hangover anyway, so you may as well carry on enjoying yourself!” I can’t describe how bad the hangovers were…they would render my useless the following day and then a nervous wreck with anxiety attacks for three-four days later.
I tried to be alcohol free on many occasions, sometimes lasting a fortnight, sometimes a month…but I would always end up having a binge. It would only take one friend to say, “You haven’t got a problem, just enjoy a few with me”…and then I’d be off!
I knew I needed help. I went to a few AA meetings, but they weren’t for me. I think the AA does some amazing work and they help many people, but for me it wasn’t right. I joined Soberistas and found the chat rooms and information online really helpful. It gave me a good base to try once again to be alcohol free. However, whilst away with my team for a long weekend I relapsed – drinking from 6pm in the evening until 11am the following morning.
My life changed when I got in touch with Sarah. I realised I could not become alcohol free on my own. I had read about Sarah on the Soberistas website. I contacted her as I landed at London Heathrow at 7am, some 20 hours after my last drink! I was in dire need. She chatted to me immediately and arranged a follow up conversation for a few days later. Sarah was caring, warm and understanding. She explained the six-week online/telephone programme and I sensed it was right for me; the programme fitted perfectly with my busy life and we both felt we could work together.
So I’ve completed the course and come out the other end. Not once in those six-weeks was I tempted to drink. Sarah‘s CBT course is truly amazing. She has taught me to love myself again. I am empowered to be alcohol free. I no longer need to abuse myself with alcohol. I can do everything that I love doing every-day of the week, rather than just half of it when I was suffering the after effects of a binge. I see, hear and smell things differently. The amazing things about the world we live in and the people we meet now fill my mind rather than being supressed by the fog of alcohol.
Through this new empowerment and self-belief I am taking action against what happened to me when I was a teenager and addressing those issues. I can deal with the everyday stresses and strains of life AND celebrate the joy of life without reaching for a glass.
Sarah – thank you so much for your care, compassion and comradeship. You have changed my life, helping me divert away from the road I was on.