I find it fascinating that even after 4 years of sobriety, I still find it kind of awkward being in a social situation and getting that look when you say, "no thanks, I'm just after a water please". The looks I get include the other person being uncomfortable or surprised and my favourite is when they seem offended. Particularly in work-social situations. Up until recently, I haven't looked back and gone "why did I quit".
The bigger question is "how did the drinking get so bad", and that is a long winding road of me not coping with work pressure, and getting that feeling on the drive home that a glass of wine would be AWESOME. Nothing unusual in that. BUT, the one glass of wine consumed while making dinner would be accompanied by another glass of wine during dinner, and then why not just finish the bottle. Once again, nothing unusual in that.
For my fortieth birthday, we went on a cruise around Hawaii, and prior to the trip I began to experience anxiety. The anxiety was trigger by thoughts of "how I'm I going to drink the same amount and not let my husband know how much I drank". Quickly followed by "I'll start by ordering a bottle of champagne for the cabin, so that when we arrive, it will be a celebration, and I can have a drink". Good plan! But when we got to the cabin, the bottle hadn't arrived, and it would be another 3 hours before the bottle finally arrived - bummer....
The rest of the trip was spent enjoying Hawaii and finding ways to hide how much I was drinking from my husband. When I look back on a magical trip, its got little grey areas of sadness that I didn't fully embrace the trip, due the grip that alcohol was starting to have on my life. We returned home, nothing unusual, and I carried on drinking but it started to ramp higher.
I never got to a stage where I would drink in the morning or during the day, hence, many people have commented that I wasn't an alcoholic. But I craved a drink and when I started, I couldn't stop. In my lowest days a friend posted on Facebook she needed companions for a trip to Nepal and trek in the Langtang Valley. I wasn't exercising, I was drinking about 2 bottles of wine a night, and I was feeling bad. But it seemed like the right thing to do, shake me up, get me out of my comfort zone.
The trip was a year away when we booked it, and then the anxiety started again. Where would I find alcohol in Nepal!? How do you walk in the Langtang Valley and get the wine I so desperately needed. The trip was about 6 months away and I was fretting, I couldn't see a way out of it, I was still craving wine, and couldn't think straight. What on earth was I doing going on a trip to Nepal to walk the Himalayas!
Then an event happened at work that I over reacted too, and for what ever reason, I understood that my reaction was due to a hang over. I had never occurred to me before, why I was so sluggish, lethargic, and basically couldn't be bothered doing anything. The cravings were strong, but I knew, if I wanted to change the pattern, I had to change something drastically. I don't know how I came across it, but I purchased a book by Allen Carr "How to control alcohol". I started reading thinking, there is no way in hell I'm going to be able to stop drinking", the cravings were so strong.
The book makes you continue drinking at the same rate throughout the book and by half way through, I didn't want to drink anymore. But you have to keep drinking (according to the book anyway!). So I cut back, and cut back some more, and by the end of the book, it tells you to take your last drink ever - but it can't be something you enjoy (like wine). All I had other than wine was a bottle of vodka in the freezer, and the book tells you, you have to take it as a shot (I was always terrible at drinking shots). But there I was standing over the sink, drinking my shot, wanting to vomit, but needing to get it down; and that was the last drink I've had in 4 years.
I started walking (to prepare for Nepal), and I suddenly had 6-8 hours of extra time available in my day. At least 4 hours at night, because by the time I started drinking, I couldn't do anything else (even though I was studying part-time towards a Bachelor of Business), when I would start drinking, I couldn't study after work anymore. At least 2 hours sometimes 4 extra hours available in the morning to get up earlier as I no longer was lethargic or hungover. I don't think 6 months of gentle hill walking in Auckland prepares you for the altitude or MASSIVE mountains in the Himalayas, but that's another story for another post one day.
Its only on a summers day, when the sun is shining, and we might be sitting in a beautiful setting, that I imagine a beautiful chilled wine glass will condensation running down the sides. Even then, its never enough of a push to change the decision I made to embrace sobriety. There are many reasons I turned to alcohol to help me cope. But through Kundalini Yoga, and a massive amount of homework, the underlying anxiety is under control without medication. I've been provided a pathway to express my creative side which was so supressed, I never even remembered I had one.
I've never told this story, I've never celebrated what I achieved, it was just something else I was doing. But when June 2018 rolled around, for some reason, this year, I thought, WOW, look how far I've come.
Here's to celebrating our successes and recognising when you have done enough, and you are enough.
~Sat Nam ~