I’ve been 3 months free from alcohol. That’s right, 101 days!
I find it hard to believe that I managed to last 3 months without alcohol. I say this because I know how deep in the doo-doo I was. I drank daily. But I hear that’s not the the only determining factor. According to Merriam-Webster, “alcoholism” is the ‘continued excessive or compulsive use of alcoholic drinks.’
They go further and throw around words like “neglect of physical appearance” and “chronic”, not forgetting “potentially fatal disorder”.
I felt that the definition was so scary that it immediately jolted me into denial. When I drank, it was sexy. Wasn’t it? I didn’t see myself in the definition. In my mind, being an alcoholic meant you looked like a homeless person. Because, duh, they “drank their money away”. That’s what I thought. And it was actually that thought that kept my blinkers on.
It kept me in denial.
It kept me drinking my life away.
I also have a few personal experiences with alcoholics. I have family members who are alcoholics. I remember when I was very young, we would have to visit a specific relative and she would always be drunk, or at least reek of some low quality stuff. She’d always insist we sit on her lap and she’d sing “Jingle bells”.
Smothered by sweat laced with alcohol.
I didn’t want to breathe. I didn’t want to take it in. But I didn’t want to upset my dad. He looked sad and perhaps disappointed. Even at my age at the time, I know he wanted more for us, my sister and I.
Yes, there cases of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome too- so alcohol was a real problem in the community and clearly in the family.
I associated alcoholism with extreme poverty and desperation. I was only exposed to it once or twice a year. It wasn’t in face so I couldn’t see how the beast behaved or evolved.
But, I was NOT extremely poor. And I was NOT desperate.
That blurry time before I was 3 months free from alcohol
It was only after a week or so of not drinking, that I realized I had a problem. I saw how I would factor in alcohol in my daily life.
Long day? Wine.
Kids screaming? Wine.
“Oh shit, that window broke!” Wine.
“I achieved [X], we need to celebrate!” Wine.
Just because. Wine.
Oh I need to buy bread quickly. **Calculates how much wine I can buy on a budget** Wine.
Off to the mall? Calculate time to grab a draft. Beer.
I couldn’t see I was chained to the bottle.
Okay, maybe you do get this weird feeling that “there may be a problem”. My internal alarm started ringing when got into the habit of hiding empty and full bottles of wine in my cupboard.
Yep, between my bra’s and panties. Because. Nobody scratches there.
**Note, when I was younger, I used to hide chocolates there too. I think that’s a whole other topic.
Anyway, I’d buy a bottle and start drinking just before the nanny had to leave. I would have finished it before husband arrived and so ask him to buy bread, and wine of course on his way home.
Two bottles down in one day. Obviously everyone only knew about the one bottle. I admit, sometimes, my hubby would come down on me for finishing a bottle in an hour and I would feel really bad about it.
The shame became murky waters that I just couldn’t find my feet in.
And instead of slowing down, I just hid things better. I would buy a bottle or two, drink one before he came home and have coffee. As if nothing happened.
Funny, I can’t remember being sober.
I decided to ask my dear friend Lynne Huysamen who is a recovering addict, what she thought about my latest behaviour. She advised that I do a quick questionnaire and maybe I’ll get a better idea.
I completed it and thought, “Hey, I’m not THAT bad.”
Two more weeks of excessive drinking and I thought that perhaps it’s time to speak to Lynne again. This time though, she took me to Alcoholics Anonymous.
And in that first meeting, I found my truth: I was an alcoholic. Surprisingly freeing. I decide to be open and honest about what I was going through because I knew I was not alone.
I knew I was NOT the only one suffering.
I was invited to share my journey and my reasons for doing going alcohol. It was published recently and since then, I received even more support. And this for something I had been covering up for months. Feel free to read the post at Real Women Revolution.
Practically living sober
Some people think you save a lot of money when you stop drinking. Nope. Not in my case.
The problem with addictive behaviour is that you can’t just flip the switch and switch it off. It’s true what they say, one addictive pattern replaces another. So instead of buying alcohol, I switched to sweet things.
I ended up buying TV bars (the blue wrapping) for breakfast and Redbull for tea time. Chips? Yes. Cheap, baked goods? Yep.
Just anything that I thought would just satisfy this strong craving I had inside.
The only thing I can compare it to AND people will find “acceptable” is a pregnancy craving.
Beyond your control. Compulsive. Addictive.
And it’s only recently that I have got a hand on the urge to spend or buy sweet things. I now buy healthier options, like mealies or carrots or nuts. I also try to make sure I’m satisfied in the morning with nutrients in order for my body not to crave them. I figured once I had that sorted, I craved less and sometimes not even at all.
You know what? I buy less chocolates.
I also have a financial mentor who is also a recovering addict. She guides me, and does so with understanding and heart.
Do I still think about booze? Hell yes.
I used to panic about what I can’t order at a restaurant. You know, because what the hell would they serve besides alcohol?
It seemed impossible. But like Lynne said, “it gets easier”. It truly does.
I had a milkshake the other day- first one in about 10 years.
It was heavenly.
It reminded me of childhood days and being innocent. Being free.
That’s what 3 months of being sober tastes like to me: a double thick caramel milkshake.
It’s a hard (and sore) high five.
It is life.
I know I haven’t posted since my last rant, but I have been doing loads of thinking and doing and being. Check out my online store. I have expressed some of my emotions in a few pieces. But I also just used my trusty palette knife to break free from the addictive behaviour and chains. I spend less time in shops and more time painting.
I’m sober enough to create – create with much heart and much soul.
Hi, my name is Yvette and I’m an alcoholic.
And, I’m 3 months sober.
I’m 3 months free.