Dates and Numbers

April 29th 2019

At 9:30pm, feeling desperate, lonely and scared I tweeted the following:

“Day 1.  I’ve chosen not to drink.  This has been a long time coming.  25 years hard drinking virtually every night with no break longer than 3 weeks.  Thing have to change.  I’ll need help.  I’m a Pub Landlady.”

That was a year ago today.  A year since my first serious attempt at giving up my ‘beloved’ wine.  The day when I turned months, if not years, of intentions into action.  Today I should be celebrating a whole year without booze! I’m not.  Before you go any further, this is not a total success story epitomised in a picture of me, like some competition weight loss winner finally standing in one leg of her old jeans, holding out the waistband for all to see how far she’s come.  But…I am celebrating, because I have come so far and in truth am a completely different person to last year.

I see lots of inspiring posts talking about numbers: 1 day, 1 month, 1 year, since a last drink, it’s brilliant stuff.  When I first seriously quit I loved counting the days ticking them off feeling, rightly so, proud of myself.  But as the days mounted, so did the pressure and just counting days wasn’t enough.  Giving up drinking is the start and I wasn’t becoming the contented, rounded individual I’d envisaged.  Where would it all end anyway?….“Here Lieth Nikki, she didn’t drink for 14,327 days”. That smacked too much of having a life denoted only by alcoholism and I didn’t like that, didn’t like that at all.  We are so much more than just an alcoholic, we are defined by lots of different things, at different times of our life and to different people. 

Following a particularly heavy boozing weekend at a wedding (heavy even for my standards) I made a decision.  I was desperate, hungover, worried, anxious and above all I was tired.  Not just physically, but mentally exhausted.  Tired of the constant internal dialogue of should I drink, shouldn’t I drink, what should I drink.  Relentless.  I stopped completely for six months.  

But the old nagging doubts started to creep back in.  The Wine Witch came calling regularly, filling my head with negativity about my decision to this “FOREVER?  Like really?  Forever?”  The Wine Witch is akin to an abusive partner, one who seems to promise fun and release from boredom, and who does to an extent, but there is a HUGE caveat: he also fills you with self-loathing, regret and anxiety.  The thing about this relationship is that you start as the exciting prospect yet by the end you are the desperate and needy one. Nothing attractive about that.  When I started drinking again I had forgotten all ‘his’ bad sides and fell for the promise of one last fling, that all would be different this time.  What I learned was, ‘he’ hadn’t changed a bit.  

So, April 29th, not necessarily my sober date, in all honesty I can’t remember the date of my last drink.  It was sometime in March.  When the reality of Covid 19 and prospect of losing my livelihood hit home I hit the bottle. But it wasn’t carnage.  I didn’t even enjoy it.  I’m happy that I can’t remember the actual date as it removes the pressure of the numbers, but April 29th is always etched in my memory as my sobriety journey date.  It was when my serious attempt to quit started and I reckon I have had more than 320 sober days out of the last 366 (it’s been a leap year, alcohol didn’t befuddle my brain so much that I don’t know how many days are in a year).  One thing that has happened is that since being off work due to Covid, I have not even thought about drinking.  They say that drinking is a symptom of the thinking and most of my drinking was done at work.  Come to think of it, I rarely used to drink on days off as I didn’t want to waste them.

April 29th 2019, outwardly I appeared to have a decent life: 44, nice partner, nice home, ran a successful business that afforded me time to do my own things and allowed me to indulge my passion for travel with a good half dozen trips around the globe each year.  But, inwardly was totally different, I hated my job and the six trips abroad each year which I saw as “escape” from my daily life still left 44 weeks annually living my ‘real life’.  What Covid has done is remove the root cause of the drinking and so the symptom has gone.  A year of trying everything from attending AA, working The Steps, getting help, getting a mentor… Covid has serendipitously been the revelation and the remedy to one woman’s battle with the Wine Witch.  As I sat there this day last year pondering how I was going to armour myself, I would never have seen that coming.

This blog has been rushed.  I had so many plans to tell you about what I have discovered over the last year and ALL of those changed today as I sat to write this as sometimes you just make self-discoveries as you write.  It is an organic process.  I would say that my sober journey this year has also been an organic process and the person writing this now is ultimately far happier than the one writing that tweet this time last year.  This is not the traditional story of “Woman discovers wine actually isn’t very good for her, she gives up, it’s hard but she manages it and has never looked back, happy ever after” but I would say that this is a story of “happier ever after” and what I really want to get across is NEVER give up on giving up, it may not be straightforward, you may not know or count the days, but what you definitely don’t know is what lies ahead, so go with it, you CAN get there, your own way. 

2 thoughts on “Dates and Numbers

  1. Just want to say (again! – it can’t hurt can it!) how much I adore your posts & sympathise with your struggles! This post is great – yes… I get the numbers/dates thing… I have considered going completely alcohol free & always been really reluctant to impose that on myself. It’s so draconian, too much scope for failure too…and then what? Or if you keep to it, you become a tee-total warrior/bore?!
    Severe depression has been my recent ‘aid’ in getting off the wine. Not ideal, but its true that when I’m clinically depressed I just don’t feel like drinking at all – I’m sure this varies for depressives.
    I am so happy for you that you are in a better place then last year. Its wonderful & I hope beyond hope that it lasts – for you, and also me too… I’m in a much better place then this time last year too. Truth is… it probably won’t last – there will be lows again. My cousin recently told me ‘life is fluid’ – things go up, then down, and that’s okay.

    Re; drinking… I haven’t written much on my blog about this as I find it a really difficult topic for me. However… I’ll share these ‘moments’.
    NYE 2000 – age 17, I ended up in A&E after going to a party and drinking (I think) a mug of neat JD. (first and last time in A&E thanks to drink thankfully, but not a great omen!)
    Christmas Day 2017 – age 35, I ended up in a custody cell, having crashed my car into a brick wall attempting to drive home after an argument and probably 2 bottles of wine (v.luckily only minor crash, no injury and no other people involved). Driving ban did ensue of course, and this was devastating to my mental health, and mobility as although I live in a country town, but used to drive to work/see friends/parents etc.
    Neither of these stopped me drinking.
    After the crash – thanks mainly to drink, and a slight manic episode, I proceeded to have a v.brief dalliance with a boy 10 or more years my junior, in the January of 2018. Followed by a slightly longer affair with a man over 20 years my senior. Neither of these would’ve happen without alcohol. I also almost had a complete nervous breakdown/psychotic episode in Buenos Aires, after a month travelling in S.America. Luckily, my nerves held & my parents mustered support from the UK… enough to get me back home. About two months later, the nervous breakdown and slide into depression happened anyway… and lasted ‘For Ages’. But at least I was back in the UK, and close to family.
    Life is an odd journey. Drinking too much definitely does not help me! I’ll try my damnedest to remember this for the rest of my time, but I know so well what you mean about the Wine Witch.
    Best wishes, well done so far & keep writing xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So well done, this blog made me cry because my daughter is over 2 years in recovery and I recognised all the things she went through, be immensely proud and keep up the good work, my daughters blog is myrecoverysofar.com.

    Like

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