The Morning After The Life Before
06:17 on 15 October 2008 and I am sober. For the first time in longer than my cluttered mind can recall there is no alcohol in my bloodstream. Yet sober seems the furthest word from that I would use to describe how I feel. Feel…….Feel? That seems like something I used to do such a long time ago. I wonder for a moment if my brain has actually forgotten how to function without alcohol. My body certainly has and is protesting greatly at this very moment. My heart is pounding in my chest, my pupils are like floodlights capturing images which may or may not exist in this room and my ears seem to be exclusively tuned to Classic Withdrawal FM, an unrelenting strain, to which my limbs are jagging continuously to without my consent.
I am in a state which is impossible to function in, a state which in years passed I knew would be extinguished, for a time, with nothing other than my life long frenemy….Ethanol. In its many guises over the years I have enjoyed, abused and latterly endured this unfathomable substance. Taken it, left it, chased it, received it, gifted it, loved it, feared it, despised it but, never understood it. Never understood the poison it was to my now disordered mental, drained physical and critically shattered spiritual state.
I have though existed in this fashion to a greater or lesser degree for many years now. The deafening drone of silent desperation in my soul has been a constant companion through my teens, twenties and into my 32nd year as a human being on this planet. A vast daunting Earth, which I have grown to be so afraid of. Grown to mistrust the people living on it, not least the person who has been living inside my head.
The golden haired child of the seventies that once roamed freely is now a dark, medicated wretch trapped by unknown fears and familiar physical horrors. Terrified to get out of bed and face the hours ahead but equally petrified to stay in bed and face herself.
My journey into Alcoholism was a car crash style expedition of naivety, greed, insecurity and ignorance. Self. Will. Run. Riot! In 15 years I sprinted through the stages of curiosity, enjoyment, overindulgence, abuse and eventually dependence on a substance which essentially inhabited my teens, inhibited my twenties and threatened to end my thirties.
My journey into Sobriety begins at this waking moment as I summon the will to crawl out of bed and out of the hell my life has become. One shaky step at a time……
This Morning. A Lifetime Later
06:00 4 May 2013 and I am sober. Or should that be still sober? I have been sober now for 4 and a half years. And similarly but worlds apart, sober is the last word I would use to describe my mood. Happy? Free? Peaceful? Unhurried? Glad??? But sober is the rock at the base of all of these feelings, some of which came back to me slowly and some that I have discovered along my journey, like new friends. These days when I wake up I do just that. Wake Up. Not come to. I know where I have been the night before and I have nothing to fear about my actions of the previous day as these days I like to ‘keep my side of the street clean’. I aim to hurt no one and keep my own counsel to the best of my ability. This allows me a peace of mind I have never known.
My heart beats steadily in my chest and my eyes are bleary but unconcerned by the light streaming through the curtains. My ears hear the birds outside my window and then the murmurs of my son as he turns in his bed ready to attack another day of school and play. I am in a state which is impossible for me to have imagined 4 years previously, a state which I would describe as ‘beyond my wildest dreams’.
In the past four years I have been mad, bad, sad and glad – and everywhere in between. I have moved home and job countless times and have broken hearts and had mine broken. I have been wildly in debt and comfortably off. I have shouted, screamed, cried, laughed, listened and loved. The only thing I haven’t done is drink.
In 2008 I found my spiritual home in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and existence as I knew it ceased to exist. I could no longer live with myself when I reached my gutter and now quite frankly I can’t imagine life without myself. Thanks to my sponsor and close friends I am learning that all of my thinking was upside down, inside out and back to front. I am now cultivating a new mind set, a new way of life that is setting me free from my past.
I am no longer afraid of the world and have ventured to places sober I wouldn’t have dared dream of before. From the medicated, panic stricken being that apologised her way through life I can now hold my head up high and have learned to trust. In others and in myself.
I am 36 years old. I am a Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend and Colleague. I am also an eternally grateful Alcoholic and as I rise from my bed and greet the day I thank God, Alcoholics Anonymous and my loving family and friends for joining me in this journey. One solid step at a time…….