21 years ago in August, I had my last alcoholic.I believe I would be dead if I didn't make this change.
I didn't know then but it was the beginning of a transformative journey for me.
Not only am I alive, but I also would not have healed if I had not made this VULNERABLE & COURAGEOUS step.
I was not an everyday drinker. I didn't drink alone. I didn't have to end my day with a drink to relax. I drank when I socialized
It was the norm. That's what everyone did.
But I was a binge drinker.
Once I started I would not stop. It was not uncommon for me to begin on a Friday at 12 and end on a Sunday at 3pm.
I was that last person in the club. At first, it was fun. But then not so much. Later it became a doorway to hell.
I began early. Alcohol as my ex would say made me brave. My shyness disappeared under the warmth of inebriation. So did my frustrations at school and the emotional tediousness of life.
I could do anything with a pack of beers and whiskey in my backpack. At clubs, bouncers nicknamed me "5-litre" Jo because I would sneak in the 5-litre foil bag from inside those wine boxes.
My preferred drink was a tequila slammer. Because it gave an immediate high. It was the cocaine of the alcohol world.
For years I could consume copious amounts of alcohol and stay in reasonable control (so I thought).
I lived dangerously. And got me into bad situations. Violent situations.
None of these experiences woke me up to the destructive path I was on.
After a decade, when my life fell apart, it no longer worked to drink. I felt numb. I had to drink even more for the slightest feeling of pleasure.
I began to have blackouts.
All the years of anger and hurt began to release itself during my binge sessions. I would get aggressive. I started fights with men. I raged. I broke bottles.
"You scare me" one of my close friends said one morning after a night out.
Her words pierced me in the heart, even through my drunken stupor.
It was an awakening.
I had no control over my life. And when I drank I had even less control.
I knew if I carried on I would end up dead.
Even worse, I would end up hurting someone. That scared me more.
It was a frightening thing to face my relationship with alcohol. That it was no different to all the cocaine and mandrax addictions surrounding me.
I was an addict.
It took me another year before I made the decision to give up.
I hit my best friend in a fight outside a club.
The next day I knew. I can never drink again.
After 6 months sober I convinced myself I could have things under control. 'Just one drink', I said.
That lasted ten days. On the 10th day, I drank so much I woke up in a stranger's room with no memory of the night passed. I missed the first day of a new job.
The following month I drank a few more times.
But finally, it had run its course. It was the end of my alcohol affair. I said goodbye.
I say courageous because when everyone around you drinks so much it is not a popular thing to do. People teased me, tried to lure me, told me I was no longer any fun.
I say vulnerable because to face life sober after a decade of running is a scary thing.
I had to face myself. Everything in my life that had broken my heart. Everything I didn't like about myself. Alcohol allowed me to pretend.
I had to face not only how bored I was with life but how bored I was with myself. Alcohol helped me feel interesting and gave me adventure.
I had to face how needy and desperate I felt for attention and recognition. Alcohol gave me confidence.
I had to face how helpless I felt to take care of myself and be a self-sufficient being. How scared I was of the world. Alcohol had made me feel invincible. It made me feel like I could do anything.
I had to face that without alcohol and in the thick of the pain I didn't want to live.
I was left sober and sitting with my shame. Shame from the choices I'd made drunk. Shame from the belief something was wrong with me. Shame from feeling so unwanted.
So began the turning point in my life.
It was a long road to heal from the damage the alcohol had done to my hormones and my happiness chemicals; to my relationships; and to undo all the bad decisions I'd made.
And my healing from the reasons I'd buried myself in alcohol in the first place had just begun.
It is a journey I am still on.
I can feel alive now just by being me. I can be scared without running away.
Let me just say I feel so much love in my life no matter how hard things may get at points. (Because there will always be difficult moments).
There is absolutely no ways I would have the kind of relationship I have with my husband if I still drank.
I was truly grateful I was able to have this immense life-changing journey. I am grateful for all the love and support of friends and family who have been tirelessly supporting me through the tears and heartache.
I am grateful for the experiences of addiction that taught me so much about myself and life.
I am grateful to be alive.
You may have your own story you want to share? I'd love to hear from you.
PS. For support in emotional development, healing and your relationships (in life after addictions) join my Soul Full Love with Jo to deepen the conversation.