Category Archives: Sober Girls

Don’t Admit You Have a Drink Problem

The first step to getting sober is admitting we have a problem-right?

Wrong.

Not even close.

The first step to getting sober is to stop drinking. The second step to sobriety is to keep doing it.

That’s it.

Done.

We’ve got it all backwards. Horribly backwards. And its killing us. This awful Catch 22 situation. If we wait to admit and accept we have a drinking problem in our society? We are waiting for end-stage alcoholism. Or alcoholic Alzheimer’s. Or being arrested. Or being injured horribly. Because we have raised the bar of tolerance so high for alcohol abuse. Because It’s now a problem so blatant and so obvious that we can’t even see it any more.

And now we are a nation in crisis.

Stop drinking. Keep doing it. Then admit you have a problem. If you want.

No one is going to help you unless your problem is so severe it is life-threatening. No one is going to encourage you to seek help unless your behaviour is so bad during drinking sessions that there are severe social consequences.

If you are waiting for help?

It’s not coming.

Stop drinking. Not because you admit you have a problem. Stop drinking. Just stop. Stop because something is wrong and you don’t know what it is but you know it ties in with alcohol. You don’t need to go any further than that. In fact any further than that and the justification begins; its a disease, its genetic, its psychological. The more detail and labels and excuses we give this thing, this need? The more we open the door for denial. And then we are right back where we started. Overwhelmed. And what happens when we face an emotion too big too handle? We drink it away. Again.

It took me 10 months where I stopped drinking and kept doing it before I admitted I was an alcoholic. 10 months of sobriety. Having this conversation with myself on a constant loop:

Me: Don’t drink right now/this minute/this hour/ this afternoon.

Brain: Why?

Me: I don’t know why. Just don’t.

It worked. And yes now I admit I did have a problem. But admitting it wasn’t an integral part of my recovery. And I don’t have a problem any more. And I never will again. And it’s been seven years.

Don’t admit you have a problem and expect the drinking to stop accordingly. In fact the admitting we have a problem step is just a natural conclusion to the cycle of recovery. In the cold light of day, months and months down the line we are fully able to step away from our problem and see it for what it is. So then ok. Then fine. Take a pause, acknowledge you are ready to admit you have a problem. A problem you’ve already dealt with. Not backwards. Finally in the right order.

Then carry on with your sober life.

And never look back again.

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New Year No. 7

Tonight is my seventh New Year’s Eve. The seventh I will wake up recalling what I did the night before, and the day before that and yes even the weeks leading up to it.

It will be the seventh New Years Day I will wake up not wanting to die, just so that it will finally be over. The seventh New Years Day I will be safe & reassured in the knowledge that I won’t be back in a bar again in a few hours time. The shaking under control. The panic numbed and medicated into submission by the glass in front of me, and the one after that. And the one after that.

Girls aren’t supposed to be alcoholics. Not really. And when we meet one that is, we tend to humour them. Nod at them affectionately. Placate their admission whilst privately assuming they are referring to having a white wine spritzer too many and making a bit of a fool of themselves. Refusing to give credence to the actual truth of it. The cuts, the bruises, the scars. The fights with bouncers and police. The hours and days that are a gaping black hole of nothingness. The jobs lost, the friendships destroyed. The want and need that will burn through everything it touches to get what it wants. Until there is nothing left.

There were many New Year Eve’s I spent surrounded by people, I do recall them vaguely through the haze of my weapon of choice. What I do remember is the terror of absolute loneliness. Of feeling like no one could reach me or penetrate this prison of addiction I’d spent my entire adult life in. Of pretending to say good-bye to one year with one final drink- and swearing the New Year would be a new me. A version of me that wouldn’t let this happen anymore. Who would live a life like everyone else, with responsibilities and order and reason. That this would be the year I stopped lying to myself and everyone around me and actually got sober.

I did get sober in the end. Finally I reached the point where I was more scared of dying drunk than I was of living sober. And it’s been 7 years and sometimes I forget I ever lived like that in the first place. Alone. Afraid. Abandoned of all hope.

Except on a night like tonight. A night I can quite happily spend alone knowing that loneliness and horror and ugliness of addiction are a thing of the past. Thankful that sobriety actually happened for me. Sad for those I have lost along the way, the faces who will be missing come the stroke of midnight. Those who were lost by the decision to die drunk instead. And praying that those who still haven’t quite decided which is the path for them will take solace from a daft lass in a pretty dress who has stood in their shoes and lived to tell the tale,

I pray this is your year, I hope beyond all hope that it will be. And I’m going to make sure there are all the resources in the world at your disposal to get you there. That’s my 2013 resolution. That’s where we’ll all be by New Year No. 8. Not hiding behind the shame of something we have so little power over. Not afraid to be seen as damaged or weakened by addiction. Open, honest, loud. It really is time we started talking our way out of this. Together. Bonded.

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