'You left me a shell of a woman.' A letter to alcohol.

Recently, I saw a post asking what you would say to alcohol if you could?  

My response to that was: "What I would say is NOT suitable to print." 

While there was a joking tone to that response, there was also a large element of truth to it. Alcohol and I are not on speaking terms anymore.

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When I first started on my sober journey, I wrote a breakup letter to alcohol.  

It may sound odd to some people, but it helped me to put into words the grief I was feeling at losing a version of myself I was so familiar with.  

Much like a toxic relationship, I was leaving behind the familiar and stepping into the unknown.  

Have you ever loved someone so much, that you were willing to be unhappy just to keep them in your life?  

That was the way it was for me and alcohol.  

I knew that in order to be happy I had to let it go. I had tried everything I could to keep it in my life, because while I was miserable, I just couldn’t imagine my life without it.  

I had identified as a drinker for so long; it was who I was and what I did, and even though there was a lot of shame and embarrassment attached to that version of me, it was still so damn hard to let go.  

Here is the letter I wrote in 2018:

"Dear Alcohol, 

I’m breaking up with you.

For some time now our relationship has been rocky, and that’s putting it mildly. 

When I first met you, I thought you were so much fun, that together we were fun. But that was a long time ago. That was before I knew what you were really like and before I knew the full effect you would have on my life. 


I leaned on you over the years; I came to you when I was happy, when I was sad, when I was bored. 

We celebrated, mourned, and everything in between. I don’t know when our relationship changed to one of dependence... It wasn’t until one day I woke up, and I realised I didn’t want to spend a day without you. 

That wouldn’t be a bad thing if you were good for me. But over time you turned me into someone I didn’t like it all. 

You helped me make poor choices, to embarrass myself, to accept relationships and situations that were no good for me at all. You made me sad, anxious and depressed. 

I kept saying to myself that we needed to take a break but then I kept coming back for you, even though I knew it was wrong. 

I watched as you started to steal more and more from me. You stole my time, my money, my happiness, my self-respect, and you made it so hard for me to think straight that I felt like I could never break free from you, I felt like I didn’t deserve to be free from you.

I tried to only see you on weekends or different days of the week, but the time when I was with you left me empty... a shell of who I was.

I realise now that while you are in my life, I can never be the person I so desperately want to be. 

So that is it, alcohol: you and I are done. I’m moving on, and where I’m heading there is no place for you."

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Re-reading this letter makes my heart ache for the woman who wrote it.  

She was so lost, and afraid.  

Broken down over years of disappointment in herself and her lack of control over alcohol.  

In the same breath, I am also very proud of her, because despite the fear she felt she took that step towards a new life anyway.   

It’s been three years since I wrote that letter. I’ve had many steps forward, and more than a few backwards. But I’m here, and I know in my heart that one of the bravest, most amazing things I have done for myself was to walk away from alcohol. 


This year, I decided to write a postscript to that original letter, something I can keep and look back on as part of this journey. 

Because the truth is, for me the hardest part was making the initial decision to walk away, but that was just the beginning of my alcohol free story. Sometimes, just like it can be with a relationship, I need to remind myself regularly why I walked away, and why I choose this life.

Here is the letter I wrote in 2021:

"Dear Alcohol,

It’s been a while since I last wrote to you, three years in fact.  

In my last letter I told you why we needed to break up and I guess I felt like it would be a good idea to write again, just in case you had any doubts about how I feel, and to remind myself of a few home truths.

When I first broke up with you I was so sure that we would never see each other again and even though I was scared, I felt sure that there would never be a moment when I wanted to invite you back into my life.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing.

A toxic relationship will always hold some good memories, and I had times when I missed you a lot.  

I weakened and went back to you, hoping that this time things would be different… but of course we went down the same path as before. There was nothing there to make me happy, and I realised that the rosy memories I had of you were not a true depiction of our relationship.

You still had the ability to make me feel like a lesser version of the woman I am, and each time I was around you it left me with a deep feeling of regret.  

There was no celebration, no joy and no peace with you. So, I did what was right for me, and I turned and walked away, again.

I know I have made the right choice to live without you, and while it isn’t always easy, I don’t miss the person I was with you, or how you made me feel.  

While you will always be a big part of my past, I know that's where you belong.  

The person I am now and the life I live doesn’t have space for you, and I for one have no regrets about closing that door and saying goodbye.

This time it's for good."

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