You might remember my story. Last year, I wrote about my life as an alcoholic mum. About waking up in the spare room, on sheets soaked with my own urine, unable to lift my head or open my eyes. About drinking myself into oblivion on a near daily basis, about letting my family down. About finally deciding, enough was enough, that I needed to get help for the sake of my two beautiful children.
Today, I am three years sober.
I’m still shocked that for over two decades, the life I was leading had become my ‘normal’. Drunk, hungover, sick, slowly dying. How did that become acceptable? Nobody ever said anything to me because nobody really knew. My ex lived with it but said nothing because, he says, he didn’t want me to resent him.
Instead, he was watching me kill myself. Sooner rather than later, our two beautiful children would be without a mother or at the very least, see their mum suffer with an alcohol related illness that would probably, eventually end her life.
These three years haven’t been easy for me. There have been days, hours and minutes where I would have killed for a drink.
The day I had to tell my kids their dad and I were separating, I wanted a drink. The time I found my birth father and his family, I wanted to celebrate with alcohol. When my dad had a heart attack and I was stressed, I wanted something to take the edge off.
And all the times I was so desperately depressed that I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I wanted to drink and drink and drink.
But I didn’t. In those moments, I had to grit my teeth and I held on.
I did that using the tools I’d been given by my Alcohol and Other Drugs Worker and I used the information I’d gathered from my Alcoholic’s Anonymous meetings.
I had to remind myself of the life I wanted for myself and for my children, who deserved far more than they had been getting from me. I had to remind myself of the disaster that had become my normality and how desperately I didn’t want to go back to that hell.
LISTEN: Dave Hughes hasn’t had a drink since he was 22. Post continues after audio.
I had constant counselling during my early sobriety and I knew that if I didn’t work on why I was drinking and learn to deal with feeling all the feelings, like healthy people do, there was no way I was going to stay sober. It was almost as if when I started drinking, I stopped maturing. When I started drinking, I never had to deal with reality and there’s a lot of reality that happens between the age of 14 and 40.
During all those years, whenever something hurt too much, I simply drowned it. Gone. No need to deal with that. Drink until it’s passed then move on.
So when I got sober at 40 years of age, I had to deal with stuff that hurt, stuff that made my heart feel like it was shattering into a million pieces. I had to deal with noisy kids at dinner time, instead of pouring myself a glass of wine and turning down the volume. I had to deal with life. None of it was easy, some of it nearly broke me.
But here I am, three long years later, with a clear head and a sense of pride in my heart. With the help of some incredible people, I dragged myself out of the hell that was going to end my life sooner rather than later.
So if you’re reading this, with a hazy brain, after a Christmas or a New Year’s Eve that wiped you out and you feel like you want to change, I’m here to tell you that you can. When you are desperate enough to want it to stop, you will find the strength to make it happen.
Don’t sit and suffer in silence, like millions of us do – reach out and ask for help. Admit to yourself that this is no longer cool, realise that your life is worth it, you are worth it.
I could never tell you it’s easy but I can promise you, it’s worth every single second.
If you or a loved one is suffering with alcoholism, Mamamia urges you to contact 1800 888 236 or visit the DrinkWise website.