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'After two years of not drinking, I walked into a bottle shop. I hid it from everyone.'

A few months ago, after nearly two years of alcohol-free life.  

I drank. 

I wrote about it then, about the shame and disappointment that I felt, and how I felt sure that I wouldn’t do it again.  

But here’s the thing about crossing a boundary: once crossed, it becomes a lot easier to do it again.  

And I did.

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For the past few weeks I have found myself driving to the store and buying wine. I was so ashamed of myself, because my sobriety is the achievement I am most proud of. It was - and is, at times - the hardest, yet most rewarding experience.  

It has allowed me to grow more as a person, into someone I never thought possible.

I was so afraid someone would see me at the bottle shop. I'd already concocted a range of excuses for if anyone did. 

Each night I would drink that wine, and each morning I would wake with a heavy feeling of shame and disappointment.

I am so grateful for the life I have now and couldn’t quite grasp why I was choosing to do something that made me feel so sad and disappointed in myself.

To be honest, I still don’t really understand. 

For anyone who has experienced a relapse or has chosen to do something that they know does not serve their best interests, they may understand that it’s a profoundly confusing experience.  

I have depression and anxiety. For years, I numbed myself with alcohol.

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Since I stopped drinking, I feel like sometimes the world just gets too loud and I want a break from the constant noise of my thoughts.

It gets so overwhelming that I feel like I just need to escape it.

Perhaps that is what I was trying to do, to turn down the noise and just feel nothing for a bit. 

It didn't work though. Because when I returned from that place of numbness, everything was still as it was - and on top of that, I was feeling regret and shame.

I had discussions with myself. I mean, if other people can drink a bottle of wine and it not be a ‘problem’ then why couldn’t I? Did it really matter if I drank? I wasn’t making a fool of myself; I wasn’t waking up hungover.  

But it did matter to me, it does matter to me. I was hiding my drinking from others, and the heavy feeling I held in my heart told me that the act of drinking went against who I really am and who I want to be.

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I went to the doctor and asked for help.  

I asked for medication that would make me ill if I drank.  

They gave me a referral for blood tests and a script for thiamine injections, explaining that they couldn’t just give me the tablets.  

Logically I understand this, but internally I was just so sad. I wanted it to stop, NOW. I wanted something to stop me then and there. But, here’s the thing with addiction, there is no quick fix. 

Society views addiction as the primary issue. But it's just a symptom of what is going on inside a person. For me, that was what needed my attention.

This isn’t my first relapse since I began my sober journey, and not once in the past have I taken medication to stop me drinking.  

I knew truthfully that while an immediate fix was what I wanted, I needed to look inside myself and start there. 

I needed to stop feeling like a helpless victim and realise that the strength I possess that has helped me in the past was still there, just as it has always been.  

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So, I made the decision to stop, again. 

I woke up the following morning and the first feeling I had was that of relief, that my decision to stop again provides me with the opportunity to return to the person I am proud to be.  

Because by not drinking I can stop the lies, I can leave that regret, shame and disappointment behind me. I can be proud of myself again.

I share my experiences because while they are raw and make me feel vulnerable, I hope to help others going through the same or similar. 

I write about it with honesty, because I truly believe that it doesn’t matter how many times you fall back into old habits, you are NOT a failure.  

What really matters is how you use that experience; how you learn from it and draw strength from it. 

Relapse for me is such a heavy experience, but each time I choose to return to sobriety, each time I return to myself, I am once again filled with a sense of pride, and the knowledge that I am learning, bit by bit, to love myself enough to do whatever it takes to be the woman I am proud to be.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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