I Knew I Was an Alcoholic Long Before I Quit Drinking….

carnival like alcoholic spinning

I knew I was an alcoholic long before I finally put the alcohol down.  I knew this because I became emotionally dependent and would use a drink to satisfy everything.  Coming home from work I would slam the bottle of wine on the counter and tell myself that I deserved a drink.  Whether I had a good day, bad day or just a normal day – I deserved it.

 

I Assumed Everyone Was Drinking Like Me…

Up until this point I was just someone who liked a drink. A party girl, but it was only on my nights out that I drank to oblivion. I didn’t see the harm in what I was doing and assumed that everyone drank the same way as me.  I hadn’t discovered wine and certainly didn’t drink at home. That was something my parents did and I was way more responsible than them (in my head).

 

In-between nights out I worked hard, put a roof over my head and kept myself fit. In fact, I realize now I did everything to excess. I was a workaholic. I exercised a lot. And when I went out, I was the life and soul of the party. Well, that was what I thought…  I had surrounded myself with a group of friends who drank the way I did and every bit of free time we had was spent in the pub.

 

No Consequence to My Drinking?

In those days my drinking had very little consequence other than my own dignity.  But I put myself in some dangerous situations and would leave company with no warning and head home. I would start talking to complete strangers and end up drinking with them – and more. I was incredibly lucky that nothing bad ever happened to me, but that was definitely a yet.

 

Once I met my ex-husband to be, we would share a bottle of wine at home. Soon it escalated to a bottle each and then bottles.  A lot of this I put down to youth, young love and even trying to be more “grown up”. The heavy nights out stopped, but the drinking in the evening increased. Our party plan was Friday and Saturday night only. Soon our weekends started on Thursday, then Wednesday. Then we extended the party to include Sunday night… and Monday and Tuesday.

 

With a Family…

Once we had our family, our lives changed – a night out became a luxury. I would take every night out to extremes and the drinking at home kept me topped up during the week. I spent most of my time with a permanent hangover, drinking gallons of water on top of all the wine. Running 30-40 miles a week was my justification for drinking. And as I was a young mum, I was keeping myself fit. But I was like a plate spinner. Living at such a fast pace, and I had no balance in any of it. All my plates were slowing down.

 

The year before I put down the drink, I realized I was emotionally reliant on it. I was desperate to be that person who didn’t drink. I longed to be able to tell people, “Oh no – I don’t drink alcohol, I’ll have a soft drink.” Somehow the words didn’t come out of my mouth.  Alcohol was like a friend, a physical being that I could rely on. So I isolated myself in a separate room in the house to drink and “have fun”. I just couldn’t be in the company of the rest of the family.

 

I Tried a Few Methods to Stop Drinking Alcohol …

 

… but couldn’t put it down. I told myself that I just wasn’t ready to not drink, even though deep inside I was desperate to stop.  That final year was the worst. As my marriage broke down, my drinking and isolation escalated. I didn’t become a twenty-four-hour drinker, but I did drink every day. By volume, I probably wasn’t the heaviest drinker, but my obsession was huge. I put drinking over and above anything else.  

 

In the mornings I woke with the continuous migraine that had made a home in my head. I could feel my kidneys in my back and I developed type 2 diabetes, joint pain, crystallization in my muscles causing knots in my body and I had put on a huge amount of weight.  

 

Escalating and Out of Control

Even with all this, every time I tried to stop on my own, I couldn’t last more than a few weeks. And when I picked up again it was worse than before. Everything was out of my control and I progressed from a functioning alcoholic to a mess. I hated what I had become and had no idea how to change it.

 

Somehow, I found the 12 step fellowship. I always had the knowledge, deep in my mind, of what it could offer me. And I found the courage – 3 years later I haven’t looked back. I am unraveling all the complexities that have developed over the years of bad judgement. And unraveling has allowed me to identify who I am and to straighten out my emotional fears. By sorting through these tangled thoughts and customs my desire to drink has left me and I have the tools I need to fight ever picking up again. One day at a time that is…

 

Nicola Lee had it all - a successful career, 2 children, marriage, car, house... She found herself at alcoholic rock bottom on the 5th December 2015. Nicola says, "After some time in sobriety, I decided to write down my journey through recovery and finding a way to live happily and sober. By writing my truth I hope to dispel some of the myths around what defines an alcoholic." Nicola Lee lives in Hampshire, England. She writes a blog at: www.365daysayear.blog and also writes for the Huffington Post UK.