Do you ever look back at yourself and wonder what the hell was going on?
I do. Sometimes it’s not pretty either.
In my drinking days, particularly in my 20s, you’d probably have looked at me and thought I was a laugh. Up for a good time.
I see photos of a smiley girl with a drink in her hand but behind it all I was smashed to bits. I was using alcohol to numb my feelings but was presenting an entirely different facade to the world at large.
My Facebook Memories and photos regularly serve up a dose of black nostalgia in this regard. Let’s take a look:
STATUS: “My feet are killing me. Great night tho!”
The real story is that I ended up at a dodgy party in a dubious part of town and walked for two hours in crippling heels to get home.
STATUS: “Hate being ill. PJ and duvet day for me.”
The real story is that I didn’t go to a friend’s wedding reception because I was savagely hungover. Rather than owning up, I feigned ‘a bug’ and let them know by text. Nice.
STATUS: “Oofff. Head hurts. Never drinking again.”
The real story is that I got off with someone who was definitely not my boyfriend.
STATUS: “New haircut ready for a night out. Epic!”
The real story is that I did not feel epic. I was in the midst of having a breakdown and in despair. I got wasted to obliterate my feelings and woke up feeling a million times worse.
When I’m reminded of these times I’m almost winded by shame, sadness and chaos. Who was that girl? Sober me, the real me, was so far away from her it’s a different person altogether.
OK, not every occasion ended in drama or disappointment. Social drinking often ranged from the mediocre to the magnificent but invariably some were blunt from blankets of blackout.
For instance I’ve no recollection of seeing a band I love because I was so smashed. We can jokingly say things like ‘I can’t remember anything so it must have been good!’ but come on – do we really NOT want to remember those life-affirming-hands-in-the-air moments?
Do we really want to remember the cringeworthy things we say/do when alcohol has dissolved the civility filter?
And do we really want to be jerked around like a puppet on a string?
Quitting booze was as much about taking back control as it was about making a positive life choice.
The beginning of February marked 600 days of leading an alcohol free life.
Since giving up, I’ve never had a day when I wake up in self-inflicted crisis. No one has needed to say to me ‘you weren’t that bad, mate, don’t worry’. And I’ve never needed to act ill, or apologise or cringe about my behaviour.
With booze out the picture, I’m not pulled about by alcohol-inflicted emotions or impulses. I don’t have stomach-crunching ‘ohmygodwhathappened’ thoughts. The dark void of blackout is replaced with colour and memories.
Maybe you had a dry January and are back on the booze. Maybe you’re wondering why you started drinking again after enjoying a few weeks off.
Maybe you’re trying to forget something you said/did while under the influence or maybe you’re annoyed because you had an outstanding night but can’t remember much about it.
If there’s a central message to my blog today it’s this: Right now you can make the decision to give being booze-free another bash. You can still have fun and be free from the strings that pull you around.
It’s tricky but you can do it. So just do it.