Submitted by Imogen, who blogs over at imogen2012.blogspot.co.uk
I don't drink.
Reading people's stories on forums yesterday made me think that perhaps my drinking habits are not that bad. The stories didn't shock me - although they did make me sad - but they did give me a moment's pause: I don't physically or mentally abuse people, I don't get violent, I don't lose jobs, marriages, yell at my kids, etc.
Then I began thinking:
I don't have kids – they would have got in the way of my drinking career
I'm only recently married at age 43 – previous boyfriends didn't want to stick around to witness the sideshow that was my life
I couldn't lose friendships – my 'friends' were all heavy drinkers
I didn’t lose jobs – my career has gone nowhere because I was happy to 'get by' in roles with little responsibility because I was always too hungover to deal with anything more senior
I don't abuse my nearest and dearest – I essentially cut myself off from the positive and happy people in my life in order to drink.
Alcohol has been the most significant relationship in my life.
In my twenties, every social event was reviewed as to whether it was alcohol-friendly, e.g., if a friend invited me for coffee I would generally make excuses not to go. If they asked me to meet them at the pub, however, I was the first one there! Even going to the cinema was off limits because I couldn't take a bottle of wine in with me.
In my thirties, I still reviewed some activities by alcohol availability, but I was generally more willing to go out because I had a cunning solution! I would be sociable and happy at dinners with family and friends just having a glass of wine or two, then I would get home and the real, heavy drinking would begin. This is when the secrecy, and consequently the shame, really began to take hold.
Now in my early forties, the pain of living with the shame is finally greater than the perceived pain of living without alcohol. It has been so draining on every level to maintain my excessive drinking and I don’t have the energy for it anymore. To be honest, I think it will be easier and will take less energy to not drink than it was to live with the constant daily struggle of self-loathing and fear.
I need to wake up not hating myself
I need to stop wondering what the hell I am punishing myself for
I need to be the person I’ve always wanted to be, but was too scared to let the world see
I need to treat myself as I treat someone I really care about.