***Submitted by Justine
I am in a committed relationship and am fortunate enough to be the mother of an amazing little boy. I am under no illusions about the fact I am an alcoholic. We have a lot to be grateful for and still, I drink. My partner is loving and generous and this is how I continue to behave.
I’ve always had a “problem” with alcohol. The writing was on the wall before I had my first drink. I grew up in an environment where binge drinking was accepted as the normal way to let your hair down and enjoy yourself. I was raised as a Catholic in an Australian rural area with a lot of Irish heritage (including the alcoholic relatives, priests & family friends!). As a child I remember most adults I knew drank to excess on Friday’s, Saturdays and whenever there was a social occasion. Everyone apart from mum.
My father used to be a big drinker. At least once a week he’d have a few too many at the pub then, after driving home, take his frustrations out on us. He would overreact to any perceived disobedience or annoyance and belt us with the strap (his belt). I remember being hit so many times, including with the buckle that I wasn’t allowed to wear my summer school uniform because of the visible bruises. I had to wear pants. I remember mum crying begging him to stop hitting me.
Being raised Catholic didn’t resonate with me at all. I saw so much hypocrisy and I rebelled against their rules (be a nice girl etc). As soon as I left home I busied myself with partying. I can’t remember when my drinking changed from weekend binges to drinking each evening, but I know it was in my early 20’s. I’m now 40.
I’ve been fortunate not to have ended up in serious trouble if you don’t count two divorces, one from an incredibly vicious, violent man, a DUI in my mid-20’s, lots of wasted money and several other failed relationships including a long running affair with a married man who had his own substance addiction problem.
During my second marriage, the stress of living with a jealous psychopath fuelled my drinking to unprecedented levels, even for me. I used alcohol to cope with his behaviour and used it to numb my fear after I escaped his tyranny. It was then I engaged in counselling for PTSD. That counsellor was fabulous at the PTSD side of things but was not equipped to counsel my alcohol addiction. She referred me to a psychiatrist, who was clearly an alcoholic himself. I went twice but didn’t buy what he was selling. You can’t bs a bs-er.
So I struggled on, always wanting to drink less, to be in control of my drinking without succeeding.
Several years after leaving my 2nd husband, I had undergone a reasonable amount of healing and embarked on a relationship with my current partner. The first night we were together, I had a blackout. It was a combination of alcohol and PTSD because I went into a flashback then passed out.
That didn’t scare him off. Soon after, he took me to a party to meet some of his friends. Everyone was drinking, my partner was driving and he doesn’t usually get drunk. It does not appeal to him. I certainly got drunk and ended up saying nasty things to a girl I decided I didn’t like and completely embarrassed him. He didn’t say anything about it the following day and, as far as I know, he hasn’t kept in touch with any of those people. Another outburst occurred when I got drunk at his new company’s first Christmas party. I became paranoid about him talking to a female business associate, and then apparently completely abused him in front of everyone at the party. I can’t remember it but it must have been terrible because he didn’t come home that night and the next morning completely lost it with me and was set to leave.
I was humiliated and grovelled and apologized and somehow convinced him that I was worth staying with. Since then he has virtually turned a blind eye to my alcohol abuse. He’s hoping I’ll sort it out one day. He mentions it occasionally.
I stopped drinking as soon as I found out I was pregnant and didn’t drink for the first six months of my son’s life, but then stress crept up on me and before I knew it, I had started abusing alcohol again. Planning my days around my child but also factoring in enough time to buy wine and ensuring I had enough for the night.
Given my history with alcohol it was always on the cards that I might not be able to stay sober or in control of my drinking after becoming a mother, especially given the stresses of new parenthood.
When my rational mind looks at the situation, I think “what an irresponsible mother, getting wasted every night after her son and partner go to bed”, but that doesn’t stop me. I often think of the health consequences of my long term alcohol abuse. I can’t imagine how my liver is fairing and I’m afraid of my elevated cancer risks, but as of yet, that hasn’t stopped me.
I know I want to stop. I really do. I want to wake up energized every morning instead of feeling like exhausted death warmed up. My family deserve better and I deserve better. I’ve been controlled and manipulated by alcohol for far too long.
I try to imagine the good things that will come from not drinking such as the body I could have. I would lose some weight and have energy to exercise regularly. I would stop loathing myself and feeling ashamed. I might be able to make some close friends, instead of living in my foggy alcoholic bubble of confusion, remoteness and isolation.