My Name is Rachel…

…and I am in recovery for alcoholism.

Phew. Writing those words on this blog for the first time is scary. I had my last alcoholic drink on 9 March 2014. For some people that is no big deal. For someone who was drinking up to four or five bottles of wine towards the end, it’s a pretty big deal. It is something I am both proud and ashamed of. Proud that I have come this far, ashamed that I am an alcoholic in the first place.

One of the biggest reasons I used to drink so much was because I believed it helped me to deal with life, or at least it helped me to not care what people thought of me. Without alcohol inside me I could convince myself that anyone and everyone was judging me. After a glass or two of wine, I would no longer care, although of course hindsight has taught me that is probably exactly when I was being judged, since one glass of wine would never be enough. Versions of this post have been written and drafted since I started this blog last October, none have been published due to the overwhelming fear of being disliked, ridiculed, blacklisted.

There were a handful of times throughout my drinking career when I controlled myself, the longest period of which was during pregnancy and breastfeeding but for the most part I think I have always been alcohol dependent. I placed myself in more dangerous situations than I care to recount and I shudder at the memories; getting into unlicensed taxis, walking home alone at 2 am. One night while I was walking the five miles home, an older man invited me to stay at his place rather than walk home on a freezing winter night. He was kind and I was fine but there were other occasions when that wasn’t the case. By rights I really should not be alive today and I do not say that lightly, I truly believe that meeting my husband saved my life. Although it would take another 10 years for me to accept that I could not control my drinking no matter how much I tried, falling in love with him at a time when I had hit self-destruct kept me safe since I no longer wanted to go out without him and the few times that I did (for example for works parties) he would come and meet me to take me home, to ensure my safety.

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Alcoholism is medically recognised as both a physical and mental illness but recognising and accepting you are alcohol dependent is not easy. Everyone knows what the stereotypical image of the alcoholic is like and if you do not fit that image then you can justify your drinking. I turned my nose up at people who I saw in the kids playground drinking cheap cans of cider while watching their children play and at the man who walked to the school to collect his daughter while drinking a can of Special Brew on the way. Yet there were times when I would pick my son up from nursery at 3.20 pm having finished off a bottle of wine. I was reasonably bright, happily married, with a child, had a wonderfully loving family. But because I didn’t drink out of a can or in public parks and I drank Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, somehow I believed that made me better than those other people I was busy judging. It didn’t matter that I could drink three, four or even five bottles of wine a day sometimes, that I would usually experience blackout most days, that I drank myself into oblivion almost daily or that every week the recycling box was full of my discarded wine bottles with no room for anything else, the fact that I was still married and my family still loved me and I hadn’t lost my child meant I couldn’t possibly be an alcoholic. In reality, all it meant was that I hadn’t lost anything, yet.

If someone had told me two years ago that I would lead a more fulfilling and content life if I only stopped drinking alcohol, I would have laughed at them but I now know this to be true. I still have times when I am almost crippled with anxiety, worrying that people are judging me, leaving me out, that they don’t like me. I still have a need to be liked and accepted. Fear of what people thought of me controlled my life for so long and old habits die hard.

That my husband and family stuck by me as my drinking deteriorated during the last couple of years is testament to them, not me and something that I shall be eternally grateful for. I am lucky. I realised before it was too late what I stood to lose if I carried on down the path of self-destruction that I seemed so determined to follow. When I apologised to family for my past behaviour, all they wanted from me was to remain happy and to start taking responsibility for my actions. Making amends to them is about me living my life without alcohol and being a good person.

The last 21 months have been a learning curve for me. There have been some stressful times, times that at the beginning I would have said I wouldn’t get through without that old friend alcohol but I’ve learned new ways to cope. The husband still drinks most weekends, maybe a couple of beers at home, although he didn’t in the beginning and if I am struggling then I just have to tell him and he won’t because nothing is more important to us than maintaining my sobriety. I’ve grown up, taking responsibility for the things I get wrong instead of blaming other people.

 

My marriage and family life is happier than it’s ever been. I have dealt with my demons. I no longer blame other people for things that have happened to me but I accept my part. As cliched as it sounds, I don’t take my sobriety for granted. I grew up knowing alcoholics and addicts and I know that it really does only take one drink to send a recovering alcoholic back on that path. As an active drinker my drinking only got worse, so it makes sense that if I was to pick up again, it would only be worse, not better.

There are, no doubt, some people who can learn to control their control but I know without a shadow of doubt that I am not one of them. Besides, I have too much to lose to put that to the test.

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56 thoughts on “My Name is Rachel…

  1. A brave post from a brave woman. Your strength, your hope and your love for your family all shine through and I’m proud to say that I know you. You’ve taken an enormous step, one that requires fortitude as well as courage, and I think you’re amazing.

  2. What a brave post to write. And good for you! I’ve recently stopped drinking and I feel so much better for it. Admirable that you have faced your demons and and making positive changes. Go you! X

  3. Wow that was a interesting read, I can understand why you feel proud but also ashamed at the same time. I must say that you have took a massive step in the right direction with the help of a loving family and a loving husband. It could of been so easy for them all to turn their back on you and given up on you but instead with their support and love you and they have come through your hard times and together can build a positive future together. I wish you all the test on you path of recovery, I can only imagine at times there may be temptations that jump up and try to derail you but stay strong abd you’ll survive.
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  4. This is such a brave post Rachel, and I think you have a lot to be proud of. My sister in law is currently in an induced coma due to her alcoholism. Her heart has stopped more than once, and her liver and kidneys are completely destroyed, and she isn’t eligible for a transplant. She is only in her mid 30s. It’s an awful illness and it is an illness, and people need help with it. Saying it out loud must have taken a hell of a lot of courage. You can definitely see the difference in the photos. Not only do you look much healthier but happier as well. Keep it up – you’re doing brilliantly (and I really hope that doesn’t sound patronising!!) X

    1. It doesn’t sound patronising at all, thank you so much. I am so sorry to hear about your sister in law, it’s awful watching someone battle addiction, I have been on the other side of it as well. xx

  5. This is a very brave an honest post. Alcoholism is an issue in my family. It’s not an easy thing to admit to or an easy road, at all to walk away from. Well done for getting to where you are. To be able to talk about it and be so open is a big thing. I believe you are beating it and will continue to!
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  6. What an amazingly honest & courageous post; I’m pleased to read that you took the decision to seek help for your alcoholism & that you are now recovering and enjoying life in a world without an alcoholic fog.
    Stay strong xx

  7. My goodness. I had no idea. Addictive behaviours have always been an issue among various members of my own family, so I understand how you can be a functioning member of society with hidden dependencies. And I’m absolutely certain it’s a lot more common than we think. Congratulations on 20 months sober. Long may it continue.
    The Pie Patch recently posted…And now…My Profile

  8. This is an amazing post and I’m in awe of you. It can’t have been easy to give up and it certainly can’t have been easy to admit that you are an alcoholic. On the occasions I met you, I never would have guessed.
    I am so pleased that you have found happiness without alcohol. x
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  9. It takes a hell of a lot of guts to admit you have a problem and even more to act on it so you’re right to be proud of yourself. I had a fairly awful problem with addiction when I met my own husband, partly with cigarettes and alcohol but mostly with cocaine and it took me meeting him to turn things around. I think, for me, it was having someone more important than me in my life that made me realise I didn’t want to kill myself with substances and I’ve never looked back – last time I took an illegal substance was New Years Eve 2005. Stay strong, you’re an amazing woman xxx
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    1. When I realised that I could potentially lose my family if I continued as I was which was getting worse, I knew I had to stop and I am so pleased I could, there are many people that can’t and end up losing literally everything. I reckon you’re pretty amazing too! Xxx

  10. Wow Rachel. What an incredibly brave post. Huge well done on having the guts to share it and huge well done on dealing with your problem. This will help many people I’m sure. Keep on keeping on. I’m so pleased to hear you are in a much happier place now. X

  11. So so brave I had no idea Rachel. Alcoholism affects somebody very close to me so I have an inkling of how hard this must have been for you not only to get through but also to write about so openly. I’m so glad that you have such great support around you and I hope that the comments you’ve received here go to show the support that you have from your blogger friends too. Sending lots of love xx
    (Mostly) Yummy Mummy recently posted…Question Everything up for reviewMy Profile

  12. What a brave post. It shows that you have written it well-within your journey as it shows SO much self awareness, from someone who really has destructed and re-constructed. Like you’ve dismantled Lego, got to the offending piece, thrown it away, glanced at it, kept it close and then moved on with the new model, knowing it is a sturdier construction with that piece missing. A colourful solid secure structure. Brilliant blog post and so inspiring for anyone, but especially someone on the same journey x
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  13. So glad you made it to this blog post!! Into my life also, you have fought so hard to be right here today. No judgement can ever be made for facing your own hell, and walking out of it, because that would have been some very painful steps, I am sure you have a few scars. Keep strong lovely lady, amazing bravery.

  14. Well done for writing the post hunnie, something I am sure didn’t come to easy and definitely something you should be proud of. The fact you are still here today and able to write this is a huge achievement in itself and yes you are brave, you admitted there was a problem, are dealing with it and have an amazing family to support you, but the brutal honesty in your words in this post are to me, what shows how far you have come and if you look hard enough there is a huge difference between those photos x
    Rachel recently posted…5 Biggest Lipstick Putting On MistakesMy Profile

  15. Wow I could have written this almost word for word. After losing my family I beganto self destruct. I lost my job most of my friends and then I met my partner and I continued to drink should have died several times but I got lucky. Final straw was went I hospitalised my heart stopped organs shut down and I was in coma for several months my partner stood by me. We moved In together but I still continued to drink “socially” then I fell pregnant which turned out to be a blessing in more than one way. I stopped drinking now I have a wonderful boy and my partner and I are happier than ever.

  16. Wow that was truly inspiring , I can totally relate to your reasons for quitting. I am to celebrate my 49th birthday next week sober and I have been drinking since I turned 16 and apart from my two spells of sobriety for pregnancy and breast feeding. A snap decision September 2 this year and I haven’t touched a drop, I am a much happier nicer sober person than I ever was drunk. My giving up has been met with mixed reviews from ‘friends’ but I choose not to see them anymore , I have no problem with them drinking but they do with me not drinking so a change has taken place 🙂 long may you continue Rachel well done xx

  17. I just want to say a huge well done to you. My Stepmum is an alcoholic and she has attempted suicide many times this year. It is so hard to watch but I know that nothing can be done until she is ready to admit she has a problem. I just hope she does before we end up losing her completely. I really hope you and your family get all the happiness you deserve now x

  18. Hey, such a difficult thing to admit, seek help,recover and then have the honesty to write about so eloquently.
    I believe alcoholism is a modern day illness amongst
    more people than we care to imagine. I think I drink too much and whether it is a problem I am probably sure it could be. But I hide behind a mask of being middle class, successful and I don’t drink continuously and that is the dilemma. What makes you an alcoholic? My mum was one but thankfully sober for 20 years. She was a continuous drunk and awful with it. I think we need more awareness around the subject and I think those who drink to find something or escape or actually whatever need guidance or friendship that is honest. I’m
    Not entirely sure where I am but if I was honest I’m on the wrong side of alcohol and I hope I can get on the right side sometime very soon.

    1. It’s a tricky one, I do think there is a fine line between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic and, to be honest, I am not sure what the line is, I guess it is different for everyone. For me, the penny started to (finally) drop when I had a period of not drinking for three weeks and during that three weeks I was utterly miserable, I “cracked”, I felt I needed to have a drink. Within days, it was out of control again, no matter how much I swore and promised that I would just have one glass, I ended up back on a couple of bottles a night. I realised that I simply cannot control how much I drink, once I’ve started drinking but also that I couldn’t not drink. I wish you well Emma. xx

  19. I think my first reaction was “bloody hell!”. You’ve had a lot to deal with the last few years and this must have been the escape from it all. It’s a very very brave post to write. I know from seeing a family member go through this that its not easy and it takes step after step after step. Well done on your recovery. Xx
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  20. So brave of you to share your experience and journey. You have done amazing and come such a long way darling. So glad your family have suck behind you and supported you when you needed it most. What a brave post to write. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
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  21. That must have taken some guts to publish, Rachel – good on you!
    Recognising you have a problem is the first step. Understanding that you have to stop blaming others is the key to recovery because it means you have to take responsibility for your own life. Blaming others only keeps them in control, not you and you obviously understand this. Hopefully this post will help a lot of other people who are struggling. Massive hugs and much respect to you. X

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