On Christmas Eve last year, as I sipped a glass of Prosecco, I decided it was going to be my last glass of alcohol – ever.
I had been gearing up to that decision for the past four and a half years. And when I took this decision, it felt so right that it just happened.
Some five years ago, I got a wake up call, or ten, about how negative an influence drinking had become in my life.
I will never forget the moment I had some clarity about its reality:
I was at a party with friends in Canada, I hadn’t drunk as much as everyone else, preferring to smoke pot then, I still had had a few however.
As I was talking with a friend (who has remained close), I looked over at my husband and saw my “soul sister” as we liked to call each other, on his lap, holding his head between her hands, playfully trying to steady his head to kiss him as he was laughingly trying to move it away.
As I took in the scene from the corner of my eye, I was in shock that I was witnessing this and could do nothing about it. My friends (apart from the one I was chatting to) would have ridiculed me for reacting – and how could I react? Slap her, slap him, walk off?
That scene will for ever stay in my mind.
Further alcohol fueled stupidity happened later and life got on.
My second moment of clarity, again I will never ever forget, happened a couple of months later.
At a party at my house, I had got quite drunk and stoned (the two never mixed well with me), and felt pretty nauseous so I took myself to the bathroom to be sick.
As I was kneeling by the toilet, I was so violently sick I peed myself.
I found this so hilarious, I went back to the lounge where everyone was merrily drunk, on all fours, with wet trousers, laughing so much I could barely explain what had happened. I blurted it out though and everyone thought it was absolutely hilarious.
The following morning I had a clarity moment. Deeply ashamed of my behaviour.
My friends couldn’t understand, they said I was on “top form” that evening, really funny and stuff, to try and make me feel ok about what had happened – just another drunken moment to put down on our drunken story book.
They didn’t understand it wasn’t towards them I was feeling ashamed but towards me.
Exactly what had I become?
The last moment came when my mum came to visit us in Canada, two weeks before the big split.
The first Friday she was there I believe it was, we had invited Vicki, my best friend now with my husband, over for dinner, to meet my mum.
Plenty of booze flowed between the three of us (my mum doesn’t really drink) and I retired to bed soon after my mum had, when I had started to feel a bit too drunk, left my husband and best mate to carry on the evening without me. (on a side note, this is the evening “something clicked” between them I believe)
The following day, we took my mum to some tourist place and on the way back, we stopped at the liquor store. My mum asked why we were stopping and I told her we had run out of wine.
I saw the look on her face, I felt ashamed – she said nothing though.
See, the previous night, we had bought a 4 litre cube of red wine, plus a few bottles of beer. There had been nothing left the following day.
Four litres of wine had been drunk by three of us – four litres of wine plus many many beers – between three of us.
I did the maths too, that is an outrageous amount of alcohol in one night that deserves a look of incredulity that alcohol needed to be replenished already.
When my husband dumped me, I decided I had to stop drinking to cope with the challenge ahead. And I did. Straight. Which led me to experiencing a psychosis – but more on that another time.
Since then, I have re-assessed my relationship with alcohol many times, trying to re-introduce it to my life slowly, then letting it take control of me again, quitting again, another psychosis, drinking again, far far too much towards the end of 2014, which led me to finally wake up, once and for all, earlier last year.
Since then, I have worked at stopping that control; limiting my intake, banning it during the week, not keeping any alcohol in the house, never drinking out of “need”, ie never after a hard day’s work and eventually alcohol became a very little part of my life and I felt happy with it.
Until I went away for Christmas.
The first day I got there, I decided to purchase a bottle of Vodka, for apéritif, feeling I “deserved” it as I was on holidays.
A couple of days later, whilst in the kitchen, the bottle caught my eyes: it was nearly half empty.
That troubled me.
It troubled me to the extent, the following night, when I woke up in the night and made myself a coffee, I picked up the bottle, opened it and poured its contents down the drain.
On Christmas Eve, during my morning shop, I decided to buy a 3 pack of mini bubbly bottles – it was Christmas afterall.
At lunchtime I open a mini bottle and I don’t feel so good drinking it, it tastes weird, bitter, a taste I have never felt drinking alcohol and afterwards, my mind feels fuzzy, not much but enough that I don’t enjoy it.
I lay back on my sunlounger and decide I should give the rest of the bottles to someone else and be done with alcohol.
I give one bottle to the housekeeper, “Feliz Navidad” I tell her, it puts a nice smile on her face and I lay down again, wondering what to do with the last one.
Evening comes and I see the bottle. I want its contents. Badly.
That was the last drop of alcohol I will ever (knowingly) touch again.