My Not So Secret Diary

How Far I’ve Come

How Far I've Come addiction and recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
It’s easy when you’re in the midst of a struggle not to be able to see the woods for the trees. I couldn’t. I was so fixated on my drinking problem and then getting rid of it that I couldn’t really see anything else. Despite making the decision not to drink, the actual not drinking was far harder than I thought it would be. I would have loved to have been able to turn a switch and never want to drink again, but as I had already discovered, I do not have an off switch when it comes to wine.

More than once I tried to moderate, because ‘everyone’ drinks. It’s the way our society conditions us to think, even if it isn’t really true. We are bombarded with images reinforcing how we need alcohol in our lives, how it’s there to help us on tough days and reward us on others. When you see something so often you begin to believe it, even if it isn’t true.

Looking back, nothing was better when I drank. I thought for a time it made me grown up, but I became an adult without it. I thought it made me cool, sophisticated, rewarded, so many things, but in reality, I wasn’t any of them. I didn’t realise I was becoming dependent until it was too late, because things like that don’t happen to people like me. Realising you have a problem and doing something about it are two very different things, even when you want to fix it and so for a long time, I avoided it. The need to drink doesn’t make it any easier, in fact suddenly it makes it all seem more real, and that sober life you hope for just seems further away.

I literally couldn’t imagine back then how a life without wine would look. I just didn’t get how it would be possible and what the point would be, if I didn’t have that full glass to look forward to. Every image in my head involved relaxing with wine so it was hard to relearn my thinking. I didn’t really know who I’d be without it because it had been a large part of my life for so long. It’s hard writing that now, but you know, it’s the truth of how I felt, so there’s no point in pretending it wasn’t.

Now, when I look back, it feels like I’m looking back on another person who inhabited my life for a few years. I know it was me, but I have so little in common with that version of myself that it seems very odd. I’m not going to say I never think about about wine, but honestly, I don’t want to drink anymore. Occasionally, and as time goes on, it’s less and less often, but occasionally I do associate certain things with drinking and it makes it harder for me. My son works at a lovely restaurant and has suggested it would be nice to go and eat there one evening. He has one table in mind, on the balcony overlooking the sea and while I want to go and enjoy it, on one hand my first thought was, ‘why am I the one to miss out on wine?’, closely followed by, ‘what will other people think?’ Logically, I know no one else even cares about what I drink and by not drinking, I am in no way missing out, but isn’t it funny how they are my first thoughts? Why do I assume eating out should include wine?

I wouldn’t change my sobriety for anything. It was hard earned and I am grateful. I love the clarity of mind I have now. I love remembering. I love being present. I love being a better, more patient and understanding person. There are still some ingrained habits and thoughts that need working on but it’s no surprise really, not when I spent so many years drinking my worries away. I want to get to a point where I can safely say I don’t even miss the romantic thought of drinking, but at least I understand that’s all it is, my reality is very different. Until then, I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come.

Much love,
Claire x