The other day I remembered something that happened years ago. It was only a little something, but one of those things that sticks in your mind, and I just remember thinking at the time that my sister-in-law was so confident to act in the way she did. I wished I could be like that, but I couldn’t. I felt like my self-doubt was really noticeable to others, even though it wasn’t.
As I got older I always compared myself to other people, I looked at everyone with curiosity, not judgment, but I tried to pick apart how and why people behaved in the ways they did. I wondered what people saw when they did the same to me, and I often thought they’d find me lacking. I hated feeling like that, but it just seemed obvious. Everyone else was strong and confident and I wasn’t. It’s funny though, when I look back now on those times, I realise they didn’t see me in the same way as I felt about myself.
Changing the perception I have of myself is one of the biggest things that has happened for me since I became sober. Wine had a huge impact on me and my life, not only in how I behaved, but in how I thought about myself. Although in some ways I drank to ease my anxiety, to relax and to make things easier, in the long run it eroded my well-being, my sense of self and made me question everything about myself.
I’m still the same person I was before I drank, however many years ago that was. I’m the same person as I was when I was drinking too. The difference is, now, I am me without the affect of alcohol. Wine was a buffer and the way I coped, so coming to live without it was hard. It meant I had to face things head on. I had to tackle thoughts and emotions that were difficult and not always pleasant. In all honesty it was far easier to have a glass of wine (or three bottles) in the evening than to face up to my feelings. It was certainly easier to have another drink than it was to face up to my drinking problem. In the long run though, if I’d carried on the way I was going I may not still be here. So facing up to things was the only way forward for me.
To start with I felt like all my confidence had gone. Every last bit seemed to have gone with the last of the wine that I tipped away. Logically, I knew I had plenty going for me, but I also knew from the outside I looked way more together than I felt. That didn’t make me feel any better. It was almost harder to know people thought I was okay when I wasn’t. It made me doubt how real my own feelings were, and made me question whether I really had a drink problem, because you know, people like me don’t - do they? All these questions chipped away at everything I knew or thought about myself. But of course, there is no typical person, there is no typical addict either. No one can define me and no one should judge me, because no one else knows what is in my head except for me.
I’ve spent the last three and a half years rebuilding, and it feels like things are coming together. I feel calmer and clearer than I have in a very long time, and it’s nice. I like the quiet. I like the peace. It’s been hard getting to where I am now, but I’m very glad I persevered!
Take care and thank you for reading.