For years I felt like I never quite measured up. I (rightly or wrongly) felt that others looked down on me. I felt like a kid in many ways, never quite managing to feel like the grown up that I tried to act. I compared myself to others and always felt I was lacking. I was sure one day I would get there, but I wasn’t sure what needed to change to make that happen.
They say that people almost stop developing when they begin to drink heavily. It’s thought that without experiencing life fully with a barrier of alcohol there, that we live in a bubble, and fail to experience things in the way that non-alcoholics or non-drinkers do. Of course back then I didn’t know that, I just knew that wine relaxed my mind at the end of a long day. I’ve said before, I never drank in the day, so I always thought I was fine. The fact that in the evenings I put away 2-3 bottles of wine by myself didn’t even occur to me as a problem until everything came to a head. When it did I was a bit of an emotional wreck, (that’s an understatement.) I panicked all the time about every little thing. I’d burst into tears at the drop of a hat or have a panic attack for no apparent reason. My temper was awful too, and I swung between hating myself and wishing people would see the effort I was putting in and be proud of me. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster. It was hard enough for me, but looking back, I hate to think what I put my family through.
I still didn’t really realise what an effect drinking was having on me. I think because I didn’t drink in the day I felt like I was okay, that the effects would have worn off. But of course the amount I was drinking each night meant realistically that wasn’t possible. The hardest thing was realising that the one thing I thought I could rely on to help me was actually the one thing making me worse. I’d read so many stories about how life improved quickly for those who gave up drinking that I thought that was also how it would be for me. It wasn’t. Eventually breaking the habit and stopping drinking was made more difficult as it was like opening a can of worms with my emotions. My hectic mind became even more scatty. I couldn’t do anything by myself and I was scared of my own shadow. I couldn’t think straight and when I could, I was just thinking about the lack of wine in my life. I hated wine by then. I envied those who didn’t drink. I envisaged myself not needing it, not wanting it, but I couldn’t imagine how that would be. I imagined being strong and healthy and calm, but it was so hard not to drink. Many nights ended up with me in tears as I tried to get past that witching hour of around 6pm. If I could get past that it was easier. Not easy, but easier. My mind raced, but I couldn’t distract myself. That took a long time to develop.
After the initial cutting down and withdrawal, the aching bones, the sweats, the lack of sleep… physically everything started to get better, but emotionally I was still all over the place. I struggled to explain myself and I worried constantly about everything. When I look back now I see how far I’ve come, I know I’m not perfect by any means, but it really is like looking back on someone else, rather than myself.
Learning to deal with raw emotions was something I hadn’t planned for. Without that buffer of wine everything is very real, whether it’s good, bad, happy or sad. I feel it, but now I deal with it rather than push it to one side. I don’t try to cover it up, and when I do struggle I talk about it. Like recently just before we entered our second lockdown I started worrying again about all the things I needed to do. I heard someone on the radio describe it as it feeling like the day before you go on holiday, and that seemed about right. I’m just trying to deal with life, the kids, work, everything, like we all do and then we get Covid and lockdown thrown at us. It’s a lot for anyone and I couldn’t think clearly for a bit, but instead of letting myself wind right up, I went and told Lee all about it. He couldn’t fix it for me, but by letting him know how my mind was buzzing it helped me release my thoughts and relax a little.
While I found learning to deal with my feelings hard, it’s been good. Simple things give me so much pleasure. I notice much more too. Things that have always been there but maybe I didn’t see. I’m trying to remember to slow down and be grateful for all I have.
It’s a funny old world out there at the moment, but I’m sure we all have something to be grateful for.