10 October 2021
If you search online for the ripple effect, the top hit describing it is, “the continuing and spreading results of an event or an action.”
I used to think the only person my drinking affected was me. What I mean by that is that it was my body, my health and my wellbeing that was directly affected, no one else’s. I considered it very different to smoking for example, where second-hand smoke affects others, or gambling, where I might lose money that wasn’t mine. In my mind my addiction was different, and of course being as it is so socially accepted, I decided everything else would be okay. Although one of my priorities became wine, it didn’t change my other priorities. I loved my kids and always kept them safe. I held down a high pressure job and I know I did it well. My house was always clean and tidy, and I never let anything slide… but… underneath that charade I wasn’t okay, and that came out in other ways, like a lack of time and patience. Like me prioritising things so I could be at home and have a drink rather than be out and about. I just couldn’t see that at the time.
Addiction, whether you like it or not ripples out from the person using the substance. It ripples through our lives, affecting everything it touches to some extent. It might not even be a direct impact, like anger or violence, but I often wonder about the messages we send out to others, like our children who consciously or not, see us turn to alcohol for so many different reasons and come to see it as normal.
It all sounds so negative, but on the other hand, in the same way, sobriety also ripples through our lives. We don’t have to go on a crusade to convert people, but instead, by recovering loudly, we allow others to see what we’ve done, how we’ve overcome our challenges and perhaps inspire them to do something similar. My mission isn’t to convince people not to drink. Whether someone else drinks or not isn’t my choice and I know I wouldn’t and didn’t react well to anyone questioning my drinking. Instead I’m open and honest, not just about how much I like living alcohol free, and how much freedom it’s given me, but also the challenges I’ve faced along the way, because I want others to be aware that it’s not all smooth sailing, but it is a journey worth taking.
When I first got sober, it was still quite a taboo subject. People were beginning to talk more, but it felt as if they’d take a look around to see who was listening first. If I joined a group, I did it with a fake name so people I knew wouldn’t know. I haven’t felt like that in a long time now. Yes, I’ve been through a lot, and there’s a lot I’m not proud of, but what I’ve been through has got me to where I am now, and that’s the message that I want to ripple out. I want people to know that it’s okay, you can come from a dark place and move out into the light. Life without alcohol is good, despite what a lot of advertising tells us. We don’t need it, and it certainly wouldn’t make my life any better, in fact, I think it would ruin it.
Be conscious of the messages you let ripple out, you don’t know who they might affect, and who might be waiting to hear something that will help them.
Take care of yourselves.