I’m in the living room, when I realise it.
I can’t fight this anymore.
So now I’m in the hallway.
I can take one step forward. One step to reach my coat and put it on.
Or I can take the stairs.
The stairs away from the front door.
Up to my husband, who is with our newborn daughter.
They are only one floor away.
These two people, who were so unlikely to show up in my life.
They are miracles to me.
My new world. The one I fought so fucking hard for.
It’s only upstairs.
I could go up there right now. And try and get help.
Or I could put my coat on. Leave my two favourite humans, in this house.
And go get drunk, for the first time in 12 years.
I’m under no illusions about where I’ll end up.
Off my face, in the dingiest pub I can find.
I’ve already got one picked out.
The sort of place I used to frequent, because I knew I didn’t deserve anywhere better.
I don’t want to do this.
But I have to.
Because I cannot scratch this physical itch any other way.
And I cannot stand to feel this way anymore.
I hate that I’m going to do this.
Leave my beautiful home and the people who love me the most.
Go out into the cold. Get off my face.
Do I even come home after? Do I deserve to?
I don’t even know.
It’s not because I don’t want to be a mother.
Or that I’m finding it too much.
I adore her, our daughter.
She is living proof to me that dreams can come true.
It’s not that I don’t want to be married.
My husband is soul mate, best friend and biggest cheerleader, all rolled into one.
For the first time in my life, I have everything I’ve ever wanted.
And right now all I need is to self-destruct.
This is it.
One step to put my coat on.
Or push past it and go upstairs.
Please help me.
Somebody please stop me from doing this.
Slowly I put on my coat.
It’s done now.
Left or right.
Left to the stairs, and to fight this thing with help.
Right to the front door, and oblivion.
I turn right, open the handle.
Then I slam the door, race up the stairs, burst into our bedroom and sob to my husband the words that have been circling in my mind for weeks.
“I’m going to drink. I’m going to drink right now and I don’t want to.”
And he holds me. And listens. And listens some more.
For hours we are like this.
Eventually, I feel like it’s okay to take my coat off.
I don’t need to go and do it anymore.
Not today, anyhow.
I tell him the things I’ve been to ashamed to say.
How I’ve felt like this ever since giving birth.
What a stupid mistake I made in labour, having gas and air.
How it instantly gave me an incessant itch, like I haven’t felt for years.
I thought gas and air would be fine.
It was the painkillers I was worried about, that’s why I didn’t use anything.
But I used it wrong. The gas and air.
I used it because I was afraid.
And I didn’t want to feel the fear.
I’m okay with pain. But I’m still shit at feeling fear.
I never fixed that. After getting sober. Is what I’m realising.
I also stopped addressing things, emotionally, as they came up.
I’ve a few people in my life who I don’t want around.
But, like most grown ups, I don’t have a choice in the matter.
They are here to stay, along with their pretty vile behaviour.
And I just have to accept that. And deal with it.
But I do need to talk about how it makes me feel. Instead of suppressing it all.
We decide I need to start therapy immediately.
So, for the first time in my life. I’m seeing someone.
But to be honest. That’s a long term fix.
It’s what I learned in the short term, that helped me, in the midst of a drinking crisis:
•Say the words. Actually speaking these thoughts out loud diminished the craving by 75%, I’m not kidding, it was incredible.
•Accept that a genuine chemical reaction occurred inside me. The gas and air set me off on this path. And whilst I am responsible for having it. It’s not an emotional or moral failure.
•If I had gone out and drank. It’s okay. I could still come home to absolutely unconditional love and support. Being back in “Day One”isn’t relevant to me anymore. I don’t care about that crap.
•I went back to work when our daughter was four weeks old. Travelling hundreds of miles on trains. Never sleeping unless we were at home. I’m still proud I did it. But I didn’t take time to acknowledge the effect it had on me. Physically and emotionally.
I have to say also that something really surprised me about my drinking.
For years I’d watched people fall off the wagon and back into alcoholism, sometimes 18 years after stopping drinking.
And they always said “I thought I could handle just one.”
That’s not the case with me. There was no delusion, like in my drinking days. I knew I was going to get absolutely bladdered. Which was a revelation to me. I assumed there’d be some lies involved.
And the fact that I didn’t want to. I wasn’t excited. It didn’t feel like I was finally going to get to do something I’d been living without.
I knew I was about to introduce mundanity and averageness, back into my life after so long without them.
That I wasn’t going to experience my exceptional life anymore.
I knew I was about to lose so much.
The only things propelling me, were the need for alcohol’s chemical fix.
And the emotions l had been suppressing, without realising how crucial it was to resolve them.
It’s been weeks now, since that horrible day.
And it never came back. That itch.
The 75% that disappeared when I told my husband?
It stayed that way. Gone.
The remaining 25% faded over the next few days.
I’m telling you all this, because I hate how there’s this silence around long term recovery.
How those who talk about it publicly, being successfully sober, are too ashamed to be honest about struggling.
How even though we may turn up on the news and in your living room, talking about this stuff. If we don’t do the work, we too are utterly fallible.
I also want any ladies in recovery, who are about to give birth, to get help in place before they go into labour.
Just in case they have the same reaction to gas and air that I did.
Most of all. I want to say that it’s okay. All of it.
That even if I had drank, I would have done whatever it took to get back here, to this happy, stable, itch-free place I’m in now.
Because I know the way home.