‘I woke up the next day, he was angry with me, so I poured myself another drink.’: Former alcoholic shares recovery journey

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Disclaimer: This story contains details of alcoholism which may be upsetting for some. 

Beginning Of Alcoholism

“Alcohol had always caused problems for me. I started drinking when I was around 13 years old. It was at a Christmas family get together. I remember sneaking over to a table covered with bottles of wine. My cousin and I would fill up our glasses and go upstairs and get drunk. I remember absolutely loving the way it made me feel, confident and care-free.

Growing up, I had always been a shy kid and found making small talk very uncomfortable. When I discovered alcohol, I realized all of those awkward feelings melted away. Unfortunately, the problem was there was no ‘off’ button. Once I took a drink, a craving would kick in, and all I wanted was more. All bets were off.

I started to drink most weekends with friends. I would creep to my parents’ drink cupboard with an empty water bottle and would take a little bit of everything – gin, martini, vodka (basically whatever I could get my hands on) – and I would wind up with a disgusting concoction for the evening. I would then venture out to a field with my friends while knocking back my mixture of booze. I would black out and completely turn into a different person.

teenage alcoholic partying drunk
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth

I would become aggressive, physically and verbally. My panicked boyfriend took me back to his house. I started hitting him and vomiting in his garden. My dad ended up coming around and was furious with me and my friends.

The next day, I woke up in my parents’ bedroom on the floor, with no recollection of the evening before. My mom said they kept me in their room because they were worried as I had a faint pulse. My dad made me go around to my boyfriend/neighbor’s house and clean up my vomit. My friend told me what had happened; I just laughed it off.

Incidents like this continued to happen for many years. Waking up with the driest mouth and crippling anxiety, attempting to piece back together the night before. Texting friends saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ and getting the dreaded feeling they were angry with me. Throughout the day, I would get flashbacks of the hurtful things I had said to people the night before. This was a regular occurrence. I would usually discover bruises or cuts on my limbs, random parts of my body feeling tender and swollen, and I would have no idea what had happened.

On-And-Off Drinking

When I was 16, I attended a music college. There were many parties and lots of drugs were involved. Sometimes I would end up staying awake for days with no food or sleep. By the time I turned 18, I started suffering from panic attacks and paranoia. One of my friends died from a drug overdose, and I knew I had to stop. So I deleted all of the numbers of friends I could get drugs from, or could use with, and moved back home with my parents to start over again.

teenage alcoholic smoking a cigarette
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth

I thought drugs were the problem, and I believed alcohol was perfectly safe.

I ended up spending every evening in the local pub, sat at the bar with the locals. Most nights started fun with laughs, but most of the time things turned dark, and I would black-out and become aggressive.

When I turned 19, my uncle, who had gotten sober a year prior, gave me a book called the ‘Easy Way To Stop Drinking.’ I identified with it so much. After reading the book, I stopped drinking and bought tons of copies. I was handing them out to all of my family and friends and said, ‘This book will change your life, you do not need to drink.’ I stayed sober for 2 months.

On November 5th (Bonfire night) in the UK, all of my friends were planning on drinking and setting off fireworks. I thought to myself, ‘I am 19 years old. Why should I miss out on drinking with my friends?’ So I fell off the wagon and bought a few bottles.

alcoholic at festival wearing face jewels and sticking tongue out
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth

Little did I know, my drinking career would carry on for another decade. Throughout my 20s, there were a few times I decided to stop. The decision would usually be fueled by a disastrous evening out. I would normally last around a month, only for a voice in my head to tell me, ‘I’m OK. I can control my drinking,’ and sooner or later, I would find myself back in the pub with a pint of beer.

My 20s involved a lot of partying, toxic relationships, and geographicals. When I was 24, I decided a fresh start was what I needed, and to escape the chaos, I packed my bags and moved to a paradise island in Thailand. I had an amazing time and it completely opened my mind to a new way of living, but ultimately it was a party island, so of course it involved a lot of drinking, and sooner or later, the drama and chaos reappeared. A year later, I moved to Vietnam. Three months after, I moved in with someone in Liverpool in the UK. It was a very toxic relationship I knew I had to get out of.

By age 27, I decided to move back to Thailand, but to a different island. Yet again, I found people that liked to drink like me. I would usually wake up not remembering the night before. It was the same sh*t, different year, different island.

alcoholic with fairy lights draped around her neck
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth

New Relationship

In November 2019, I decided to stop drinking again. I got fit and healthy and my mental health improved. I even found myself an amazing boyfriend. By December, I was so excited about being in a new relationship I decided to drink again, that same old voice told me I would be okay this time.

Looking back now, I have no idea why I listened to that voice. It was wrong every time.

By January 2020, I was loved up in my new relationship. I remember my partner saying, ‘I can’t see anything going wrong between us.’ I replied, ‘I do, my drinking.’ He didn’t seem to grasp that I couldn’t only have a couple of drinks. With me, it was all or nothing. I had tried for years to control and moderate it, but I just couldn’t.

alcoholic holding a wine glass in a restaurant
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth

By December 2020, he’d had enough of me. He did not like the way I behaved while drunk. There were countless times I would wake up in the morning where he would be angry with me from the night before. Of course, I couldn’t remember what I had done.

On December 26th, 2020, we were heading to a BBQ pool party. My partner was still angry with me from the night before. ‘Can you just have a couple of drinks today?,’ I remember him pleading with me. ‘I’ll try but I can’t make any promises,’ I replied hesitantly.

Later that day, of course, I was drunk and making a fool of myself by the pool and irritating my partner. I walked into the house, slipped, and split my head open on a chair as I fell back. People crowded around me as I laid on the floor. (Falling down and hitting my head was quite a regular occurrence by this point.) Everyone thought I was fine until my partner saw the blood coming from my head. I was reluctantly rushed to the hospital where nurses had to restrain me face-down to the bed so they could stitch my head back together. I was uncooperative, as I pushed them away shouting, ‘I’m fine, leave me alone!’

Final Attempt To Quit

After that day, my partner had had enough. I basically had to stop drinking, or he was going to leave me. He was the best thing that had happened to me, and I couldn’t believe I was going to lose him to alcohol. So I promised to stop. Later that evening, we had an argument about what had happened, and I caved in and poured myself a glass of wine. This time I didn’t stop. I kept drinking. I woke up the next day, he was angry with me, and I poured myself another drink.

At this point, he had no idea what to do with me, so he went to my friend’s house and told her how concerned he was. Together, they both formed an intervention, came back to the house, and my friend started pouring all of the booze down the sink. I remember her shaking as she was terrified of how I was going to react.

My partner and friend were both very concerned and didn’t know what they should do, or how they could help me. In the end I said, ‘Take me to Tom.’ Tom was a spiritual man that owned a crystal shop down the road. He had helped me in the past through Reiki healing for my anxiety. He had mentioned he was in AA and told me, whenever I was ready, he would help me.

recovering alcoholic sitting at restaurant at an outdoor table
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth

So we drove to the crystal shop to see Tom and I told him I was ready. He told me about an AA meeting the following day (New Years Eve) and to meet him there at 11 a.m. I was very emotional heading to that AA meeting. It felt like a massive wake up call. I was in shock my drinking had gotten so bad I was heading to an AA meeting. When Tom had first suggested AA, I thought, ‘No way, I’m not that bad,’ but here I was heading to exactly that.

I didn’t know what to make of it at first; there were a lot of prayers and readings, and it reminded me of church. I didn’t like that part of it. But when I listened to the other people sharing, it was like they were telling my story. I was finally in a room full of non-judgmental people who understood me. I felt this deep feeling in my soul, this knowing that I was in the right place.

recovered alcoholic holding spirituality letter board sign
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth

Life Without Alcohol

After that meeting, everything in my life changed. I stopped drinking. I stopped partying. My whole identity changed. It was challenging, but I knew getting sober was exactly what I needed to do. I met other women in the meetings that became my support network and helped on the days where my cravings were really bad. Over time, things got much easier. I was given tools on how to deal with my feelings. I realized, for the last 15 years, I had been running away from my feelings and numbing them with alcohol.

My partner got a better understanding of addiction and forgave me for the past. Since I stopped drinking, our relationship dramatically improved. A couple of months ago, we even got married. I strengthened my relationship with a higher power and experienced some intense times which I can only describe as spiritual awakenings.

recovered alcoholic at her wedding with her husband
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth

It has now been 18 months since I last had a drink.

The knowledge and wisdom I have absorbed has been transformational. It has made me realize there is so much more to life than drinking and partying, and I am now in a position where I can share my story and help others to know recovery is absolutely possible. I was burdened with so much resentment and anger, but through working a spiritual program, I have been able to find inner peace, and know I can handle life without reaching for a drink when times get tough.

To anyone reading this who is questioning whether they can actually stop drinking, I am living proof it is possible, and the amount of personal growth and awareness that happens is astounding. Feel free to reach out to me if you are struggling.”

husband and wife touching elephant trunk
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth
woman in bikini top on balcony overlooking beach
Courtesy of Clare Elizabeth

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Clare Elizabeth. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories about addiction:

‘How do I know if I’m an alcoholic?’ I got blackout drunk and kissed a total stranger.’: Woman thanks husband for supporting her sobriety journey

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