“Since I was little, I have been surrounded by alcohol. It was just what grown-ups did. I grew up in a large house in London that was always full of interesting people, mostly writers. My father was a publisher, so it was not unusual for me to find myself sitting down to dinner with the likes of Roald Dahl and Doris Lessing, deep in conversation about literature as I slurped up my spaghetti at the end of the table.
And always there was wine. There was more than wine actually. G and Ts at 5 p.m., followed by wine, followed by whiskey. And every grown-up I ever met seemed to love the stuff. I couldn’t wait to be sophisticated enough to join them.
I looked 17 when I was 13 and so I was able to convince shopkeepers to serve me alcohol from a much younger age than they should have. It was the first thing I did when I was old enough to go out unchaperoned. Buy beer or cheap wine for my friends and me and head to a park and drink until it was time to go home.
The beers at parks turned into wine in pubs, then wine in bars, then drinks at lunch with colleagues. I worked in media and everyone ‘cool’ seemed to go to the pub at lunch, and after work too. Life was exciting. Fun. We were the ones people wanted to be with. My friends listened jealously as I told them about the tab for the creative department that had been set up for us at the local pub, so we could drink all we wanted for free because the boss thought we produced better work when we were half-cut. On it went. Drinking daily, drinking on every occasion. Drinking when happy, when sad, when celebrating, when mourning, when partying, when doing nothing but sitting at home on my own and watching TV.
If you asked anyone to give you one word they associated with me, 90% would have said alcohol. I was the one who stayed out late, the one who always turned up, the one who had fun and was always up for more. But I was also the one who had blackouts, who got hit by a car when stepping out onto a busy Soho road one night, forgot whole blocks of time, and always had something to be ashamed or embarrassed about the next day. But I loved alcohol more than myself so on it went, into my 30s, stopping during two pregnancies but picking straight up again once the babies were a few months old. And then I found mommy wine culture (God forbid there was no contingency play for new moms who liked to drink) and so the merry-go-round continued, just on a different playing field. This time we were in nice houses in suburbia with kids in tow.
All the while, society whispered in my ear, ‘It’s okay, everyone does it, look around, it’s advertised everywhere. They wouldn’t do that if it were dangerous.’ But it turns out they would. Have you ever thought how alcohol companies are the only ones that don’t ever show images of their happy customers? Because a lot of their happy customers started the night off excited, getting dressed up and heading out, only to end up wandering unsteady on their feet, throwing up in the toilet, or finding themselves blacked out in an unknown apartment.
That being said, I am not saying everyone has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Some people drink sensible amounts and it is never an issue that affects their life. They are lucky. Because believe me, there are a LOT of people out there whose lives are ruined by alcohol.
I was a mom of two in my 40s with a good job as a writer, living in a nice house, turning up to sports days, and doing my bit for the local charities. I had great friends and a good future ahead of me by all accounts. But I was drinking a bottle of wine a night, and more on weekends. That is not alright. It’s not alright for my kids to see me asleep on the sofa after an after-school play date that started at 3:30 and fully asleep by 8 p.m. because of wine. There was late-night slurring and unnecessary arguments with my husband, all fueled by alcohol. It’s a sneaky thing, booze. It’s a devil dressed up in a pretty dress. It’s sold to you as fun and sexy, but if you aren’t careful it can mess up your life and ruin all of your most important relationships.
On December 20, 2021 I recorded myself with my phone, drunk, crying in my living room, saying, ‘I don’t want to be this person anymore!’ and that was the last day I drank. I joined Soberistas the next day and signed up for the 100-day challenge and found great support there. I had a group of (mostly) women who were on the same journey as I, and the daily accountability really helped me. Once I got through the first 50 days, I set up an Instagram account, as I knew that holding myself accountable would be the only way I could carry on finding the drive to stick to this. I have found an even greater level of support there – so many others going through the same realization and struggles that I was facing. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to be at rock bottom to decide alcohol is ruining your life. That’s a total myth. Even if you drink one glass of wine a week, if it has a negative impact on you and your world, it’s a problem.
I am now over 6 months sober and my life has changed in such a huge way it is hard to describe it in words. I have lost a 15 pounds without trying. I look 10 years younger. I remember everything, I am focused, my energy levels are soaring, I spend more time with my children, and the biggest thing of all – I am proud of myself. For the first time in my adult life, I wake up every morning knowing I have nothing to be ashamed of. I do not hate myself, did not embarrass myself, did not drink again… And that has changed my confidence and my self-assurance beyond recognition.
I have had weeks where I have felt like I didn’t want to get out of bed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Interestingly, although they have been hard to deal with, I know they are real feelings, not ones that are a result of drinking. That has allowed me to really listen to myself for the first time in my adult life. Nobody walks around at a 10 every day. We all have days where we feel awful, but being sober allows me to really think about why I am feeling like that, and approach it with love and consideration for myself. When I get an urge to drink, I have a long bath or go out for a walk because I have found that cravings never last for longer than an hour or so. So I do something where I can’t access alcohol. I remove myself from the temptation. And when I have to go to a party, or out for dinner, I make sure I have access to alcohol-free options. They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they have been a real life-saver for me!
They say that if you ever start to worry that alcohol might be becoming a problem in your life, then it probably already is. And it’s true. Since I have eliminated that one thing from my life, everything has improved. I have found a sober community that is the most generous, supportive, kind, and caring group of people I have ever met. I know that I will never go back because I can’t and I wouldn’t want to. I no longer see it as something I want but can’t have; I see it as something that has taken enough from me, that I am no longer willing to allow in my life. I want to see what I am really capable of in this life, and this was the only way I could give myself a fighting chance of really finding out.
My advice to anyone who feels like alcohol is having a negative impact on their life is to cut it out 100% as soon as possible and see what happens. You will not lose your spark, your confidence, your friends, or your social life. It is the opposite. You will find the meaning of true connection; you will never worry about what you did or said again; you will never wake up hating yourself because of your drink, and you will be stronger and more confident. But don’t try to do it alone. Connection is key. Find your people, your tribe, and your support network. Whether that’s online, at AA, or among friends… make sure you are surrounded by people who get it. And then prepare to fly because it’s a ride you do not want to miss out on. I promise you that.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kate Taylor. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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