Monthly Archives: September 2015

But Why Do You Drink?

  Three letters. Tiny word. Massive question. Why would you choose to drink when you know you can’t stop? When it is frightening and it hurts you and everyone around you? Why do something you know is ruining your life? What could possibly be so wonderful to you about drinking that you would choose it above anything at all? Never mind to the exclusion of everything else? How can anything feel like it’s worth this much? This is my why…

I loved you from the moment we met, it was sudden and total and all-consuming, when you were there? No one else in the room. No one else existed for me. When you weren’t there I missed you with a need so intense that all I could do was count down the hours until we could be together again. The only time my life made any sense at all was when I spent it with you.

Not true of course.

You who I burned for, with a longing so fierce it consumed me in its entirety, you who made the rest of the world disappear glass by glass. Who made the bad go away and put a beautiful filter on the world that accentuated the good. You who understood me, who never questioned me. How could words even begin to describe what we had? Nobody else could ever understand what we meant to each other. They just didn’t get it. They weren’t capable of loving this way.

Lies. Obviously.

We belonged together. It was just that simple. It didn’t matter what other people said about you. About how bad we were together, I just wanted you.

I didn’t want you. I thought I needed you to survive. Big Difference.

It took years for me to realise it was all one sided-that you never loved me. That I meant nothing to you. That I was just a vessel. That you weren’t the life raft I was clinging to-you were the current pulling me under.

Love can hurt. But it’s not supposed to damage.

I really thought I would die without you. It just felt so wrong I didn’t understand how anyone could, why they would want to? Who would choose a life without you after experiencing it alongside you? When we ended I never knew a loss like it. I really thought I would never love again-how could anything come close to the way you made me feel?

You made me feel nothing in retrospect. Numb. Empty.

I loved you so much. For a decade you were the only thing I could see. And now I never think about you at all. You took everything I had, everything I was. Stripped me away piece by piece- but I built myself back up. Put myself back together again. And yes, truly, I never think about you. And I know how to really love now. And this love is so different. This love gives back. To me, to everyone around me, it’s so real and pure and true. It makes you pale into insignificance.

Imagine if I’d known that, all the wasted years I spent trying to make you my love story of the century.

I see you now with other people-and I feel nothing. I barely notice you are there most of the time. I don’t even miss you- you who were my all. Bigger than my pride. my sense of self-preservation. You who fulfilled my every need and want. Everything I’d ever wished for- in you I found. And it’s gone. My longing, my desperation. 

Turns out you weren’t the one for me after all. My love story with you was quite average in the end. Not so spectacular after all. Nothing special about us. Very mediocre compared to the love I am capable of experiencing these days, actually.

Turns out it’s only love if you can feel yourself being loved back.

The false premise of addiction is not something you can inject reason into from the outside. Or use rhetoric to navigate. There is nothing you can do to help someone who thinks they love something this much. It is down to them and them alone. Even though this love is based on lies-to the addict it still feels true. It is still the most real thing in their existence. And until the cracks start to show in this belief? They won’t want to change a thing. 
And if you are walking around carrying the guilty burden of feeling you failed the alcoholic in your life? Failed to get through to them before they killed themselves with the object of their affection? Let me say it again; there is nothing you could have done, or said, or been. There is little consolation in knowing you had to share a mother or a wife or a daughter with a false love and need like this. 
But please do not blame yourself because honestly? You didn’t stand a chance. You did everything you could. Nobody can do a thing more than that.

Put that burden down.

Take it off.

Let it go.

No more why’s.


It’s Hard To Speak My Heart

  It’s easy for me to draw a very definite line between who I used to be and who I am now. To pinpoint when my old life ended and my new life began. 

I felt myself change irreversibly as I lay dying on my bathroom floor. It was a sudden and complete inner change. And it came from a realisation that I knew I would ever feel safe again. Even if I didn’t die, (and not to spoil the ending, but I lived) then chronic fear and incessant awareness of my own mortality would be forever marked on my soul with indelible ink.

I was right. I never felt safe again. The feeling of vulnerability haunted every waking moment. It found me whilst I slept. I felt like a pane of glass instead of a person. The only thing I ever wanted in the world was to feel the illusion of safety again. I wanted it more than I wanted to be able to walk again. I wanted it more than I wanted to be able to feed myself or dress myself again. I missed it so much. I ached for it.

Luckily I didn’t get what I wanted. It never came back. And I’m so glad of that. I’m so lucky the feeling of safety never found me again. 

I got my other wishes. Today I dressed myself. Fed myself. Left my flat and walked. I never take those things for granted. They will remain a privilege, rather then a right, for the rest of my life. Not because I believe they will go away. But because they are part of a long list of things I am overwhelmingly thankful for every day.

Being grateful wasn’t a skill I had before any of this happened. I was a cynical, glass-half-empty, doom and gloom type. They say a pessimist is never disappointed, but I was. I lived in a constant state of unhappiness and resentment. 

I’m so lucky they everything was taken away from me at the same time. I’m so lucky that my body stopped working, because my job dissappeared, my flat, my friends, my independence. All the things that made up my identity. It gave me a chance to find out who I really was. Underneath all the sadness and bitterness and bad habits.

It turns out that when everything is stripped away? The one resource left at your disposal is Joy. And that is such a hard thing to describe. The huge amounts of Joy that’s buried underneath who I thought I was.

Joy was the only tool I had at my disposal. It neutralises fear so the need to feel safety is redundant. It’s hard to speak my heart and describe it, because to do that would make joy an adjective. And I don’t think it is. It’s a verb. It’s my default setting. It’s who I know I am. It’s who I know I will be if everything ever gets taken away again.

I don’t know that much about being recovered. I don’t know that much about being sober. They are just side effects of feeling constant Joy as far as I’m concerned. I know that I will stay recovered and stay sober, because I won’t ever stray from this place of Joy.

And I know I won’t ever let Joy escape because it finds me in the tiniest details of life. In conversations with strangers, in meeting new friends. In appreciating old ones. In walking down a f*cking street for goodness sake.

There’s not one aspect of my life. Not one detail that I can’t look at and see as anything else but a miracle. As anything else but something that was absolutely impossible for me to have done just a few years ago. 

And people can spot it a mile off. You can’t fake genuine joy, but you can’t hide it either. People don’t need to know why it’s there. They don’t need to know what happened to make you like this. And it’s impossible to explain properly anyway. But it’s effortless to experience.

It’s hard to speak my heart about joy, without trying to justify or quantify it. So the nicest part about it is when people assume this joy comes from having had a very easy life. 
And I love that. I love that folk think all this walking, dressing, feeding myself malarkey isn’t something I’ve struggled with. I love it when they think I’ve always loved people and led a wholesome, happy existence.

Because my heart knows how to speak that, now. 

And it’s so much better than feeling safe.

Your Beautiful Words


This morning I woke up to so many emails. So many beautiful words. All from women I’ve met on this journey. Some I’ve known weeks. Some months. Others years. 

They were all saying the exact same thing in totally individual ways. How happy they were. How great life was, how much they were learning about themselves every day.
And how they were all still effortlessly sober.

These women with their beautiful words are all much better at being sober than I ever was. The analogies they use are far more sophisticated. The way they use the tools they have cultivated in a bid to harness successful sobriety? Too clever for me to ever have thought of.

I looked at my inbox this morning and I cried. Because most of these women struggled for years. Navigated life through a place of total despair. Were in horrible dark places. And through their willingness to become their own guinea pigs, they all became total experts at their own art of non-drinking.

I think I cried most because I was so honoured they wanted to share it with me. The good parts of their life. The love and excitement they have for it all. Because they don’t have to do that. They could have just gone off and done their own thing and never looked back. Never dropped me any beautiful words at all. But they didn’t do that. They chose to take time out from their amazing new lives to fill me in.

And that means the world to me.

I can see the ripple effect from where I stand. The people they are influencing positively in more ways than they will ever take credit for. 

Their daughters who are being shown examples of happy, confident sober mothers on a daily basis. 

Their mothers, who are watching this transformation with scepticism at first, and then awe.

The husbands and wives who are finally getting their partners back, the person they fell in love with in the first place. 

It’s a feeling I can’t even describe. To see someone transformed and filled with hope. And I look forward so much to seeing more of these stories in the mainstream. People sailing through sobriety, eager to share their success stories and tips with others. 
Unafraid of any backlash from those who are still struggling.

And I think we will get there. Not just one day. But really, really soon. There’s a change in the air and its palpable. And I felt it this morning more strongly than I’ve ever felt it before. Like we are at the Tipping Point of huge change.

So please. Keep sharing your stories. Not just with me, although I adore hearing them. But out there, in public. Behind a pseudonym or not. It doesn’t matter. Words are powerful in and of themselves. Who is speaking them isn’t important.

So thank you. Thank you so very much. For sharing your beautiful words with me. They mean more to me than you will ever know x

Learning When To Listen To The Experts


The best thing I can recommend is you take a job in a charity shop for a few hours a week. Don’t push yourself. 

I’m not very good at being told what I can’t do. But I’m also fairly bad at being told what to do. Which leaves a fairly narrow margin. It means I pretty much have to figure everything out for myself as I move along.

I didn’t used to be this way. Not really. Not until I was faced with an avalanche of news that I didn’t want to hear

We don’t know whether you are going to ever recover physically from this. Let’s get you a wheelchair whilst we try and work it out.

I’m not a big fan of limitations. But I’m at the point now where the only ones I have are held in place by my own belief system. They are my responsibility. I stopped listening to other people’s advice so long ago that what they say truly has no impact on me at all.

You won’t be able to live by yourself. Stay with your parents. Be prepared for the day your body stops working again, because it can’t keep this up for long.

This past decade for me has been a testament to what can happen when you are finally backed into a corner and the only way out is to listen to yourself. It has been hard and scary and dark for a great deal of the time. 

And therein lies a very bad habit I picked up along the way.

Of all the things I struggled with? I couldn’t help but find getting sober easy. Once I realised the truth of it. A method that couldn’t fail me? It was inevitable. No matter what life threw at me, (and I wouldn’t even know how to start describing the events of the past decade to you) it never even occurred to me to turn to drink for comfort.

The treatment you are talking about is so dangerous that it will kill you. We cannot support your choice to try it. We strongly recommend that you don’t.

I experienced miracles on my journey to get out of my wheelchair. I felt them myself and saw them in other people. I do also recognise that devising a fool-proof method that actually stopped myself & others drinking is somewhat miraculous in itself. I respect the miracles I have been privy to.

But somewhere along the line. At some point in these 10 years. Somehow I picked up the belief that life was supposed to be hard. That life was beautiful and I was lucky to be here, yes. But that certain aspects of life were supposed to be lived the hard way. 

That I would have to fight for my body to work everyday. That I should keep people at arms length. That it would be better that way. Better if it was me. Just me. Getting through the difficult bits of living. Doing it all on my own.

What if it’s all supposed to be as easy as getting sober was?

Most people that contact me have no issue with making their own bodies obey simple instructions. There is no doubt there for them. No fear. Not a hint of it. Their doubt is all drinking related. How can they stop? Will it really work? Can they trust themselves ever again? And I always answer that these days I trusted myself more than anyone else in the world to give myself what I need.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I sat in a Consultant’s room and he told me in no uncertein terms that I hadn’t gotten away with it. That my years of being bedbound then in the wheelchair. That losing the amount of weight I did during that time. The damage that the original illness that caused to pieces of me. That a combination of all these factors, and more, left me in a position where I had a choice. Take responsibility and listen to expert opinions  now; or let osteoporosis come find me and put me back in the physical circumstances I found myself in not so many years ago.

And I’m going to do exactly what he tells me to do. Because I don’t know best. He’s the expert here. I’ll suck it up, get my ass to the gym and start lifting weights. I’ll take whatever medical treatment they decide is best for me. It’s fine. I like learning new things. This will just be one of them.

What yesterday really taught me though? Was that I’ve still been holding back. Still trying to protect myself from a world that might, just might, put me in a wheelchair if I let it in. That by pushing people away in a bid to protect myself from harm, I’ve actually been putting myself in a precarious position. 

That there is no such thing as protection. That life is not supposed to be hard. It doesn’t have to be listening entirely to your own guidance. That it’s okay to accept help and advice from other people. And that it’s supposed to be easier that way.

I don’t take anyone else’s guidance when it comes to sobriety.

 1) because I never think about it anymore so it’s not necessary.

 2) because I devised a method that works better than anything else I’ve ever seen.

Even if I did do it accidentally.

But that doesn’t mean I have that knowledge in other areas. I do make mistakes when it comes to my own physical recovery. I do make life hard for myself by refusing to ask for help. I am healthy and strong now. But if I don’t let people in? Then I won’t be this way forever. I’ll end up being physically disabled again. 

And I’ll have no one but myself to blame.

Accepting help doesn’t make me reliant on other people. They aren’t feeding me or dressing me. They are just helping to ensure no one will ever have to do that again. And it’s the same with drinking. If you’ve tried it your way, and your way doesn’t work? Swallow that pride and tell someone. Ask someone who has the answer. Nobody will think any less of you for it.

It’s not supposed to be difficult. Life is not supposed to be hard. And guaranteed, the bit that we think is hard? Somebody out there is nailing it, effortlessly. 

Sometimes all we need to do is ask the right person the right question in order to change. 

It really is that simple.