Monthly Archives: August 2016

Being a Passenger

I had a friend ring me drunkenly. This was her opening gambit:

“You, Carrie Armstrong, are one of life’s passengers.”

I proffered my own greeting of “Hello to you too” and let her crack on with her explanation.

Because sober, she is a very smart lady, so I was intruiged to see if she was equally clever as a drunk.

She doesn’t have a drink problem btw, like most of my friends, she is a very occasional drinker.

Anyway, her wine soaked monologue began to take shape.

She explained that I never pushed for anything. That l just got on with what I was doing, and trusted that the right things would arrive on my doorstep at the right time.
She explained that she had watched me on the tube and I didn’t even push past people to run for a train. I just waited until another showed up.



I loved this passenger analogy. Because these days I really am. I don’t talk about what I do. I just do it.

I hate the idea of pushing anything on to folk.

I truly believe they if people need me or require my services, then they will find me.

When I was in hangover mode, all those years ago, I would punish myself by being massively proactive so I wouldn’t feel like I was wasting my whole life drinking.

I was endlessly impatient.

I would apply for tons of new jobs, none of which I would want to interview for, by the time my applications had been processed.

I used to make huge demands in all of my relationships, because if I wasn’t happy it was clearly someone else’s fault. Definitely not my own.

I definitely used to run and push past people on the tube. Probably to be sick in a bin from all the jägerbombs l’d done the night before. 

My friend cannot remember any of this conversation. But she stands by her drunken, forgotten convictions.

And I thought the entire thing was hilarious. And accurate. So I let her call me a passenger when she’s sober too.

I prefer to let my work and my life speak for themselves these days. I either have something you want, or I don’t. 

If you don’t want it, then you won’t find me. If you do, then you will.

That’s why I don’t advertise what I do anywhere. That’s why all of the ladies who find me do so because they’ve been referred to me by a friend.

For me it just works better that way.
I like being a passenger. I like my life to unfold gently and incrementally.

I’m not driven by success. I’m not driven by money. I’m just driven enough so that I don’t have to be the driver.

There are going to be some changes to the site in th next few weeks. But they will be done with a whimper, rather than with a shout.

Because I’m just not that concerned with making a big noise these days.

I’m not saying that everyone who stops drinking suddenly becomes a passive passenger in life.

This was the case with me, that’s all.
Like anything else in non-drinking life, if it feels good to be one of life’s passengers, then work hard on Th things you love to do without pushing it in anyone’s face.

Go about making your own plans for a spot of world domination. Without having to announce it on facebook or what-have-you.

If you are more of a driver? If shouting things from the rooftops feels good to you? Then go for it. Fill your boots. It can do you no harm.

Just make sure your content speaks as loudly as your banter does. Otherwise your words will be just as empty as they were when you were a drinker…

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Sober is not a spectator sport.

I got really good at being a spectator when I was drunk. 

It was so much easier to drink than be a grown up. Do grown up things like serious relationships and buying houses and paying bills and such.

But when I got sober I really excelled at being a spectator. 

I practised isolating myself. Standing as still as possible as other people white water rafted down the stream of life.

I got engaged. That was literally the most adult thing I attempted. I held down jobs I actually liked most of the time. That was also a slight step up.

But anything that involved me being a part of something bigger than myself. A community. A family. A circle of people. 
Any circle. I avoided anything like that.
Watching from the sidelines. Being on the periphery. There was a lot less risk in that. 

I was an island of sobriety. I told myself it was how everyone did it.

And it wasn’t a very helpful lie at all.

It was a tough habit to break. A lot more so than drinking. 

So I decided to leave it. Just stay as insular as possible. Until it became to painful not to.

And one day it did. One day I realised that I was still a massive spectator in other people’s lives.

And it felt horrible.

Being on the outside of things felt lonely and wrong.

And I didn’t know how to change.

So I just felt really horrible about not being a part of anything real, for quite a while longer.

Then, I started taking baby steps.

I became part of circles that I could just walk into. One’s with members. Because that is an almost immediate thing.

And the communities that take longer to become a central part of?

I started forming those links slowly and surely.

I didn’t want Surface Connections anymore. I figured Nobody needs to have that sober. 
An acquaintance to me is a just a drinking buddy without the drinking.

 

My friendships are real now. My friendship circles are real. I feel part of communities I never thought would call to me.

I feel secure and on the inside of things.
Properly.

I don’t need to be a spectator. I don’t need to have one foot out of the door in case people ask something of me and I’m too flaky to follow through on it.

I can trust myself enough to be relied upon.

I can like myself enough to know I’m worth being around.

And every day that in an active participant in my own, rather than someone sat watching on the periphery of other people’s lives, is a very good day indeed.

Lola’s New Life As A Non Drinker 

This lady is so amazing and SO MODEST that she doesn’t even tell you that in her first month as a permanent non drinker she got a big promotion at work AND went on holiday twice!
She is fantastic and I enjoyed every second of working with her:
Here is Lola’s story of transformation in her own words 


I cannot sing from a high enough roof top about Carrie’s method. Her entire emphasis is on what you have to gain from stopping drinking. There is no time to dwell on any perception that you might have that you are losing something great. She’s got no truck with that and will tell you so! She’ll get you too busy thinking about what your new life is going to look like and the future is very bright. 


You need to hear what Carrie has to say. Don’t waste another moment of your precious life. You deserve to be everything you are supposed to be. You deserve to sleep, chase your dreams, like what you see in the mirror, wake up proud of yourself and start being the interesting, fun, hopeful person that you are, booze aside. 


She will get you, in one month, on that path. I promise you, you will want what she has and she desperately cares about her clients learning from her mistakes. You. deserve. it. It is a ridiculously small financial outlay to have your life changed. She’ll help you start building your life back up. This is the most constructive, effective programme that I can see out there.You can stop seeing alchohol as a big scarey monster that controls you or a comforting friend/crutch and just for the illussion that it is. 


The pearls of wisdom that topple out of her mouth. are worth engraving somewhere. Her analogies, her experiences, her humour are preciousl You don’t have to feel strong but you do have to listen/read with a blank sheet of paper and a pen, and the willingess to upgrade everything in your life life. It’s a shame you can’t hear her when you read her book as her Geordie accent is very cute. You don’t need to have had a dramatic rock bottom, she has had that for you and wants you to catch you on the way down. You can’t shock her.


Buy the book or do a month’s coaching with her. Every area of your life that you think will suffer will start to glisten with hope.

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.

Alcoholism is not a P*ssing Contest

I went to Uni with this bloke called John. John had “a problem”. He was thrown out of halls of residence for his drinking. He would get paralytic at parties, wet himself. John was notorious for his drinking. Everyone knew of him, we saw him every day, wasted and hopeless. We’d all shake our heads and roll our eyes. No one was as bad as John. John was as bad as it got. And so we kept drinking.

Not all alcoholics are created equal.

I had a friend called Karen. Karen didn’t look like John. Karen couldn’t drink like John. Karen had what we might, (mistakenly) refer to as an alcohol abuse problem. Sometimes she could control it for a few weeks at a time. Sometimes she could not. Karen went on yet another binge. Not that unusual but it scared her. She wanted to stop. She was frightened. She sent her friends a message telling us she was definitely through this time. That it was over. That she was done. That her dad was going to come get her so she could go stay with him for a while and then begin her life teetotal. She took time off work, cleaned her flat and was going to get an early night before he came.

Karen’s dad arrived the next day to find she’d died in her sleep. Turns out she was right. She was done. Her body couldn’t take it anymore. Karen was 40.

This is how it happens.

I don’t frighten easily. I lived in a constant state of fear for so many years that it takes a lot to reignite it and take me to that dark place now. But when I see people using end-stage alcoholics to measure their own drinking against? It frightens me. When I see the media latch onto one person, the exception to the rule that has been able to subject their body to horrendous amounts of alcohol abuse and still just about function? It frightens me. Alcoholism is not a p*ssing contest. There is no glory to be had in being further up the sliding scale than these individuals. Yet we all do it. We all have our own example of someone who drinks more than us. Alcoholics do it too. And when this person dies? We find another one. And another.

John was not always John. End-stage alcoholism is not the full spectrum of alcohol abuse. Once upon a time John had a John to compare himself to and feel safe in the knowledge that he was not there yet. Karen had a John. It did not save her.

I had a John. It did not save me.

The way I drank, my actions when I did drink-how many people did I keep in a place of alcohol abuse because they looked at me and assumed they were clearly fine by comparison? How many lives did I affect by participating in my own p*ssing contest with my own John? Why are the tolerance levels for alcohol abuse so high in our society? If someone is hurting themselves and those around them by their alcohol consumption we cannot wait until they are at the end stages of alcohol abuse to say something. Because the truth is most people die before they get there.

Rehab centres are full of people who are not yet at end-stage alcoholism. Would it surprise you to know that many people suffer a mental breakdown way before a physical one due to alcoholism? That this is why they seek treatment? Or that our hospitals are filled with people whose bodies have given up on them way before end-stage alcoholism?

So are our morgues.

There are many stages before John. There are many stages before Karen. And yes, before me. No one has to get to the points any of us were at before asking for help. To win this particular p*ssing contest you have to actually die. Today someone will. And it will have taught us nothing. And I’m frightened for all of us when I think about that.

Recovery is Recovery is Recovery

Sometimes when I cannot sleep at night, I imagine going back to talk to myself at different moments of my life.  Going back to teenage me, taking that first drink out of her hands before it touches her lips, telling her she must never touch that stuff, no matter what. Picturing what life would have been like if I’d listened.

Or the me that lay dying on my bathroom floor, terrified, alone, utterly confused by how life can change so quickly. Telling her it will be fine, not yet, but soon. Just to hang on.

Skipping past the bed bound me, the wheelchair me even, Going straight to the shell of a person that was trying so desperately to navigate a world she had been isolated from for so many years. Telling her one day she would be able to walk without concentrating on every step, That she would be able to stand tall, look someone in the eye, laugh even, hold a conversation again. Make friends, love, and be loved. That it was all on its way.

I’ve had so many recoveries. It’s been my life so it always felt normal to me, but I know it’s not. I’m 32.  I’ve started over and over and over again. Every time from nothing. Scratch. Square one.

I recovered from alcoholism when I was able to stop drinking. Finally. I recovered from being disabled when I was able to maintain walking again. Consistently. I recovered from the years of isolation when I was able to live back in the world again. Joyfully.

So many recoveries. All totally different. Addiction is nothing like being disabled. Truly, it’s not. I only know that because I’ve done both. Physical bodily recovery is nothing like putting together the shattered remnants of your confidence, in yourself and those around you mentally. Not even a bit similar. Yet all three felt the same in their conclusion. Finished, Done. Over. Leaving nothing behind but total elation as a reminder they had ever happened at all.

My life could never have been the satisfying, exciting, ecstatic experience it is for me now everyday, had I not experienced recovery-full, lasting, permanent recovery from all three. Three totally different scenarios. None of which there is ever supposed to be lasting recovery from. Not one.

Daily I am told to expect relapse from any and all of the above. Daily there is someone who informs me that it cannot last forever. Daily I know the truth of it.

That I’ll always be fine.

Recovery is Recovery, is Recovery.

It’s all the same, maintaining sobriety, staying physically recovered. Feeling emotionally invulnerable to relapse in any form. And when its achieved, suddenly the past just becomes a massive springboard to catapult us from a life we were existing through, to a life that defies description in it’s wonder and beauty.

Sometimes when I cannot sleep at night, I imagine going back to talk to myself at different moments of my life. But I can’t. So instead I tell myself my truth, Even when it’s hard to speak my heart and do justice to the blessings I feel every single moment of every day. I feel my truth.

Recovery is Recovery, is Recovery.

It is all the same at the end.

It is all achievable. So really the sooner we take the labels off what it is we are recovering from. The faster we all come together and just Be The Recovery as a unit. The quicker we will all get there. Get happier. Get stronger. Get our lives back.  Stop trying to achieve in splinter groups or in isolation what we could all be doing in public, together. Because all recovery is the same. Maintaining the recovery is identical. And there’s no way I would ever have figured that out, had I not spent so much of my life doing it. Over and over and over again.

I tell myself this. Then I wait for the sun to come up and show me the miracles the next day will bring…

It’s Not Okay…But

Some people know things others do not. That a home is supposed to be a place you feel safe. Comfortable. A little haven from the rest of the world where you can relax and just be yourself.

Some people do not live with a drunk.

The elephant in the room. Tip toeing around it so it does not rouse. Walking on eggshells. Biding your time. Listening out for tell-tale signs that the ticking time-bomb is about to go off. Again. Knowing that the only real calm that exists is straight after one episode as it buys you at least a little time before the next build up reaches its climax.

It’s not ok to live like this.

But if you were raised by a drunk, married a drunk or have one as a child then you’ve perhaps grown totally accustomed to this being your life. I know you won’t take my word for it. Some people do live in nice calm homes where they do no have to train themselves to walk into a room and immediately judge the mood of it without using words. People do it everyday. You are allowed to want this too. It’s not shooting for the moon.

Living with a drunk is essentially living with a stranger. Take the label of father/husband/son off them during their drinking because this label does not apply. It puts you in danger. Lulling you into a false sense of security whereby you feel you know their personality enough to judge how far their behaviour will go. Instead treat this person like a stranger in your house. Protect yourself accordingly.

It’s not ok to have a drunk volatile stranger in your house.

But if you are too afraid to kick them out. If you fear that they will end up dead on the floor of a bar after another altercation, or choking in a pool of their own vomit in a strange part of town. If this fear is too great to let them out of your house? Then at least put a lock on your bedroom door so you can sleep at night during their binges. This is especially important if you are a women living with a drunk man. Un-PC? Probably. Accurate? Unfortunately. A man in a black-out drunk is able to overpower a woman very easily. Their strength is terrifying actually. And they aren’t conscious of their actions. You can’t reason with them. Make them stop.

If you think that you are safe because the drunk in your life has so far only verbally abused you during binges?

It’s not okay to let anyone verbally abuse you. It’s also nowhere near the massive leap you think it is for it to turn physical. And odds are they won’t remember doing either- so they will never learn from their “mistake” -no matter how sorry they may seem when confronted about their behaviour once sober.If they don’t remember it won’t count. If it has happened once it will happen again.

But if you do get into a verbal altercation with them out of sheer frustration. If you do insist on treating your drunk stranger like the sober person you know? Try and do so in a room that has two exits, so they don’t block your one chance of leaving if it does get too much. Always have your phone and keys on you so you can get out or call for help if things get out of your control. Because things do escalate very quickly as binges gets worse and black-outs get longer.

There is no excusing a drunk’s behaviour if it is making you feel unsafe or hurting you.

It’s not ok to try to deal with this on your own.

But you may feel too ashamed to ask for help. Don’t be. None of this is your fault. It is frighteningly common. So have a person you can tell. A safe person who will not judge you. A sister, best friend. Someone who you can go stay the night with if it gets too much. Who you can go to if the stress gets too much to bear. Nobody should have to live in isolation with a person whose addiction is making you feel unsafe. It’s not supposed to be like this.

What I want to do is tell you to call the police. What I want to do is come round to your house, pack your bags for you and beg you to consider that by refusing to go you are refusing to let there be consequences for this person’s actions. That this is what the heart of enabling an addict is. Hurting ourselves out of fear they will be hurt instead.

It’s not ok for me to tell you what to do.

But I’d really like it if you reached out to somebody today and told them how life really is for you. Break down that first barrier of silence. Start protecting yourself. Start doing it. Start reaching. Start talking.

Until your world feels like the safe place you deserve it to be.

Please Don’t Give Up Drinking

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Days upon days off work. People to see. Presents to wrap.

Bars to drink dry.

And that’s okay. Nothing wrong spending your free time any way you see fit. Spending those hours you aren’t working-or on the long commute-doing exactly as you please.

Is it pleasing you though? Who are you actually doing it for?

One of the biggest surprises about sobriety to me was the realisation that the story I’d been telling myself about how important alcohol was to my job was a total lie. People don’t care if you drink or not. Socially or professionally it makes no difference. They care whether you have a personality of not. And if you aren’t going to drink? That you are interesting and interested in them. You have both of those things? People will leave your drinking choices alone.

If people genuinely want to let loose? That’s okay. Everyone is their own grown up and they are allowed to get on with it. The accountant dancing round with his tie on his head having a laugh in the early hours, still able to control himself isn’t the problem. He genuinely wants to be there.

The sad thing to me is those who don’t want to, but feel they have to. That they are there to perform for other people. Be the life and soul of the party. Make a fool of themselves purely for the entertainment of others.

Those who can’t say no. Who truly would like to leave the party before it all goes pear-shaped. But end up staying til 3am, black-out drunk and unable to recall the previous 5 hours. What they said or did. How they got home.

If you are going to black-out at 10pm, why not just go home? What’s the difference between leaving a party early, and drinking to oblivion early? Either way you are intentionally checking out and not being there anymore. The only difference really is feeling the pressure of expectation. Of being other people’s chimp. Performing for drinks and approval.

And conversely? That’s not going to impress anyone. Because not knowing who we really are, or having the self-esteem to choose actions that make ourselves genuinely happy, will never garner respect from anyone. Boss or colleague. People may vaguely like or enjoy watching the Performing Chimp in action. But they don’t respect them. And without their respect you are meaningless to them professionally.

It took me years to do things like spend real money on nice outfits for parties. Get my hair done. Buy new shoes. Because I’d spent years buying and wearing outfits I automatically assumed would get torn, or covered in blood from unidentified drinking injuries. It took me years to work out that it wasn’t just because the clothes got ruined that I didn’t invest in them. I didn’t invest in looking nice because I didn’t believe it was possible. I thought I was hideously unattractive all the time, and only slightly interesting or acceptable when I was in Performing Chimp mode. That I wasn’t worth looking at unless it was as entertainment fodder for others. So best to stay as invisible as possible, until it was time to get into Performing Chimp mode.

It took me years of sobriety to realise that people genuinely respected me now that I left a venue early and went and did something that interested me more instead. That wasn’t why I did it. I didn’t care what they thought of me anymore. I was doing it because making myself happy was a bigger priority.

It took me years to not go for the cheapest drink in the bar, yes, even sober. Because I’d spent my entire drinking life automatically reaching for the cheapest drink that would get me the most drunk in the fastest time. To feel like I truly deserved to look nice. Enjoy myself. Choose something lovely and non-alcoholic to drink. Because it turned out I deserved nice things after all.

I was a drunk Performing Chimp for years. And it never did me any good. No one ever respected me for it. I wasn’t held in high esteem by anyone. I was just a drunk, insecure mess. As unhappy on the inside as I looked on the outside. Lonely. Desperate for the elusive feelings of love and approval that I couldn’t feel even when they were directed at me.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out and enjoy yourself this Christmas Party season. Just make sure that you are genuinely enjoying yourself. That every action you take is because you want to. That every drink is had because it’s something that makes you happy and comfortable.

People-pleasing is unattractive. Almost as unattractive as being sick on the party clothes you probably don’t like and didn’t spend that much money on. Because you feel like your only useful personality traits to colleagues socially are either as wallflower or Performing Chimp.

And if being the Performing Chimp isn’t something you feel you can break free from this party season? Might be worth sticking it on the New Years Resolution List. Because you can do better than being a jester for other people’s entertainment.

And you deserve so much more than that.

Are You The Christmas Party Performing Chimp?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Days upon days off work. People to see. Presents to wrap.

Bars to drink dry.

And that’s okay. Nothing wrong spending your free time any way you see fit. Spending those hours you aren’t working-or on the long commute-doing exactly as you please.

Is it pleasing you though? Who are you actually doing it for?

One of the biggest surprises about sobriety to me was the realisation that the story I’d been telling myself about how important alcohol was to my job was a total lie. People don’t care if you drink or not. Socially or professionally it makes no difference. They care whether you have a personality of not. And if you aren’t going to drink? That you are interesting and interested in them. You have both of those things? People will leave your drinking choices alone.

If people genuinely want to let loose? That’s okay. Everyone is their own grown up and they are allowed to get on with it. The accountant dancing round with his tie on his head having a laugh in the early hours, still able to control himself isn’t the problem. He genuinely wants to be there.

The sad thing to me is those who don’t want to, but feel they have to. That they are there to perform for other people. Be the life and soul of the party. Make a fool of themselves purely for the entertainment of others.

Those who can’t say no. Who truly would like to leave the party before it all goes pear-shaped. But end up staying til 3am, black-out drunk and unable to recall the previous 5 hours. What they said or did. How they got home.

If you are going to black-out at 10pm, why not just go home? What’s the difference between leaving a party early, and drinking to oblivion early? Either way you are intentionally checking out and not being there anymore. The only difference really is feeling the pressure of expectation. Of being other people’s chimp. Performing for drinks and approval.

And conversely? That’s not going to impress anyone. Because not knowing who we really are, or having the self-esteem to choose actions that make ourselves genuinely happy, will never garner respect from anyone. Boss or colleague. People may vaguely like or enjoy watching the Performing Chimp in action. But they don’t respect them. And without their respect you are meaningless to them professionally.

It took me years to do things like spend real money on nice outfits for parties. Get my hair done. Buy new shoes. Because I’d spent years buying and wearing outfits I automatically assumed would get torn, or covered in blood from unidentified drinking injuries. It took me years to work out that it wasn’t just because the clothes got ruined that I didn’t invest in them. I didn’t invest in looking nice because I didn’t believe it was possible. I thought I was hideously unattractive all the time, and only slightly interesting or acceptable when I was in Performing Chimp mode. That I wasn’t worth looking at unless it was as entertainment fodder for others. So best to stay as invisible as possible, until it was time to get into Performing Chimp mode.

It took me years of sobriety to realise that people genuinely respected me now that I left a venue early and went and did something that interested me more instead. That wasn’t why I did it. I didn’t care what they thought of me anymore. I was doing it because making myself happy was a bigger priority.

It took me years to not go for the cheapest drink in the bar, yes, even sober. Because I’d spent my entire drinking life automatically reaching for the cheapest drink that would get me the most drunk in the fastest time. To feel like I truly deserved to look nice. Enjoy myself. Choose something lovely and non-alcoholic to drink. Because it turned out I deserved nice things after all.

I was a drunk Performing Chimp for years. And it never did me any good. No one ever respected me for it. I wasn’t held in high esteem by anyone. I was just a drunk, insecure mess. As unhappy on the inside as I looked on the outside. Lonely. Desperate for the elusive feelings of love and approval that I couldn’t feel even when they were directed at me.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t go out and enjoy yourself this Christmas Party season. Just make sure that you are genuinely enjoying yourself. That every action you take is because you want to. That every drink is had because it’s something that makes you happy and comfortable.

People-pleasing is unattractive. Almost as unattractive as being sick on the party clothes you probably don’t like and didn’t spend that much money on. Because you feel like your only useful personality traits to colleagues socially are either as wallflower or Performing Chimp.

And if being the Performing Chimp isn’t something you feel you can break free from this party season? Might be worth sticking it on the New Years Resolution List. Because you can do better than being a jester for other people’s entertainment.

And you deserve so much more than that.

The Problem With Pretty-Girl Alcoholics

A pretty-girl lives in a different world from most. A world where doors are always opened. Drinks paid for. Gifts given. Everyone is nice to the pretty-girl. All she has to do is show up, be admired and let everyone else do the majority of the elbow-work. A pretty-girl makes a room more pleasant just by decorating it. Smile, look good, try not to say too much and all the good stuff is her’s for the taking. She is always an exception to the rules most are governed by-with just one rule to stick to really:

Nobody likes a pretty-girl drunk.

That’s a deal-breaker right here. A pretty-girl who is a little bit tipsy? Cute. A pretty-girl a little unsteady on her feet? A bit giggly? Charming. But a pretty-girl who is a messy, sloppy, belligerent drunk receives twice the vitriol reserved for even the most unsavoury of drunken characters. It offends us, seeing this pretty girl displaying her internal ugliness for all to see. It’s like taking a shop window display and covering it in garbage. Nobody wants to see that. Keep your window displays clean and bright. Keep your pretty-girl alcoholics in the dark where no one can see them. To see a girl who looks like a princess behave like a tramp feels wrong. Jarring. Confusing. Incredibly uncomfortable.

God forbid we should feel uncomfortable. Nobody wants that.

Actually the real danger for a pretty-girl alcoholic is when she tries to get sober. If we all look away in disgust when she is on a bender? We don’t see her for what she is. So when she does try to get help she is often dismissed. Nobody likes to take a pretty-girl too seriously, spoils the fun of them a bit. So as much help as a pretty-girl gets in the world of door-opening and drink-buying, she will struggle to get someone to see her as an ugly alcoholic unless she is displaying that ugliness right in that very moment.

It’s all just a big fuss over nothing really.

And if she does get help? Seeks treatment and decides to stay sober? Then she is a damaged pretty-girl. A girl in recovery. And there is something slightly irresistible about a damaged pretty-girl. She won’t have to pick up the pieces of her life alone if she doesn’t want to, (and seriously-who wants to?) there will be a queue of men who love damaged pretty-girls. Who want to be the medicine for her pain. And it’s pretty impossible to achieve long-term sobriety whilst leaning on someone else for emotional support. It has to be an inside job. It takes real effort for a pretty-girl to turn a knight in shining armour away. To say “not yet, come back when I’m fixed please”. Particularly as it will be the first time she’s ever had to be alone in her life.

Nobody like a single pretty-girl. Seems a waste really.

A pretty-girl alcoholic has to take her drinking problem very seriously. Because honestly no one else will. As much as they are an affront to public decency, they are still a problem we would all very much like to wish away-without having to do anything about it personally. Which is a shame because we are killing our pretty-girl alcoholics with our double standards and our need for beauty to remain beautiful.

She’s really pretty, until she opens her mouth.

If you are a pretty-girl alcoholic, today would be a very good day to confess your ugly secret. Bravery is beautiful. So is honesty. And you won’t be alone if you can find both of these things inside yourself and get help.

Recovery is Beautiful, I promise.