“The past is gone forever”
Dr Jean Kirkpatrick (founder of Women For Sobriety) believed this so strongly, that she made it one of the 13 commandments of W.F.S.
Clever lass, was Dr. Jean.
The past is gone forever. But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.
Which makes it hard and scary to talk about.
I used to turn to drink for everything.
It was my default setting.
The solution to every problem I had created in my life.
In the scheme of things, I hadn’t been a non-drinker for very long, when I became housebound and disabled.
This happened to me very quickly, and then took years to recover from it.
I still don’t know how to put this time into words, not properly.
Those are probably the things I felt most often.
Some days, for a few minutes at a time, I thought I would get my life back.
But for the first few years, I didn’t believe there was any hope for me at all.
Time slowed down so much. Minutes felt like hours. Literally hours.
The sheer relief when it got to 7pm was one of nicest emotions I felt, for years, because it meant that day was almost over and done with.
I would hear the theme tune from Emmerdale floating up the stairs from my parents lining room (my full time carers, back then) and know that soon I could cross this wasted day I was experiencing, off the calendar.
Metaphorically speaking, obviously, because my arms didn’t work, so I wouldn’t be performing any actual feats of manual dexterity.
Weirdly, I half loathe hearing it these days, and half still find it comforting.
Those years just felt dark. Like I was living at the bottom of an empty well, and everyone else was wandering around above me, just getting on with their lives.
And I knew no one was ever going to come and rescue me. Because l had been told on countless occasions that no one had the right equipment.
Things were as hopeless as I have ever experienced.
There was nothing to do about it.
But I didn’t drink.
The thought never occurred to me, at any point, that drinking would or even could, make this situation better.
Which is madness, given that I had medicated everything with alcohol.
You name, I drank at it.
There was never a moment of willpower, because it was crystal clear to me that alcohol had absolutely no place in my life.
Even though, let’s face it, I didn’t even have a life, to speak of, during these years.
I say these things to you, just in case you are doing what I did, for years, before I saw the truth:
Alcohol doesn’t have to be the default answer. We don’t have to think of it as a marital bedfellow to the bed things life throws at us.
We don’t have to see it as a reward, or a comfort.
It takes a really short amount of time to change our neurological responses to this belief, and once it’s done, it’s permanent.
I am pleased it never occurred to me to see alcohol as the answer, back in those dark, scary days.
But I’m even more pleased that some of you will read this, and decide you don’t have to ever wait to be housebound and disabled to test this theory out.
You could do it today.
And still get to live your life fully, in ways that I didn’t, for years.
That would make own my dark experience, worth it in the end.