I have had one sober day in the last month. My hands shake from morning to evening until I have my first drink. I cannot relax without alcohol in my system and I have mood swings around 6pm every day when it is almost time to have a drink. My life has not become out of control (again) yet, but it is heading that way. I have become completely reliant on daily alcohol to live my life. I endanger myself every day when I drink and then take my medication but that danger no longer serves as a deterrent.
I was in Alcoholics Anonymous for five years and sober for four years and three months before I started drinking again this time around. I drank in relative moderation to begin with. I was obsessing about alcohol but it did not seem to be ruling my life as it had done in the past. For some months I managed to control my drinking to an acceptable, normal level. I had stopped attending meetings a while before I ‘relapsed’ and came to the conclusion that I had never really been an alcoholic, I just had substance abuse issues due to my psychological problems.
Slowly, my drinking habits began to escalate again. I was still not drinking every day- and at that stage I didn’t feel the need to- but I started to drink at a higher volume.
I realise now that being around my boyfriend and worrying about what he might think was helping me to control my habit. It was only when I went to Israel with my dad last September that I noticed it was starting to become a problem again. We were there for ten days and I drank a bottle of wine (or more) every day that we were there. I used the excuse that I was ‘on holiday’ but really, in hindsight, I was away from my boyfriend and I just wanted to drink as much as possible without worrying about the effect it would have on him. Despite my efforts to conceal these thoughts, Gabriel intuitively knew that I was drinking to excess and we had a fight about it.
Over the following months I tried my best to reduce my drinking in Greece, living with Gabriel. I do not recall now how well that went but I do remember what happened when Christmas and New Year arrived and I visited England.
Christmas at my parents’ was a drinking fest for me and me alone. I would have my first glass of wine at 1pm and continue drinking until I went to bed. And then there was New Year’s Eve. My mum and I went to her friend’s house for a girl’s night in. We had a lot of fun there but I could not put down my drink all night and eventually I got very drunk. Around 1am, my mum went home and the rest of us moved onto a house party down the road. I can remember dancing and having fun with the girls and then it all goes blank. I must have had three bottles of wine by this point. A friend told me I went to the toilet and did not come back. All I remember of the rest of the night is somewhere, at some point, hitting my head very hard, perhaps on the pavement outside and becoming concussed. I vaguely recall a woman walking me home as I could not remember where I lived, despite my house being two minutes around the corner. I remember the voice of this woman (still to this day I don’t know who she was) telling me that she found me in someone’s garden, crying. My mum told me the following day that I came home around 2am and fell over a table which would explain the enormous bruises I found all over my legs in the morning, and boy did I have a splitting headache from the accident.
When I awoke on New Year’s Day I saw my bag open next to the door. I was due to fly back to Greece the next day and my passport was gone, along with my wallet. I walked the streets, retracing my steps, but there was no sign of my belongings. My mum offered to go back to the house where I had been at the party and she eventually found my passport, wallet and cigarettes lying in the garden having been out in the rain all night. I had totally blacked out and I have no idea how they got there. I was very lucky to even get through passport control the next day with what had been a soaking wet passport.
For a while, that night- and that blackout- served as a wakeup call. I stayed sober for two weeks when I got back to Greece as I was so afraid of losing control again.
But time passed and I started drinking once again.
And now here I am, drinking beer, writing about being an alcoholic and wondering how I’m going to fix it this time.
One option is to go back to AA and- one day at a time- quit drinking again. But that isn’t something that I want this time. I seem to be under the illusion that I can somehow gain control over my drinking, stop drinking every day and stop abusing alcohol. But some part of me tells me that this way is quite impossible. I have written about it myself and I have given the same advice to problem drinkers time and time again: If you are an alcoholic then you cannot control your drinking, the only way is out and completely out.
I have to pinch myself now because I cannot believe that I’m back in this position, addicted to alcohol. I missed drinking like mad, daily, but I was so much happier when I was sober for that amount of time. I was so proud of myself and I celebrated every time another year went by.
How did I get back here?