A while ago, I wrote a post entitled ‘Letter to my 14 Year Old Self,’ so I really felt inspired to write this letter to me in twenty years, when I saw it as a Daily Prompt on the Daily Post.
I’m an atheist so I struggled with the concept of a Higher Power when I first gave up drinking. An alternative source of motivation to help me stay away from the booze came from an image I kept in my head of me in the future; a version of me that I would be proud to grow in to, rather than the grumpy, stressed pisshead who I had turned in to, in the last few years that I spent drinking. I knew that I had to become that woman in my head, otherwise I would be letting myself down big time, and I couldn’t stand living with that sense of failure. Below is a letter written to that imagined future me – the one who helped me get booze out of my life once and for all.
Twenty two years ago you stopped drinking alcohol. Do you remember that chapter in your life, the drinking days? Does it stand out in your history as a definitive period, or has it now been consigned to the ‘insignificant pile’ of your memory?
Funny how, when you were in the middle of it all, you couldn’t imagine another way, an alternative way of living. For years you thought you would always be a boozer, forever wasting your weekends in a haze of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, constantly picking up the pieces after foolish nights out where you made an idiot of yourself, again and again.
So, was ditching alcohol the right thing to do? Do you regard the making of that decision as a defining moment in your life? I suspect you do. If you hadn’t made that choice, you more than likely wouldn’t even be around to read this letter twenty years from now – and if you were, your liver would be shot to bits and you’d look like shit. I bet if you had continued to drink, you wouldn’t be in a relationship either, certainly not with your beloved soul mate, the one you became engaged to in a tent in Cornwall, June 2011. And if you hadn’t embarked on the path of sobriety, you wouldn’t have the wonderful joy of close relationships with your two girls, both of whom will be adults now and maybe with children of their own, making you a grandma.
Do you have that kind of relationship with them? Did you turn out to be the kind of mum that you always wanted to be?
When you stopped drinking it seemed like the only choice to make. Do you remember that moment of clarity when you woke up the morning after your last drunken episode, so full of self hatred and remorse and fear, so fed up with failing to live up to your potential, and hell bent on climbing off that ride? Does it still haunt you – that feeling of being alone, terrified, sliding down in to oblivion and without any certainty that you might discover a slip road, a route off the madness?
My guess is that life became a whole lot better, fuller and happier in the times that followed 2011, the year you had your last drink. I imagine there will be a few regrets, but they won’t be the sort that turn in your stomach like a rusty knife, gouging away at your inner soul and inflicting self hatred over and over, like a relentless torturer. God, those mornings when you used to lie in bed, crying and cursing yourself, wishing for anything that you could turn back the clock and wipe away the events of the previous night. Do you still think of those times? I hope that if you do, you think of them thankfully – that you regard them as the foundations of a new you, a better you, the right you. Because if those times hadn’t have happened, you never would have stopped drinking – it had to get that bad for you to put an end to it, once and for all.
In your mid thirties, things were just coming together. You found optimism around that time, something that had been lacking previously. The future suddenly began to look attainable, bright and full of possibilities. I hope you managed to fulfil all the dreams that you formulated in that period, when you first gave up alcohol.
Can you recall how much more energy and passion you discovered post booze, for everything, or has that just become a happy norm rendering you unable to remember ever being any different? It’s funny to think that in twenty years from now, those couple of decades you pissed up the wall boozing will be a distant memory to you. It probably won’t even seem like you anymore; the you that is together and fit and healthy, mostly happy and steady, dependable and predictable, I bet she won’t recognise the old version – depressed, wallowing in negativity, drowning in wine and shame, and unable to find her place in the world. It’s odd to imagine that the boozy you was something of a blip, you but with errors, a Lucy possessed by demons – demons that I hope you saw the back of.
Did you finally put all your ghosts to bed? Did you forgive yourself all those misdemeanours, the messed up relationships and bad moods, the wrong turns you made here and there, as you tried to navigate your way out of the labyrinth that alcohol abuse led you in to?
My wish now, in November 2012, is that in twenty years you will look back over your life and see that boozed up woman, the younger you in her teens through to mid-thirties, drinking, smoking, in denial, frightened, ashamed, loud-mouthed, terrified, nervous, anxiety-ridden, panic-stricken, alcohol addict, and you will dismiss that chapter as a bit of a cock up, a bump in an otherwise smooth road. My wish for you is that life without alcohol became the absolute norm.
At the time of writing, in November 2012, I think I am already profoundly different to who I was just two years ago, so who knows what the next twenty years will bring? I am no longer frightened to catch up with you, future Lucy. I trust you and when we eventually meet, I know you won’t have let me down.
Nb. here’s the link to the previous letter I wrote, to the 14 year old me – https://soberistas.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/letter-to-me-aged-14/