Flicking the Switch

What does it take to flick the switch of alcohol dependency, to really grasp the idea of sobriety by beginning to live a life in which reliance on a mind-altering substance is no longer an integral part?

For twenty years I did not want to stop drinking. For approximately fifteen years of those two decades I was utterly in denial with regards to whether I had ‘a drink problem’ or not, and happily quaffed bottle upon bottle of white wine, red wine, beer and spirits (when everything else in the house ran dry), the notion that I was nurturing my addiction each time I popped a cork light years from my mind.

Goodbye wine, hello happiness!

 

Drinking was never about such a dirty word as ‘addiction’ – it was sociable, convivial, glamorous, relaxing, a treat, an emotional painkiller, my friend, a closely-guarded secret and a reward for every individual event and activity that I decided warranted further consumption of it.

In the years leading up to my last dance with that old friend and adversary, Pinot Grigio, I toyed with the idea that maybe things were not all well as far as my relationship with alcohol was concerned. In the middle of the night lying in bed unable to sleep, a morbid fear took hold that inside my body were cancerous tumours, silently budding. Tick tock, tick tock, my time on Earth was slowly running out.

Over time, wine ceased to be my friend – gone were the evenings filled with carefree laughter and tipsiness; silly and relaxed gradually came to be replaced by crazy and comatose. The good times stopped rolling, and when mornings perpetually consist of panicked attempts to piece together the night before coupled with apologising with fake breeziness to those who you have pissed off/hurt/embarrassed yet again whilst inside you are wincing with the shame of it all, you know that something has got to give.

The switch got flicked. Alcohol was no longer an option – the fanciful nature of it, bottles glistening with beads of condensation in the fridge door, popping corks, big old red wine glasses in which the blood-coloured liquid is swilled round and round releasing its perfume to the nostrils, the reassuring snap of the beer bottle top being cracked off with the stylish opener, the empties lined up by the back door, the sign of a good night; it all came to an abrupt halt. I knew, finally, that I would never touch the stuff again.

As anyone who has known me for longer than the two years in which I have been alcohol free would confirm, this shift is nothing short of miraculous. I just didn’t want to stop drinking prior to April 2011 – I had my moments of doubt, of wishing things would be different, that I could make something of myself, get on track, push things forward so that my life became full of movement rather than the static black hole I had fallen into, treading water, sinking in quicksand. But I had no real comprehension that the secret to initiating these longed-for changes in my world was to be found in eliminating alcohol. For many years I maintained the position of the switch.

And then, bam! Enough is enough, can’t take any more, cannot stand one more awful morning feeling like this, absolutely finished with the awful existence of an addict, done with it, goodbye booze.

And that was it; I just knew I would never drink alcohol again.

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18 thoughts on “Flicking the Switch

  1. Thanks again for sharing a post like this- as usual I feel inspired (if still unready). It’s so important to read something like this, sometimes, to show it can be done at least. A question: are you *completely* alcohol free? This is out of pure interest.

    • Hi and yes I am completely alcohol-free. I was never able to moderate and am an all or nothing person. It took me 20 years to get my head around that, mind you, but finally I feel very happy to be rid of alcohol. Wishing you well with your own journey and thanks for commenting. Lucy

  2. It’s all so familiar – I think I always say that when I read your blogs:)

    I gave up initially for one month because I wanted to get my boyfriend off my back about my drinking. Towards the end of this month I adjusted it to three months because I was amazed at how much better I felt and the money I was saving. Then during my final month I realised that I would never drink again and that I had been set free from a horrible nightmare.

    I think it had to be that way with me as to have started sobriety believing that I would NEVER drink again seemed too unachievable a goal – when I took the pressure off myself it just sort of happened.

    • Hi yes that was how it was for me too, the pressure thing. As soon as I stopped fretting about it, I just got on with it and it became so much easier. I wish I could flick that switch in everyone’s head who is struggling but I guess it just has to happen when someone is at the right time/place in their life. Things really do feel quite wonderful when you emerge from that struggle though – like escaping from a prison. Thanks for your comment x

  3. I read a book that really helped me in other areas of my life and this post reminded me of it (the book was Your Destiny Switch by Peggy McColl). Switching off that booze call is the latest change in my life and while I read about how you are done for good, I still have the debate going on in my head about whether or not I have to do this for good – beyond the 100 day challenge I embarked on. As of today I’m on grounds that I have not been on in over 12 years – 31 days sober and 69 more days to go before I really have to put that question to the forefront, but it’s certainly on my mind. How does one decide if it has to be for good or if this kind of break is what’s needed to get perspective on TRUE responsible or social drinking. I know that some of my experiences of irresponsible drinking brought about all the feelings you speak about – but I also have memories of responsible drinking days and if I could manage those again, then I would be ok to NOT give it up for good (or would I be?! lol)… the battle goes on for me – the switch is on and off – but thankfully for now it’s a mute point for another 69 days. Thanks for the inspirational blog!

    • WHat a great post, this is so me too! Except i didnt just stop, it took me several years to stop totally. I would quit for short periods of time convinced that when i return to drinking it would be back like those days of glitz and glory! Well, it never was, and the cycle finally had to end! so grateful to be sober today!

      • Hi and thank you for your comment. It took me many attempts at getting on top of alcohol before the switch was flicked for good (probably about 5) and I could never have stopped before it did. I was just controlling my urges rather than enjoying being out of the alcohol trap. There is a big difference! I am very glad for you that your cycle of booze has ended, enjoy the freedom!! x

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. In answer to your question of whether it is necessary to give up alcohol completely or not, I think for some people taking a decent break can introduce the ability to be more mindful of their alcohol consumption, and to be more watchful of the trigger points. Unfortunately all moderation does for me is increase the anxiety and obsessing about drinking until I can’t take it anymore and I just cave in and get horribly drunk! In the end I think you know if your relationship with booze is unhealthy and when the time is right you will stop for good – if that’s how you feel. But only you will ever know that.
      Good luck on your journey, I hope you work it out! Lucy x

  4. loved you blog post congratulations on being sober!I have had brief periods of abstinence then lapse into a couple of days of too much then sober again…I don’t seem to be able to go the moderation route. But am going to try to be moderate on my vacation in a couple of weeks. It is a 2 week vacation…long enough of a trial. then I will start belle’s 100 day challenge when I return.
    going on my 15th day AF…this time around.
    bizi

    • Thank you, no, moderation never worked for me either. Good luck on your vacation – I hope you have a good time, and feel ready for the challenge when you get back. If you are anything like me, letting go of alcohol will give you a sense of freedom and relief like you never imagined!! All the best, Lucy x

  5. What a fabulous post! I too flicked the switch in April 2011; unfortunately, I needed to toggle it for about 8 months before I flicked it into what I pray is the permanent position of recovery in January 2012. I love how your wrote about the downward spiral of our relationship with alcohol, so poignant, and so spot-on! Can’t wait to read more…

      • Thanks for reading and leaving this comment. I hope that you continue to find inspiration from my blog and please believe me that life has never been so good for me as it has since I stopped drinking. It really has changed everything for me, for the better. Wishing you happiness and a big boost of hope! Lucy x

    • Hi thanks so much for your lovely comment. I’m really pleased for you that you finally managed to get on top of things in January last year, long may it last – I have never been happier and I just wish everyone with an alcohol dependency knew how great life can be when you truly flick the switch for good. All the best, Lucy x

  6. This is a post that so many of us can relate to. That feeling of “am I really that bad?”; “do I really have to give it up for good?” finally start to segue into “I feel so much better not drinking” and “This is the way my life is really meant to be.” I have done a lot of toggling…I’m not going to say that this is is it…but there does seem to be a major change in my mindset and I have taken many steps to really ramp up my toolbox. Glad to be on this journey with you 🙂

    • Oh yes, the internal dialogue of whether ‘I really am that bad..’ or ‘Actually, am I that bad?’ I remember it well – and it was awful. I can’t believe I wasted so much thinking time on my alcohol dependency, and I am grateful every day for discovering the truth – that life is brilliant when you are free from dependency on booze. You sound very positive and I hope you continue on the same road – and it’s great to know that you are out there reading my blog and getting where I am coming from. Thank you 🙂

  7. Great post! Yep, I remember that “switch” all too well. After my second relapse I realized that alcohol was no longer part of my life. I finally surrendered to my recovery and since then it’s been much easier.

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