Thirty-something

It was my birthday a couple of days ago; thirty-nine, the final one of my thirties. The decade began with a party at my old house; a little terraced two up, two down, that I bought upon the end of my short-lived marriage. My thirtieth birthday bash was a fancy dress do, the theme being ‘1970s debauchery’. At the start of the evening there was a power cut and my then six-year-old daughter shone a torch on my face in a blackened bedroom as I applied my make-up and set in place a sleek, bright pink wig. An hour later, fairy lights twinkled in celebration of the electricity supply returning, the music grew louder and the booze began to flow. By midnight I was lying in my bed, a bucket strategically positioned adjacent to my head to capture a seemingly never-ending stream of vomit as my guests continued to party hard downstairs without me.

Birthdays that followed have disappeared amongst the broken memory bank of my drinking days. When I look back on the first half of my thirties, I see a fractured person struggling to keep afloat in a world she didn’t understand, seeking comfort in things that could only ever bring about further damage. I see a woman who had no sense of direction beyond the shortest route to the local pub. I see someone who dragged around a heavy burden of secrecy and shame, who thought she was the only one to fall in between the two polar opposites of ‘responsible drinker’ and ‘alcoholic’.

I see a person emotionally frozen in her teens, whose self-awareness was non-existent, and who could not enter into a social situation without an unbending desire to drink and get drunk entering into her consciousness.

Of all the hopes and dreams I played around with in my early thirties, the one thing I never considered was that I might become a non-drinker. My goals were set far beyond what I was ever going to realistically achieve; I spent too much time existing in a fantasy world with my head buried deep in the sand, wildly in denial about the fact that I was, in fact, addicted to alcohol. The decade that began with an extravagant excuse for a monumental piss up, slipped and slurred its way along in a fog of drunkenness and hangovers, and all the while I was enveloped in a very real belief that I was enjoying myself.

Underneath the façade, however, I knew that all was not well. There were countless moments of blackness, when I was drowning in suicidal thoughts and feelings of wanting to depart from the person I had grown into. I hated residing in my own skin, couldn’t bear the knowledge that I really and truly wanted to be someone else.

Midway through my thirties was the pivotal point in my life when I accepted that I could not, and most likely would never be able to, moderate my alcohol consumption. Realisation of this fact has altered the course of my life forever, turning me into a completely different person to the one I was.

It’s meant that I can have a beautiful relationship with both of my daughters, and has allowed me to explore who I am and where I want to end up in life. Recognising how damaging my dependency upon alcohol was has meant that I have finally worked through issues that had been bottled up for years, bringing emotions to the surface that had never previously been felt.

Understanding and fully taking on board that I cannot drink alcohol and be safe has, ultimately, saved my life.

My thirty-ninth birthday then was a very different affair to my thirtieth. With none of the wild raucous partying of my younger years (not that this is no longer an option because I don’t drink, but it simply wasn’t what I wanted this time around), I found happiness and quiet celebration in the notion that I am now in control of my world. I am a regular person nowadays, with normal emotions and the ability to perceive life accurately and respond to events appropriately. The people in my life are there of my choosing, and I hope they all know how deeply I love them and how indebted I am to them for standing by me during my booze-filled days. They must have seen a glimmer of what lay beneath the mess and destruction left in the wake of all the wine I was drinking, and hung around in the hope that I might one day see it too.

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So now I am at the very start of the final year of my thirties, a time I will never be able to revisit. I intend to fill it full of very happy memories, ones that I can hang on to and smile when I recall them. And always to remember how, despite the first half of the decade representing nothing more than wasted money and an over-worked liver, the second, alcohol-free half has brought me nothing but happiness.

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77 thoughts on “Thirty-something

  1. Happy Birthday 🙂 This was lovely to read. I will turn 39 in a couple months, and while I don’t share the same temptations as you, I certainly understand the longing to make 39 & beyond a healthier existence than the years that have passed. Best wishes to you 🙂

  2. wwalford says:

    Congrats on the change of attitude and the determination to make it a positive year with amazing memories. Good luck and enjoy being a “regular person”!

  3. Reblogged this on ricarocks909's aquatic Blog and commented:
    I see how everyone else is struggling through this hell called life. I feel the commraderie and rejoice to not be alone. Then, I am stabbed backwards to my previous solitary torments. Each second passing is lost, and we can’t stop the final storm. And, we are all going to die soon. Everyone goes alone.

  4. katiemac says:

    It never fails to amaze me how, before we get sober, we never think about wishing for a life free from alcohol–no matter how much the drug has caused our lives to deteriorate. So glad you got out and happy f’ing birthday!

  5. Courageous of you to share and admirable how you dealt with the past. Know that, even though to you the first part of the decade may seem like it offered “nothing more than wasted money and an over-worked liver,” your article alone may inspire, encourage and help people who can relate 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on clearmom and commented:
    Check out this amazing, insightful post from Soberistas. I relate to her experience so much. I too love wine, and I too am deciding to leave it behid in my mid-thirties. Thanks for the great post Soberistas! I wish I’d read it a long time ago!

  7. amygdala2 says:

    I am 39 now, about to be 40 soon. I am 66 days sober and ready to enjoy my second half of life to the fullest! This post was amazing, as I could relate on every level. Thank you and Happy Birthday! 🙂

  8. petiteandprettyco says:

    Wow such a great read… I’m 29, going to be 30 in less than 2 months. It’s def a change, but loving it though. Call me an old soul, but I can’t do shots all night either now, I can’t imagine 10 years later how i’m going to be! But I don’t think I can give up decorating!

  9. Wow…congratulations on putting my life into words. By which I really mean, thank you for putting my last 5 years into actual words. Thank you for saying it will all be alright & I have made the right choices and stepped onto the right path. At 36, I was scared to stop and think about all the things you talked about. Sorry if I sound cliche or silly…perhaps I should have thought more. But I really, really wanted to say thank you.

    • Hi, thanks so much for your comment and congratulations on making a very good decision! I’m sure it will be the best one you make – and it doesn’t sound silly at all. We live in a society that makes not drinking a very difficult choice to make. But there are lots of people making the choice who know what a fantastic one it is! Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend, Lucy x

  10. This is an amazing piece. Thank you for sharing this with the world. I think so many of us go through things and times when we feel as if no one can relate. I see that is the farthest from the truth.

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