Was That Me..?

Today’s post is a guest blog by Stacey Brunt, a Writer, Actor and Teacher based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Her written works include plays, poetry and fiction. She has also recently begun attending “Open Book” writers group at Brampton Manor, Chesterfield.

holding-hands6

 

Was that me?

Vessel in hand

Mascara striped face

Empties littered the floor

 

Was that me?

Crying for help

Screaming out loud

Needing; more and more

 

Was that me?

Lying through teeth

Stumble on road

Longing it to hit

 

Was that me?

Sweat stained sheets

Vomit marked mat

Wallowing, deep in pit

 

Was that me?

Alone and afraid

Crawling in skin

Wanting and needing an end

 

Was that me?

Crisp hospital bed

Wired, head spinning

Or was it make-pretend?

 

Was that me?

Was

That

Me?

 

Now,

THIS is me…

Head held high

Clear glass eyes

Not really how it was planned

 

But,

Step out in sun

Inhale, now exhale

Holding onto your hand…

 

For My Mam, Fran.

 

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Martini, Soberistas and Me, by Claire Blank

I remember well the first time I got drunk. Martini ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere’ was my poison (well it was the Eighties!) and when I arrived at a friend’s party one night, bottle in hand, I imagined that I would soon be glamorous and sophisticated. It didn’t quite pan out like that. Swigging straight from the bottle in the Portakabin toilets of our local scout hut was a long way from the TV commercial featuring a glamorous woman in a white bikini running along a tropical beach to embrace her lover. But I was thirteen years old, I didn’t have a tropical beach to go to, or a handsome boyfriend to embrace, so this would have to do.

I remember even now how vile that peppery liquid tasted, yet somehow at thirteen I just knew that I must persevere, for this was the sure-fire way to adulthood and acceptance. At thirteen I was skinny, shy, a bit of a swot and woefully lacking in self-confidence. I was bullied relentlessly at school, but with that first taste of Martini I suddenly felt powerful, attractive, confident. And that was it – the start of a twenty seven year love affair with alcohol.

Since becoming involved with Soberistas in November 2012, I have learned that my story is not unfamiliar. There are now fourteen thousand members worldwide – thousands of us whose stories are different yet the same; Shy girl / boy with low self esteem meets alcohol and BOOM! For many, me included, alcohol is not seen as particularly problematic until a way down the line. Why would it if it does not appear to be causing you any major health problems (yet), and when half the population appears to be doing just as you are?

For years I attributed my low level anxiety and low mood to physiology, never once thinking to point my finger at alcohol. How many of us are irritable with our kids / partners because we have a low level hangover? How many of us are unproductive and simply muddling through life because of low mood? When the goalposts of ‘normal’ alcohol use shift, as seems to have happened in our society, it is perhaps more difficult for an individual to see that something is wrong. In just a generation the levels of alcohol use that constitute ‘normal’ drinking have gone through the roof.

For many, the alarm bells only begin to ring when we are already well down the road of an alcohol use disorder. But maybe, just maybe, if we lose some of the stigma surrounding alcohol and its misuse, people may begin to question their habits earlier on, before they begin to slide down the slope of full blown addiction. Maybe our society is waking up to the fact that our alcohol consumption is excessive and unhealthy.

Wine glass. Broken.

My own drinking patterns were called into question when my sister Lucy Rocca (rather fortuitously!) set up Soberistas.com and in the year since its’ inception, I have realised several things;

  • It does not matter what you label it – alcoholism, alcohol dependence, alcohol misuse, binge-drinking or whatever. It does not matter if someone you know drinks way more than you. If it’s causing you problems it’s causing you problems. And you will know when it is.
  • Just because everyone else seems to be getting hammered all the time does not make it OK if you are unhappy with it. Sod everyone else and get on with sorting yourself out.
  • You are not the only person who feels as if you’re on the slippery slope – there are thousands of lovely people out there just like you. (And you can now chat to lots of them anonymously on Soberistas.com)
  • If you feel like you are already on the slippery slope you are highly unlikely to get off it without action. It sounds obvious but without effort on your part you cannot expect things to change. If you suspect that you have unhealthy issues with alcohol and do nothing about it, you are taking one hell of a gamble.

I strongly feel that by talking about alcohol issues and trying to remove some of the stigma surrounding alcohol misuse, people who are just beginning to question their relationship with booze may feel confident that they can take action. People who, up until recently, hardly believed they had a problem.

At Soberistas, nobody is preaching – we just want you to be happy.

Summer Running

I did not feel like running much earlier on today – 28 degree heat, a long day working and a desire to throw myself in front of the TV with a plate of biscuits were just some of the obstacles that stood between me and my fitness, but I forged on and did it anyway.

I remembered this quote from Muhammad Ali, “I hated every minute of training but I said ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now & live the rest of your life as a champion’” which is somewhat reassuring I find; if he hated training and yet achieved what he did, then there exists living proof that mind over matter works. I might not be aiming for world class athleticism but I am still striving to be the best me that I can be.

There is a big and gorgeous park at the bottom of the road on which I live and when the weather is good, hundreds of people decamp onto its vast expanse of grass, set up disposable barbecues, crack open a few beers and act as if they are on holiday. It has a nice vibe and the drinking never spills out of control – at least not whilst people are in the park, perhaps later on when they make their way into town somewhat the worse for wear (as I used to do, once upon a time).

105229_sunset

I was listening to a varied selection on my iPod from The Beatles, to MGMT, to Morrissey, to the Happy Mondays (as you can tell, my music tastes are bang up to date) and dragging the dog along beside me, her tongue scraping the floor as she desperately attempted to enjoy this run, something she’d been looking forward to all day but was now finding a little uncomfortable and way too hot.

I ran into the the park, just as ‘Kids’ by MGMT came on my iPod and the sun was burning down on all these people enjoying life and being with each other, and the dog was doing her very best to keep up with me as she panted away like a steam train, and my speed picked up and I was truly in the moment, arms working hard, total rhythm going on…and I filled up with tears that sprang out of nowhere. They stemmed from happiness, and from the amazing world that we live in, and from how grateful I am that I finally, somehow, worked it out that you don’t get this feeling, ever, when you drink alcohol.

It was joyous, and I felt totally alive.