Sascha knew her drinking was out of control. Having seen others hit it, stopping before rock bottom was her goal. The question was – how to achieve it?
I’m Free Again
I am 9 months alcohol free. 9 months! What I previously thought I could never do (unless pregnant which doesn’t count) I am 9 months down the road already.
I started off doing the OYNB 28-day challenge. Deciding to carry on my AF journey after I finished it, I found that I was missing some back up. That led me to This Naked Mind. Your book helped enormously, in the same way Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking helped me to rewire my brain. The book and all your podcasts really rang true for me and listening to others’ stories really helped.
Interested in stopping before rock bottom? You can start reading the first 40 pages of This Naked Mind for free today!
Stopping Before Rock Bottom
I never wanted to go the AA route. It wasn’t for me and I knew it. When I turned 44 ,I suddenly realized that I had reached a shocking 30 years of drinking. This perhaps, would not have had much effect on me if it wasn’t for the fact that recently I had started to be scared for myself. I was aware of how much time I was spending thinking about alcohol. Feeling addiction not so much creeping up on me, but hurtling towards me and gathering pace. I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that someday soon it was going to be too late.
Been There Done That
I knew what it looked like when it hit. I knew what rock bottom looked like, having scraped one of my best friends off the floor of his own rock bottom. He ended up staying with me during his first 3 months of AA. He is 13 years sober now and I couldn’t be happier for him. My best friend is my living proof that it can never be too late to try to break a habit and live your best life, but sometimes it takes a long, long time to decide to do it!
I drank alcohol every day. Every day. Without fail. The fog was permanent, but I accepted it as part of my life and who I was. I accepted myself this way for such a long time. Red wine. Every day. I felt like rubbish most of the time, but this was me. Here is how it started.
My drinking career started very early, at age 14. I am from the UK and for the British, it is just the norm. – 14 isn’t seen as that young. Growing up in a small village in the country, drinking was just what we all did. We’d spend Friday and Saturday nights in the pub despite being underage. I think the police and our parents figured at least they knew where we all were and turned a blind eye to the fact we were 4 years under the legal age for drinking. My first experience getting drunk involved Southern Comfort and a 6-hour vomit marathon. There should have been a clue in that first experience, but I didn’t pick up on it – or didn’t want to.
Free To Binge
At 18 I went off to university in Liverpool. There I discovered freedom, independence and binge drinking. We had fun – or at least we thought we did. Some of it is a blur to be honest. Pubs opened at 11:00 in England. Opportunity to drink is absolutely everywhere. I became well known for getting drunk, falling out of taxis, ending up in hospitals after doing beer bongs – the life and soul of the party. We all laughed about it at the time, but inside I was mortified.
Fast forward to moving to Barcelona in the late nineties. I was 22 and I had the time of my life. Alcohol and party drugs – lots of them. They are years which I will never regret. The memories are there, the times were wild, but my friendships from that time have been everlasting. My friends used to call me Sue Ellen as in JR´s wife from Dallas. There should have been a clue there too! Do I want to relive those times? No. It’s hard to believe that stopping before rock bottom didn’t occur to me then.
Fast forward to moving to London where nightly red wine drinking took hold of me. Stress and being single when my biological clock was ticking so loudly it was deafening me, all contributed to my ever increasing alcohol consumption. I was approaching my mid thirties and in the back of my mind I knew I was developing a problem. But I couldn’t imagine my life without alcohol.
Fast forward to moving back to Barcelona, even older, just as single but with the job of my dreams, albeit a highly stressful one. My drinking continued, but I remember hiding it from my colleagues. Spanish women don’t generally drink very much alcohol, which made my consumption even more shameful I thought.
I would check out of hotels before all my colleagues and pay my own “extras” bill so that my boss wouldn’t see the wine I had drunk from the minibar. All the ways I convinced myself I was stopping before rock bottom.
Love and Marriage
I married my gorgeous husband and IVF worked the first time and gave us our beautiful daughter. Now I have the perfect excuse to carry on drinking. I’m a working mum. It is what we do to preserve our sanity whilst struggling to be the perfect mum, wife and worker, isn’t it? It is hard. Women cannot have it all unless they can afford 4 nannies to essentially raise your children. I put myself under a lot of pressure, wanting to raise my daughter as my mum raised me but not being able to. I work. My mum didn’t.
The Rock Bottom Saviour
Red wine was my daily saviour, except in reality it didn’t save me from anything. Mommy juice culture hasn’t arrived in Spain and I found myself bored senseless and agitated at play dates as there was never any alcohol. I started to worry, as my daughter got bigger and started talking, that one day she would let my secret out. My mummy drinks wine every night. The shame. I didn’t want her to think of me like that.
In the last 9 months, life hasn’t always been easy. All the same problems are still there, but I feel present. The fog has lifted and I finally have more energy to truly spend time with my gorgeous girl. The agitation and anxiety about whether there is going to be alcohol or not at a play date has disappeared. I am free. My daughter is happier, my husband who still drinks moderately is amazed and proud of me. I am proud of me. Stopping before rock bottom was the right choice for me.
This Is Me
My daughter is 5 and will probably never remember me drinking, which is comforting. We have a favourite song that we sing together all the time, This is Me from the The Greatest Showman. My favourite line brings a tear to my eye every time: ‘This is me. I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.’
Share Your Story
Thanks Annie for helping me on the journey. Here is to living our best lives.
Was stopping before rock bottom critical to you as well? Please share your story and help others!