A lot can happen in two years, and it feels like everything in my life has changed for the better since I quit drinking (for the countless time) two years ago. On 29th June, I celebrated two years of continuous sobriety. And I am so overwhelmed as I type that, I don’t even know where to begin. So I want to talk about the way a person can make such an impact on your life, you know that you are forever changed. This is why I will always try to pay it forwards.
I first admitted to someone (other than my drunken rejection in a mirror, that is) that I was an alcoholic, in May 2014. Just after Peaches Geldof was found dead, of a suspected but unconfirmed overdose. By chance, I chatted to a stranger on Twitter, who supported my unpopular viewpoint that someone cannot just escape the cruel crutch of addiction because they happen to have become a mother. My son was four months old, so I related to it on a personal level – my drinking was getting out of hand. We chatted privately, and shared stories – she was recently sober, I knew I had to be. I envied her strength, and her emotional maturity. She was smart, kind, and unbelievable empathetic and understanding. I wanted to be her; I wanted what she had worked so hard to already achieve.
I joined sober twitter, found the recovery posse. But slipped and slid into the bottom of numerous wine bottles, many times. At first I admitted relapses, then I pretended I was still sober, before disappearing altogether. I couldn’t stay in the circle, as much as they loved and welcomed me each time. I felt shit, and like I would never be able to do as they did, enjoy life sober, be a better person. I even mentally mocked some of their sage advice and wisdom – if I told myself it was all a bit hippy and insincere, I could justify my drinking more. I was lost, bitter and twisted with jealousy – so better pour another drink, to drown out my voices of self loathing.
Meanwhile, my new twitter stranger had become a friend. She remained supportive, and offered advice and love. Encouraged me, but offered some much needed hard truths. We exchanged numbers, though I didn’t ever think I would use it. After all, I didn’t NEED anyone to stop me drinking, I could regulate, right? Wrong. She continued to check in, even when I isolated myself into hiding. I don’t think she has ever once given up on me, or judged me for my many wrongs.
So. That night, two years ago. I was newly pregnant, and had found a way to justify a drink – just a small one, mind. My husband was away fishing, so he would never know. But I couldn’t stop. I was feverish with want for more drink, even after wasting myself on my late father in laws whiskey. I sobbed, full of self pity and remorse, and all manner of ills. I didn’t know what to do. All I knew was that I was petrified, I’d majorly fucked up and I would again if I didn’t take a step.
I called my twitter friend, and finally did the one thing she’d always reassured me I could – I reached out. In tears, drunk, slurring and snotting. And she listened, and reassured, and chatted to me for four hours, into the early hours – despite my probably not making sense. She offered her story, and shared her experience and I hung on to every relatable word. Without a second thought, she happily offered four hours of her time. Despite the fact that I was on such a fast train to relapse, so she knew that there was every chance I would still continue to drink. Despite she had to get up super early to drop her young son to school. Despite not being well herself, and desperately needing to rest. She promised to call the next day, and when we finally ended the call I cried again – but from sheer relief and gratitude.
She called, as promised, and sympathised with how rotten I was feeling (I hope you will never experience the horror of hangovers and morning sickness combined. It feels as repugnant as it is morally). She’d looked up AA meetings close to me, told me times. She listened patiently to my excuses and just said ‘you said yourself – what you are doing isn’t working. You need to try. Please.’ And I did. Partly because I knew she was right, and partly because I couldn’t bear the thought of letting her down, after all her kindness. I wanted to be like her.
The AA meetings didn’t stick (more on that another time), but my commitment to sobriety did. I read books, blogs, engaged fully and truthfully in the sober community. I listened to shares on YouTube, podcasts. Anything related to alcoholism, and recovery, oI immersed myself in. My friend sent books she thought I might like, complete with her own careful notes jotted inside. She sent cards to let me know she was thinking of me. She continued to support me, check in. And our friendship became more even as I became more sober – I could offer back kindness as she encountered tough times too. I can honestly say that I can’t think of a single time since I’ve known her where I haven’t spoke to her about anything going on with me – even an insignificant trifle (as we know they can sometimes leave the biggest ripples if we dwell on them).
I’ve said before that this lady saved my life that night – and I truly believe she did. I believe we were supposed to meet, as fiercely as I know she believes in me. We have many things in common, and strange coincidences (one being that her literal birthday is the day after my own). The friendship we have made, and the truths we have shared are of the most precious things I have.
So, what happened to this lady, you might ask? We are still close, and I treasure her. We’ve still never met in person, though I believe that will change one day. We talk a few times a week in the phone, and have helped each other out in numerous ways over our friendship together. I am not exaggerating when I say I consider her one of my best friends, and that our bond will always be something I will cherish. And two days ago, she gave me one of the greatest gifts I have ever received, a coin whose significance might not be realised unless you just know – a coin that I have smothered in happy, grateful and heartfelt tears – her own two year sobriety chip.
Thank you. Thank you. Xxx