I honestly can’t believe that it’s been one year. A whole year! When I look back on my booze-filled past, it really is nothing short of a miracle that I have reached the stage that I’m at. Not that I was an alcoholic, but I definitely used it as a crutch.
Boyfriend broke up with me? Let’s get drunk. Had a crappy day at work? Let’s get drunk. Something to celebrate? Let’s get drunk. It’s the weekend! Let’s get drunk. It really didn’t matter what the excuse was, I was reaching for the bottle (of wine) at every opportunity I could get.
Lately I’ve been thinking that there wasn’t much difference between the life I was leading and that of a drug addict, except of course that alcohol is legal and being hungover is perfectly socially acceptable (being high on heroin is not so much). But what’s the real difference? It’s still a mind-altering drug. You can’t think straight, you make stupid decisions and say stupid things, and you always want more.
So for me, it would start with one glass of wine. Then another glass. Then I’m finishing the bottle and reaching for a second. Then I’m convincing everyone that we should go down to the bottle store and buy two more (just in case). Then I’m three bottles down and that’s the end of my memory. And this would happen a couple of times a week! Maybe more! I had constant brain fog, I struggled to remember things, I’d spend my Sundays feeling guilty about not doing all those things that I really wanted to get done over my weekend because I was too hungover. I’d be tired, bloated, and constipated.
And that’s just the physical stuff. Deep down I’d be feeling embarrassed for things I did and said the night before. I’d wonder what the hell I’d been doing during the parts of the night I couldn’t remember and pray that it wasn’t something stupid and inappropriate. I’d be beating myself up mentally for the next three days. What the hell is wrong with you? Why did you always get like that? I can’t believe you even have friends! And a boyfriend! I wouldn’t be friends with someone who acted like that. And the voice would go on.
Can you imagine living this way all the time?!? All. The. Time. And thinking that it was normal! This is not normal is any sense of the word.
I spent probably half of my time either drinking, drunk, hungover, or recovering from those previous three activities. It took a couple of days for the mental bashing to calm down, for my digestive system to sort itself out, and for the brain fog to lift to a point where I felt productive again. And a couple of days later I’d be doing it all over again!
So this is why I compare myself to a drug addict. There was very rarely a time when I was just me. Where it was just 100% Bianca. I don’t even know if I really knew who Bianca was, and that’s the saddest part of it all.
One year later, I know who I am now. I know what my dreams are, what my goals are, and where my life is going. I know how I feel now, without that constant emotional and mental barrage. And I am completely and utterly comfortable and happy in my own skin, which I can honestly say I never felt, ever, in my previous 33 years of life.
It makes me wonder why alcohol is so dominant in our society.
It makes me wonder what it is that people feel like they need to escape from? What is the void that they’re trying to fill?
Here’s my theory. People in the East don’t drink like people in the West do. We in the West are obsessed with buying things, having material success, and keeping up with the Jones’. We ignore our emotional, mental and spiritual needs to focus on the physical. I wonder if maybe this is what’s missing? So we use alcohol to numb that feeling we can’t quite explain, to create the sense of community that we don’t actually have day to day, and to allow ourselves to relax from these incredibly stressful lives we lead.
But in the East, people hold great importance to their emotional, mental and spiritual lives. They nourish these parts of themselves with ritual and custom. They carry on their historical traditions and they live and work in communities. They don’t need anything to fill the void.
At this stage of my life, that’s definitely how I’m feeling. I don’t need alcohol to fill a void, like I used to, because I’m nourishing these other parts of myself. I see my success and happiness completely differently to how I used to. It’s about following my heart, and loving what I’m doing and doing what I love. I’ve redefined how I want to feel and the kind of life I want to lead.
I spend less time socialising, yes. But the socialising I do is so much more meaningful. I’m spending time with people I care about, people I can have rich conversation with and people I connect with on a heart and soul level (including you!) – it’s not just drunken ramblings with random people I’ve met at the pub (that I barely remember the next day anyway). Sometimes I wonder if I’ve turned into a hermit but then I think, am I happy? Would I change this if I could? And the answer is a resounding yes I am, and no I wouldn’t!
So a year later, what have I learned.
I’ve learned who I am. I’ve learned what I truly want from my one precious life and I’m now creating that life and feeling genuinely happy in ways I never felt while I was drinking. I’ve learned that drinking never actually created anything real in my life (regardless of how real I thought it was at the time). And I’ve learned that I can be a confident human being without having a drink in my hand. Relying on my own passion and my own abilities is more than enough to get me where I want to go.
I’ve learned how to believe in myself.
And I gotta tell ya, it feels way better than being drunk ever did!
With love and sober Saturday nights,
P.S. Yes, that is a photo of a very drunk Bianca. You can see in her eyes that she has no idea what’s going on anymore… She just looks really lost. This photo speaks volumes to me!