Ten years ago, I woke in a fog, knowing that what happened the evening before was bad. I’d stumbled and cracked a rib. Broken glass littered the kitchen floor. At some point, the police came. None of this stopped me drinking again that night.
It took another year of making a total arse of myself before I grew tired of drink. I’ve enjoyed a few pints since, but the urge to lose myself at the bottom of a bottle has gone.
Do I miss being able to drink? Yes. To some extent. I miss having an easy way to turn off my brain. Some nights, I lie awake for hours, going over the tiniest detail of some conversation that (to others) likely meant little. I replay each exchange and try to understand why I failed to be a better version of me.
Do I miss the hangovers? Yes. I loved to eat junk food and guzzle Orange Fanta without remorse.
Do I miss opening my eyes and trying to remember what happened before I tuned out? No. I really don’t.
I became one of those drunks who lost track after one too many. I’d still talk and walk, but wake the next day with no memory of what I’d said or done. Writing about such madness now, it sounds a million years ago.
It’s tough not drinking in a society where alcohol rules. Especially during lockdown. Every Friday Zoom meeting ends with someone saying how much they can’t wait to pour a gin and switch off. I no longer allow myself that luxury. I can’t pour myself one of anything, and so make do with none.
As I wrote Rebuilding Alexandra Small, I looked back over my career as a problem drinker and tried to work out what I wanted to say about why. The answer seemed easy. A perfect life. And thanks to the fog of alcohol, I felt sure I had one. It’s only now I’m sober that I find otherwise.
Help with alcohol
If you think you have a serious drinking problem and are experiencing any of the associated symptoms of alcohol dependence, you should consult your doctor or another medical professional about it as soon as possible.
There are also a number of national alcohol support services that you can go to for advice.