I feel like I should be standing in a circle saying what about to say, but as the title suggests I’m not an actual addict – but I do have a problem. My problem is not food. It is not diets, exercise etc or anything that is illegal. I have a serious problem with alcohol. Like much of the country and possibly many people my age, alcohol and I are not the best of friends. Alcohol is the friend who secretly hates me and wants to see me fail. It pushes me beyond the point I am comfortable with and then lets me make the biggest mistakes, all the while watching and sniggering behind their hand. But when I need the support…it’s busy. Washing it’s hair, mucking out the stick insects, arranging dust – that sort of thing.
I’ve had suspicions about my so-called friend for a while. But they were confirmed yesterday after my Friday night. I had been in Hull visiting a friend (Cat) from my university years. We had a one nighter after a conference 7 years ago and that was all it ever was. The wonders of Facebook got us back in touch again and she is now happily engaged to her lovely fiance Dan. We go out on Friday night and all I had eaten was a bacon and egg sandwich at 11am and a small portion of beef stir fry for dinner with Cat and Dan. The plan was a couple of drinks and then a stroll home (their home, not my home).
Fast forward to midnight and I’m drunk. Very very very drunk. I’ve told Dracula off, I’ve introduced him (by the wrong name) to people who already know him, I’ve stolen 2 cigarettes from a women I’ve only just met. I’ve burst into tears and explained my chequered relationship history and my enduring grief over losing my step daughter when my relationship her mother ended (see chequered history) and I’ve punched the wall. Twice. Fast forward even more and we’re back at Cat and Dan’s house. I don’t remember how we got there. I don’t remember going upstairs. I don’t remember taking my clothes off. Suddenly I am very aware that I have to puke. I bolt to the bathroom; Cat has the presence of mind to tie my hair back. She rubs my back and stays with me. To make things worse when I stand up I am so out of it and dizzy I fall backwards into the bath, hitting my back on the bath and pulling down the shower curtain and rail in the process. They put me to bed, managing some how to get a night shirt on me, some water in me and leave me to sleep.
The following day and all I feel is terrible. I’m nauseous, shaky, my blood sugars are erratic and all I want is to drink the Humber estuary dry and sleep until the next Rapture. Instead we go for a walk and an epically large breakfast. It helps – a little bit. I do end up sleeping for a couple of hours in the afternoon and then inhale half a 12 inch pizza in the evening. Sunday rolls around and with it my shame and embarrasment. Cat tells me to stop worrying about it, that I was fine and I have nothing to be embarrased about. I left Hull still feeling fuzzy and embarrassed. I went to pick up my girlfriend from the city centre in Leeds after her amazing 10k race in Scarborough and suddenly realised that I really needed to talk to her about what happened.
On the drive back to her house I let out what happened and how drunk I was and the tears spring up without warning. Tears of shame, embarrassment, anger, grief and most of all exhaustion. We talk about the effect alcohol has on me and why I drink. . Whenever I drink I end up becoming extremely emotional. Lots of things make me cry when I’m sober : cat food adverts, running out of milk, especially sad films/tv programmes, good music etc. However when I drink there is pretty much one thing that comes out to ruin me – Emily. She was my step-daughter. I met her when she was just 2 and I was 22. I fell completely and totally in love with her and I became mummy to her. Sleepless nights, potty training, sleep training, cooking, nursery and 1000 other things became my life and I loved it. I loved her – more than anything. But things with her mother were less than perfect and 2 years later she kicked me out. The grief I felt for the relationship was nothing compared to the grief I felt losing my daughter. Talking to C made me see that I use alcohol to access the pain and it also allowed me to be someone I keep hidden. Someone who is not the usual boring, staid grown up that I’ve always been since leaving university.
But I also realised that I don’t like who I turn into when I’m drinking. I’m rude, uncontrolled, silly, irresponsible, over-emotional and I was not brought up to be this person. Clearly, my relationship with alcohol is a toxic one. And this must stop. It might be that I need to put my hand up and utter those words that most of us never think we will have to say.
My name is Jemma and I have an alcohol problem. My problem stops here.