Well hello from sunny Belfast! I thought i would give this blogging a blast to help with my recovery and if I can help any other like minded souls along the way then that’s a huge bonus. So… about me, I’m Sibi, 40 years young, married, no kids but two delightfully stubborn pups that are my world and I’m 38 days sober – whoa! Go me! I know it won’t seem long for many but that is amazing for me, like I’m totally in awe of it. But I am not complacent because I know how easily I can loose it.
You see, I haven’t went that long without drink for er…. at least 4 years I’m guessing. See I didn’t count, well not until near the end when I realised I really couldn’t stop drinking. And before that, well a good 7 years with maybe a few days here and there, I think. I was a moderate drinker, then a social drinker and then a heavy drinker which led me to become an alcoholic. Maybe I was always an alcoholic but didn’t see the signs early on because I was so focused on not becoming one since I had dealt with my dad’s alcoholism and making sure I didn’t become like him. But that’s for another time.
I loved drinking, loved the effect, the pub atmosphere, the giggles… it made everything warm and fuzzy and it made me the life and soul of any party. I wasn’t hugely shy without it or it wasn’t that I didn’t fit in anywhere. Drinking was part of growing up and the experiences that came with it were a right of passage. At the beginning, it was underage drinking, quarter bottle of bicardi, a bottle of some rank cider like old english or some peach concorde, urgh!!! But it was for the buzz and not the taste, that was for sure. At 14 I was drinking on a Friday and Saturday night, going to parties, local nightclubs or just in a friends house for the night but always with a drink. Now looking back I realise how excessive it was for kids even then. But as long as I didn’t end off a morose, aggressive and torturous drunk like my dad then I was fine… and nothing that bad happened when I was drunk, or so I told myself. But, it definitely meant things happened or were allowed to happen that my sober self would never have agreed to.
When I was 17 my drinking career really took off and I thought it was amazing! I met the love of my life who I was with for 7 years and we grew together, as did our drinking. The life my boyfriend was in was constant parties, hobbies with pre, during and after drinks and the parties didn’t stop after the bar closed, they went into the morning and then lasted right through to Saturday and Sunday – I even started to hear about the Monday club! But I would never get there – of course not…. The only problem with this part of my career was the dreadful hangovers. I died a death that was worse than the pits of hell and I cursed myself for this weakness!! Why couldn’t I go on drinking like everyone else. While I nursed a hangover, my boyfriend and all our friends were on round 2 and getting ready for round 3 and 4. My mission – I one day would be as good as that at drinking – I swore it! Be careful what you wish for eh?!
I had got a taste for money one summer between trying to decide what courses I wanted to do at college and I knew I wanted more – how else would I be able to keep the party going. Work was only a means to get the money to party and drink – though I did aspire to have a decent job that I enjoyed and I had the drive to go with it. I studied and worked at the same the same time and after a couple of years completed my degree and all through that the partying was at it’s peak. Wednesday to Sunday it was work hard and party hard and it was the norm – everyone in their early 20’s were doing the same – nothing wrong with that eh. I must also note that the drinking culture in Northern Ireland is everywhere and coming from a small town in NI that was all there was available. Cinema or bowling? That was a date with your boyfriend on nights you were either skint or needed to make an effort. Nope it was all about going out to pubs, clubs, parties, beer gardens, bbq’s, boats, the park, a funeral, a christening – all hand in hand with a drink.
My wish for a hangover free drinking party girl me came true after I split up with my boyfriend. We had to bring it to an end as both of us wanted different things – I didn’t know what I wanted but my world was shattered. I had been a part of his life and world for so long that going back to my own town was a bit daunting but also exciting – new but familiar hunting ground. Around the same time quite a few of my close friends had got single too. Perfect timing! I was upset about the break up so that same night we went out to a new bar opening in my hometown. We partied until the small hours and I completely forgot I had work the next day. A sick day of many was called in and my lies really took off from here.
I was 24, living in a new house and I could do what I wanted, or so I though – recipe for disaster!! I changed jobs to get more money and away from the sick days. But they always followed. A new boyfriend came and went as I prioritised my partying and drinking. Now in hindsight I can see he finished with me because of the drinking as I had now graduated to mid week beers with a friend of mine. I remember the first time going round to her house and there were her parents enjoying wine and her having beer – not just a couple but as many as she wanted – jesus I wanted that! Because of my dads drinking in the house we hated and despised home drinking – it was a pure sign of an alchy!! But here was my friend and her parents doing it without being alcoholics!!! I didn’t even know that existed – what a revelation. So began the mid week drinking – much to my mums disgust. But I was an adult in charge of my own drinking and I wasn’t an alcoholic – no sir! Did I mention I was a really greedy drinker? Oh and forgot when to stop sometimes? Mmmmh?!
At 28 mum and I were rowing more and more and I put it down to both of us being adult women and both wanting to rule the roost. Reality was my mum had enough of my drinking and partying and wanted peace. I was bringing people back to the house after nights out while she slept in bed or I was going to parties and not coming home for days. I put this all down to that’s the way we all were – everyone was doing it! But actually most people were settling down, getting married and having kids. Oh and yes, they were drinking and partying moderately. I would joke that I didn’t do moderation – all or nothing, that was my thing. And while lots of others moved on with family or careers I was the friend that was only good for a party. Where I thought they probably wanted to be me, with their boring lives, I now realise that they probably pitied me – when is she ever going to grow up!!
I outgrew my town and my friends and my family were fed up with my ‘partying’ so the opportunity came up to move to Belfast. Where no-one would know me and no-one would care. loads of parties, clubs and pubs – endless people like me!! At this point too I had taken a real interest in my career and being newly single I threw myself into it and really lived the work hard party hard again. A year in and my housemate had gotten fed up with my partying and worrying about me so moved out. Of course I thought she was a party pooper and was jealous of the fun I was having – my life was great!! Or was it. Deep down I had started to look at my drinking – why couldn’t I be that 2 glasses of wine drinker and go home?? Not with a carry out that is! Why couldn’t I be a grown up? Was I destined for a life being the eternal ‘social butterfly’ drinker – no, because they turn into sad old women falling about in bars with the young ones laughing at them. Oh jesus, please do not let me turn into that!! So turning 30 I swore that was me, time to reel the drinking days in and retire the party hat. More about the flirty 30’s later. So, I drank at home….
And there, I lost 10 years – yes I met my husband, bought a house and got a better job and worked hard. But I also worked hard at justifying my drinking – staying in was the new going out. I deserved to drink on Friday and Saturday after my hard week at work and for a good while my husband went along with it and joined me. 6 years ago was when he started to question my drinking, raised eyebrows at putting beer in the shopping trolley on a Tuesday night, tutting when I went to the fridge for my 10th beer, staging a cinema outing only for me to stop at the off licence on the way home and all with the justifying and how dare he question me – I’m an adult!!! My friends told me, sure he knows you like a drink, why is he trying to control you! Exactly – I am no placid wee house wife and I won’t be told what I can do and what I can’t!! I am a strong, independent, hard working woman and earning more than him I might say, so if I want to drink as much as I want then I will. And so the battles began. Now, my husband was no angel and having came straight from his mum to me as well as learning to live with each other had it’s own challenges and this convinced me even more that I had a right to drink. But things changed for the worse (for me) when he decided to cut out drinking due to family illness and to be honest, he was a bit of an arse with drink. One thing I can always say – proud moment ahead – I was a lovely drunk! Fun, loving, dancing, positive, comedic – great craic 🙂 Until I blacked out, spilt drinks (big spiller!), fell, told secrets, told lies, cried, embarrassed people – yeah great craic in the younger days but not at 36 and falling asleep at a wedding on the table with my scundered husband trying to get me to go to bed.
At this point I still didn’t see the problem but little did I know the problem would show itself for the insidious disease it is and my sanity, marriage, future and career would hang in the balance.
I’ll sign off for now – not sure if I’m doing this blogging right so…