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Curtains on a Toxic Relationship

*text alert*

"Hey, it's Nico. Listen, this isn't working out for me anymore and I think we should call it quits. It's not me, it's you. Bye."


A lot of us can relate to that fuck boy/girl, who you know is so bad for you, who has played with your emotions, made you feel worthless, gave you some of your lowest lows and made you act completely outside of yourself. But you don't know what it is about them, you just can’t help but keep going back for more. You can't say no. What would you be without them? You can’t imagine not having them there, even though you know that they are just down right no good for you. The sex isn’t even that great, is it? It’s not even worth it. But there’s just that sense of false security and familiarity that keeps pulling you back in for “just one more.”


For me, that was with alcohol.


To say that my relationship with alcohol over the years has been conflicted, would be an understatement. That total love/hate, on/off, will they/won’t they type scenario, starting from those usual early to mid-teen years and continuing on a similar pattern until the 6th of September 2021. That’s right. The date of the publication of this post was no accident. It has been exactly one month, since I decided that I would become fully and completely 100% sober.


“A month? Woopty do! I’ve had food past it’s use by date longer than that!” (looking at you sprouting potatoes) I’ve actually spent majority of 2021 sober, with the first half of the year spent without drunken slurs, hazy memories, hangovers lasting 3 days and a small fortune spent on JustEat.


Boxing Day 2020. A day which is supposed to be spent tucking into leftovers, wrapped up all cosy and warm watching Christmas films, filled with lingering merriment from the day previous. But no. I spent the entire day on my own in bed, inconsolably sobbing, shaking, spewing and had endured more panic attacks throughout the day than I’d even care to admit. Merry Christmas. So that day, I decided “Fuck this, it’s not even worth it anymore. Was it ever actually worth it? I’m going on a bevy ban for a while” and so, I embarked on my first taste of sober life, with no time span in mind, but eventually came to an end after 6 months.


Going back to that question I had pondered to myself “Was it ever actually worth it?” I reflected back on years gone by, where going out and drinking was 50% of my life (the other 50% being working a corporate job Monday-Friday, 9-5) But upon further reflection, and more recently, I’ve realised that I have never actually ever enjoyed drinking. Ever. Sure, there’s loads of different drinks I like the taste of; prosecco, mojitos, red wine, dark rum, espresso martinis, and pretty much any cocktail on any menu that was ever made. But the actual physical and mental act of getting and being drunk, I’ve never enjoyed. Getting drunk for me, has always been about covering up aspects of life that I do not want to deal with in the particular moment in time, or ever. So let’s just keep going out and getting on it. That’ll help!


Feeling down? Drown your sorrows with some alcohol. Feeling happy? Celebrate by treating yourself to a drink (or 10.) Feeling nothing? Might as well have a drink, what else is there?


I used alcohol to cover up, block out, hideaway or escape from the thoughts and the feelings of day to day life. But what I wasn’t aware of, was that this momentary “pleasure” was actually aiding a lot of the pain and suffering I was feeling.


We can all relate to “The Fear.” The Fear of “What did I do last night? Why did I say that? Why did I do that? Who did I offend? Are they still my friend? I’m never going to live that down. I don’t want to have to face them. How did I spend that much money? I CANNOT BELIEVE that happened!” They say that we carry our troubles from yesterday into today. Well I can’t speak on behalf of everyone who has had The Fear, but for me, these situations that would occur when I was away with it, would haunt my every move from then until eternity. I’d think about these things constantly, bringing with it the feelings of guilt, shame, worry, anxiety and pure dread. So, what’s the solution for that? More alcohol? Okay!


It was a never ending cycle. I couldn’t see past the social aspect of drinking enough to realise that this is what was causing a lot of my poor mental wellbeing and tougher life circumstances. I am completely different person when a drink. I can see that now having had a chunk of time away from it. I would do and say things that I would never even dream of if I was sober. Inhibitions at 0% charge. Filter = non-existent. I would constantly let not only people I cared about down, but myself as well. My energy and productivity levels would be at their lowest for majority of the week and my time spent procrastinating or looking for the next opportunity to go out and get smashed, neglecting near enough everything else. I actually used to be a very creative person in my younger years. And a big one for me which I didn’t actually realised mattered to me until recently, was my lack of creativity. I was always feeling in a constant messy head fuck, living life out of alignment with who I am, and what really matters to me.


Who I am, is actually someone who is a lot more introverted than what they’d had everyone believing. I like a quiet and peaceful life. I like a life filled with colour and new experiences. I like a life where I’m surrounded by the people who know and love me for me. I like time alone and I like time to work on myself. I like spending my time more wisely and being productive.


So, from Boxing Day 2020 to near the end of June 2021 I was voluntarily sober “for a while.” And in that time, I’ve done and accomplished so many more things in that 6 month period than I have in years. I rediscovered myself and my values. I got a spark back about me that I haven’t felt in years. My mind has been endlessly visualising and creating, rather than stuck on a loop of constant fear. My intuition has been screaming at me, a voice that was completely muzzled by alcohol. Now it’s hard to ignore. I took risks, I made new connections, and felt the best I can ever remember feeling. But despite all these monumental changes, I was still flirting with that fuck boy ex. Telling myself that “I will drink again at some point. I can’t not drink as special occasions. I couldn’t give it up fully!”


So throughout the rest of the summer, I had moments of weakness. And that’s all it was really, weakness. I don’t say that with bad intentions, but it was the pressure and excuses of “Well if everyone else is drinking… Well, it’s a wedding, I can’t not drink there! I can just have one!” Was it ever just one? Of course not. Some can dabble, I can not. During those weeks, I quickly noticed the differences in my focus, productivity, energy levels and general mindset. I was sluggish, procrastinating, unmotivated and could feel the ghosts of The Fear’s past floating about in my head. One occasion in particular, juuuust over a month ago to be exact, I had a particularly late and heavy night, which lead to almost a full week of self-loathing, self-sabotage, fear ridden and just so low. Like really low. Was that one night worth it? Not even close. Could I have had a good time, nay, a better time had I not drank? 100%. But we don’t live in regret here. We live in grabbing every opportunity we can to learn. And boy, did I take a learning from this. The long and short being, I no longer drink. Full stop.


Does this come with it's own set of fears? Of course. I worry about potentially losing friends, being labelled "boring" or "she can't handle it" or even falling back in to old habits. But my reason for not drinking is far more stronger and lights me up so much more than any fear could ever diminish.


I see and recognise my worth and potential as a sober person. My life is better in every single aspect without alcohol; I have more meaningful relationships with others, myself and the world around me. My mind is clear, focused and aware, with clarity on where I’m going and what I want to create. I have more time to spend on the things that really truly matter to me. I can still do all the things I once done, just without alcohol. Yes it is possible. I have more fun in social situations, as I am fully myself, fully in control of how I act and can fully remember it all the next day, without a pounding headache whilst staring down a toilet bowl and the Big Mac I ate about 20 minutes before. I am authentically and unapologetically, me, without the filters and cover ups of alcohol.


And most of all, I’m just so fucking happy. Why would I ever go back? That’s never the right direction to walk in unless you’re lost. But I have found a new way. A new way of living and being and I absolutely love it.


Keep on keeping on,

Nico X


P.s. This does not mean that I look down on people who do drink, nor does it mean that I don’t ever want to socialise with or be around people who drink. You do you hun and I’ll do me x


P.p.s. I just finished “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober” by Catherine Gray and loved it! I would recommend to anyone who is considering even just cutting back on drinking, or just anyone who has an open mind and willing to learn a few truths about drinking.

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