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Today I made the biggest decision of my life - to stop drinking. To stop drinking totally and for good. I won't pretend it's been easy, even though I am only 18 hours into my sobriety. In fact, it's been hell. I shake, am tearful and have sunken into a depression through my craving for Alcohol already. I wasn't always an Alcoholic. I used to be like most people and be able to have a social drink or maybe even go weeks without one without a care in the world. But then something terrible happened to me that readers of this blog will know all about last July. I won't re-hash it here but if you want to go back over the previous blogs then you can find all the sad details on this site.
For a few weeks now I have been attending support groups aimed at reducing my intake and avoided the usual step towards AA. I don't really believe in religion and the 12 steps and the "Higher Power" thing just didn't get my attention, and besides, it was only a few weeks ago I realised I had become an Alcoholic. Now I know, I can start to address it. First I switched from drinking half a bottle of Vodka a day to drinking beer, which immediately cut my ABV (units) down by a third.
That was a good start. I was advised that going "Cold Turkey" was not a good thing as my body had become so used to Alcohol that if I cut it out completely it could lead to fits and all sorts of health problems - go figure... but these people do know what they are talking about. I was advised to drink 8 cans of low strength lager per day and try to gradually cut that down to 6, then 4 and so on.
It was my eternal wish that I could once again join the masses and become a "social drinker" but after weeks of struggling with that idea I have decided today that will never be possible again. I have crossed the line of no return and I know it. I did switch to a Alcoholic drink, then a Becks Blue (Alcohol free beer) then a proper beer and so on, but from now on it will be ONLY ALCOHOL FREE beer or soft juices. As a man, staying sober is a lot harder than for a woman I feel. After all, whenever guys get together it's usually around a bar in a pub or the cans come out in front of the TV to enjoy some fine sporting event about to begin. Drinking copious amounts of Alcohol is often (quite wrongly) seen as "manly" and if you can't handle your beer then you must be some kind of "faggot" or "wuss" etc. etc.
This in turn has led to me realising that I will have to let a lot of my "friends" go, as being around them and going out with them will be far too much of a temptation. But this leads to the question "are they my friends or just drinking acquaintances?" I guess I am about to find out... and I shall keep you informed. The thoughts of my enforced isolation after the pain and suffering I have endured for the past 9 months scares me to death, for I have in that time already become something of a recluse. Now that I will no longer be seeing the people I know in my local I feel that is going to get even worse.
When I look back over my life I can trace every single bad decision I have ever made to Alcohol, and there have been quite a few over the years. At times it has cost me my job, relationships, friendships and even more importantly, my self-respect and dignity. I am also undergoing counselling for bereavement and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and have stopped smoking so I am taking on a lot at the same time
Today, immediately after finishing one of my "reduction workshops" I decided to take the drastic step of actually attending an AA meeting in the town where I live. I arrived late and thought they would turn me away but I was welcomed in with open arms. I sat and listened to the few speakers I arrived in time to catch and every single word of what I heard inspired me.
As the meeting drew to a close, the leader asked if anyone else had anything else to say? I was nervous as it was my first ever meeting but seeing as I had made the effort to go there, and late at that, I slowly raised to my feet and uttered those words you never imagine will come out of your mouth. "My name is Shelly and I am an Alcoholic"..... I explained I had been in a different kind of program to theirs (in AA, abstinence is the only way) but I told them it was my first ever meeting and got a round of applause, which made me cry in front of them all. As the meeting came to a close, I was surrounded by all the attendees whom all gave me their phone numbers on the spot. Suddenly I had about 10 sponsors and was surrounded by support and love, which made me cry again.
So dear readers, I am embarking on a journey that I have no idea when or where it will end. I have no idea if I am strong enough to see this through, but I have taken the first step, which is to admit that I am indeed an alcoholic. And it is therefore the biggest step. I intend to update this blog daily and keep you informed of my progress, or my failures as I am sure there will be relapses along the way. But if I do fall off the wagon, I will try with every atom of will I still have left to get straight back on it. And if along the way I can inspire others with the same problem then I will have done something even better than helping myself - and that is helping others.
In about 1 hour my favourite team are playing the biggest game of their season, a massive game, and one I would usually already be drunk by now in anticipation. Some friends are coming over and they will all be drinking so my first test is about to start.
Wish me luck.