So a year ago I stopped drinking. I had my anniversary last week. I didn't do anything except go for a run and be proud of myself. Never in my wildest dreams would have I thought I would stop. When my therapist Pat suggested it to me I thought she was craaaaaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzy.
It took me 2 years to realise she was right. I used to believe alcoholics lay in ditches and didn't have jobs, and the more I read, the more I saw this was so far from the truth. You see an alcoholic is someone who changes negatively when they drink and they are told this and are aware of it, but still they cannot stop themselves from drinking. Its not only about lying in a ditch, or drinking during the day.
So - well - this is an over-share but I feel its important I share why I stopped.
I stopped for several reasons, some had more weight than others but all of these reasons contributed to it.
To begin with; I had a problem with alcohol.
I hadn't really realised it until I actually began to (really slowly) join the dots It was a mixture of drinking everyday to not being able to stop at one glass to the Mututho Law (God Bless him) and lots of dramatic fights, lots of falls and scabs on my elbows and of course my therapist Pat(God bless her too) spelt it out to me.
Some people do not have problems with alcohol, but you see others do. I was one of them. You see there is no information on how much is too much - usually its "I drink what my parents drink" or "I don't drink at home" or I don't know, whatever social fallacy we make up. In many societies if you don't drink its a problem and if you drink too much its frowned upon.
You see to really spill all the beans, I drank alone, at that time I lived alone and so I drank and drinking was my everything. I had got to the stage I could drink vodka straight and drink loads of it like water. I did it for confidence, for creativity, for ease, for comfort, for poetry, for energy, for art, for sleep for whatever reason - it was my crutch. Alone I used to get really hammered. Sure at parties I was ok, but when I got home it was something else. Nobody really knew and well then I had hangovers and headaches and I was always looking for a remedy to kill the hangover, and not being able to get work done in the morning or afternoon and then the evenings were you're convinced you can get work done with a glass of wine, and then one glass of wine leads to two to a bottle and I can't get work done and geez louise, the evening is gone because I am drinking and maybe sending messages I will regret in the morning.
I also began to see how my close relationships were suffering. I am already a very emotional and sensitive person, alcohol made me a bit of a gamble. I couldn't trust myself. I ended up in arguments with friends and sisters and boyfriends and then the next day I didn't remember why I was so upset, why we were fighting and anyone who knows what thats like will know its really difficult to make peace with someone when you have no idea what the hell happened and you are too proud to ask and if you find out why you got upset, you don't understand why that could make anyone erupt. Yeah, so that was me. I was getting tired of blaming the booze for what I did and I was tired of those hangovers where I feel so terrible about who I was.
At the same time, I had begun work on myself; I was actively putting work into my spirituality - I felt and I knew alcohol was clouding me receiving and perceiving myself, my world and the other worlds with clarity. This work also means being able to see and confront your dark side - how could I face it if I was blaming any "malevolent" type action on booze and not myself. I began to see I wasn't holding myself accountable; I was pulling myself back, slowing down my growth.
There were other things that led me to stop. I had deliberated for a long time, and finally decided to follow the path of Sufi Islam and it didn't make sense to me to make such a big decision and take on this path and still be drinking; why do this and then be tipsy and be unable to pray and mediate? To me, it seemed so foolish. 1 step forward, 3 steps back.
I knew I needed to do my best to " show up" 100 per cent - not just sometimes. No alcohol to blame for my mistakes, no alcohol to hide behind or comfort me.
I wanted people to see me as me - and not as me and sometimes on friday and saturday or every friday or saturday night I am falling over and shouting. Like this I was misrepresenting myself and I also misrepresenting my highest DIVINE self.
I could feel how I changed when I drank even with just one sip. I saw how I was slowing down my career. I saw how my drunken words were hurting those close to me. I just could see how I was failing myself and severing the ties I was fostering and building.
I guess I should say I quit -
I cut down - I did fasts - but every time I got back to drinking I reacted the same. Like I said my disposition doesn't allow for cutting down or drinking only sometimes. My disposition can only do either or. I come from a large family and some of us have this disposition. I was seeing patterns appearing and imprinting themselves through generations and generations and generations.
The more I spent time sober, the more I liked myself. I wasn't on guard; I wasn't scared I would be emotional or say something stupid. I actually felt more at ease sober. I could trust myself. I kept thinking, of how kids run around, full of energy; jokes and dancing and all that shouting singing thing they do; high on life. Surely we were created with all this, surely we are given it already that we don't need silly billy substances to feel that way? We must believe in ourselves enough to believe we cam manifest/summon and magnify all of this in ourselves.
Alcohol always augmented the feeling in me and most times invited feelings that did not belong to me - often so negative, it made me wallow too much in my sadness or created intense rage.
I began to see my power sober, I also began to be at ease with my moods - my sadness, my joy, my moods - they were just that - they passed through me. I started to see drinking water, or tea, or a walk, or a run or reading or praying or singing it out or sleeping it out or just not sleeping could work in times when stressed. I didn't need the booze. Booze just made it worse.
So there were many things that led me to quit - but the final straw? I was in a relationship with someone, he didn't drink. I subconsciously had decided to get tipsy around him and I drove us home and when home I slipped on a wet floor and then you know when you can't find your phone so you look for it then you get someone to call your friend to ask if you left your phone at their house then you drive over there don't find it and you get home and discover it was in your bag all along?
well I did that and he wasn't amused.
I tried to brush it off and act like everything was ok and he wasn't buying it.
The next day he said, something like,
I said, "what do you mean?"
"What's going on with your drinking?"
I acted real cool, then he said,
"You know, I grew up around alcohol, I've seen all the awful things its done, and I vowed never to have it in the home where I raise my children. I look up to you so much, you inspire me and when I saw you fall last night, I felt out of control, I felt like a child trying to help a strong but helpless hero they cared about. "
Those words cut so deep -
I didn't want to do that to my children. I didn't want to lose another relationship because I wanted to hold onto the bottle. Even blaming my fall to the floor being wet just sounded stupid.
So I quit. I told my close friends. I don't tend to tell people. I don't see the point unless I feel its a conversation we can really have. It's also uncomfortable for some. I still go out and I still have fun, lots of fun, but a different fun. I am not saying my problems are solved, I am saying I just feel like I see them easier.
I have to be honest, out of all the decisions I ever made for myself, I swear it was the best decision I ever made in my whole life - it even beats making a move and kissing my dream man (hahah ok thats a joke. That hasn't happened. I haven't met him yet).
But jokes aside, I truly, honestly believe I have changed the course of my life. Subhan'Allah. And most certainly the course of whom I chose to have a romantic relationship with.
I see that for some, alcohol is a spirit that inhabits your body, a spirit that lives off of you and will speak for you and will fight tooth and nail, when you are sober and drunk to live within in you forever. Its one of those viruses that leaves an imprint in your system that you pass on to posterity to posterity to posterity.
In Kenya I see people's light, people's families and children diminishing and breaking. We are not talking about it. We are not seeing the patterns.
I really debated saying this; but I will allow myself to not be ashamed by my story. Neither am I trying to offend people or become he booze police. I am not saying drinking is bad.
I am saying that some people don't suit it.
I am sharing this, not to boast or lecture but because I see there is no open dialogue about addiction and alcoholism in Kenya(and many parts of the world).
I know for sure there is someone who is going through a similar journey to me. Everything is ok on the other side, in fact its quite fun here, and there are a few of us. And we knit, and play crosswords and discuss the weather and watch grass grow. Hahahah, just joking.
I thank my dearest therapist Pat and I thank God and his angels for giving me this strength. Thank you, Philippa