I do not quite know what to make of my relationship with you. Where did the lines cross and why? When did your clutches really take hold of my life? From my earliest memories you played a pivotal role in my life.
You were always around my parents and their friends, always the soul of the party. I remember thinking you looked so glamorous and sophisticated and everyone around you seemed to be having so much fun.
You were there that time when I had my first sherry glass full of wine. I can picture the moment of that experience, which I loved.
You were there lurking in the cellar, little sips as reward for putting on a good stage show at parties with my sister and our family friends.
Life was good, life was fun, but then life got complicated as you became completely entrenched in our lives and I discovered that you could dull the pain of my sudden loneliness and insecurity.
From then on, my life felt mediocre. It felt like I was floating in water, only just able to breath on the surface. I felt like I had to try that much harder at everything. I had to like myself but I no longer seemed to measure up. I wanted good friends but suddenly and awkwardly I felt I had to fight for them.
I desperately wanted confidence but didn’t know where to start, so always ended up doing all the wrong things. I was the party joke, the picked on and the clown and I learnt to suck it up and laugh. I was not sure what I had lost back then but I knew my life had changed and you, my dearest alcohol, were there by my side.
You allowed me to show up, to participate, to feel worthy and to cope because you were my best friend. Eventually there were periods where I didn’t need you except socially. I had found friends, my first love, an independent life, a career and the confidence that had evaded me for so long. But my taste for you was already deep-seated and it was so easy to fall back into your insidious clutches when things weren’t going right.
In fact by now, you also featured when things were going right. My first child come along, I met the love of my life, we moved to the Cape, my second child arrived and finally my dream wedding. But there was still something missing and I couldn’t figure out what.
For 38 years I had lived with you in my life, and I did not know what it felt like to live without you, my body and my brain had never had that alcohol-free experience.
For a long time I knew our relationship was completely toxic, yet I just couldn’t end it with you. My thought process was to deal with it when I hit rock bottom or ended up in rehab or got that ultimatum. I was too weak to fight you because I knew it would signal the end of the only life I knew.
I do not know what made me sit up and start to notice. The first possibility of hope came when I heard about Tribe Sober on the radio. I still wasn’t able to deal with our relationship, but a seed had been planted, and then a few more after coming close to some pretty nasty experiences.
That last “fuck-you” Sunday of drinking was fun as always, I loved it after a few glasses and some good music. We partied on until my mind was comfortably numb. Waking on Monday morning with my usual hangover was horrible and maybe it was the look in my sons eyes for a split second or the side glance from my husband or the disappointment that hung in the room, but suddenly I felt defeated and knew that for me to survive, our relationship had to end.
It did end there and so started my life without you. I discovered what I was missing too, I was missing me. I had never had the chance to grow up, to realise my potential, to discover my strengths and acknowledge my worth.
I thought that what I had was as good as it got. My second chance at life, my rebirth, excluded you at last and I was finally able to embark on the greatest ride of my life with presence, peace, and freedom.
I feel like I have walked out of a field that I walked into when I was incredibly young. The journey out of there has been very tough but it has been filled with joy as I have started to see and appreciate things that I had never noticed before.
So finally, after three years, this is my goodbye. There is no room for you in my life, one sip is one too many for me.