On my desk is a paperweight that says, “Never, Never, Never Quit! Sir Winston Churchill
I had asked my friend from Northern Ireland, Carolyn Hughes to write a post to share with us on Happy Recovery. This morning I received an email from her that said,
Hope you are well!
I read your story on you the website and was so impressed at your insight and at how you had turned your life around. The thought that immediately sprang to mind was ‘Never say Never’, so I decided to write a post on this theme.
Hope you find it interesting.
After a 20 year battle with alcoholism, a six month rehabilitation programme started my road to recovery. I have been successfully sober now for 13 years and enjoy a positive and fulfilled life. Originally from London, I now live in my husband’s native Northern Ireland with our two daughters. As a freelance writer with an interest in alcohol and addiction issues I aim to encourage and inspire others on their own sobriety journey.
‘Never say Never’ – an idea usually associated with AA, it warns against complacency and the power of alcohol. Never say you will never pick up a drink again. Good advice, yet it can mean so much more. For me and others in recovery it can signify that there is always hope. Never give up!
Like most teenagers picking up a drink for the first time, it seemed like a harmless thing to do. I was offered wine at my friend’s house and it was good. Obviously I never thought I would become an alcoholic but what I did know from that initial experience was that I never wanted to be without it. It was the answer that I had been seeking to numb my mental anguish. My mother had abandoned me at the age of three and left me in the care of an abusing and neglectful father. I grew up feeling totally unloved and alone which was later compounded by the fact that I learnt my mother had told everyone I was dead from a fatal car crash. Ironically, my father was teetotal and drinking was taboo in his eyes. So when I discovered alcohol not only did it become my ‘hurt healer’ but my revenge.
Alcohol made me feel calm, lovable, attractive, and inspired. It blocked out the nightmares of the past and gave me hope for the future. I honestly believed that as long as I had alcohol, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do in life. I never imagined that I would not be able to control my drinking but like every alcoholic I needed to drink increasing amounts to achieve the same effect and eventually there was no buzz at all. The realisation that the drink wasn’t working any more was terrifying but in the end I needed a litre of vodka, a litre of wine and several cans of beer to make it through each day.
I never thought I would lose everything because of alcohol, but I did. My job, home, car, belongings were all squandered through drink. Many friends and colleagues could not bear to watch me self destruct and as they walked out of my life, it reaffirmed the conviction that I was worthless. My doctor told me that I had gone past the point of no return and I heard those dreaded words, “You have to stop and you can never drink again.” Physically drink was killing me but knowing that I couldn’t live with it and couldn’t live without it, left me with only one option – suicide.
Thankfully my alcohol induced attempt to kill myself resulted in hospitalization and a transfer to residential rehab. Even so, the odds of a recovery were slim. The psychiatrist reported that he was 98% certain I would be dead in a week and to plan for my funeral. That was his idea of ‘Never say never’. My amazing counsellor however thought differently and saw the remaining 2% as a flicker of hope. Their idea of ‘Never say never’ was to give me a chance.
Realising that it had been nothing short of a miracle that I even had this opportunity I grabbed it with both hands. I resolved to deal with my demons and lay them to rest. It wasn’t easy but I never wanted to go back to where I had come from. Finding my faith was crucial to being able to forgive others and myself. It was the path to freedom that I had been searching for all along.
My fears that I could never drink again disappeared when I learnt that I only had to stay sober for one day at a time. Accepting I was an alcoholic didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to do. It released me into a world of clear thinking and positivity. Within a few years I was married with my own family and had rebuilt my life. Sobriety taught me how to let go of the past and to be grateful for the present. It helped me to find strength in my weakness and allowed me to become the person I was meant to be.
I can never say that I will never pick up a drink again, but I can look at where I am today and confidently say to anyone who feels that recovery is out of their reach – ‘Never say Never!’