Around and around in circles
‘Around and around in circles’ is a recovery story written by a HAGA service-user, which featured in Recovery Pride: Stories from Haringey collection in 2015. The story tells one woman’s experience of living as a heavy drinker losing jobs and friends and now finding herself sober and volunteering.
Where do I begin: New York? Ghana? South Africa? There have been several detoxes, hospital admissions, and rehab stays, but all my efforts were to no avail. I truly believed I could control my drinking; refusing to acknowledge that drinking was a problem. Me an alcoholic? Never! I could stop drinking whenever I chose to.
Alcohol gave me the confidence to talk to others, build my self-esteem, and make the pain go away. It got to a point where I used any excuse to drink, ‘my mother does not love me’, ‘I did not get the job’, ‘I needed the courage to visit my father’ or ‘my boyfriend left me’. Towards the end of my drinking years, I used any excuse to drink.
I failed to understand or believe the countless jobs I lost, the good friends who avoided me, or family members who ridiculed me behind my back never expecting me to amount to much in life. Even the car accident in 1997, and future hospital admissions, but I still did not get it; all it took was one drink. I thought if I changed my choice of drink from spirits to wine, and finally to beer, it would be okay. Not so, I still ended up at North Middlesex Hospital on suicide watch. I became very good at hiding my pain and disappointment within myself with grandiose thinking: ‘I am never going to be like the winos I see on the street, or sell my body to get one drink.’
Life became a revolving door; relapse, recovery, abstinence, get a job, have some money in the bank, take trips to Ghana or the USA, and have ideas of grandeur, but always end in detox or hospital. Time passed by 1990, 2001, 2010. I was tired. My gaps of sobriety became shorter and shorter.
This has been my longest period of abstinence. Why is it working? I do not know, maybe my age. I began to listen to HAGA counsellors and support workers. I attended groups regularly, admitted and accepted I am an alcoholic and cannot drink.
It has not been easy; there have been many life events: deaths, sickness, menopause, and rejections. A lot of ‘I wish I could turn the clock back ten, or twenty years’ and relive my life again free of alcohol. I wish I had children, I wish I had furthered my education, I wish, I wish, I wish.
I strongly believe God does not give us more than we can handle. I know he has a plan for me. Now I work closely with BUBIC, giving back to the community. I often laugh when I see similar behaviour traits in others that I once possessed. What does the future hold for me? Who knows? I currently volunteer with BUBIC. It is a wonderful wonderful environment to work in and I continue to learn new things about myself. I have made good friends that I hope to have for many years.
I now walk with my head held high!