I loved life as a child, I was the youngest of 4, and with 3 older brothers, I was the only girl my parents had. My dad and I had a fantastic bond, and I was what you could describe as a daddy’s girl. From an early age, I knew exactly what to say to him to get what I wanted.
My brothers would play outside and were into sports. As I grew older, I would long to spend more time in their company, and I guess you could say I was trying to be a bit of a tomboy.
I longed for the approval of my brothers, and even though my dad would always tell me I was special, I never really felt as unique as my brothers.
They had each other and did everything together. As the only girl I would get left out when they would play games, and it hurt.
By 14 years, I was doing well at school but had a rebellious streak. I liked boys and would chat with them as often as I could. By 15 I had a boyfriend, he was a little older than me aged 17, but I thought it was cool. I had an older boy who liked me.
We’d go to parties, and I would drink. My brothers would be there, but they wouldn’t say anything to my parents. I think they were quietly impressed that I could drink more than the others in the drinking games. I liked how I got approval for knocking back; more than anyone else.
Alcohol made me more confident and feel grown-up. I was the youngest at these parties, and I would crave the approval of my older boyfriend and brothers.
I never thought of my behaviour as being odd. In my eyes, I was just doing what the other teenagers were doing. I was drinking and having fun, maybe a little young, but I didn’t care.
I guess the signs were there even then as I drank to get drunk. Some nights I would go home and wake up not knowing how I’d got to bed. Later my brothers would tell me I was wasted, and I almost felt proud at this.
Life went on like this for a few years, I still did well at school, but really it was the weekends and the parties I enjoyed. I swapped boyfriends and seem to out-drink every boy I dated.
Most couldn’t handle me, but I put it down to them being dull and me being full of life. It was their problem, not mine. I just liked to party.
University came and went, and so did more boys. I did okay at college – I guess I could have done better, but it was such an exciting time. I definitely prioritised partying over studies and enjoyed being in a big city. At 22, I left university and felt like I had the world at my feet.
I got pregnant that summer. I was out one night and had a bit too much. I went home with a boy I liked for ages but was too drunk to remember protection.
Anyway, I ended up pregnant, and 9 months later, I had my son. I remember I was actually able to not drink during pregnancy, and the baby’s father was lovely. We moved in together, and I finally felt like I was growing up. I was no longer a little girl, I felt like a woman.
I soon found out being a mother was hard. I remember my partner would go to work and I’d be left at home with our son. I wanted to feel a connection to him. I loved him but didn’t feel a bond. He would cry, and I couldn’t soothe him. My partner would simply pick him up, and he stopped crying. I felt useless and a failure as a mother.
I started drinking during the day, at first. It was just a glass or two of wine. It felt normal, and I didn’t question why I was drinking around my son. Soon, a glass would turn into a bottle or more.
One day my partner came home early from work. Our son was downstairs in front of the TV, and I was found upstairs on the bed asleep. I made up an excuse of exhaustion, but really, I had been drunk and must have passed out on the couch.
Thankfully our son was okay. I knew what I had done was wrong, but I had a feeling of getting away with it. There were so many instances like this, but I was always good at finding excuses. I could play the victim, cry about being home alone with so much domestic pressure and stress.
The real problem started once my son started going to school. I would drink more during the day, and by the afternoon when my son and partner came home, I would be in a pretty bad state.
My partner would threaten to leave me. My family got involved, and my father would try his best to help me. They suggested I get a hobby or join the gym to keep busy. They said it would make me happier and wouldn’t find time to drink. Still, I couldn’t stop.
Eventually, my partner told me that if I didn’t stop, he would leave me and take our son with him. My father told me I had to get proper help. I knew I was an alcoholic; I just didn’t want to admit it.
I tried to blame everything and everyone else and refused to take responsibility. My parents tried their best to get professional help, but I declined. I was scared but angry at others for interfering.
Eventually, my worst fears come true, my partner left taking our son with him. I remember thinking to myself that things had to change. I just didn’t know how.
I spoke to my father; he had been attending family support programs on how to best support me. He told me that there was an option and that the family could help me access help, but the hard work would need to be done by me.
A detox was arranged through Addictions UK. My family paid for it, but it was very affordable. It was all done at the comfort of my home. I was terrified I had images of people fitting, and I thought I would be sick a lot.
Truth is I felt quite stable, the doctors were very supportive. Detox went a lot smoother than I anticipated. I was finally sober and free from alcohol. However, the thought of drinking was still there.
I got introduced to the Director of Casework Simon Stephens. He told me a bit about his own experience with addiction. It felt so good to talk to someone who understood me.
He seemed to know what I was thinking and it instantly made me feel calm. I told him I still had thoughts of drinking and would experience intense cravings. He told me it’s a common thing, but there was a solution. We arranged weekly sessions to explore my relationship with alcohol and myself.
I started to look forward to our planned sessions and the thoughts of drinking receded. I could begin to put my life back together. I needed to see my son and partner, but I know I have a long way to go to regain their trust.
We are all working together as a family, but I still accept my ongoing need for support. I thank Simon and the Addictions UK team, alongside my partner and family for continuing to support me along the way. Currently, I am 14 months sober, one day at a time. I’m feeling much more accepting of life and my responsibilities. I look forward to a new life with joy!