Last night was my seventh New Year's Eve. The seventh I woke up recalling what I did the night before, and the day before that and yes even the weeks leading up to it.
The seventh New Year's Day I woke up not wanting to die, just so that it would finally be over. The seventh New Years Day I felt safe and reassured in the knowledge that I won't be back in a bar again in a few hours time. The shaking under control. The panic numbed and medicated into submission by the glass in front of me, and the one after that. And the one after that.
Girls aren't supposed to be alcoholics. Not really. And when we meet one that is, we tend to humour them. Nod at them affectionately. Placate their admission whilst privately assuming they are referring to having a white wine spritzer too many and making a bit of a fool of themselves. Refusing to give credence to the actual truth of it. The cuts, the bruises, the scars. The fights with bouncers and police. The hours and days that are a gaping black hole of nothingness. The jobs lost, the friendships destroyed. The want and need that will burn through everything it touches to get what it wants. Until there is nothing left.
There were many New Year Eves I spent surrounded by people, I do recall them vaguely through the haze of my weapon of choice. What I do remember is the terror of absolute loneliness. Of feeling like no one could reach me or penetrate this prison of addiction I'd spent my entire adult life in. Of pretending to say goodbye to one year with one final drink - and swearing the New Year would be a new me. A version of me that wouldn't let this happen anymore. Who would live a life like everyone else, with responsibilities and order and reason. That this would be the year I stopped lying to myself and everyone around me and actually got sober.
I did get sober in the end. Finally I reached the point where I was more scared of dying drunk than I was of living sober. And it's been seven years and sometimes I forget I ever lived like that in the first place. Alone. Afraid. Abandoned of all hope.
Except on a night like New Year's Eve. A night I can quite happily spend alone knowing that loneliness and horror and ugliness of addiction are a thing of the past. Thankful that sobriety actually happened for me. Sad for those I have lost along the way, the faces who will be missing come the stroke of midnight. Those who were lost by the decision to die drunk instead. And praying that those who still haven't quite decided which is the path for them will take solace from a daft lass in a pretty dress who has stood in their shoes and lived to tell the tale.
I pray this is your year, I hope beyond all hope that it will be. And I'm going to make sure there are all the resources in the world at your disposal to get you there. That's my 2013 resolution. That's where we'll all be by New Year No. 8. Not hiding behind the shame of something we have so little power over. Not afraid to be seen as damaged or weakened by addiction. Open, honest, loud. It really is time we started talking our way out of this. Together. Bonded.
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