When I was trying to "give up" drinking. You know, doing it with the mindset that it was a sacrifice, the world was quite a different place.
Facebook was yet to turn up on the scene. Twitter was a twinkle in his daddy's eye. People were still instant messaging eachother, and texting on non-smart phones.
If you wanted to use the internet you did it from a PC or laptop. Chat rooms were still quite big back then too.
Anyway, I used to go on my laptop and peruse a forum that was absolutely nothing like what's available today. Not just because technology wasn't what it is now, back then. But because the mentality and mindset and feel of the place was a totally different experience.
Some people on there were lovely. Some were very not. All were as lost as I was. And it was this feeling of being lost which had us all bound together. Clinging to each other for guidance.
There was a very strict code of conduct we had to adhere to. Not just in behaviour, but in belief. This forum had a very strict dogma. And you followed this doctrine, or you f*cked off.
It was that simple.
We would all post mainly the same thing. We would try to "give up" then sh*t would happen. Then we would get mad and drink "at" something. Then we'd go on the forum and post about it, and everyone would get mad at us because we weren't following The Rules properly.
All conveniently forgetting that none of could actually follow these rules properly.
It just happened to not be us that messed up that particular day.
Then everyone would get in a fight. Figurative fists would fly. Everyone would get upset. Those that turned belligerent would be accused of "posting under the influence".
Nothing really changed that often. But I still went back, because there were no decent forums. Or blogs really. So it was that or nothing.
And I was too lonely to choose no advice over second rate advice.
A shy woman in her very early forties would post quite frequently. She suffered badly from post traumatic stress disorder and it would always drive her back to binge drinking sessions.
She would do well for a few months at a time. Sometimes up to six months in the past. But then the terrors would set her off again.
She had been sober for eight weeks, but then disappeared from the forum for 10 days. I don't think anyone really noticed, but she came in one evening and said she knew it had been 10 days because she had been on a 10 day bender.
As she was writing you could feel the shame coming off her in waves. She was disgusted with herself. She had blacked out a lot. Drank in and out of the house. She was very upset because she hadn't been paying her cat the attention he deserved.
This post was filled with the need for atonement. But it ended on an almost jubilant note. Because THIS was the time. She was just so fed up of living like this. She KNEW change was coming. She could FEEL it. She hadn't even drank that evening because she was so certain it was going to be the first day of the rest of her life.
She was so confident that she had phoned her dad and asked him to come over in the morning and pick her up so she could go stay with her parents and start the process properly with extra emotional support. She was so ready for her new life to begin.
We got an update from her the next morning.
Except it wasn't from her.
It was from her pensioner dad.
Who had let himself in to his daughter's flat.
Then found she had died in her sleep.
Nothing has ever hit me as hard as this did. Even to this day, nothing has had the same effect on me.
Not a single incident in life has hit with with the crystal clear clarity that this poor woman's death did.
This sh*t kills people.
It kills with literally no warning.
It kills people like me, so it could kill me.
It could do it right now.
There's only one way to stop this game of Russian roulette happening.
Everyone on the forum lost their minds. I've never experienced mass fear like it. Hundreds of woman all losing it.
At each other.
At the demon drink who had caused this death and subsequent fear.
It was too much for me. I didn't go on again after that. But I took the reality check that it gave me, and I ran with it.
The truth is that many woman can have no external indicators of how much trouble their body is in after chronically abusing alcohol. It is a game of chance.
Some women die in their sleep. Some just keel over and do it at the table. None know it is coming.
We owe it to ourselves to acknowledge this truth. To take control. To stop being sad statistics on forums and websites.
To pull the blinkers from our eyes and admit this this is real. That this could happen to us to.
And then join forces, shoulder to shoulder, and do something about it.
Live a full, fear-free life.
To keep living