Sober Serenade

Sober Book Club… now there’s 3 words I never thought I’d be saying. What a triumph for us sober folk, between good literature and coffee I don’t know how else I’d be spoilt for choice. As an avid blogger I’ve recently hit the wall with writing, to say I’ve had a mind blank is an understatement. Emily kindly asked me to be the first Sober Book Club guest writer, with full reign to take this baby in whatever direction I desire. So I guess let’s start with the boring stuff, here’s a little bit about me…

I’m a 27-year old gal who’s recently embarked on her recovery journey from alcoholism a mere 15 months ago. I always say I was late to this particular party, and I detest being late to anything. My story, well where to begin, it’s hard to recall the mayhem and chaos because I was in a pure blackout. But strip it back, I began drinking at age 12, my parents never shied us away from alcohol, it was never taboo or the elephant in the room. 

As an Irish Catholic, the ‘blood of christ’ was the only incentive for attending church. It resembled the taste of alcohol, and that gave me a feeling best described as a warm blanket on a cold day. It is ludicrous that from such a young age I experienced these sensations, from sampling wine at Chateau’s in the south of France as well. 

I was obsessed with the feeling and confidence I oozed from the initial sip. Unfortunately, as things progressed, and all digressed around me, one drink was too much, and 100 wasn’t enough - that’s the best way to condense my alcoholism. My story comprises a typical drunk-a-log, but for those reading, I’ll bore you with the details.

I’m someone who’s suffered traumas of all types, but the pinnacle would be witnessing my brother die in an RTC (Road Traffic Collision). There’s something so chilling and frightening about seeing a loved one die in front of your eyes. He was instantly killed, and for that I’m grateful, otherwise he’d have suffered and been vegetated. 

That’s when the vodka became a daily thing, vodka without a mixer, straight and strong. I would seek oblivion, anything to suppress the pain and grieving emotions, I needed an escape from reality. I would walk miles down the canal just to get wine. I’d steal from my Dad and shops just to fund my habit. You name it, I probably have done it. 

Denial is something I carried with me for years. I would hate when Doctors would ask about my weekly alcohol intake, but I thought I’d pulled the wool over their eyes. I was holding down a job, but would always leave before they could fire me, my pride and ego wouldn’t allow for me to be fired. That’s the thing you learn about in recovery, the ego – ‘Edging Good Out,’ - and christ was I edging anything good out. 

I also lived in active addiction with my now ex-partner, between cocaine and booze all bets were off. Volatility, toxicity, and violence were the 3 core principles of our relationship. It was sad given we were just 2 young people in love, but addicts are like magpies, we attract toward each other. It broke down the remnants of that relationship, and it meant leaving my first home, sofa surfing, and moving back to the family house. The break-up was the perfect leverage to manipulate everyone around me with. Just like in the films, I could justify being that woman with her girlfriends crying over cocktails. It was my free pass to lord around drinking because if you had my life you’d drink like me! 

As my drinking excelled, the consequences worsened. I caused chaos at my best friend’s bachelorette party, I got arrested for drunk and disorderly, and then my crash occurred… 

15 months ago marks one of the greatest moments of my life, at 4.5 times over the legal driving limit, I got behind the wheel of my car and flipped it. A broken nose and ribs were the height of my injuries, I didn’t cause harm to anyone apart from myself and my dog. It’s all a blur, one I’m grateful for because within a week of this I found myself in a hospital detoxing for the next 9 days. I finally hit rock bottom, one that wasn’t robbed from me.

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, but so lost and scared. I was scared because I couldn’t see a life with or without alcohol, which terrified me. But, the booze stopped working, no matter the quantity I poured down my throat, oblivion wasn’t quite the same. Oh boy, was detox and withdrawal another experience. It’s one I pray never to go through again. The relief of finally acknowledging and accepting my alcoholism was next to none. My recovery finally commenced and was cemented when I met a friend of Bill’s (if you know, you know). 

I’ve learned so much in my recovery. That I’m an egomaniac, self-centred, and self-loathing – that’s to name but a few character defects. I was full of resentment at the start, questioning why at the tender age of 26; did I have to change everything?

All I could see were acquaintances going out, partying, and enjoying some after-work bevies. They were all things of the past, things I honestly could never do without consequence. I was a Jekyll and Hyde character once I had a drink, no one knew what side of Sersh they’d be on the receiving end of. Either way, it wasn’t a pretty one. 

Fast forward the tape, over a year clean and things are different. It hasn’t been an easy road to meander down, in fact, it’s been anything but linear.

I suffer from other mental health issues which were exasperated once the drink was put down. From Borderline Personality Disorder to Anorexia Nervosa, I’m not a one-trick pony when it comes to diseases and disorders. Naturally, these things will flare up because I no longer use booze to artificially suppress emotions and feelings. 

They often tell you in early sobriety that there’s one good/bad thing - you get your feelings back, and damn is it a double whammy. I also learned you can’t control people, places, or things. This was hard to accept as I controlled and mass manipulated everything and everyone around me. 

Today, I can safely say life is far better than it was, I have slowly repaired relationships with family and my dearest friends. I have a small job making me accountable and responsible. Yes, I lost my license but in the grand scheme of things, it was a small price to pay. There’s an endless memoir I could fill these pages with, but instead, I’d like to focus on the here and now, the present. At the moment my ego feels dented, I feel like an uninteresting specimen, like what identification could someone gain from my story?!

I’m sat in a crowded coffee shop, it’s baby galore here, all the young mums are out brunching with their mini tribes, so to say I’m a little distracted is mildly putting it. I love children, their curiosity and love for life is intriguing and refreshing. I almost adapt their attitude to life to my recovery because I’ve had to let go of all my old ideas, everything has had to change. They often say once the drink has been put down, you revert back to the age you were before picking it up.

So how does the current Sersh look with 15 years mentally taken of her age? I’m definitely vulnerable as each onion layer peels back, as I delve deeper into my own self and thinking. I’ve come to learn I’m a feelings fixer, someone who fears life and anything out of my control. It’s a difficult thing to articulate because at present I’m suffering with imposter syndrome, I feel a mere shell of myself. Vulnerable is the only way to reiterate it. BUT you have to feel the fear and do it!

Over this sober period, I’ve been exposed to wet places; friends drinking; and drunk people, yes you BEAUTIFUL people I was once part of your tribe, aside from I was from the dark side. Drunk people are hard work, normally when a person starts to repeat themselves, that’s my cue to leave.

Being sober in wet places is a totally new experience for moi, I was pissed around the clock so it never mattered which environment I was in, as long as there was a steady flow of alcohol. Initially it was rather surreal being in a wet place, but after a couple of ginger beers (or lime sodas) things don’t phase me provided I have a (soft) drink in hand.

I’m now at a place of peace with no resentment towards anyone who can drink normally, I have acceptance around being different from the status quo. This doesn’t mean I spend the majority of my time in pubs, or with folk totting, in fact I spend as minimal time as possible in said places, and only if/when I have to.

Intoxicated people are interesting specimens, bearing witness to some characters who reflect the old me (my behaviours and actions) is painstaking and cringe worthy. I cringe when I see a shimmer of myself in a stranger staggering down the street, it’s sometimes hard to comprehend that was the old me.

It’s definitely a new experience, seeing the world through sober eyes, and one I’m rather enjoying. I never thought I could go an hour without a drink, or be around it as a sober, ginger gal. It’s refreshing to no longer be the cause for concern; the liability and or the arrested one. It is hard, however, to watch those closest to you deteriorate with the same disease, nothing can prepare you for it.

With one friend in particular my heart breaks, watching them run on self-will whilst being able to call their every move is a bitter pill to swallow. I could say it’s hard hitting for selfish reasons, as I take a back seat and see the detrimental effects it has on those who surround them. It’s a frank, stark reminder and exposure to what I formulated back in the day.

On that sombre note, let’s revert back to happier times, I’m off to Switzerland soon, a chance to explore its beauty and sample its fine chocolate. I love being well enough to finally start seeing the world, experiencing cultures and making up for lost time. I always intended to travel when I was younger and I’m blessed to follow through with that, but without a 12-step program none of this would be possible.

That’s the greatest thing about recovery, if you keep things simple, in time your thinking will change. Alcohol is only a symptom, but it’s my head and thinking process that needs to change.

Written by Saoirse

Hi, I’m Saoirse (Sersh), I’m a 27 year old gal with 15 months recovery under her belt. Since getting sober I’ve fallen in love with yoga, blogging and nature. I’m a mother to ‘Lottie’ - a glorious member of the sausage dog community. You could say I’m looking to life live, as opposed to merely existing…

Instagram: @sobersershserenade

Website: searchingforsersh.wordpress.com

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