I had been a wine drinker since my early twenties, a story that has been told a zillion times before, my parents motto was always work hard play hard, I did.
The dynamics changed when I started having commitments and responsibilities. Again, not an uncommon story. Marriage, children, mortgage, juggling all for quite some time well, with the input of a bottle of wine a day, quipping as so many of my friends did that it was part of the five a day.
By the time I reached 45, the amounts had doubled. I was forgetful, grumpy, fat and not delivering my full attention to either my family or my work. I climbed the greasy pole but was losing it in a very patchy way. Some days I would perform well, usually at the end of the week, I realised, we lie to everyone else, but we are terrified internally with our behaviour, that those days were a build up to the bingeing that I had started at the weekends.
Then what I dreaded would happen, did. I was caught drink driving on the school run, 8.15am. Everything went pear shaped. My partner stood by me, my children were so embarrassed they barely spoke to me, my employer told me to get help, with the inference, or else.
I went to rehab. It worked in terms of me stopping drinking. When I came out, shaky, fearful, the reality of restarting life was overwhelming. I had been cocooned, now everywhere I looked there was alcohol, and I truly had to white knuckle every single second of the day. I started back at work, paranoid and unable to concentrate fully as I believed that everyone was talking about my fall from grace.
My partner was worried, he watched me like a hawk. The whole atmosphere around me was like living on a knife edge. On June 17th this year I bought a bottle of wine and drank it in the garage at home. Weeping self-pitying with a smattering of defiance I wobbled into the kitchen and realised that I firstly hated the taste, and secondly knew I needed more than being dried out.
Enter Harrogate Sanctuary. Sarah had done some work with my company a few years ago, my arrogance about being able to handle my drinking had stopped me joining the group who had found it very helpful.
When I called, I was not that up my own arse woman I was then. After a brief call, we organised a meeting. That hour was a revelation. Sarah works her programme in a completely different way to what I had experienced in the rehab. The shortest way of describing it is she gets to the root of the problem and doesn’t mess about with peripheries. Very direct, extremely insightful, and so supportive and a real stickler with routines that the programme shows work for women like me. She covers so much more than as she puts it the faulty on/off button, and the result is I spent 10 weeks in her care, am continuing with single sessions weekly as I go forward as a non-drinker, a woman who knows herself, who isn’t frightened of being curious or asking for space and help with a plethora of problems I once thought I could handle alone. My expectations have changed. Sarah makes sure that you keep those low, for most of my life I had set a very high bar, and it was bloody exhausting. She shows you how to accept your flaws, embrace them, and make them work for you as we are unique. Because my fall from grace was so public, local paper, the parents who saw me being breathalysed around the corner from the school gates, even if I wanted to, which I don’t, I can’t hide. That has allowed me to be honest and authentic.
I am healthy, losing the wine belly, and importantly I like myself a lot. I am open about my troubles with misuse, I have never once been castigated for it. I made a HUGE mistake, but I am paying my dues, and grateful that Sarah was there, and still is there for me and many other people and families like mine.