As last week promised, The Flying Child has kindly allowed us to share with you the follow-up to her previous blog, A Sense of Solidarity. Without wishing to intrude upon or dilute her inimitable authenticity, today’s blog, The Great Pretender, covers her coping mechanisms and how she finally found the right balance for herself… for her wellbeing, self and freedom.
We invite you to take a few minutes to read The Flying Child’s story and please join our Epione community and conversation on Twitter to see, hear, share, understand and learn.
If you would like to share your story with our healing community, then please contact Derek at firstname.lastname@example.org or Felicity Douglas on Twitter @FelicityDougie.
In the meantime, over to you, The Flying Child, and thank you once again!
Alcohol: marauder, pretender, conman, thief, tricked me into believing I needed it to cope with life. It transformed sadness into happiness. When my body hurt it soothed it. But it was all an illusion. A trap. Happiness was replaced by a melancholic sense of doom so profound that I didn’t want to wake up and see the following day.
Compared to some, I didn’t drink huge amounts, but it was why I drank and the effect it had on me that was the problem. I drank to get through the last few hours of the day, when I was tired, or hurt or when I was feeling cross, but drinking exhausted me. A tsunami of toxicity would rage and roll through my system, encouraging me to hurt myself and to keep the argument alive.
I drank to forget the memories of child sexual abuse, but drinking made me remember everything with cruel and vivid intensity. I drank to feel alive, but drinking made me want to die. Only when I drank did I cut, swallow pills, try to hang myself. Only when I drank did I stand on the wrong side of the railings on a bridge. Only when I had a drink inside me did I stand at the edge of a track and watch the trains hurtle past, thinking that I’d do it. Just do it, when the next one came. When I drank, I cut deeper and alcohol made me not care in the slightest, until the next morning when I’d stare in astonishment and dismay at the damage, too late, irreparable. The legacy is here to stay.
When I don’t drink, I look at my scars and wonder how I could have done that to myself. When I don’t drink, thoughts of suicide are gone. When I don’t drink, I’m calmer and rational, but it’s hard sometimes because of the flashbacks, the pain, the memories that make me withdraw and look back rather than forward. I crave that first glass, the numbing of body and mind. I know it will help me get through bedtime and the requests for just one more cuddle, a drink, the search for a lost book.
I did stop, the more time that passed, the stronger I felt. I will never drink again, I said. I was sure of it. I threw away wine glasses, the corkscrew, but I always found a way to get a drink, if I needed one, which I did, more often than not. When I picked up the first drink, I thought, it’s ok. I won’t go back to that dark place.
When I picked up the next night, I knew I was in trouble. I was weak, but what can one do about the inevitable? I was one of The Priory’s failed statistics, after all. Twice, I failed. Twice. I failed in AA too. “It works if you work it so work it, you’re worth it!” they chant at you there. I spent a long time wondering if I just wasn’t worth it.
When a therapist said to me “when are you going to stop fighting to die and start fighting to live?” the words stuck. I needed to fight if I wanted the life abuse had stolen from me. I needed to fight the anger and hurt, not turn it inwards. I needed to fight the bottle too as it would kill me, one way or another. I came to the conclusion myself. Not because I was being told to stop, begged, coerced, or bullied
Now I rarely drink. I don’t follow the advice of the addiction specialist who said to avoid even the smallest drop, for the rest of my life. I will eat brandy laced mince pies or risotto steeped in white wine, because relapse is not about the alcohol, for me. It never was. It was about secrets unspoken. Trauma unprocessed. Rape unmentioned. Memories pushed back and locked away. It was about the silence, pain and shame, shame, shame.
I have spoken my secrets and continue to do so. I have processed the horror, every last bit, with a therapist trained in trauma who just understood. Today, it is my choice to drink or not and it’s a choice I make every day. I can drink if I want to and mostly I don’t. I don’t drown the trauma; I walk alongside it instead. I speak it in my work as an activist. I write it and put it on my blog or pick up the phone and message my therapist and we work through it together. I developed a new strategy, one of honesty and openness, not secrets and lies. One that supports me and leads me out of the dark, not unravels me, breaks me and traps me there instead.
Author: The Flying Child