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Lockdown filled me with fear. It took me straight back to where I had been before: isolating on my own and drinking.
I have worked from home for many years and my house is lovely – a comfortable space with large gardens. Since I have been sober, I have been quite happy living here by myself. But I have also been going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and usually see my sponsor regularly. Lockdown felt like the self-imposed prison I had experienced at the height of my alcoholism. I felt trapped and I wanted to run.
Originally, when I was drinking, I would go out a lot, socialising – but then I had an accident on the way home. I fell over and had to go to A&E. Most people would have thought: “I better cut down drinking,” but – such is the nature of alcoholism – that didn’t feel like an option for me. I thought: “I better not go out drinking; I better drink at home.” By then, I just wanted to drink until I was unconscious anyway – it was no longer a social thing for me. I felt indifferent towards my home, but I would stay in bed and drink on my own.
For the last three months of my drinking, I couldn’t stop – I would start from the minute I woke up. I live next door to a supermarket, so I would go there to get alcohol and that would be my only trip out of the house most days.
I started attending AA meetings after a six-week detox in a rehabilitation facility. They are structured so that you talk and people listen, but no one gives feedback during the meeting itself. Any advice or conversation would happen during the breaks or afterwards – so when they moved the AA meetings to Zoom, you could still share, but you couldn’t have those interactions. I knew I had to find a new structure for my day and confront my relationship with the home that had been my prison.
Thankfully, there is a huge community of people in recovery, who really support each other, and I realised that feeling trapped wasn’t going to last for ever. I thought: all I have to do right now is stay safe and live in today – something I learned in the 12-step programme. Practising daily gratitude has helped me have a new appreciation for my physical space and helped to transform it from a prison into a sanctuary.
I still really miss human contact, but I have rekindled a love for my home. I have gardened, I have baked, I have done lockdown DIY and yoga in the fresh air. I also started writing a list of things I would like to do and places I would like to go in the future.
If anybody had told me when I was drinking that there was going to be a pandemic and I was going to go through it sober, it would have seemed impossible. If I hadn’t already had a period of recovery and I didn’t have all the tools, I don’t know what I would have done. But I have come to accept life as it is, and I have not wanted to pick up a drink, which is a miracle. I have got myself to a place where I think it will all be all right.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: I was terrified lockdown would send me back to the bottle. The reality proved fantastically different | Alcoholism