How I stopped drinking

26 February 2015

Yesterday something happened to me.  This incident really struck a chord deep in my heart and I came home and couldn't get it out of my mind.  I even had an ugly cry.  You know the one - where you have fluids pouring from every opening in your face.  You have no control over your mouth or muscles in your cheeks and when you are done your eyes are an angry pink and swollen.  You try to stop crying but with that comes the strangest, awkward type of sound and in the end surrender and just start crying all over again.  But God you feel so much better afterwards.  Like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.  A few minutes later the weight might be back again but you feel cleansed in a way.

I was walking home from work, I had just left my building and was walking down a side street.  Around Jericho, on the outskirts of Oxford city centre there are quite a few homeless people around.  It is depressing and I often feel for them.  I see one particular man and his loyal dog most mornings and afternoons.  Yesterday afternoon I came across him crouching on the pavement of a side street.  He had drool coming out of his mouth and was trying his hardest to stand up and simply couldn't.  He was drunk.  Well, probably beyond drunk.  He was absolutely wrecked.  He was staring blankly onto the cracked tarmac.  His hands filthy with dirt and his fingernails black.  His dog was next to him, trying to nuzzle into his arm and body to help him up, whining and crying, aware that his master was not with it at all.

My heart dropped to the floor.  I felt this huge urge to go to him, pick him up off the floor and tell him it was going to be OK. Instead I walked past him.

I kept looking back and after about 10 metres I stopped.  He was still trying to get himself off the ground.  I  sighed and turned back and asked him if he was OK.  He slurred that he was fine, that he had to get off the drink.  I said to him that it was probably a good idea.  I saw a sandwich lodged into his jacket pocket.  I mentioned to him that he might want to eat it as it would make him feel a bit better.

"I have to get off the drink", he said again.
"Yes my dear man.  Yes, you do." I said to myself quietly.
After he was back up on his feet and had taken a fair few steps I walked on.

But still he stayed on my mind.

You see -  I stopped drinking 3 years ago in May.  And I often wonder where I would be had I not stopped drinking.  I know I would be in a very bad place.  Maybe not as bad as this poor man I saw on the street but trust me I would be a sight for sore eyes.  Seeing things like this really affect me.  It makes my heart so sore.  I wanted to shake him hard and say "What are you doing?  Why are you wasting your life?  Make a change - you CAN do it.  Just stop drinking."  But I don't know him or his story or the hand that life has dealt him.  We all have stuff to deal with.  Some deal with it better than others.

This just made me realise once again that stopping drinking was the BEST decision I have ever made in my life.  I have control of me and my actions.  I do not rely on a bottle of alcohol to make me feel anything or in many cases, not make me feel anything.  So many people ask me - but how did you do it?  How do you stop? My dear friends - it is actually so simple.

You have to want to stop.  And then you do.  You simply stop.

You have to want to stop so badly that you have this yearning deep in the pit of your stomach.  You have to want your life back.  You have to want the real you back; that person hiding behind all the bottles of booze.  You have to want to deal with shit.  You have to face up to the music.

And you can.  You can do ANYTHING you want in this world.  And with doing this - you will be able to do so many other things.  It is so uplifting.  It is such a relief when you make the decision.  And you have to make this decision yourself.  No one else can do it for you.

For anyone reading this - or if you know anyone who needs to read this.  It will be OK.  Just stop.  It is as simple as that.  And slowly things will become clear again.

One day at a time.



  1. Good for you, Claire. I went back and read your story and it's amazing what you have done.


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