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  • Writer's pictureChristine Coulson

Is it ever just about alcohol?

woman sitting in field with balloon

It feels really odd to be able to say this; but I have genuinely never been more content with my life than I am now.

I'm not saying this to be smug; I have my ups and downs like everyone, but compared to who I was when I was drinking, I am almost unrecognisable in the shift in my attitude to my life and myself.

In February 2020, my life wasn't great. I was living in a house I no longer liked, with neighbours who were starting to display signs of antisocial behaviour that I didn't really know how to deal with. That house was in a town I didn't want to be in. But I had good friends, a little business on the side and adequate 'coping strategies' for stress that included the gym, heading North to see my family and taking myself off to the cinema in the middle of the day.

Then 2020 took a turn. Suddenly, all the positive things in my life became illegal. Businesses (including my own) were forced to close and I couldn't see the people I loved. The negative things in my life were still present; the neighbours (who were now omnipresent through the walls); the house and the town.

I dealt with it the only way I knew how - by drinking. Of course, drinking in 2020 was not only legal, it became the nation's pastime.

So drinking, is ever just about alcohol?

With perfect hindsight four years on, I can confidently write that my drinking wasn't about the alcohol. It wasn't about the sunshine. It was a readily available, perfectly legal way to numb out my life. The bottles could be joked about, like a lockdown badge of honour. No one knew what was going on inside my house, or inside my head. I was able to ostrich out the housework until it reached a point where even I couldn't ignore it any more.

So four years on, and over two years sober, I can barely recognise these memories in the life I currently live. I have moved to a house I love, the old neighbours a distant memory. The old town behind me, never (hopefully) to return.

In sobriety, I have created a life that I no longer need to block out. I have clearer boundaries, I have healthier friendships. I have more time and energy; and I spend it doing things that I want to do. I'm spending time creating my ideal little home, meeting with friends that I want to catch up with, taking courses and booking onto activities that genuinely bring me joy. I have hoovered twice in the last week.

Dare I say it, not only am I the happiest I think I have ever been, I think I actually like myself. No, I am not perfect; no, my life isn't a hazy blur of purple clouds and rose-tinted spectacles, but for I think the first time I'm grateful for what I have an I want to make the best of it instead of wanting more. I don't mind doing the cleaning, it makes me happier. I don't mind doing the gardening, it makes it nicer to sit outside with my morning coffee.

When I am stressed or anxious, I have curated a playlist of tasks, distractions and rituals that help me acknowledge the issue, accept it, deal with it and move on; even if just for enough time to help me get a good night's sleep. I don't need alcohol to drown out my emotions; I live them. The good and the bad. As Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote; "Let everything happen to you / Beauty and terror / Just keep going / No feeling is final."   And yes, I did first read that at the end of Jojo Rabbit.

You see, with alcohol, it's rarely about alcohol. In sobriety I've made changes to create a life that I no longer wish to avoid. This is what I find with the clients I work with, as we work on goals and look at ways to deal with the reality of life without running away. I help my clients set goals and work out how to achieve them in a way that they can achieve. Clients work with me because they too want a happier, calmer and more content life. Each and every one of my clients has different goals, different values and different desires; but one thing is universal, as they move closer to achieving them, they no longer have the need to numb out their progress. Because it's never just about alcohol.

To talk about how I can help you achieve a life you no longer need to numb out, book a discovery call here.

Photo by Catalin Pop on Unsplash

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