My partner of 18 years now, had left several times over my outbursts, drunkenness and selfishness but somehow we managed to hold things together.

Alison, sober since May 2019

Hi, I’m Alison.

I came into Chestnuts on May 13th 2019 having really come to the end of my tether with how I felt about my life and myself. Slowly but surely over a period of over 25 years, my drinking was off the scale, extremely dangerous, destructive and demotivating.

My story is not one consisting of having lost my job, my house, or my driving license though I fail to see why as I took so many idiotic risks it doesn’t bear thinking about. I think I was just a damned good liar when all was said and done and all 3 events were literally a thread away from happening at some point.

I do think I’d accepted that I was “deeply alcohol dependant” as my partner tried gently to put it, but realistically he was just offering me a kind, alternative phrase, that merely skirted around the true issue of the fact that I was completely, seriously and dangerously unwell, despite me always trying and failing to rationalise and normalise the reasons why I drank… simply put, there was no other reason other than alcohol had completely stolen me and was threatening very closely to taking everything and everyone away from me.

I remember an incident which I am extremely mortified over, where I was insistent upon driving my son to his first and only school prom, having necked 2 bottles of wine as a top up on the 4 I’d had the day before, with my partner grabbing the steering wheel, begging and shouting at me to pull over as I was veering all over the place on the main A47. I could’ve quite easily killed us all in an instant all because my stupid alcohol soaked brain was telling me that I was fine! An event I can never forgive myself for.

My partner of 18 years now, had left several times over my outbursts, drunkenness, and selfishness but somehow we managed to hold things together. I think it helped matters as he was training to become a counselor and perhaps understood that I was genuinely ill. Despite him trying to help me to regulate when I drank, this always inevitably failed because the power of alcohol was too strong over me. I was beaten by it and the only person that was ever going to be able to do anything about it was me.

I picked up the phone to Chestnuts on a Friday evening in May 2019, I really don’t know what exactly I was feeling or thinking when I did, other than something was telling me I’d had enough of existing like this and I just think I was absolutely fed up with looking and feeling like I did ..and feeling dead inside. I just knew I would end up dead for real if I carried on.

So I arrived at Chestnuts on the following Monday afternoon ( 2 bottles of wine down me and a stop off at the Navigation Inn, near to Chestnuts for a final blast), and then began my 2 weeks in rehab.

How did I feel? Scared, anxious lonely, sad, and lost. I did a lot of crying that afternoon. The staff were brilliant, the clients also rallied around so quickly to welcome me, and then I guess the work started.

It took me a long time to realise that there was no other word for me but Alcoholic. I was reluctant to accept this and it wasn’t until we were taken (dragged in my eyes at the time) to AA/ NA meetings I started seeing and relating to the similarities with other peoples stories. I guess at that point I had to stop kidding myself, though it took me quite some time to say the actual words… “Hi, I’m Alison and I’m an alcoholic ”

If I’m honest, I think I came into Chestnuts looking for a cure all scenario where I could go back to sensible drinking on social occasions… i.e. I wanted to be like everyone else. I soon learned this was never going to be an option.

I can’t remember much about the first day at all, apart from being monitored through the night by staff and taking some tablets which I think now were to help on withdrawal. However, I do remember feeling safe and looked after.

I enjoyed the lessons and the meditation. I found it interesting and I felt I wanted to learn everything about everything… but I guess that’s just the studious me!

Clearly though, although I still struggle with my higher power, what I have come to learn is that something or someone clearly gave me a message of some sort to urge me to pick that phone up to Darren on that Friday evening in May 2019 and it’s honestly turned out to be the best thing, apart from having my son, that I’ve ever done in my life.

My relationship is stable, my sister and I now speak and have a good relationship with each other, I am more level-headed, I am truly now an honest person, I am more at peace with myself, and dare I say it, I even like myself more!

There are always challenges in life but being sober gives you the gift of being able to rationalise and take the good with the bad.

Life never has been nor will be perfect, but my life now, for the last 2 years anyway, I can honestly say is a life without that vicious poisonous, mind-altering, disgusting substance that nearly ruined and killed me and you know what…life is good… life is very good and I choose this new life every day.

Some if you may know me already but newcomers will almost always find me on Saturday afternoon aftercare sessions which I genuinely look forward to every week, even if I’m not in the UK. It keeps me grounded and alert and most importantly it reminds me how much I really want to remain sober… that’s the key for me, you’ve got to really really want it.

Thank you Chestnuts for helping me to get my life back and I do hope this may give some inspiration to others currently suffering from the abhorrent disease of alcoholism.