The Beginning of the End or The Start of Something New?

Saturday April 21st 2016 – I went back to AA a shaking, shivering mess, huddled in my thick parka and scarf, crying and ashamed. Defeated and full of remorse and fear. The Big Book says it all, the program speaks of the alcoholic who is truly defeated and ready to admit powerlessness. With that change came a loss of all of my connections as most of them were toxic, based on shared addictions and my decision to be abstinent and sober was too confronting for most friends. I lost my best friend – alcohol – and then my minimal friendships because I finally realised I couldn’t keep doing the same old behaviours and expect positive changes.

One friend – Philly – said to me “I miss the drunk Isabella” – at the time I didn’t know what to say, yet internally I was screaming and shouting abuse. I wanted to shout, punch and pummel him with reminders of drunken calls, near fatal overdoses, falls and near death experiences. I didn’t say anything.

What I did do was cease contact with Philly who had been in my life since I was 18. Philly had been my best friend for a decade in my 20’s, in my 30’s we still had drunken, drug fuelled catch ups every couple of years. Philly who professed undying love for me, who I had called whilst overdosing and would visit me in hospital when Joey saved my arse from dying. Philly who admitted he did nothing when I called him to say goodbye, that I had taken a shit load of meds and wine – because he was home alone and too drunk to so anything to save or help me.

Philly would try to tempt me with alcohol, drugs or both. Every. Single. Time I tried to get sober. Is that friendship? Is that healthy? Is that fair? Is that love? No. That’s what addiction does to people – it fights to keep its friends close and equally unwell so that the individual does not have to face their own addictions, struggles, pain and self sabotaging choices and actions.

My desperate desire to be sober held a mirror up to my friends and showed them their own sickness – which they were not ready to accept. It was not my place to force them to see their own addictions, pain and chaos created by their addictions. And that’s ok. Some friends I distanced myself from slowly and carefully as I did not want to harm them further. Others turned on me – lashing out in anger, blaming and critising me for my new lifestyle and quiet voice of change. These friends ceased contact with me and it was explosive, painful and full of anger and arguments – recriminations and judgements from both sides. I had yet to learn to avoid or cease the toxic patterns of our friendships or relationship – something I still struggle with today.

Yet here I am – still sober, with a small group of strong healthy friends who only want the best for me. I now seek healthy, balanced company. I seem to be almost “adopted” by people who see something in me that they like. I question their desire to be my friend – are they crazy? Do they pity me? What do they think I can give them in return for their amazing qualities, support and friendship? Are they nuts???

I am slowly learning to accept that others see something in me I do not yet fully see or own. I observe their healthy choices, listen to their love of excercise, healthy eating and gardening, gigs, music festivals, travel (NO girls I am never going to be into excercise like you – that’s where I draw the line!!!!) and, occasionally I ask for advice and act on it.

The only changes I should be focusing on is that of my own choices and life – other peoples lives are their own business. Until their choices and actions impact me – THEN it’s my business up to a point.

In summary –





Fractured and torn.

Upside down and inside out.

Losing grip on reality, capturing it for a fleeting moment, only to watch the wisp of normality slip through my fingers.

The Boy: “Just be normal!!!”

Me (screaming): “WHATS NORMAL????? HOW AM I NOT NORMAL?????”

I know I am not ‘normal’ – and please don’t start the age old debate about what is normal is abnormal – we don’t need to intellectualize the concept.

I am struggling with normal reactions, emotions and how to respond in social situations – I have always had to be careful, wary and watchful to ensure that my reactions are appropriate. I am constantly trying to assess my reactions, copy others, think of the way I should be responding rather than being the awkward adolescent I am.

The longer I am sober, without drink or drugs, the harder it is to hide the fact that my grasp on reality and life is tenuous at best. Since I can remember, I have always looked for cues on how to behave, react and just be – I have used other peoples perceptions and standards be my guide on who to be.

To my grandparents – I was the perfectly respectful grand-daughter who always wore the clothes they liked, had my hair neatly in a bun or ponytail, stood silently until spoken to, called everyone Mrs/Mr and was the most politest child I could possibly be. In return I had their unconditional love and support, the safety of their home and was looked after well. I was loved.

To my mother – I was the Mother. I looked after her. I was the grown up. I still am today, although I feel like a lie, an alien and I wonder how long I can keep up appearances.

I always related best with adults – they always had an agenda and an expectation of who I was. Children didn’t – they allowed you to be who you wanted to be which was scary as I didn’t know who I was. So I became a grumpy, surly and defensive little thing – hard to make friends with, but once you broke down the ice fortress I was overly sensitive and continually watching and trying to fit in.

Now, as an adult, I am lost. Completely and utterly lost. I don’t know who I am, where I am going or who I want to be. I am raw, without protection or layers of skin – I have been flayed in the last 6 weeks until I do not know who I am. Nor do I have people around me who want to tell me who I am – they just want me to be me.

How can I be me if I am afraid of me? Afraid of who I will find if I let me out. I am petrified and feel like I have lost grip on everything I had built up – I felt myself in some parts of my job, yet that has gone and that persona is too harsh and structured for real life.

I want to be happy, free and loving – I just don’t know how to be.

I am upside down and inside out and feel like I am in pieces – scared that I will shatter even further until no-one will be able to put the pieces back together again.

Now I know why I was so scared of reality – in reality there is no me.

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