Friday! Best day of the week! What if Friday became your nemesis? What if the weekend became nothing but a test of your resolve; a mirror reflecting the worst of you?
In my twenties I worked in the city. Most Friday’s we’d have a boozy lunch and hit the bars around 4pm! I’d wake Saturday mornings anxiety ridden! Where did we go after 6pm? Did I eat? How the hell did I get home? Yet, Saturday and Sunday I’d be drinking again with friends. Back on the merry-go-round I couldn’t jump off. Everyone was having fun, right?
Monday mornings we’d recount Friday night’s antics. Only I was acting! I had no clue how the night ended. I had no memory of falling down. How did they remember? Surely, they’d drank as much as I did? Sound familiar? Friday to Sunday spent pinballing from wasted to hangover and back again.
Twenty years fly by and it’s no longer fun. ‘Acting’ feels like a full-time job. I wake most evenings at 3am to count drinks; guilt and remorse crushing me, my head spinning. Then promises; I’ll stop during the week! I’ll limit to just weekends! I’ll only drink beer etc.
Fridays were still my drink day. Only now it’s drinking without judgement as others join me. Fridays are fun again and it’s perfectly acceptable to be blackout drunk! Only it wasn’t fun. I was simply doing openly what I was doing in secret as my promises never made it passed Tuesday.
Finally, I decided that enough was enough. I knew I could no longer ride this merry-go-round.
How will I do this? How will I entertain myself or relax? Will people like sober me? Questions came at me like bullets.
After a few weeks of stumbling, I began true sobriety on December 23rd - Boot Camp Sobriety, including a vacation. The first few days I felt empowered and invincible. My family were amazing; we spent a dry Christmas and vacation. Looking back, I was riding what Clare Pooley, in ‘The Sober Diaries’ describes as ‘The Pink Cloud’.
In real life, reality hit hard and I dreaded the weekends; no longer a few days of oblivion. Now it’s a time of self-reflection of an image I hated. The drunk me. The out of control me. The driving under the influence me (not proud). The ‘I still think I’m sexy’ at 50 me. All negative images, so why did I still want to drink? I knew why, I wanted to numb these emotions and go back to oblivion.
Months passed - things weren’t getting any better. Fridays were my nemesis.
So, how did I face my demons head on and win?
I made a plan. I recognized that Friday was a metaphoric wall I had to climb if I was going to succeed at sobriety. So, I renamed Friday ‘The Wall’. I planned for it, I mentally worked out to be strong enough to face ‘The Wall’! I knew I had to climb this wall or I would give in and drink. I would return to the me I’d grown to hate.
Week one… Date night, without a drink. Our first date without a drink in ten years. Dinner and a movie then home for an early night. I was tempted everywhere we went. However, I’d made an attempt at scaling The Wall. My anxiety was less, I was distracted and entertained.
Week two… Hubby wasn’t feeling well. How am I going to scale ‘The Wall’ alone? I turned to my on line support group and pour my heart out. How hopeless, useless, and weak I felt. Help came flooding back from people who understood and could relate. I made it to a ledge on ‘The Wall’ and their support kept me there until Monday morning.
I stayed on that first ledge for weeks; reaching out for help to stop me from falling.
Then we try dinner with old friends. Sitting at dinner with a soda water as they drank was torture. Waking without a hangover, felt fantastic. But I’m still on the same ledge I’ve been on for weeks. ‘The Wall’ still looming large.
I don’t go out every Friday. I make nice meals, work out, meditate and do yoga. I read numerous books on sobriety and educate myself on the facts concerning alcohol and withdrawal symptoms.
The next few weekends pass without much anxiety or desire to drink. I stay close to my sober sisters and slowly make it to the next ledge and the next until eventually ‘The Wall’ is behind me. My God! I’ve scaled it! I couldn’t express the relief I felt at seeing that metaphorical wall behind me.
Sobriety is not easy and I’m still tempted to drink? However, I am past the dread of Friday nights.
If the merry go round isn’t fun and you want to get off, there are many people, waiting on the ground who will help you to stop spinning.
Guest blog written by Catherine. She is in her early fifties and has struggled with alcohol abuse for most of her adult life. Originally from Manchester, she lives in Southern California with her husband. She is the mother of three grown children; none of whom drink. I
In her spare time, Catherine is an award winning actress in both traditional and musical theatre. She is currently performing in Mamma Mia the musical at Tanya. Find out more about her
If you need support to stop drinking there are lots of options, depending on where you live. Online support groups, online coaching programmes, 12 step groups, smart groups, 1-1 support.
Check out this book There is No Magic Button for tips and motivation.