Drinking to Escape

I often get asked why I decided to quit alcohol, and this is often followed by a comment like “well, you must not be much fun”. I like to challenge that question by saying “I now get to have fun with my friends. I get to remember my night. I get to play with my baby boy the next day and go for a run because I feel fresh. What’s not to love!?”

You see, I used to drink to get drunk. I didn’t drink because I loved the taste – in fact I loathed the taste. I drank to escape life; essentially to run away.

Many years ago, I worked behind a bar in Munich. I remember going from sober to drunk in literally 5 minutes. Towards the end of my shift, I free-poured myself the biggest, strongest, and quite honestly the most disgusting glass filled with vodka (which was my drink of choice) and sugar (simply to ensure I could stomach it) and I downed that baby in two seconds flat – ’cause I needed to “catch up” to my already-drunk friends. 

This was a regular thing for me. I wasn’t confident in my own abilities so I felt I needed alcohol to make my personality shine.

Another time I was at a nightclub and was so pissed I lost my bag, wallet, phone and dignity. At the time, I would brag about how funny this was. Looking back, again it wasn’t.

Not really surprisingly, this destructive behaviour landed me in hospital. I woke up one morning, peering through half-closed eyes to see a doctor standing over me. I looked at him and said, “I knew this would happen one day” and fell back to sleep. I made this situation into a joke and told everyone this “funny” story about that time I completely wrote myself off and landed in hospital.

Reminiscing on this, I am quite mortified. This is not a funny story and was not at all a funny situation – in fact it was a cry for help from someone who didn’t know her place in the world. It was self-hatred and an extremely dangerous way of living life. A person doesn’t get to that level of drinking unless they are trying to escape, trying to hide from their truth.

Our Australian drinking culture makes people feel like it’s OK to write themselves off. That the drunkest person in the room (which used to be me) gets a badge of honour. That getting drunk, or “paralytic”, is totally normal. Well I’m here to tell you, it’s not. It’s not funny or cool or entertaining. It’s effing dangerous.

I drank to escape. I drank to build confidence. I drank to run away from shit from my past that I wasn’t ready to deal with. I used to mask my drinking problems with humour, because I guess this made it easier to cope. Humour was most certainly the easy way to deal with it. Running away is easy. But it’s a band-aid fix. The hard way is dealing with our problems head-on. We need to talk about whatever we have bottled up, otherwise, when drunk, it might all come to the surface and you could turn into a dragon, like I used to.

We need to massage our insides by opening up and being vulnerable. We all have stuff that we haven’t dealt with. Some of it is small and some of it is not. We have so many ingrown beliefs; beliefs that can go as far back as high school or even primary school. We could have held on to hurt from someone who was having a bad day and said something to us. 

In order to deal with our stuff, we need to face it head on and then, in the words of one of my favourite animated movies, “Let it go”. That is not going to happen by drinking, or taking drugs, or working ourselves to the bone. In fact, writing ourselves off is just going to make it a million times worse. We need to find someone we trust – a counsellor, a psychologist, a friend, kinesiologist, Reiki master or even a chiropractor – to help us let go of things we are holding on to.

You’re not fooling anyone by masking your problems. Don’t let one person’s bad day, or year, affect your human experience. You have the choice to change your beliefs and you can make that choice today.



33 Comments

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  • Thank you for sharing. I drank to get drunk, too. No in-between. 2 years without alcohol. My life has changed in many ways, all for the better.

    By Rachel
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • I needed to hear your story this morning
      Thanks

      By Helen
      |
      June 18, 2020
    • Hi Rachel, I’m so happy to hear you recognised that and you are two years alcohol-free. That’s a huge achievement. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You should be so proud of yourself. What’s been your favourite part of being alcohol-free? Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • Congratulations and thank you for sharing.
    I am trying to recover from binge drinking every week.
    I drank “to put the load down for a while” at the end of a hard week, and told myself it was a ‘reward’ for working so hard.
    I run a very busy business and needed to ‘escape’ the stress and in that first sip I felt my worries melt away.
    I know it’s a psychological addiction and that I don’t have an ‘off switch’ after I start, and that I’m still feeling like I am depriving myself of some I enjoy,
    My relationships are changing and fading away because I don’t want to get blotto anymore and I’m working on just being OK by myself and in my own head…
    It’s a working progress, and I’ve relapsed 4 times this year, but so far its damn sure better than last year!
    Onward and Upwards

    By Kylie
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • Hi Kylie,
      Firstly, thank you for opening up and being vulnerable. This is the first step to recovery. I want to remind you, that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
      Can I make a few suggestions? When you pick up your first drink, i’d love you to ask yourself “how is this going to make me feel tomorrow?”. Often we do things in the moment, but don’t think about the consequences for the next day.
      How do you feel about meditation? In that moment you feel like a drink, i’d love you to meditate and write down how you are feeling on paper. We call this journaling. I’d love your daily mantra to be I AM ENOUGH. Write this on a piece of paper or post it and put it around your house to remind you.
      Im sending you lots of love.
      Please email me if you need.
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • Thank you for sharing your story, Jacintha,
    My name is Alison, and I’m an alcoholic.
    I have relapsed back into drinking time and time again for 4 decades.
    I am hiding as you were. Very shy and sensitive for many years, alcohol was my armour, although it’s only now I am slowly realising I can be ok with people, situations, negative and self loathing feelings about myself. Trying to slowly get rid of the huge luggage to fit into a small overnight bag was attempted too quickly. Atm trying to do this slowly by examining thongs b4 I unpack them, or throwing them away is extremely difficult. I sought out counseling again, although because of COVID 19, only by phone. Your thought of massaging our inside, was a powerful analogy for me, to open up the vulnerability…
    My last alcohol related hospitalization was from a fall. I hit my cheekbone and just about fractured it. The nursing took weeks to subside. My daughter called an ambulance. She is untrustingof me, as is my son.

    I have now been diagnosed with liver damage and heart failure due to alcohol. My fluid intake must not exceed 1.5 litres per day. So, why am I drinking 6, 7 375ml beer daily !!?? There is some shrinking in frontal lobe.
    I have put solid ques on fridge, a big 💔 sticker to make me MAKE that choice.
    I haven’t told my family about diagnosis only because I was admitted to cardiology ward, do they know… but not about fluid limit. If I pass away, they will be angry as I Hid It. Chose the Beer Over Them. I don’t want to go leaving that upset or anger, disgust mum dying because she was weak.
    My daughter, is going to be told, and I’m going to ask her for support. This decision has been made just now.

    My choice, my actions, lifestyle with grog IS /HAS to change.
    Alison

    By Alison Barley
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • Hello Alison,
      Thanks for sharing your story too. You explain well how addictive alcohol, the ‘social’ drug is and how some of us drink despite knowing the harm we are doing. I have been doing the same thing for many years too. Support can be so helpful and I hope your daughter can give this to you, I have finally stopped with support for nearly 3 months and know that I cannot moderate my intake. Wishing you all the best in your recovery, Lizzy x

      By Liz
      |
      June 18, 2020
    • Thank you, I’ve never written On here before. But thank you for showing there is hope. I feel in the darkest and in the most grotesque way. But all I can do is make the choice no matter what it takes to do better. I feel utterly lost, in every way. And feel I fail every, single day. There is no true North for me. I’m just here and trying to not upset my family so I hide. And my family expects a lot. I don’t know how to tell them I am broken and I have almost nothing to give. But your words here encourage me, thank you. I have a relationship with my family that at times is beautiful, but the true shame
      I carry because
      Of having alcohol haunts me. One day I hope to be as honest as you have been. Thank you so much xxx

      By Marnie
      |
      June 19, 2020
    • Hi Alison,
      I’m so incredibly grateful that you opened up and told your story. Thank you.
      If you feel comfortable, i’d love you to email me jacintha@happysoulsbyjacintha.com
      Love, light and gratitude,
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
    • All the best Alison, you can do it 💪

      By Sim
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • I too drink to get drunk. I’m still struggling to cope with the demon as I call it. It is destroying my marriage.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I too want to stop desperately.

    By Natalie
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • Hi Natalie,
      Thank you for opening up and being vulnerable.
      Can I make a few suggestions? When you pick up your first drink, i’d love you to ask yourself “how is this going to make me feel tomorrow?”. Often we do things in the moment, but don’t think about the consequences for the next day.
      Can you try this and email me to let me know how you go?
      Love, light and gratitude,
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • Great post – beautifully articulated! You’re an inspiration. 🙂

    By HDC
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • Thank you so much HDC.
      Sending love.
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • Thanks so much for sharing – this is a story I’m all too familiar with.I am in the process of breaking a 20 year habit – one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but discovering i’m loving life more and more each day.

    By Sarah
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • Hi Sarah,
      I’m so happy to hear this. Congratulations on making the first step. Meditation was something that deeply helped me on my journey. Do you meditate?
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • There is a movement of people just like you (and me), brave enough to realise booze didn’t serve you, in fact it robbed you of precious life. But like my wife often says when people have problems (drinking, food, relationships etc), it’s easier to be sick, than muster the courage to face it head on and the resilience to permanently heal it. You should be super proud for finding both.

    By Paul
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • Hi Paul,
      We should both be proud by the sounds of it.
      Yes, I agree. It takes courage to climb that mountain to get to the other side. But once you do, every ounce of pain was worth every second.
      Sending you big love,
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • Thanks for sharing. I have a very similar story. Coming up 6 months feeling great.

    By Rasa
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • Oh Rasa,
      I’m so happy to hear this. Congratulations.
      6 months is a huge achievement.
      Sending so much love,
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • Thank you for your honesty Jacintha!

    Well written and very inspirational 💋

    By Alice
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • Thank you so much Alice.
      Sending you so much love.
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • Wonderful story and unfortunately an all too common one. I’ve been on the wagon 3 months and done six months before but gradually gone back to bad habits. I too have no off switch and I LOVE the taste of alcohol, wine and beer in particular. I’ve lost 8 kilos and my memory is getting better. I no longer search for things I’ve put away on a binge. Life is better without alcohol and the benefits are there once you get through the cravings you can see them.

    By CAT STOREN
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • Oh Cat. This is so wonderful. Im so happy for you. What an incredible achievement. We don’t need anything outside of ourselves to make us happy.
      Sending you so much love.
      Love, light and gratitude,
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • I’m in awe of how much self-honesty and courage it takes to write a piece like this

    By John
    |
    June 18, 2020
    • How do you just decide to quit and stay with it. what were your tools.

      By John G.
      |
      June 19, 2020
    • Thank you John. That is very kind.
      Surprisingly it just rolls off the tongue.
      If I can help even one person with my life experiences, my job is done.
      Big love to you.
      Love, light and gratitude,
      Jxo

      By Jacintha Field
      |
      June 19, 2020
  • Thanks for sharing. It took a lot of introspection to see that I drank to get drunk. To escape from responsibilities and pressures of life, parenting, childhood trauma and relationship issues. Once I could see that I could decide to choose to be brave and live the life I always wanted to. I’m now 15 months sober and living my best life. Once you let it go, you are free to reach out for all the beautiful things in life.

    By Ezmerelda
    |
    June 19, 2020
  • Reading this and the comments has really struck a nerve with me. My partner is an alcoholic who I have tried time and time again to support and help him to give up alcohol he never manages it. My life has been made a misery through alcohol for years starting with my own father being an alcoholic and passing away due to it. I myself try to be healthy and look after myself but always revert back to alcohol to numb the problems in my life that I am dealing with. It just seems so much easier at the time. I know I have it in me to quit for good and reading that I’m not the only one struggling gives me the strength to keep trying. Despite my problems at home I have got myself into uni and start a nursing degree in January. I always want to help others so going to use that as my crutch. Thank you for your stories and making me realise I am not in my own.

    By Anna
    |
    June 19, 2020
  • Good for you Jacintha, you’ve made me feel very proud to read your message…..I too sort solace in alcohol years ago. It was my lame attempt to finally get a grip on my drug addictions…it was that, that truly brought me to my knees! I was 31 when I could finally stop the merry-go-round….I’m nearly 33yrs clean and sober soon…..Wouldn’t change it for the world. oxo

    By Maree James
    |
    June 19, 2020
  • Hi Jacintha and everyone.
    Thankyou for sharing your stories. I’m 35, and 20 months sobre. I’ve been seeing a counselor for over 4 years to help with alcohol and marijuana addiction and I feel like I’m ready to start sharing my story to try and help others. The biggest help for me was being completely honest with the people closest to me. I gave up drinking/drugs just before my daughter was born as I decided I did not want my wife to have to continue to struggle with my drinking whilst we raised a child; I also don’t want my daughter to ever see me drunk. 20 months later and I’m going strong and feeling amazing! Definitely love the productivity on the weekends and not feeling sluggish at work on Monday (sometimes even Tuesday). Anyway I think this website is great and I was really inspired by ‘Shaun McAllefs On the Sauce’ recently as I can definitely relate to the whole having to constantly answer people’s questions of “why aren’t you drinking?” Coz I’m shit at it! That’s why!!!
    Anyway I can definitely feel a culture shift and that gives me hope. And the beautiful and brave people sharing their stories so openly and honestly here is a catalyst to this change. So thankyou and keep it up.
    Love Ben

    By Ben
    |
    August 8, 2020
  • Its a year from 6 August 2019 and I could not be happier to leave the guilt and anxiety behind with having a more meaningful life! Congratulations to you too and thankyou for sharing your story.

    By Elizabeth
    |
    August 12, 2020
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