The Longest, Hardest, Most Difficult Journey Of My Life

By Corrine Barraclough 07/13/17

A tiny glimmer within me desperately wanted to fight, to stop drinking. I couldn’t.

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Corrine Barraclough

This weekend I attended a three-day conference and felt naked. I stood with my hands knotted anxiously together, picked at my fingers and rushed with nerves. Like the very first time I sat in an airport lounge staring at the clock and conquered a long-haul flight sober, it was a challenging hurdle for me. 

Isn’t it strange? We only experience through our own mind, therefore it’s easy to presume that everyone experiences a similar journey. Not true. 

I had a check-up with my doctor today who said with a smile, “You’re my only patient who is successfully sober. You should be very proud of yourself.” 

Feeling proud of myself is a whole new world. A brave new world that I’m discovering day by day; like stepping into a crunchy, enchanted forest with wide-eyes and a curious, racing mind. 

Despite being what they like to call a “high-functioning alcoholic,” I’ve never felt proud of myself before. 

For 20 years I was pretty much a daily drinker. I started drinking in my late teens. At that time I had no idea that I was already suffering from depression, so booze worked for me. As a quiet, nervous, unconfident introvert, it made me fizz. And fizz I did. Oh boy, did I fizz. 

I fizzed my way around London as an entertainment journalist. I fizzed my way from promotion to promotion that saw me travel the world. 

I fizzed until I was 40, then my sparkle blew out. I hit a wall. I could no longer pretend that the mask I held up to the world was real. 

I was a living, breathing, walking, talking magazine brand. The external world saw someone who had ticked off boxes in life, worked their way up the ladder and achieved repeatedly. The internal me, underneath the fizzy frothy surface, did not see that. I did not feel that. I had no idea of my own value or my own worth. I never believed that that world was better with me in it. 

I wanted out of life. I’d got to the top of my game professionally but I was utterly broken. The fragile, depressed teenager lurked underneath the bubbly exterior. 

I won an award and then resigned from my beloved job. It broke me. It was, after all, everything that defined me. I was an alcoholic workaholic; together they nearly destroyed me. 

I gave away most of my things; from clothes to BBQ and bed. I also gave away my security. 

I stepped away from a career that had held me together. It glued together the smashed, shattered pieces of myself, and presented something acceptable to the world. 

And so, there I stood. Me. 

I walked the beach. I wanted to die. 

A tiny glimmer within me desperately wanted to fight, to stop drinking. I couldn’t. I found myself walking to the wine shop in tears and coming home with two or three bottles of wine, or whatever. I cried myself to sleep and woke myself up with tears on my cheeks, drenching my pillow. 

I couldn’t stop. One day I started drinking and couldn’t stop for three days. I had no job now and no reason to stop. I was at war with my raging, vile self-destruction and it very nearly won. 

I threw up blood then dragged myself on my hands and knees away from the bathroom to my bed. It was the hardest, longest, most difficult journey of my life. 

I messaged a friend and said, “I can’t stop drinking. There’s blood in my bathroom but I can’t stop. There’s booze in my kitchen and it’s screaming at me. It’s speaking to me and I can’t ignore it. I don’t know what to do…” 

“Get into your bikini and get down to the pool right now,” she said. Makes me smile now that she knows me so well, she could connect with another part of me.

“I can’t.”

“Do it, right now,” she said. 

I pulled on my bikini and shoved sunglasses over my streaming eyes. I held my breath as I walked past the kitchen which danced with booze. I grabbed my keys, slammed the door behind me and ran. 

Down by the pool I let the sun warm my skin while tears streamed behind sunglasses. The craving, it passed. It will always pass if you can manage to breathe and distract yourself for a little while. 

You must let it pass. That is the key to succeeding in this battle.  

In my first AA meeting, a man with kind eyes held my gaze and smiled. When you are utterly broken and genuinely want out of life, you don’t care what gender the arms are that wrap themselves around you. 

I saw the world differently. It will never be the same again. 

Every morning, I walked to the beach and read the yellow “Just for today” card I’d been given in AA by the man with kind eyes. 

“Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problems at once,” I read, my feet in the sand but no longer with my head buried. 

“Just for today I will be unafraid of what is beautiful,” I read looking out across the ocean, breathing in its power. “Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.”

I connected with what is beautiful. 

I bonded with the beach, sunshine, beautiful brightly coloured lorikeets, I heard the ocean, I felt the wind and, at last, I breathed life.

For the first time, I breathed deep. 

For the first time, I felt hope. 

Two years later I feel both every day. I watch the sunrise with tears in my eyes for a different reason. It mends me; they heal me. I have survived, and one day at a time, I will continue to survive. Cravings pass and contentment arrives, I promise. 

Corrine Barraclough is a freelance writer based on the Gold Coast, Australia. She's been a journalist for nearly 20 years and held senior positions at several national magazines in London and New York before moving to Sydney to edit NW magazine. She now lives by the beach, has her work/life balance in order, and is proud to say she stopped drinking alcohol two years ago. Corrine is passionate about alcohol education and personal responsibility. Her message is clear: compassion knows no gender. For more from Corrine, follow her on Facebook here. 

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Corrine Barraclough is a freelance writer based on the Gold Coast, Australia. She's been a journalist for nearly 20 years and held senior positions at several national magazines in London and New York before moving to Sydney to edit NW magazine. She now lives by the beach, has her work/life balance in order, and is proud to say she stopped drinking alcohol two years ago. Corrine is passionate about alcohol education and personal responsibility. Her message is clear: compassion knows no gender. For more from Corrine, follow her on Facebook here. You can also find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

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