“You must go on adventures to find out where you belong” – Sue Fitzmaurice

If truth be told, I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider – never knowing where I belonged, what my purpose was in life, and what would make happy. For years I have modified my behaviour and personality in order to “fit-in” and become someone I felt society wanted me to be – letting the values and wants of others dictate how I should lead my own life. It’s just been easier that way, I guess, and has proved to be a pretty effective way of avoiding having to think too much about what I actually want. Who has time to think about themselves when they’re spending so much time keeping up with the Jones’?

The downside of all this, however, is that you’re left with a pretty big slice missing of the metaphorical “pie” that makes you…well, you! So what does a person with low self-esteem and zero self-awareness fill that void with? Something external of course! Often people will chose shopping, food, sex, etc., but (while I do like all these things) my preferred filling was wine – a lot of wine.

In the brilliant The Unexpected Joys of Being Sober, Catherine Gray describes an early alcohol experience as feeling like:  “I’d finally unzipped my ‘wrong’ skin and slipped into a slinky new one”. Spot on! One glass of Sauvignon Blanc and you can happily brush off any itchy awkwardness or inhibitions, miraculously transforming into that fun, carefree individual who everyone will love and gravitate towards. In the harsh light of reality, however, you actually end up making a complete tit of yourself. I lost myself trying to become someone I wasn’t, and pushed people away by using alcohol to supress the true me – who, ironically, wasn’t actually that bad.

To the world, I am quietly confident, controlled, hard-working and an all-round good egg – eager to please and do well in life. I have worked my socks off at 2 leading advertising agencies and am a great lover of the finer things in life. On the surface, I may not fit the picture of your “stereotypical” alcoholic, but to those who have been dragged into my journey of wine fueled self-destruction – I am fucking crazy.

20 months ago I had a breakdown. I got on a train without any money or phone and ended up 75 miles away from home. I ran away from a seemingly perfect life, when all I wanted to do was to run away from my own mind. After a week I was found safe-and-sound and brought home, but this was just the start of the nightmare.  In the time since then, I have alienated myself from family and friends, almost killed myself, and experienced abuse, the criminal justice system, homelessness and unemployment. 3 months ago, on the 26 March 2019, I got the hell out.

They say life’s a journey. I reached a fork in the road and eventually took the right path. Today, I’m clinging onto that path with every bit of strength I have to finally discover who I truly am and where I belong in this world. This is my story.

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