Sarah's Story Part 2 - Where did it all go horribly wrong?
"At what point did my social drinking tip over into dependent, alcoholic drinking? When did it go so horribly wrong? I really don't know." ... Sarah Page bravely tells how she overcame her alcohol addiction... Sarah works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum where she now helps other women
Just over two years ago she was moving rapidly down a path of self-destruction and almost certain death
During the early part of my married life, I attended services at various churches in Ipswich and in villages on the eastern out-skirts of town, looking for somewhere which 'felt right'. I was trying to find somewhere which replicated the feel of the 'village community' that I had experienced as I was growing up.
However, despite attending churches of various denominations, I never found quite what I was looking for and intermittently returned to my childhood village of Offton where I worshipped with my parents. Indeed, my parents still attend the village church and at the age of 88, my father is still the church organist.
Once we had our children it became even more important to me to find somewhere closer to our home in Ipswich to worship, where our son and daughter could be introduced to the scriptures and learn about Jesus. For a while we went to Kemball Street Gospel Hall - where the children attended Sunday School classes.
However, I was still searching for that missing 'something' that missing 'link' to make me feel complete, to fill the void in my heart – but I wasn't sure at that time exactly what I was looking for – or what I was hoping to find.
By this time I was working part-time as a medical secretary for one of the GP practices in Ipswich. Life got generally busier with some challenging years ahead with two teenagers in the house. During that time I continued to head out of town occasionally, to join my parents in their church and was a member of the benefice choir for several years.
And then came a turning point in my life. The children left home and Brian and I both found ourselves in very successful, if stressful jobs, Brian's in banking and mine in a management role within a Primary Care setting.
My priorities in life changed and I didn't make time for God any more. I didn't consciously or deliberately shut Him out, but all the wrong things in life became important. Life became a dizzy whirl of socialising – corporate events, golf society functions, holidays and partying – along with lots of eating ......... and drinking. And it was the drink that got me.........
Initially I enjoyed a small drink to relax me before we went out to social functions.
The alcohol gave me a feeling of confidence that didn't come naturally to me. I don't know at what point my drinking changed from being something that enabled me to relax and was enjoyable at a social event, to something that I came to rely upon on a daily basis.
Over a relatively short period of time, the occasional glass of wine or two at a party became more frequent, until I was drinking on a daily basis, much of it done behind closed doors at home.
One or two glasses became three or four, and yet more. At what point did my social drinking tip over into dependent, alcoholic drinking? When did it go so horribly wrong? I really don't know.
The illness of alcoholism is progressive. It stealthily creeps up – lurking in the wings to get you. It is cunning, baffling and powerful. Oh so very powerful. Like every other alcoholic – I would always have a reason for drinking. It had been a good day, a bad day, I'd been bullied at work, won a contract, lost a contract.
Whatever the 'reason' – I would drink myself to oblivion – to blackout – most evenings – and get up and go to work again the next day.
Frequently I wouldn't be able to remember the events of the night before, either how I had got home from a function, or whether I had managed to get up the stairs to go to bed or whether my husband had had to put me to bed.
I would check my phone to see who I had phoned or sent a text message to – often not having any recollection of having done so. My sister has subsequently told me that she used to dread the phone ringing in the evening, especially on a Sunday when I would have started drinking at lunchtime.
This pattern was repeated day after day. I would get up and go to work – go home and start drinking. I was in complete denial and was, what is known as a 'functioning alcoholic' for many years.
I hid the extent of my drinking well – most of the time. I hid bottles around the house, made trips to the dump to get rid of empty bottles and to the shops to top up the supplies at home.
At home in the evenings I would find endless excuses to pop into the kitchen, or out to the garage – where I had secret supplies of bottles. Towards the end of my drinking, all niceties had gone – a quick swig out of a bottle would do – I didn't even bother with a glass any more.
I blamed life's events as an excuse for picking up a drink – and like everyone, I've had some difficult times, both in my professional and family life – not least being the tragic loss of my sister Caroline and more recently Brian's mother.
...To be continued next week
Sarah Page works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum (TK) working with others to help women caught in addiction
Sarah's Story is being serialed and reprinted by kind permission every Monday in as her personal blog
If you want to talk to someone about this article or the issues it raises please contact Talitha Koum (details below).
If you need more information on the charity, giving or the Women Together program please do contact the TK office:.email email@example.com or telephone 01473 857432 or visit their website at www.talithakoum.org.uk