[Bessy's story first appeared in GYone magazine, Spring 2018.]
Bessy went from party girl to functioning alcoholic. Now in recovery, she shares her story in the hope it might help others in the grip of alcohol addiction.
My name is Bessy and I'm an alcoholic.
I always thought an alcoholic was someone who was dirty and lived like a tramp. That's why it took me so long to realise I was one.
I don't sit on park benches drinking out of a brown paper bag. I'm not homeless. I'm an ordinary girl with a family, a nice house and a good job—but I am still an alcoholic.
My childhood was a bit dysfunctional. Screaming and shouting was normal in our house and, while I was loved, I was regularly smacked and constantly put down. I never had much self-esteem and was full of fear and anger.
I had my first drink at 12 and immediately blacked out. Then, at 15, I took an overdose of sleeping tablets and woke up in hospital having my stomach pumped. I have no idea why I did it. I just felt depressed.
I moved to Guernsey when I was 19 and loved it. I drank every night and partied hard, but so did everyone else. I was having the time of my life. I loved getting drunk—it took all my fears and insecurities away.
I met my husband and, when I was 24, we had our first child. That's when things started to change. I would always intend to have just a few glasses of wine, but I couldn't stop. I began blacking out and would wake up with vomit in my hair and a crying baby to look after.
My husband began to comment on how much I drank. I justified it by saying I was young and having a good time.
I began feeling anxious, like everyone else's life was better than mine, which made me drink more. I became violent, hitting my husband, trying to stab him and even drove drunk with my children in the car.
I was a complete lunatic with alcohol inside me. My husband would dread taking me out as we never knew what would happen. We had a successful business and I wanted for nothing, but still I wasn't happy.
I began to hide my alcohol. I would drink a bottle of wine then fill it with water so he wouldn't know. I couldn't be bothered to get washed, my head pounded and I started every day shaking and sweating.
I was so unhappy. I blamed everything and anyone for my drinking—apart from myself. Things got so bad that I once woke up in a police cell covered in blood and thought I had killed my husband. I have no recollection but apparently I smashed up the doctor's surgery and had to be handcuffed and put in a cell. Eventually, my husband said, "I love you but I can't let you do this to me and the kids anymore". But still I drank.
One night I was out and he said he prayed I would die as he couldn't handle my behaviour anymore. I'm not religious at all but I begged God to help me.
One day I woke up as usual, full of shame, guilt and fear, and I just thought, "I can't do this anymore. I want my life back".
I looked at myself in the mirror and felt so lost. Where was the girl I used to be? Alcohol took away my self-respect, my dignity, my friends—and my family were closely following.
I called Alcoholics Anonymous and they saved my life. I began attending AA five days a week and my life began to change. I still craved alcohol but things slowly started to improve. I stopped blaming myself and accepted that I had a disease, which can never be cured.
The only option for me is to totally abstain from alcohol, one day at a time. I haven't had an alcoholic drink for nearly 16 years now and my life is just incredible.
AA gave me back my self-respect, my husband and my children. I've learned to love the woman I am and I have so much gratitude for my life today. I love the simple things, like swimming in the sea, walking on the cliffs and being a good wife and mother.
Alcohol took everything from me. It was my master. Today I am happy. I have a job and a nice home but it could have all been so different.