I Didn’t Start Out That Way/ The Slide by LR

In West Sussex, the creative writing group has been meeting over Zoom. They dedicated some of their sessions to the theme of Recovery Month and received incredible poems from people at all stages of their recovery. Here are just a few of the poems that were submitted. 

This is I Didn’t Start Out That Way/ The Slide, a poem by LR. 


I didn’t start out drinking that way 
I had it all, many would say 
A daughter, partner, job, family life  
From outside to in, there was little strife 


At the start; the mad, fun, crazy days of my teens and twenties  
Justified because everyone was having plenty  
Parties, pubs, clubs, boozy foreign breaks  
Laughing on hungover mornings with all my mates 


It was so much part of the everyday, normal, expected life 
The night out, the lunch, when 6 o clock strikes  
I didn’t start broken but, bit by bit 
Lying and hiding and desperate for it 


Arranging my life around drinking opportunities  
So I could have a few with total immunity  
Dinner out and if someone had an inch more wine 
I’d feel jealous, angry. That bit was mine! 


When sharing a bottle there’d be a few more hidden about 
Topping up in secret to appear to drink the same amount  
A big enough handbag to hide the bottle 
No need for a glass I was going full throttle 


Asking ‘did I do anything wrong?’ to housemates and friends 
What happened? What was said? Did I do it again?  
So many nights out which ended bruised and black 
How did I get home? No memory of that 


From red wine to white to hide the stains 
When? How? More. A constant refrain 
Terrified when I thought there wasn’t enough 
Going without unimaginably tough  


Every morning would start with ‘no not again, not today, it’s time to stop’ 
Then that euphoric feeling of thinking ‘oh go on, what’s one more drop’ 
It was always, tomorrow I’ll stop or maybe....the day after that  
Again and again, on a loop, an internal chat 


Two small bottles on the way to work 
Just to feel normal, my little perk 
A bottle of wine on my half hour break 
If I didn’t I’d sweat and start to shake 


Decanting into plastic bottles, sip, swig, sip 
Grabbing every chance to have that nip  
Empties in public bins and over garden walls 
Bumps, cuts and bruises from blackout falls 


Public toilets became my drinking den 
At home hiding bottles and getting caught again 
Stale booze smell seeping out of my pores 
Eye drops and thick make up to hide red vein flaws 


Police cells, courts and stranger’s bedrooms 
I’ve done it again, dark panic looms 
A cracked open head, I’m back in A&E 
Broken ribs and black eye from a new drinking ‘buddy’ 


Carpark drinking with homeless men. Dark, damp, dim 
One giving me his last cider can because I needed it more than him  
My family’s despair, desperation and pain 
Because I’d done it again. And again and again 


How quickly it all comes tumbling down 
From meetings in board rooms to solo drinking in town 
From bath time and bedtime with my little girl 
To supervised access, a nightmare black whirl  


The madness, the insanity, I didn’t even want it 
But it had me tight in its vice like grip  
I was alcohol it was me  
A broken addict my identity 


But just as I broke, I am getting mended 
The bottle, the glass, the pain upended  
Bit by bit, hour by hour 
Who would have guessed I had that power? 


I grabbed all the support that was available 
I slept, I ate, I talked about how I felt 
It was hard at the start, but each day was a victory 
Another day without drink, I couldn’t believe it was me 


By fighting and fighting many black night 
Day by day, inching towards light  
From shame and disgust, respect CAN be won 
The liquid temptation I needed to shun 


The blissful feeling of waking up sober 
Not scrabbling for details over and over 
No thoughts of ‘oh god what have I done?’ 
I didn’t break down when talking to mum 


My families love, relief on their faces 
My daughters trust and tight, tight embraces 
Life can be rebuilt from hell and despair  
And l once again can feel worthy of care  


My daughter telling me that she loves me more than when the numbers stop  
Just adds to my drive, my determination not ever to have one more drop 
I now have purpose, aims and goals. I can actually think! 
I have space in my head without being obsessed with drink 


Each social occasion spent alcohol free 
Each sober high and each sober low a victory  
The realisation that I’d dealt with a hard time or traumatic event 
And not once did I think I needed a drink to cope but was there 100% 


What a beautiful thing to hold my head high 
Feel content with myself although I am shy 
My goals, mind and skin becoming so clear 
My freedom from booze is finally here  


It’s power is waning all the time 
I’m actually living, and this life is mine 
The addict, the piss head, that is not me!  
I am a fighter, my strength identity.


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