Attitude, Behaviour, Change!

Read the amazing story of one of our Team Managers, Rita. Rita started off as one of our learners and has now been at the company for close to 10 years, using her own lived experience to help others achieve their goals.

Think Pieces

By Rita Coppille · December 21, 2023

I started using alcohol when I was a teenager. I had a difficult childhood and home life, and became very rebellious. I started hanging around with people who were drinking and using drugs, and I enjoyed feeling part of that crowd. And I really enjoyed the way alcohol made me feel.

When I was 16 my mum threw me out of the family home, and I moved into a really rough bedsit. The other people in the house were much older than me and I was so scared of them that I used to push my sideboard in front of my door every night. I had never drunk by myself before then, and I can still remember the first time I had a drink alone in that bedsit. I wanted to have a drink because I thought it would make me feel good, maybe conquer the fear, but I also knew I wouldn’t be able to keep myself safe if I wasn’t in control. Looking back, I can see that was the first time I recognised ambivalence around whether to have a drink. I remember thinking about it for a long time, looking at the bottle, arguing with myself about whether it was a good idea, and then knocking back glass after glass. It seemed the quickest way to stop the arguing about it in my head, and this soon became a regular bedtime routine.

Over the next few years and into my late twenties my circumstances outwardly improved. I had a good job at a time when everyone was earning lots of money, and everybody around me seemed to admire decadence and over-indulgence. I was young, successful, and I wanted to be part of the party. My attitude to drinking started to become very screwed up. Even after spending a morning with my head down the toilet saying I’d never drink again, I could later convince myself that drinking was sophisticated. I started hanging around with a man a few years older than me, and he told me that he had been to AA. It seems ridiculous to admit this now, but at the time to me it made him seem incredibly glamorous. I liked the idea that I worked hard and played hard, even that what I was doing was a bit edgy. The reality was that I was missing a lot of time at work, I was often too ill to get out of bed, and the situations I was getting into were not edgy but often extremely dangerous. It might have looked and sounded different at this stage in my life, but the ambivalence was still there. I knew it but again I ignored it.

When I was around thirty years old, I had children. I gave myself stern talks about commitment, being an adult, responsibility, and change, then immediately talked myself out them. I had days of abstinence and then rewarded them with binges. My friends and family told me they were worried about me. I understood why. I worried about me, too, but I also worried about being boring, or never having fun again. For every part of me that said this was no way for a responsible mother to behave, there was another part of me cheering on the cool mum who never stopped being a party girl. Unfortunately, the truth was that there weren’t so many people at the party any more, I had become aggressive and boorish, my children were miserable, and I was more and more often drinking alone. By the time I was forty, things were really bad. We made the decision to move to a different part of the country, away from our support network of grandparents and friends. I stopped working to be home with the kids, and drank more to cope with being alone. I became more and more insular and isolated, and my health started deteriorating, both physically and mentally.

After being hospitalised with pneumonia, I told my GP what was going on, and he tried to help. I went to counselling, which brought up a lot of childhood memories, and I used that to justify having a drink. I went to AA meetings, and then told myself that if I had to leave the family every evening I might as well be sitting in the pub as in a drafty old community centre. There was no denying that there was a part of me that really, really wanted to carry on drinking, despite the consequences, despite me nearly dying. I would say that I would do almost anything to stop wanting a drink, yet would probably have walked ten miles over broken glass to get one.  The ambivalence and the internal argument had never been louder, and I didn’t know how to shut it up. I started to believe that it would have been better for everyone if I had died.

Luckily, through a friend of a friend I found out about the local drug/alcohol service and I went along, and through the service I found out about the Intuitive Recovery Course. I didn’t really think it would make a lot of difference to how I was feeling, as I couldn’t imagine how a 4 session course was going to have much impact on a 30 year addiction. However, I wanted to be seen to be trying to do something, and it did sound a bit interesting when I asked around about it, so I asked to be referred.

I went along and it’s not an exaggeration to say that in one week, just ten hours, it totally changed my life. For the first time ever I actually understood why I had such mixed feelings about drinking, why I carried on doing it even though I didn’t really want to any more, and basically how to shut up the incessant whining and arguing going on in my head. I could see why something so destructive and rotten could also feel so glamorous and enticing, and more importantly, I now had the tools to do something about it, I had something to work with, and I had a choice.

I stopped drinking. It sounds so incredible to say that, but I just stopped drinking. And it was okay, it was actually easy. It seemed bonkers after all this time to know that the solution was so simple. Even writing this now, it’s making me smile. There’s hundreds and hundreds of words about how I got into this mess, and so few about how I got out of it! I think that’s because when you’re looking at something rationally you don’t need to fill pages with explanations and justifications and excuses. Because that’s what my life had been up til this point. My life had been full of ambivalence, and the Intuitive Recovery course helped me understand how to end that ambivalence properly. Until then I’d just been trying to shut it up or do deals with it. And I applied the learning, the ending ambivalence, to more than just the drinking. I stopped gambling, I stopped procrastinating, I was even able to stop the OCD behaviour that had plagued my life. I had never felt more empowered and in control than when I left that room on the final day of the course.

A couple of months after the course I learned that the company was looking for a course tutor in my area, and I applied at once. I had already been telling everyone and everyone about what I had learned, and I couldn’t believe I might have the opportunity to do it as a paid job! When I was offered the job I felt unbelievably lucky, and I still have to pinch myself now sometimes at how my life has turned around. I have been with the company nearly 10 years now, and I still feel like I’m learning every day. At Intuitive Thinking Skills we are always encouraged to develop both personally and within the company, and since starting I have gained a teaching qualification, learned and gone on to teach several other ITS courses, I’m about to complete a Quality Assurance qualification, I’ve worked on product development and writing new content, been involved with staff training, I’ve become a team manager, and I’m the specialist gambling lead. I’ve also travelled all over the country, met so many interesting people, and feel proud to be part of so much fantastic partnership work with other organisations.

So that’s me and how I came to be here. Can’t wait to find out what I can do with the next 10 years!