Today is my 5th birthday. My 5th AA birthday, we cheat in AA we have a “belly button” birthday and an AA birthday, otherwise called by some their sobriety date. Mine is 14th May. In 2004 that was the day I last had a drink.
I remember bits of that day well. Typical Friday really, work up feeling the effects of the previous days drinking. I’d been trying to give up for a year and just a week or so before felt so bad and stood on top of a cliff willing myself to find the courage to jump off. I failed. An old lady walking her dog walked past commenting on what a lovely day it was. I smiled and said it was but inside was screaming “Sod off you old bat I want to kill myself here.” Then I wondered briefly if I insulted her if she’d throw me off and fix the problem. Defeated I headed to the pub and drank again effective resigning myself to a life of misery as I couldn’t break this bloody cycle.
So back to Friday 14th May 2004. I did the usual sod all at work in the morning focused on lunchtime, Fridays were good as several of my colleagues would go to the pub on a Friday so my drinking would be partially legitimized that day. I headed there just before noon. Just as I started my second pint a text arrived from my wife. We had had an inheritance and I had some investments pay out that meant we were in the very fortunate position of paying off our mortgage. So for a few weeks this was the fixer, the solution, the problem to all my life, get that monkey off my back and it’ll all be flipping marvellous. The text said “All the paperwork here, the house is now formally ours! Tonight we can celebrate”. That was the word that did it. “Celebrate”. What the hell did I have to celebrate, this momentous news had made no difference to me or how I felt about life at all. Nothing, nada, niet, nill, zip… I was crushed again. I downed that pint and of course the bit in me that just said “fuck it” went off. I went on an afternoon long bender. I can’t remember if I went back to the office, if I did or not doesn’t matter. I was on a mission and crawled through several pubs on the 40 mile journey home.
I was supposed to take my daughter to a swimming lesson about 6:30 I think. By then the mobile was off, I was onto about pint 15 or so and was in my “local” where I’d started drinking when I was 16 about 25 years before. I really had moved on in my adult life hadn’t I, that whole setting is so ironic really. I was talking with a couple of the usual drinking buddies in there. One of them was a plumber who’d recently done some work for us and he’d been back either that day or earlier in the week to fix something. He was relentlessly taking the piss out of me for being useless as frankly on that kind of DIY I just leave it to someone who does know their onions. At 10 minutes to 7pm that evening I finished my pint and staggered out.
I got home and my son said “Mum is furious with you, she has gone to the swimming lesson. Oh and the TV isn’t working”. Here was my saviour, as a gallant knight I donned my shield jumped on the mighty horse and found the insurance for the TV. I phoned the helpline and arranged for someone to come on Monday morning to fix it. Brilliant! She’ll be so happy I’ve sorted that one out I thought.
She wasn’t. For years my wife simply ignored me when I was like this but this night she didn’t – she snapped and went for me – verbally. We had a major screaming match for a good hour or so. Suddenly I fell to the floor curled up and started crying – my head was quietly saying “It doesn’t have to be like this, it can’t carry on like this”. After an hour or so we talked calmly about it all. My wife threatened to kick me out if I didn’t do something, but that didn’t matter really threat or no threat it was that I was beaten by the drink that mattered. A few days later I walked into a rehab and a week later into my first AA meeting.
Today when I look back I almost end up writing about that creature who was on that bender in the third person. I know it is me but it isn’t me if that makes sense. I still consider myself early on in sobriety, possibly when I’ve been sober as long as I was an active alcoholic for I might feel like I’ve redressed the balance a bit.
Today is a fantastic day since whilst I do think of being an alcoholic and about drink I don’t think about taking a drink. I will be a viable human being in my small way. I hope you all have a fantastic day in whatever small way is applicable for you.