My Drinking Story...

Thought I'd add this as a longer bit of the profile to the blog for anyone who stumbles here.  Below are the content of three blog posts that I first posted in May 2010 - it is basically my drinking story in three parts...

I've recently (November 2013) put a new version on my other blog which is where I mostly talk about my life and alcoholism and recovery and stuff.


How it was...

Awful! I drank and it was crap - simple. Well if it was that simple how come I drank for 25 years. That's a fair point. Because I'm an alcoholic that's why - it is that simple as well. :-)

I started drinking in my teens, so do many others but from the word go my relationship with alcohol wasn't right. I was always trying to get others to come for a beer with me, I was always "getting another in", throwing up in the car park or on the roadside etc. At 17 I remember going to the pub on a lunchtime during a school holiday on my own and thinking then "This isn't right you shouldn't drink on your own just for the sake of it".

Once at college and work I spied out those that liked to go to the pub and befriended them the main qualification for being a mate of mine was that you liked going for a drink. Soon though even that didn't work these buggers only wanted a pint or two and then go back to work or home to see their girlfriends etc. So soon I was working in London drinking most lunchtimes and evenings and increasingly on my own. I knew in my mid twenties that I drank too much, it caused rows at work with work mates, with my wife etc. But I couldn't stop. I'd stop once a year for a few weeks to show you all I didn't have a problem but I'd be counting the hours until I could drink again.

For many years it was this drink at lunchtime and on the way home every day - go to the football on a Saturday and have a few pints there as well.

I'd wake up most mornings hating myself, the world, the universe etc. I'd get out of bed, often soaked in sweat which I later discovered was my way of dealing with the alcohol, and start planing/scheming the days drinking, could I get out at lunchtime, when could I leave work how late could I get away with before coming home to sit in the chair asking the same questions over and over insisting I'd only had a couple whilst actually struggling to add up the real amount. Then I'd hit the bed saying to myself tomorrow will be different. It rarely was.

On very few days I'd make it home without having a drink. I'd want to run around telling everyone but of course to do that would expose the whole facade I was trying to keep up so I'd have to sit there quietly not letting on and by the end of the evening the one thing I knew for sure was that... I'd have to drink again tomorrow.



What Happened?
In April 2003 I knew I had to do something about my drinking, since coming back from NYC after Sept 11th 2001 I'd been on a mission of self-destruction hanging around with others who helped enable my drinking and helped at times cover for it at work. However I was a manager of a group and redundancies were looming and I knew I had to help make the decisions over who stayed and who went. I knew I had to try and do that dry (I would have thought sober to myself at the time but that was way beyond my true comprehension then). Also I'd confided in a friend at work about how I was feeling at times he was the first person I chose to have a conversation like that with who didn't drink like me. He looked me in the eye and said "You've got to stop drinking". BANG! That was like a hammer hitting me, most "friends" said "In moderation", "You need to slow down" etc. but this guy was straight in; like a kick in the nuts.

So I signed up to a web site about cutting down your drinking. See I wanted to drink normally of course... not that I ever had but I thought that was the problem. I ignored the advice of the programme I was following and actually did stop totally. I was lucky my withdrawals weren't that bad, some shaking, sweating and feeling generally crap. I kept going to the pub and drinking non-alcoholic lager or coke or whatever but I had stopped. I did the redundancy thing and was pleased with myself. So after some weeks clearly I didn't have a problem I could drink normally now...

So I started again. Maybe a few days, maybe a week it was sort of okay then suddenly I was on a bender. As bad as ever. Confused I went back to the drink diary and trying to control it. Same pattern. Oh complete with lying to myself on the drink diary for an added touch of clear insanity... "Two pints whilst lunching with friends". NO! It was more like 6 pints on my own in a boozer I knew no one from work would be seen dead in! By the way the only person who saw the diary was me - how's that for complete madness?

Okay - change drinks that'll help. So to drinking bitter that'll work. Same issue i.e. few days alright then a bad day without any real reason just the weather or some comment from someone at work or at home and I was off drinking unreasonably again.

So I stopped altogether again. I did about 6 weeks I think then I went on a pub crawl I'd organised. Brilliant that isn't it? A man supposedly not drinking arranging a pub crawl for a cold, wet Thursday in Ramsgate! Not one drop of alcohol passed my lips. Clearly therefore I was cured; it was all over. The next day I had two pints of lager (another change of drink you will note) to celebrate. How mad is that? Within a week I was worse than ever and was banned out of a pub for life simply because of the speed I was drinking, the landlady knew me as a regular and was trying to help me. I never saw it like that at that time sadly.

At that point I gave up giving up - I couldn't do it. Clearly this was all nonsense. I simply had to accept that I had to drink to continue to be, but I hated me and everything. I never seriously considered suicide apart from one day I stood on top of a cliff but frankly if life had just stopped that would have been a fine solution for me it had become a morose, mundane, miserable existence by now.

My wife and I went to Dublin for her 40th birthday - this was a year on from the first decision to cut down/stop. We had one great day on that weekend and one terrible one where I had my "must drink" head on and she was not happy at all. I was back to Guinness by now my preferred weapon of self destruction.

A month later we had some good news and my wife texted me a simple line "tonight we can celebrate". I saw that last word, considered this great news and thought - "My life is still utter shite" and I went off on an all day bender. At home that evening my long suffering wife instead of ignoring me finally bit back and we had the most almighty row which is not how our relationship functions - we don't row. In the middle of that with the swearing and threats etc. I gave up. I lay down and cried and cried. I just wanted it all to stop. That was the moment I made the decision that I had to do something dramatic about my drinking I couldn't continue in this way.

From that day to this I've luckily not taken another drink


What it is like now



After that row to someone I knew where I worked in the occupational health department. She was brilliant and she helped me get into a rehab. I didn't really research it or think about it I just knew I needed to go somewhere and get someone to help me. I still think I wanted to drink normally really.

When I got to the rehab I was totally lost and confused. We shared dorms, we had to do "chores" we were expected to have a group meeting before breakfast then in group therapy sessions and other sessions throughout the day and in the evening do "step work" ready for group etc. You were locked out of the dorm for 14 hours or so a day forcing you to interact with the others so that you could never isolate. I was cut off pretty much from my family apart from a call home in the evening and them visiting once a week on a Sunday for lunch. My wife decided to never bring my daughter who was 8 at the time. All that was very heartbreaking, one thing I realised although I should have known was how much my family really meant to me. Of course my wife couldn't readily understand why I needed to go off with a bunch of strangers to just do what she'd been telling me to do for years, i.e. stop bloody drinking!

It was hard work in the rehab. However quickly I sussed the following.

  • any drink will set off a reaction in me leading to me drinking more. I can't drink one drink safely

  • I drink because I struggle with life, no more than any others but drink is a superb method for me of changing that feeling or blotting it all out altogether. I simply need coping mechanisms that don't employ alcohol

  • the programme was the AA one and that going to AA was going to need to be in the future plans

  • I wasn't the only one who was like this. There were plenty of others out there all with similar confusion in their heads.

  • honesty. I needed to stop lying to everyone, most importantly to stop lying to myself.
Today I'm sober. I work hard at being grateful for my life. I go to AA regularly, I don't think about it I just go. There I hear other people with similar nonsense in their heads. They stay sober by doing some simple things. I listen. I share some of my stuff, esp the nonsense in my head that I know will drive me back to drink. The major things in life I can cope with normally though a broken shoelace or someone not holding a door open for me - that is what could make me drink again. Or simply not being prepared for the first drink to arrive in my hand. I'm just an alcoholic it is the easiest thing in the world to put a drink inside me I have to work daily to ensure I don't let that happen or at least have the sense to run like hell if it looks like it is about to.

I have a stunning relationship with my wife and my kids. I cannot begin to describe how valuable that is to me. I have a great relationship back with my brother.

I am beginning to know who I am, the real me. What is important to me and what isn't. I learn to not get embroiled in stuff I can do nothing about. I can only change me and work at my reaction to things. Sometimes inside I'm hurting over something I have to try hard outwardly to not show that as that is the best way.

But today - today is another great day. So far today I've not taken a drink and that gives me endless opportunities. If I drink on any day then frankly all those opportunities will disappear.

I'm very very lucky since so far I haven't drunk since Friday May 14th 2004.

12 comments:

  1. Really touched by this post. I too tried to moderate my drinking, with the same disastrous results. I guess most of us have. I'll have 90 days sober tomorrow, and I want to extend hearty congratulations for all of your time. It's extremely encouraging and inspiring to us newbies :)

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  2. Forever inspirational. Forever a source of strength. And forever greatly admired.

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  3. @anon - many thanks but I won't let any adulation unnecessarily inflate my ego - I'm just a drunk that doesn't drink day to day, it is a miracle but a very small one.

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  4. Your posts are great - thanks. And congratulations on being able to desribe what it is like on the inside.

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  5. I cannot read "What it is like now" because it is a white background with very gray text. Thankfully, I have never had the slightest problem with alcohol, but I had a father and four siblings who do. Drink killed my little brother--two six packs each night and two packs of cigarettes each day.

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  6. Found you via "People I want to Punch in the Throat." I really appreciate your honesty and am sure it's been inspirational to many who have read it. Congratulations and continued good luck.
    www.worldfamilytravellers.blogspot.com

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  7. Congratulations --- almost to your 8th birthday. Well done. And well told...

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  8. This deal takes a while to sink in...for some a very long while. Thank you for coming over to my place and reading my words. That fellowship you spoke of was one of the few things that kept me going over the last eighteen years. I can relate to your story, except my drink of choice was gin, or rum. But I ended up in the same place in spite of the different drink...drunk!

    Wander

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  9. I'm glad I've tripped over your blog. It's good to have another blokes take on sobriety, we seem a much rarer breed than the girls. I'll be checking out yor blog for inspiration, such a gratitude lists. Take it easy, Paul.

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  10. How have I missed your blog? Well, I found you. Just wanted to come and say hi. I've been seeing you around lately and decided to click and say hello. Looking forward to the posts. xox Lisa

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  11. Very brave admissions. Respect.

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