“When I drank it scared the shit out of me becoming sober. Now I’m sober it scares the shit out of me becoming drunk.”
I thought I knew about drinking. I guess I did but only HOW to drink and I really was rather good at that. A friend of mine had a picture sent to him, of me, with a massive plate of food in front of me that I was just about to consume.
“Look at all that, the greedy bastard”, they said.
“That’s nothing”, my friend replied. “You should see him drink”.
I’m not going to say how much it was that I was drinking, only that it was far too much. And there is a good reason for this secrecy. While I was drinking (daily, I will say that much) I would compare myself to others. And I would make these comparisons everywhere, in everything I read, in everything I watched, even in songs. There is a song by The Fine Young Cannibals called Johnny Come Home and in it the singer asks,
“What is wrong, in my life, that I must get drunk every night”
So I would think to myself ‘Ah it’s ok. I’m not that bad. I don’t get drunk every night’ (yet). And that would justify my continuing bad habit. That would make it OK for me to drink, as long as I didn’t get drunk every night I wasn’t as bad as that guy. I wasn’t as bad as that bloke in the pub. I could carry on drinking because I wasn’t as bad as Phil Mitchell. I wasn’t as bad as James Bond (you seen how much he can put away?!) *This also may be the first time Phil Mitchell and James Bond have been mentioned in corresponding sentences…
The problem was that all the while I was making these comparisons I was justifying a habit, an addiction, that I KNEW to be bad for me. To be actually getting rather serious in all honesty. To the point where, just before I stopped I would actually think, ‘Well I’m not drinking at breakfast yet…’
That is now how long it’s been since I had a drink. I never thought that would be possible, and that people that stopped drinking were dull, boring, had a problem (helloooo!) or were simply super human. It’s not that I didn’t try because I tried very hard. But it isn’t easy, for many reasons…
1: Alcohol is a drug. It actually re-wires your brain and changes the chemical make up of the said brain, so it makes you dependent if you give it the chance.
2: Alcohol is addicitive. For the reasons above.
3: Alcohol is fucking everywhere.
4: Alcohol is accepted. Everyone drinks right?
Oh and just for the record, alcohol is a poison (cue dramatic music…)
I had so many failed attempts to stop, I just couldn’t seem to get past the first day. It would always come calling and I would pay heed to it, like a faithful servant. But over time, this boss of me wore me down. I suffered tremendously from anxiety, to the point where it would make it very difficult for me to go to work. I was broke, literally and figuratively, and getting more broke by the month. But all this time I couldn’t, wouldn’t connect the dots…
Me: “Fuck I’m awake. Why is my heart racing?”
My head: “You worthless piece of shit. Why did you say that to that guy at work? When are you gonna pay your bills and what with? How are you going to function tomorrow because I’m not letting you sleep again. I’m gonna keep chatting to you. Until you see the sun start coming up. All night long now. You might as well give up”
This would happen most nights, if not every night. It. Was. Exhausting.
Now it doesn’t happen. One day, 171 days ago, I connected the dots and for the first time for a very long time, I was honest with myself. I stopped drinking and this time it stuck because I knew in every cell of my body that I had to. Before I became Phil Mitchell. Before I became James Bond (ah shit…).
I said at the start that I wouldn’t say how much I drank, because it’s irrelevant to you. Deep down I knew it was too much. Deep down I knew it was why I was suffering, skint and shit. But as long as I compared myself to others I allowed myself to continue. And if I was to say how much I drank to you, you may compare yourself to me. You may say to yourself,
“Well I’m not THAT bad. I don’t need to stop just yet”
The point is, if it’s hurting, if it’s difficult to control, if it’s difficult to stop (Hi!!) for you then it may be time to think about it a little. Maybe you’ve already asked Google if you’re an alcoholic. But that’s also not really relevant. Richard Burton was said to have drunk 3 bottles of spirits a day and didn’t classify himself as an alcoholic.
Sobriety was a word that really scared me before. It sounded so, well, sober. Boring. Dull. Lifeless. It is the complete opposite. It is so much more, so much so in fact that it is incalculable. I’m still me but a new and improved version, like an app that gets updated overnight, where they get rid of all the crap that doesn’t allow it to run properly. I’m a better me but I just don’t drink anymore. And bloody hell does it feel good. I can’t imagine anything else now.
I go back to the quote at the start which came to me one day.
“When I drank it scared the shit out of me becoming sober. Now I’m sober it scares the shit out of me becoming drunk”.
So here’s to many more days sober. Here’s to more self discovery. I do things now I never thought I would do. I’ve just bought a hamster, for example. I’m a 42 year old man who lives on his own and I’ve just bought a fucking hamster. Next time I’ll tell you all about how it shit in my shower cubicle.
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