My fight with alcohol
Alcohol was my demon. It always was but I couldn’t clearly see it until I was at least six months sober. I knew I had to quit but I wasn’t really sure why. At first it was a matter of money but soon afterwards I began to grow and realise why I shouldn’t really be drinking at all.
It all started when John had died. He was my mothers partner at the time and they were soon to be married. It came as a shock and it was over within six months. He ruled our home with both an iron fist and a welcoming hug. He was what fathers should be. Strength and softness all coddled into one loving man. But he was dead and I was hurting so life goes on.
I remember the day when Ryan my best friend at the time asked me if I wanted to get drunk. The idea had been previously scary to me because I knew for definite that John would have booted me into the next county were he to catch me dancing with the devil. Yet the idea seemed somewhat exciting at the time. I was now alone with Mum, and well she’s a pushover. If she were to catch me having a drink or two the punishments seemed far less stringent in my head. So I went for it.
I recall the excitement the day before. We knew what was going to happen. I felt naughty and sort of, cool. Cool in the sense that I was going to be one of a few at school who indulge in a bit of late night drinking. Only the really cool kids drank. I was being “cool”. Ryan took a whip around from us and got his friend to buy us Merrydown Cider. Those were the days when cider was strong, not the weakened down version of what it exists as today. Back then it was 10% proof.
That first night I finally took the plunge into drinking. I can still feel the hot liquid pouring down my throat. It was strange. The bottle had felt cool to the touch but the liquid had a burny sensation. I can remember slightly gagging on reflex as the taste wasn’t as I was expecting. Once the liquid rested in the pit of my stomach I felt a strange sensation that I had never felt in a long time. It took that knot away. The hurt. The black emotions that were churning away inside for several months. They were gone. Wow! Those feelings were replaced with excitement and giddyness for the unexpected. I now loved drinking. I was going to drink as much as I damn well can.
As I reflect upon this article, drinking for me during my High School years was more of an issue with being accepted rather than taking the hurt away. I wanted to be cool. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to relate to people. I didn’t have many friends at High School. I always felt like an outcast; someone that not very many people can relate to or get at all. Drinking was a way to solve that. I was being one of the rebellious awesome kids that threw caution to the hungry dogs and feared no consequences. I was a rebel.
More often than not there was usually a gang of us; Ryan and I and a few girls. They sort of came and went as the years passed. We changed our friendship circles many times over the years but one thing remained constant and that was us two.
As the school years progressed I would take more and more risks with alcohol. Occasionally I’d go into school drunk. I loved the risk of perhaps being caught with the teacher and how other kids would have viewed my dicing with death. I thought I was a champion rebel; I expect others just thought I was an arsehole.
Life continued in this form for a few years. My Mum, perhaps trying to brush the issue under the carpet because of all the issues she was dealing with at the time let my behaviour go almost unabashed. I say almost because there were a few instances she came down on me like a ton weight. I’d love to talk about these times but in respect to my friends that I am still in contact with today I probably won’t. Unless they stipulate otherwise.
Probably the brightest move and equally the dumbest was applying for college at 16. Anyone that I had ever associated with school had left on to go and work or study further. This had left me with a HUGE conundrum. Stay at School being Norman no friends or start fresh. There was such a weight for me at School of belonging, being part of something and having friends. I struggled with that a lot. All through High School. I had to get out. I had to leave. I saw an advert for Fife College in the paper that offered computer courses and off I went.
College was an eye opener. You could freely bunk class and the tutor wouldn’t say a word. You could come in worse for wear after a lunch full of beer and the tutor would laugh at you rather than send you home. You see at 16 back then you were a free person. There was no requirement for you to be anywhere. You were classed as an adult. I could have sex and the other party wouldn’t get put on any register. It’s safe to say I flunked my first year of college drowning at the bottom of my beer glass. I think the last two months I just failed to turn up at all.
Drinking was taking a good hold by the end of my first year at college. It was a struggle to go one day without a hefty amount of alcohol in my system. I can remember raiding my Mums spirit cabinet and when that was empty I went for things like her purse. Yes. It was that bad. I also sold off a good few things from my house to fund my booze habit and a lot of it wasn’t mine.
The year my Dad took me to England to live was 1999. I was 19 and psychologically addicted to alcohol by now. It didn’t seem much of a problem to Dad because he didn’t think alcohol was a problem. Although he did keep screaming at me, “You’re just like your Mum. She can’t stop but I can stop whenever I want”. A bit of a catch 22 there really because Dad never ever wanted to stop. That year my boozing became much worse. I now had a job and was earning the money to fuel an addiction. I remember some nights talking to my housemate happily and the next thing I knew it was two hours later. I would just pass out. Just like that. If that isn’t a problem I don’t know what is.
Luckily the year that I met Ben and Steve I felt a belonging again. I had friends that I could look up to and a proper function in life. The drinking eased as I relaxed into our new found friendship roles. Both had partners and hefty drinking was limited to a Friday night out. During the week I found comfort in losing my thoughts in good books. I read SO much those years.
But that was short lived. It wasn’t long until both parties were single again and we were out on the town like a wrecking ball. I can remember the fury. The disorganisation. The unruliness. We would drink to get drunk and we wouldn’t come home until we were crawling or being carried. It’s quite sad looking back. But we were young, experiencing new things and full of life.
It was alcohol that did it in the end. I fell really unwell and ended up in the Psych ward because I went on a five day continual binge with vodka and orange. Silly. I still to this day don’t know why I did it. But it broke me. Extinguished the boyish flame and enthusiasm that I once had for life. I went through a serious of traumatic events through having a five day binge and cutting it out straight away. Any normal person would have come down slowly. Not me. I just stopped. And that fucked me.
And there was Scotland. I moved up back to Scotland because I became too unwell to function properly. I needed rest. Rest with a family that cared and supported me. I ended up in Psychiatric hospital twice from then. Once for 6 months and another for about 3. All because of alcohol. If I wasn’t a drinker I doubt I’d have ended up in these institutions. My life would have been radically different.
Yet that never stopped me. As soon as I was out it was back to getting anything I could put my hands on. Kleptomania was a non issue by then so if I didn’t have the money I couldn’t drink. However that was rarely, because I was living rent free and on benefits at Mums house. Life was easy again. Drinking was different now though. I couldn’t handle it like I used to and my behaviour was inept when intoxicated.
Looking back I would always think to myself, “Why can’t I drink like I used to? I never got into trouble back then” but now I know it was because it was all relevant at the end of the day. You expect purile, idiotic and juvenile behaviour from a teenager but exceptions can’t be made for an adult. I was becoming an adult and that was why it wasn’t acceptable.
Fast forward to Feburary 2007 when I was 6 months sober. Because the rest is just a big jumble of the same shite but either a different day or a different environment. I remember marking the occasion with two juicy Fillet steaks. Boy were they nice. I remember having the Great Awakening a few days earlier. How I felt like a child. That I had learned nothing new since the beginning of my alcoholism.
I felt cheated. Cheated by myself because I had missed out on so much opportunity in life. There was so much to see and do. I always wanted to travel abroad but I couldn’t. Back then I could have but all I was interested in was the four walls of a boozer. I wanted to learn but I couldn’t concentrate. Learning was for shitheads anyway. Or so I was lead to believe. And I always wanted to be someone. But I WAS someone. Everyone loved me with my pint and cool ways in the pub. Pscht. What I mess I was.
Alcohol tricks us. It tricks us into thinking that we need it to “relax” or “unwind”, it leads us into a false state of security that we cannot properly enjoy ourselves without it. And that it improves our mood and eases our stresses. It’s also popular belief that it does all this too. Just look at the sheer size of a big Tesco’s alcohol aisles. And when you think of it no other food stuffs or drink has that amount of dedication.
When in actual fact alcohol is a depressant. Using it in a continual cycle leaves you prone to depression and other psychosis related events. A lot of people relate Psychosis to street-drugs, but alcohol is a drug. It’s a controlled substance. Did you know that whilst drunk Alcohol paralyses the central nervous system. Impairs your ability to make proper judgement calls, slows you down and more importantly breaks important connections in your mind?
I always wanted to be a really brainy person. I was always in the top sector in school until I got involved with alcohol. After such I couldn’t make the proper connections, started failing at subjects and moved down a couple of tiers. Even at college I remember trying hard to work out problems and failing bad. I tried SO hard but nada. It was frustrating when things came too easy beforehand.
Coming up for 10 years now off the alcohol and ideas and problems that need to be solved come to me like lightning now. I never struggle with learning and I can properly grab concepts and ideas. I couldn’t do that before. Alcohol dumbed me down. I’m sure of it.