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kij, Stories about addiction and recovery, Clean and Sober life styles
I grew up in a family that I thought was normal. It wasn’t. My father was a violent alcoholic. As children we would go to bed and dread him coming home. I’d listen to his truck coming down the road a couple of streets away, the handbrake go on, the door slam close and then his boots as he walked from the top of the road to the front door, the odd cough. I’d hear his keys trying to find the keyhole, sometimes falling to the floor. The door would slam close and I’d shut my eyes tight and hoped he’d go to bed. More often than not he’d go into my sisters room then come into mine. Mum would come and usher him to their bedroom asking him to be quiet because we’d have school the next day. Sometimes mum would be lucky and he’d crash out, sometimes. I’d hear him getting louder and louder, mum would take him downstairs and shut the door behind her. He’d beat her, she never screamed or shouted in case she woke us up. She never realized me and my sister would be sat on the stairs watching through the vent at the top of the door. I finally got to the point that I felt the courage to do something and ran in and hit him. From that moment onwards I was always scared of my father, scared of conflict, scared of courage, scared of everything. I learned to hate myself, the way I looked, sounded, everything about me, my life I despised. I was eight. The first time I drank I was 11. I got smashed, I was found in blackout covered in vomit and I’d wet myself. A couple of neighbors carried me home. It was late, my mum answered the door, I told her it was something I ate, I don’t know why I lied but for some reason even at the age of 11 I chose to blame something else, not the alcohol. Senior school was bad, lots of conflict, I was cannon fodder for the bullies. I looked different, my clothes were different. I guess I was unkempt. I understood why I didn’t have a uniform, mum couldn’t afford it. All money in the house, rent, milk, pocket money was all used for alcohol. Problem was some of the other kids didn’t understand this, for some reason they found this unacceptable, they even found it was funny when I told them the truth about why things were the way they were. I wouldn’t fight back, I knew where courage would take me. I found it easier to run, to escape, to hide. My education suffered a great deal. My mother was called to the school, they’d caught me out. I was going in for morning registration but left before the first lesson. I managed this for about 14 months. The head of year, me and my mother sat in a small room. I remember my mum crying and explaining that stuff was going on at home. The outcome for me was good. I didn’t get into trouble, I was told that I had to attend school and that if I had any problems I should speak to a teacher. I have to be honest, I learned that I could use what was going on at home as an excuse for my behavior. The second time I drank I did to oblivion. I was 16, I was on a camping trip with two other guys, one was a friend the other was one of the bullies from school. I was smashed, my friend went to use the toilets. The other guy started on me, same old shit that I’d heard many times “Dirty Tramp” I’m not sure what happened. The drink made me 10 foot tall and 6 foot wide. I attacked him. I went way too far, he didn’t deserve what I did. Some adults heard the commotion and pulled me of him. I can vaguely remember comments like, “He’s like a wild animal” “He’s lost it” “He’s mad”........ I woke the next day, I was rough, my knuckles were grazed and I was covered in bruises. The police were involved, no charges were pressed I didn’t care, really didn’t care. I guess I just hated myself a bit more. I ended up in bedsit land, had a job and blew all my money on drink and drugs, week in and week out. I guess this part of my life was when drinking was still fun. I became popular, I was funny, I could talk to members of the opposite sex, I could dance, fight, be a rock star, a drug dealer, the man that can, I could be anything you wanted me to be as long as it made me feel like I had a purpose, that I fitted in. Looking back I don’t quite know what it was I was trying to fit into. Square peg into a round hole? An orange in a bowl of apples? The more I drank the more in control I felt but the more out of control I was becoming. By the age of 21 I was homeless. Squatting in a portal-cabin. This life for me, at the time, was perfectly acceptable. I did whatever I had to do to get my fix. It had got to that place where I needed oblivion as quick as possible. I don’t know when I crossed the line but I had. I was living in that bubble looking out on the rest of the world, everyone else was better than me or worse than me. Nobody knew how I felt, nobody knew anything about me, nobody knew nothing. This place I was living, the one in my mind, that cold lonely dark place, curled up in a fetus position, that prison was all I knew. I had become a liar, a thief, I wasn’t to be trusted. I met my partner, she drank, we drank. She wanted more from life and in time we had a bedsit, a flat and then rented a house. I started work. We had children, a boy and a girl. I didn’t have girlfriends I had hostages such were my paranoia’s, insecurities and self- hatred. I wasn’t in this relationship to love, I was in it to be loved. Work was good, I was after all a perfectionist. Work also meant money and lots of it. My small business was taking off, along with my drinking. I came home from work one evening and my partner told me she was going to an AA meeting. I laughed, I thought she was joking. She wasn’t, somebody came and picked her up, a fella and a woman. I poured myself a drink and enjoyed the fact I was able to drink without interruption. My drinking was at a place where I no longer cared what others thought about me. Drinking alone appealed to me, nobody to judge me and nobody to fight with. My partner continued her AA meetings and I continued my drinking. She asked me not to come to bed stinking of alcohol, asked me not to fill the fridge with booze, asked me to calm it down a bit, asked me to not keep inviting people round for whole weekends of partying. I took all this personally, I felt she was trying to control me, trying to control my drinking. I didn’t realize she was just trying to protect herself. I was asked to be a best man at a friends wedding in France. I accepted and announced to my partner we were going away. She asked, pleaded not to go. I twisted it and told her that if she didn’t go I wouldn’t either and she’d be responsible for ruining the wedding. We went, it was a 72 hour bender, no escape for her. God only knows what I put her through. One evening she returned from her AA meeting and announced that if I didn’t start respecting that she was in recovery she would ask me to leave. I hated AA, I hated her, who were these people to tell her to tell me I would have to leave my house ! A few weeks later I came home from work to an empty house. I made the usual phone calls, chased around, banged doors but nothing, nobody knew anything. I sat indoors and drank some more…… I used to tell people that I went to AA because I wanted to get myself sorted, I lied, I went to AA to try and find her. I didn’t find her. At the end of my first meeting an old timer asked me how I was, “Fine” I told him, “Just a bit young for all this AA crap” “I’ll come back when I’m 35” (I was 26). He smiled and said “If you’re still alive”. What did he know? Days, weeks passed and contact was made through my mother with my partner and children. They’d ended up in a refuge, I’d started to turn into everything I despised in my father. I went to a second AA meeting. I heard a lady share some stuff, her pain, suffering and loss broke me. I stopped drinking and I stopped AA. My partner and I got back together. This was a year after her first AA meeting. She remained sober and I was a dry drunk for many years. To be continued…..