“What are you doing?” asked the barmaid.
What I was doing was staring into the nearly empty glass in my hand.
“Thinking,” was my reply.
“What about?” she asked.
“Nothing important. Can I have another pint?” I said, before finishing the remainder of the lager in my glass.
The barmaid brought the drink over and I paid with a gruff “Thanks.” She took my money and went to the till. I returned to my staring. I was alone. I felt alone.
The barmaid didn’t ask me the question again when she returned with my change. She just left it on the bar. My answer “Nothing important,” hadn’t been completely truthful. I knew what I was thinking about I just didn’t think she would understand or that she could help. The chaotic storm that blew constantly in my mind was not for the faint of heart and had I began to explain, I would have come apart at the seams. Almost as if it only became real if I vocalised it. Keeping it internal meant that I could continue to live a charade. A charade that only I believed. To any curious observer, it was apparent that my life was a complete fucking mess.
That’s what the thoughts were about “How the fuck do I get out of this mess?” I couldn’t escape it. I drank until the questions in my mind stopped being asked. When the storm died down I could relax.
I remember the moment in the bar because it was the first time I had got to last orders and the questions were still there. The storm had not abated in my mind. The drinking didn’t switch it off anymore. The miracle cure turned out to be snake oil and the salespeople had long since departed with my money. I was fucked. My problems were queuing up and waiting for their turn to give me a good kick in. I was scared. I didn’t think I was strong enough. Or smart enough. Or good enough. All I could think was “How the fuck do I get out of this mess?”
This was approximately two months before I stopped drinking. It was the beginning of the end and the beginning of the beginning.
My solution? I increased the amount I drank. That was my solution. I had no other solutions. That had been my go-to for everything. It had worked fantastically well so far. But now, no matter how much I drank I couldn’t shake the problems. I kept trying though until my liver gave up.
Game over. Fess up. Come clean. No more running. No more hiding. I was devastated.
How did I get over it? I rolled my sleeves up and got a dustpan and brush. I started cleaning up the wreckage of the past a bit at a time. A scoop at a time. Sometimes a little. Sometimes none. Progress, not perfection. It seemed like trying to flatten the Himalayas at first but eventually, it got easier. Sometimes there was defeat. But I didn’t drink. Some heartache and I had to sit with it. Some disappointment but that’s life. Eventually, I had a clean street and the tools to keep it clean.
I would implore anyone contemplating quitting drinking to do so. I thought about it for years and my only regret has been; why didn,t I do it sooner?
Sobriety has been an absolute gift that I hold dearly. A badge of honour I am proud to wear. An accolade I have earned. It wasn’t/isn’t always easy but it is so worth it… well it has been for the last five years.
If that changes I’ll let you know.
Thanks for reading,
Picture – © 2016 Azzah B.A. Licensed under CC-BY.