Sunday, 26 April 2015

Cheers


Tequila, Sarcasm, Hotpants?
Check, check, and yes, check.
When I was 18, I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Salisbury, which is where I was living at the time. Ever saturday, 11.30am, United Reformed Church, bring a £1 for the coffee and biscuits fund. I didn't believe that I was an alcoholic, and I didn't believe that I was 'powerless over alcohol' (the first of the 12 steps is admitting this) but what I did believe that was that I had a problem, I didn't know when to stop, and that my drinking behaviour was becoming increasingly self-destructive and dangerous. I went to meetings for 5 months, and in this time I didn't drink apart from the odd night out. I went out one Friday night, in November with my best friend and we hit the town hard. 'Coming to' being finger printed and DNA swabbed at the police station at x o'clock in the morning, with no idea of what I had done and actually not really caring because I was so desperate to sleep, then to be taken to a holding cell which I threw up all over, was probably the lowest point of my nearly 25 years on earth so far, and its not an experience I would like to replicate. 




Ages 15 in the park near school, You can't see in this pic
but my face is painted as a pink bunny rabbit.
As I went to leave the station at 11am, I had to ask what I had done for me to be there. I was informed that I was being given a ticket for being 'drunk and disorderly,' as I had been banging on doors in Salisbury town centre at 4am. The officer told me that I was taken to the station for my own well-being and safety because I was so drunk. At leaving, I rolled straight into an AA meeting where I got up and spoke about my experience. I wasn't sure what I was expecting - a hug, a telling off, stern looks and wagging fingers, pity - but all I remember was the session leader saying, when I had finished 'yes well thank you Harry for reminding us where we have been, and why we are here.' It was the last session I ever went to.

I started this blog following a 'nosedive' night out with work in December (go back to the beginning for a cheeky recap by clicking here, when I was in a place where I knew that I needed to make a change but didn't know how to go about doing it, and didn't know whether or not I could do it. This blog is my way of keeping track of myself - where I've been, how I've got there, and how it has affected where I'm headed- as I look to implement a complete 'gamechanger' and prove to myself than there is more to me than just tequila and sarcasm. This blog is also my opportunity to share a message, one that is just as fluid and flexible as the learning process. Ultimately I wanted to put it out there that I am a 24 year old, well educated, socially active young man living and working in London, who has a drinking problem. You do not have to be middle aged, or have experienced great loss or a tragedy, be going through a divorce etc (add or subtract any cliches you feel appropriate) to have issues with your drinking, sometimes quite frankly shit happens, and its up to you how you choose to deal with it.

Amen.
I have found in the past - leaving that AA meeting 5 years ago, being on a bus home the morning after the night before, being at work and hoping that no-one engages with you - that alcohol can have a very isolating effect, and you can find yourself in agonisingly lonely places. I personally feel that many people do not understand my drinking - how could they, and indeed why should they have to? It is incredibly difficult to tell someone that you have a drinking problem without that problem coming to define you in much the same way as someone may be catalogued by their sexual orientation. How do you explain to someone that feeling of unease when you are going on a night out - what will happen to me tonight? How do you explain to someone that the wording of that phrase 'what will happen to me' indicates the fact that you are powerless to prevent whatever happens once you have had a few drinks, and isn't just demonstrative of a overarching victim complex? The result of this is that more often than not, you are alone, and you know it.

Earlier this week I had a friend who I haven't seen in a long time message me on Facebook (click here to have a look at my page) to tell me that they had read my blog, and just wanted to say that they got *it*, they understood, and that they had been dry now for 3 months because they, like me, could no longer control their drinking after having the first one. I have had 2 others contact me this week, one of whom I don't know personally, to say thank you for sharing my experiences and perspectives and sharing with me their own personal stories. 

Missing the first night of reading festival 2009 owing to
my good friend 'Straight vodka from the bottle.'
Thank you very much to everyone who has read, or is reading this, your support really means a lot. To those of you who have got in touch, thank you for giving me the confidence to move towards accepting    and dealing with my own shortcomings, and I hope that you continue to do the same, and be happy. Thank you for making it a less lonely place - cheers.


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