Degadar - Graham's story

Old 06-21-2004, 08:20 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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Degadar - Graham's story

To begin in the beginning...

Funny how memory invents itself after the events. I remember my first drinks clearly, so clearly, against the landscape of a childhood I really can't remember. Christmasses, mostly, family affairs either at home or at one relatives place. But Christmas starts with the ritual of Dad bringing home a big box of drinks, spirits, beers, and wonderful exotic stuff - ginger wine, advocaat, babycham, port and others straight out of the TV commercials.
The first serious drink was one haloween in france on an exchange trip when I was 13. Simply the best feeling anyone can feel Then on returning home, weekly sessions at the local CB club until I could start squeezing into pubs.

I must have been 15 or so when I first realised I needed drink, and maybe that I needed it slightly more than my friends, but hey - I was good at drinking, and like the port and lemonade that made the 10 year old a real grown-up, the beer then the whiskey did the trick.

I might have survived this were it not for what was to follow, or maybe I may have survived what was to follow were it not for the drink - I really don't know or even care much now. I spent a school year in France - doing A-levels as well as the Bac. The pressure was on and I went through hell - expected to be some great linguist, some great something - and I collapsed inwards with the strain. I still bear the scars and always will. I have a severe nervous tick, agoraphobia, and what is either bipolar disorder or Schizo-affective Disorder or both. If you're going to do it - you may as well do it properly!

I left home at 18, and started my first business soon after. Before marriage and children came along and before the first recession of 1986-87 things were good, Sarah and I were out every night - local pub, pub food and 6 pints of Guinness or real ale depending on the weather.

Saving up for the first house purchase and wedding, I actually managed 7 months without a drink and did feel good for it, but I wasn't stopping because I had a problem, I was losing weight, and saving money. I remember the first drink after that - Guinness at the three Horseshoes (a pub kept, incidentally, by the Pope's cousin, or so he claimed) - I was only going to have a small one... but it was so perfect, and felt so right it was probably 5 or 6.

Fortunately I was pretty bad at business, and after Sarah and I married I really didn't have the means to drink as much as I was able. For years , three bottles of wine a week was the household ration, and Sarah wanted her share - so it shall be. Still there's always the glorious binge on birthdays and at Christmas, or whenever the excuse came along.

I started to pull things together I got myself back to university - the incredible open university, and read psychology. I found the tools to work on the scars of my breakdown, and I can proudly say I did as good a job as could be done. I learned the disease's names and their insidious ways and we've lived amicably together since - ok, maybe the odd bust-up. I function 100%. it's not always pleasant for me, and sometimes disconcerting for others to watch - but I'm functioning well. I've been running for 4 or 6 years by this point - I've been a mechanic, a journalist, a freelance copywriter, a marketeer, graphic designer and managing director.

A few marital hiccups, hey ho, and the birth of two beautiful but challenging children - one severely autistic. My running and searching for something did give me something in the end. Maybe I owe this to the drink after all - without the drink, maybe I'd never have broken down, never have been forced to learn to treat myself, never have run from career to career, and not picked up the skills that were about to undo me.

With increasing financial and business success I was free to drink more without guilt, and without compromise. After all, drinking serious amounts was normal if you are a journalist, and normal if you're a business exec or a creative type. I slowly wound up to 2 litres of wine a night, plus 4 or 5 pints of beer in the day. I don't want to describe the decline here. I read it in so many posts in SR. I started blacking out about 4 years ago - waking to find I'd punched holes in doors and walls , scared children and abused everyone. I managed a string of affairs searching for something.

I was sure I was going to die, I could feel my heart beating badly, arms cold and without circulation, blurred vision, shaking - what did being thrown out the house mean to me? Sarah was seeing more of other men than me anyway. Bitch. No wonder I was an alcoholic - or at least asking myself the question for the first time.

Maybe for a year I tried to stop, tried to cut down, tried all the tricks. Increasing blackouts to about 4 or 5 a week, and increasing periods of separation and then reconciliation, violence and fear. I was sick and tired. Work was suffering severely, by now I'd added programmer and ISP to the list and although the company was moving under its own steam - I was becoming more of a liability than an asset. I was ready to move on, again.

I don't remember exactly how I decided what I should do. We'd been fighting as usual. My brother came up to visit for some reason, and we drank of course. Apparently I passed out on the stairs. I think it was knowing that my little brother probably knew my secret that started me to action. That and my eldest son telling me straight that he hated me,

I knew by then I had to stop drinking, not for a day, for two days - and I knew I could never cut down. Last chance saloon. It's hard to describe the certainty I felt when I first decided I was going to stop, forever. Total release, but total fear in equal measure. I set about a cure - I'd as good as fixed my severe phobia, and even treated several other people with real success.

I went out and ordered me a new car, a seriously expensive car as a treat to me, and set about my recovery. I knew, and still do that If Sarah had me back there would always be drink in the house. Sarah manages a steady two glasses of wine three nights a week - a habit she has every right to continue. I stored grape juice in wine bottles just for me and uncorked it and drank it from a wine glass as Sarah drank wine, I still do make a point of going into pubs and ordering soft drinks in a wine glass or lemonade in a pint glass. I suffered badly for weeks, needing vitamin B supplements and eating excessive amounts of chocolate. But by some miracle (and doubtless helped by the size of the mortgage on the car!) I stayed sober.

I don't think I'd have managed were it not for my father telling me he was proud of me for what I'd achieved - that was Christmas 2003. Ironic having probably taken up drinking to please my father, that his words that should prove so decisive in my recovery.

I came to SR for a few answers at that time - just trying to piece together what drink had been doing with me over the past 20, nearly 30 years. Although I'd mastered the physical and psychological addiction I needed to know what else was involved. I wanted to say how thankful I was for my sobriety - but had no-one. We didn't talk about it at home, but are just starting to now. I'd never said the word 'Alcoholic' ourside of this place and I needed to practise doing so; and talk to, and hopefully even help, people like me. I did come seeking confirmation that I was going to win - that it was possible to win. And I found it. I formed my final view of alcoholism and its true nature.

And well, I'm home permanently now. I have a happy home life, really for the first time ever. Work is flourishing, and despite the stress of employing 40 odd people, I love every day of it. I've lost two stone in weight and work out 4 or 5 times a week. Life is good. We move house next week, boxes everywhere and a symbolic new start 1 year down the line.

I'll never drink again. I know I need to keep appreciating what I have now, appreciate being to go out in the car somewhere in the evening, appreciate the speed and clarity of mind that comes with the de-fogging of sobriety, and appreciate the family I had lost. But I'll find a way.


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