BOTTLES? NOBODY SAID ANYTHING ABOUT BOTTLES
JUST THAT THE SMOOTH TASTE OF ALCOHOL WAS HARMLESS FUN!
My stomach is a Benetton advert of various shades of alcoholic grape juice and spirts – It is even beginning to look a little bit like a rounded grape, plump in the sunshine, resplendent with early morning dew. Except it’s not, its sweat from carrying the shopping from the car to the front door and the anxiety of being found out, breathlessness misting the glass slightly on the front door as you dig around for the key with one hand. I am trying to sneak into the house without giving away the tell-tale clang of Vodka bottle on bottle. Bottles! I hear my mind processing, nobody said anything about bottles, just that the smooth taste of alcohol was harmless fun!
Well, it is amusing in many ways.
I have learnt to sneak around like a ninja hiding vodka and wine bottles in secret places, developing a love of my spider infested garage as a secret repository of alcohol. I have taken up smoking again to cover the smell of booze on my breath, much as my former 15 year old self did to hide my drinking from my parents all those years ago. Accept this time it is my lover, my partner and soulmate I am hiding it from. Alcohol has become an expert on numbing my mind to avoid having any alcohol infused rows.
Sadly, this never seems to work very well and, much like the former 15-year-old self I am a little bit sad, lonely and guilty. This time I don’t have Blur’s ‘Parklife’ on CD repeat and a cohort of close friends to go out with. Instead I have a partner who I love but resents me and my drinking. I have teenage children who sigh at me when they get a whiff of Moscow’s finest on my breath at 8am and a cat who has never (ever) liked me…even when I managed a few months off the booze altogether and invested in yet another gym membership.
Yet every question digs at my heart – inevitably turned into demands:
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO CUT DOWN?
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GROW UP?
WHY DO YOU CARRY ON LIKE YOU’RE THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD?
WHY DON’T YOU JUST GIVE UP??
The ‘why don’t you give up question’ is always easy for me to answer – I’m not going to give up because I enjoy it.
Be it Gin, Vodka, Wine or (my new favourite, and very on trend) Rum. I really like drinking.
I like the feeling alcohol gives me – it is my comfort blanket, my best friend and sometimes, in especially intimate moments, my confidante.
Fundamentally, alcohol understands me better than my partner, the kids and the judgey cat. I have been drinking since I was 14 years old, in pubs and clubs well and truly in the geo stationary orbit by 18. When I went to university, I attended alcohol finishing school – dragging it out to 24 with a couple of post graduate courses and a bit of travelling, where I discovered a whole world of drinks and my partner in drinking crime in a beach bar in Thailand.
My friends have ‘cut down’ and ‘grown up’, but I still carry on like I feel like I am the only person in the world who knows how to have fun.
By fun, I mean of course, drinking.
If passing out on the sofa every Friday and Saturday (sometimes mid-week if there is no work the next day) and waking up with a quilt thrown over me at 4am, is fun?
Being sick, being argumentative, not being able to speak and being outlandishly flirtatious and inappropriate with our friends and their spouses / partners/sons/daughter’s, is fun?
I am told we don’t get out much anymore because people think I’m a ‘bit of a character’ and they didn’t think we’d be interested in ‘just’ food, or the cinema, or BBQ, without any booze. I am never lonely though, I can drink that away just as I’ve drank away the cat, kids and my partner for the last 20 years. The party stopped 15 years ago though, but I still can’t find my coat and I think the others may be about to jump in the taxi and leave me here, with the spiders in the garage, trying to remember the last hiding place I used for vodka.
Supporting people with substance misuse is all encompassing.
We have been working with people living with entrenched addiction for over 20 years. Witnessing the destruction of users at varied levels, including those who work full time:
The accountant and devoted mum, who was threatened with unemployment.
The translator caught up in a ‘glamorous lifestyle’ of all expenses paid travel but lonely, bored and incapable of maintaining a relationship.
The head teacher who couldn’t manage the stress, anxiety and overwhelm without hitting the bottle every night.
None of these wives, husbands or siblings planned to be in specialist support services; none of these planned to be dealing with addiction; none of them were excited to be speaking to some on a regular basis to get their lives back on track. But they did.
The links between high performance, mental ill health and substance misuse are well known but it’s the ripple effect on the family that can be really tough. There is great support available.
If any of this story resonates for you – whether it could have been reading your own musings or whether you see a loved one in the picture – reach out, get support.