Hi, I’m Raymond and I’m an alcoholic. Actually, scrub that. I’m not any more. I did try the AA many times in the past and this route didn’t work for me. It just didn’t. I really couldn’t get in touch with my higher power. To me, I was giving up alcohol because of the impact it had on my life. My family, friends and even female love interests. So submitting to a higher power and taking the control and responsibility to get better and get sober away from me wasn’t conducive to my recovery. So if you’re reading this and AA hasn’t worked for you either then don’t fret. You’re not a failure and there are other options; as there was for me. One fix does not suit all as they say!
Anyway, phew. I had to get that off my chest because after quitting the AA I thought that was it for me. End of the road, no more help. But I was wrong.
Me? Oh yep, we were talking about my past! So. Yep. Picture me as a bright young child whose father and mother had split up from a very young age. I was five to be exact and back in the day when Marriage separation was a bit taboo in social circles. My Dad feeling that he deserved a clean break from us left for five years and stranded my Mum with a child in a resilient society to single mothers. I grew up an extremely sensitive lad, always taking the verbal abuse from the next school playground bully on the chin. But letting it seep right down to my core, slowly building anger and resentment to life and the world. It was about 11 that I first sampled what it felt like to be drunk. The buzz, the feeling, it was intoxicating. Electrifying.
When I was under the influence the world seemed different to me. I could only describe it as I had been “let out of my cage”. When I was sober I was a shy and reserved young lad. I was scared to say things to people, went red when pretty girls sat next to me and choked if they talked to me. I hated fighting, but I always seemed to get in them. I was in a fair few scrapes in my youth. I’ve heard mothers saying “boys will be boys” but that just wasn’t me. It wasn’t. When I was drunk it cured all of this. No more going red, no more choking. I was a social animal. Parties? Man, I was in the middle dancing shouting look at me!! Aren’t I bloody FANTASTIC!!?? You see, alcohol was my medication for a little boy that hadn’t truly ventured out of his shell or realised his potential just yet.
By the age of 21 I was doing really, really daft stuff with serious implications to my health. I was drinking at least a bottle of vodka per day and working an 18 hour shift most days. Silly you say? Not to me, how else would I fund my habit! Did I mention the stealing? God I bet a few of you would be REALLY surprised at this but I was a kleptomaniac at one stage in my life. Stealing little things here and there to fund my hugely increasing alcohol habit. At 21 I had 3 jobs, earning way more than enough to survive yet still stealing. Probably gives you an idea of how bad it became.
Then I fell unwell. Really unwell. But hell that didn’t stop me right?
I was in and out of psychiatric hospital from the ages of 21-23; can say I’ve shared some pretty hardcore experiences with a few others in there too, but as soon as I was cleaned up and out in society again the party began all over again. It was non-stop alcohol party at mine, or wherever I was. You could have screamed at me back then at how absolutely wrong I was with my position in life, but I would just peg you as a no-fun loser; a square that doesn’t know how to enjoy themselves.
Fast forward 3 years later. It took 3 years from my last hospital visit, drinking like I have only one day left to live and making some serious life blunders to finally wake up. It came. It hit like a bolt of lightning. I had just been sacked from my job, lost a lot of friends and had nowhere to turn. I sat there in silence and darkness in my flat that night and thought. Maybe this isn’t good for me? Perhaps I should stop because I’m heading to the gutter, fast. I always wanted to be a computer hardware engineer that travels the world. What happened to that? I’m a nobody. A god damned alcoholic with no life, no job, and a friend. perhaps two.
So. Late summer 2006 I looked into something better. I always wanted more. I went to volunteer at a local mental health charity as a receptionist. I asked for help because I was an alcoholic. And in turn this was probably the most pivotal point in my life ever. I was advised to go to counselling. And from there it was like a steam train of magic. I stopped drinking the day before I started that position. That was 10 years ago this summer. I can’t honestly say it was an easy ride; it was filled with tears, anger and many, many, many regrets. But when you’re not drunk, life is SO much easier to cope with.
I can describe my first 6 months alcohol free as “the awakening”. There was a point where I completely felt like a child. A little boy in this grown man’s body. All these years of partying had kept my brain from learning anything, from growing, or maturing with my age. I was completely unequipped to handle a 26 year olds life problems because I never really dealt with them in the past. Just smashed it away with alcohol. As well as a confidence booster it had been a problem squasher too.
I can honestly say from then on has been like a dawn over the plains of Africa type life moment. I read books, books with covers too! I socialised, I learned, I learned to watch people and how people worked. I read all about humanities roots and the social and economic drivers that are still apparent in humanity today. I learned to be a teacher, a leader, a Manager, a Mentor, a confidant, a good friend and a proper lover. I also found an amazing creative streak that I never knew existed! Hence writing this today. I LOVE writing!
The last ten years I can say have been properly inspiring. I’ve achieved great, great things and won awards for them too. Worked up quite a reputation for myself; yet, I am only little old me. And you know what the best thing is?
YOU CAN DO IT TOO!!