Please Note: Pictures used are stock photos to protect anonymity
My name is George, I’m an Alcoholic …
At fifteen I was a big lad and hung around with a bunch of big guys. So, on a busy Saturday night, it wasn’t difficult to pass the scrutiny of the overworked barman and buy my first ‘real’ drink. I was shaking inside and had a lot of regret later. I discovered that I was the guy in our group who could get drunk on the least amount of beer. Two pints and I was well gone, three and I would be legless and totally out of it. As you can imagine, I was the source of a bunch of jokes for a lot of years.
I served an apprenticeship as a manufacturing engineer, married, and with my wife’s help, bought a house in Aberdeen. We then had a couple of kids. At forty, my life seemed okay, but money was always tight so it was hard to afford booze. Boy, was I lucky? I discovered home brew (homemade alcohol) and, better than that, I started to get a ‘taste’ for drink. Out of all my home brewing attempts, I discovered that the lager was drinkable. I was now able to consume a ‘ration’ of four pints a night while my wife was out and I was left to baby-sit.
The answer to my prayers seemed to come in 1978. Oil had been discovered in the North Sea in the late ‘60s and by ‘78 the oil industry was screaming out for qualified guys like me. So I joined an American service company in April 1978 and it was then that my drinking career really took off. I joined this small company just the right time because, as it expanded, so did the number of job titles I had.
Starting as a simple instrument technician, I went on to work offshore, then back onshore to become an operations supervisor, marketing rep., trouble shooter, international operations supervisor and lastly, training manager. In each of these positions drink played its part, from the heavy sessions with the boys when we came ashore, through the drinking with clients as we entertained them while looking for work, to my favourite excuse for a glass -STRESS – that wonderful excuse that just about everyone could understand.
I could write pages and pages of my drinkalog, but it would probably be the same as every other alcoholic’s tale. I drank, on a daily basis, what I felt to be enough alcohol to survive. My life was one hundred percent dominated by alcohol. I had to drink all the time, even though it now gave me no ‘kick’. By this time, even I realised that I had to stop – but hadn’t I tried dozens of times – and failed? I couldn’t stay sober and fell off the wagon quickly. Worse, on a few occasions when I had tried, I suffered badly with DT’s. My best attempt was in December of 2000.
The dates are hazy, but I stopped drinking early in the month and had a bad case of DT’s. I was talking to the furniture, thought it was raining inside the house, saw flowers revolving and heard them talking to me and I was presenting a play with the window sill as the stage! Fortunately, this was observed by my doctor and I was admitted to hospital. I got out on Christmas Eve and stayed sober until January the ninth, my birthday. I felt that, for my efforts, I deserved a drink on my birthday.
Nobody agreed, so I stormed off to the pub where I got absolutely paralytic. I got home from there and fell asleep. When I awoke, I knew I was beaten. So, I emptied our bottle of vodka into a glass and drank it, knowing that it might be my last drink for a very long time. I was beaten and agreed to go in to a detox. unit the next day.
Mag signed me into the clinic, which was thirty or so miles from Aberdeen. I was to join a class just about to undergo a six week long detox. session. In the first week I was fed Librium to help me stop shaking and suffering DT’s. Over the next six weeks we were introduced to A.A. meetings, which we attended three times a week. As well as attending meetings, we studied and attempted to do the first five steps of the A.A. recovery program.
Six weeks after entering the clinic I was let out. Mag picked me up and took me home, but had to leave shortly afterward to go back to work. So, there I was, alone, scared, sober (at least, having no alcohol in my bloodstream) and thinking that this was one of the most important moments of my life. I wasn’t in pain now, so wouldn’t it be alright if I just took a wee drink? Or should I take this sobriety business seriously and give the ‘no drinking policy’ a chance?
I chose the sobriety route and started to attend A.A. regularly. I have to be honest and say that the first year was hard, but, year on year, my life has changed for the better. I’ve been sober for just over six years now and can honestly say that I’ve got back most of what drink took away from me – except that flipping job. Never mind, I got another job. Although not as well paid, it suited me much better for, as well as enjoying my days work, I could go home without any worries flying around in my head.
This, in itself, was worth a few quid. Money, or should I say, the pursuit of money, was always high on my list of priorities when I was drinking. I thought that, without it, happiness would be difficult to find. However, over the six years of my sobriety, I’ve gained things in my life that no amount of money could buy. Things like:-
- I’ve won back the love and trust of my family, who, at one time, would have been glad to see the end of me.
- I have a little two year old grandson who loves to play with toy cars with his granddad, especially in the toy garage that Granddad had great fun making. He also thinks that Granddad is the best person to head for if he needs comforting after a fall or wants a comfy pair of arms to fall asleep in.
- I have a seven year old granddaughter whom, when I was performing, I was banned from seeing alone in case I dropped or hurt her. Now, I’m a trusted babysitter and one of the best at telling stories, although Gran is still her favourite.
- Now I have real friends around me.
- During all the time I drank and worked, my head never seemed to stop calculating all the things that could go wrong. In fact, I can safely say that I worried for Scotland. I was that guy who would worry if he didn’t have something to worry about. Now, I can honestly say that I have found true peace of mind because I have a better understanding of what’s important in life.
Readers, my life is good now because, thanks to the help that A.A. has given me, I am now able to face it with courage.
One day at a time.
*LOL is internet shorthand for Laughing Out Loud