Getting smashed on at least three or four nights a week meant that many of the circumstances I found myself in during my drinking days arose out of actions which may as well have been carried out by a completely different person. Looking back on it all, it seems as though I was possessed by someone hell bent on wrecking all chances of my future happiness.
Certain relationships are top of this list of stupid situations that I fell into which would never have come about had I been sober. Meeting someone whilst under the influence, when your senses and intuition have been obliterated by alcohol, is never likely to mark the sparkling birth of a beautiful romance. Far more likely that the two of you are wholly unsuited to each other, but when morning comes around the process of extrapolating oneself from such a union is either too embarrassing or shameful to admit to, and so with steely grit you choose to plough onwards and upwards utilising yet more booze, of course, as a way of coping with being involved with the wrong person.
Considering the chaotic life I led as a heavy drinker I can hardly believe that I was the same person as the one I am today. I simply could not see life as it really was, my vision of everything being skewed by a fog of booze and the associated hangovers. The stupid things I said, the arguments I initiated, the embarrassing shenanigans in which I was involved in some effort to play the group clown – absolutely none of them would have occurred today when I am me, in full control of the way I act.
More than anything this total lack of control, which defined my existence during the twenty odd years in which I drank excessively, surprises me. I am by nature a fairly orderly person; I love my house to be clean and tidy, I’m obsessive about work and set myself high standards in almost everything I do, I can be pretty regimented when it comes to exercise – whether these characteristics unwittingly led me to drinking heavily in the first place in an effort to free myself from the inherent rigidity of my character is something which has crossed my mind on more than one occasion.
Whatever the connection, I do know that as a non-drinker I feel happy and contented being in control of my world, insofar as anyone can be. The fact that I constantly used to put myself through the personal trauma of waking up with that awful sinking feeling, as the recollection of the previous night’s events came back to haunt me and did so repeatedly thereafter during the following days, weeks and even months, is enough on its own to account for the serious anxiety and depression I suffered back then. I basically woke up a completely different person to the one I had been the night before – almost every day. That’s enough to tip anyone over the edge.
Last night we took the baby to hospital because of a sudden rise in her temperature and ended up staying overnight, me and her snuggled up on a camp bed in a ward filled with crying children and sleepless parents. The fact that I was able to drive her to hospital, comfort her and protect her in such a strange environment and all the while with the full knowledge that I couldn’t have done any more for her, leaves me feeling ok tonight – we are all a bit tired and frazzled but she has fully recovered and is catching up on her sleep in her own bed, and there is no fallout to deal with. It happened, we sorted it, everything is back to normal.
I dread to think how that situation may have panned out in the old days.