Starting writing anything around addiction and my experience is something I find really hard to do. It used to be because I wasn’t sure about being so open and was very worried about what people would think. Thats less so the case now, although I do still get nervous putting such personal feelings and experiences out there.
I find it more difficult today because after 5 years, 8 months and 19 days (who’s counting?) sober, my time drinking feels like a lifetime away.
I’ve written 2 posts before for Opening Up, and in those I tried to explain how bad it was for me, the feelings, the thoughts and how I began to recover. I won’t bore you with that again, instead this is much more a focus of where I am today and how I now realise when people hammered the Alcoholics Anonymous cliche of “it gets better” they weren’t lying. It would be pretty difficult to argue that right now as I sit here at 8am in the sunshine in Mumbai with a coffee watching 3 games of hastily arranged cricket going on in front of me on the beach.
Another cliche of AA is the promise of a life “beyond your wildest dreams.” I find that one much harder to relate to. Not because I disagree or argue with that, but because in the darkest days of my addiction I don’t think I had any dreams. I was a shell, a zombie walking through day to day. To say I had any “wild dreams” about where I wanted to be would have been a step too far, the grey cloud was too dark and hanging too low. Getting through each day was hard enough without thinking about the next one.
The longer it goes since my last drink 18th February, 2017 (still, who’s counting?) the harder it is to feel and remember those feelings still, and if I am completely honest, the less I want to. To be in a place of not wanting to die, but having no idea how to live any more is the most suffocating place to be. I don’t think you can truly understand the feeling of being trapped by addiction unless you’ve lived it. Every fibre of you does not want to have a drink, but being completely powerless to stop it. For me, it’s the ultimate loss of control. As much as, understandably, I don’t want to sit and think about those feelings every day, I have to still be aware of them, I can never forget how bad it was. I will never be cured of alcoholism, I am an alcoholic, that won’t change and the minute I begin to think it wasn’t that bad, is when my mind starts playing tricks on me. I have to remember what the consequences are.
People ask me now when I am with them if I mind them drinking. Firstly, I find it so considerate that people think like that, secondly I don’t care. I’ve been very open with everybody around me about my experiences, so if I was going to have a drink it wouldn’t be with my friends next to me. I said above, I can’t forget how bad it got for me…and nobody around me would let me drink, so my options would be pretty limited to sitting in a room on my own!I even went on my own stag doo sober last month, and its safe to say everybody else treated it like a “normal” stag doo, part of me wishes I’d told them all I did mind them drinking, just to see the reaction.
Today, I am 2090 days sober (still not counting) and life is very very different. I am currently on a trip around India for 2 weeks, made possible because of Academy North, a cricket business I set up with 2 friends of mine. I’m not sure what that “life beyond my wildest dreams” would have looked like but I can be fairly certain it wouldn’t have included being fortunate enough to travel India coaching cricket, watching cricket, meeting cricket people…and calling it work. More than that, my relationships with those around me have never been better. My family are my best friends, and vice versa. I am getting married next month to Sarah, who deserves a medal…not just for putting up with me drinking but probably for putting up with me sober too. We’d only been together 5 months when I hit my rock bottom in addiction, to this day I have no idea how (or why?!) she stuck with me. She helped get me through, and we’ve grown stronger ever since.
I used to wish I could drink like a “normal” person, but now nothing could make me wish I could have a drink. If you offered a pill that “cured” addiction…I still wouldn’t want a drink. I enjoy my 8am smug coffee & walk round Sefton Park after a (rare) night out when everybody else is struggling far too much to give that up.
The truth is, I did have some good times drinking. I also have had some bad times sober. I still suffer with anxiety at times, I’m still quite an insecure person, but what I do know and what I accept is one sip of alcohol would make that a million times wise.
So thats me, 5 years, 8 months & 19 days not out, and batting on after tea.