Written and contributed by Anonymous Author
So I was asked to just jot down my story and my recovery by a friend. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to revisit my past.
I am an alcoholic, and proud to admit that. I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous in South Africa. This is the first time I have told my story from beginning to end for a very long time. I hope you don’t mind and you give me a little license here to write what needs to be written. It is going to work out to be quite a long read, but to tell you the truth I am doing this more for myself than I am for you. I NEED to tell this right now, at this juncture in my life.
Where to start, I suppose the beginning is always a good place to start. So the beginning then:
I am a young man, having turned 25 earlier this year, from a loving, albeit broken, family. My mother and father separated in 1997 and to tell you the truth, I was happy when it happened. It has not been easy, but I know that I have the love and support from my family. The family life was always good, even if my father did drink excessively at certain points in my past. But I would never hold this against him. I will skip though the formative years, as there is not much that happened in my life that impacts much on my story.
So fast-forward 6 years, I am still a young boy, 6 in fact, and a little something came into our family, a little girl. 6 years younger than me and 10 years in the junior of my brother. Now as much as I love my sister now, I never had a particularly good relationship with her. She’ll probably read this excerpt of my life story, so sis, I apologise for anything upfront. I was extremely jealous of her. She was the new kid on the block and I felt that all my parents’ attention had been turned away from me to her. This is entirely understandable though. She almost never pulled through when she was born, she was very premature and was a sickly baby for many months after her birth.
I must outline here that I am an incredibly selfish person. An ex-girlfriend of mine has recently told me so, but I appreciate her honesty, as much as it hurts. Being a selfish person means I demand peoples attention and when it is not given I get upset… This is a downfall of mine that I am working on. As I grew up from here, I gradually become more and more obsessed with myself, going through periods of extreme highs (bordering on disgusting arrogance) to points where my self-confidence was shot and I often felt as though I was not worthy of others.
My drinking began at 12. My father had a great collection of booze lying around the house. A bottle of Jamesons later, and I was lying on the bathroom floor vomiting my stomach dry, eventually passing out on the bathroom floor. The next day started the 8 years of hell lived in. You see my hangovers were legendary. I suffered for the poisons I shoved into my body. Anyway, the next 8 years are much of a blur for me. I can highlight some of the more extreme times.
In the beginning I started out a twice a month binge drinker. This increased to the stage that I was drinking 7 days a week, and blacking out on 5 of those occasions a week. So my modus operandi was the following. Get home from school during the week. Fuck around until about 20h30, go to my room, have a couple of smokes do some homework, sneak downstairs and steal a bottle of wine from my old mans cellar (an impressive cellar, so a couple of bottles a week never went noticed). Sneak back up to my room, open the bottle (with my trusty waiters friend that lived in my drawer) and pour a good glass of red wine… Then I would really get into the flow of writing! Generally I would pass out around midnight and wake for school at 06h00. Great lifestyle I thought, I was coping, doing all my work and getting good grades.
Weekends would roll around and we would roll into the local, and literally roll out 6 hours later. My mates, I thought at the time, were guppies compared to me.. I could drink any of them under the table. There was a time at school that I thought I had a problem and I spoke to my mentor at school, he was concerned but let me know that ultimately I had to make the decision. This decision took another 3 years to make.
School went by in a haze of cigarette smoke and red wine, my poison of choice. There was a period in my school career where I stopped drinking and smoking. This was short lived but I felt at the time I had to do it as I was playing national sport, and I knew that if I carried on I would throw it away. So I stopped cold turkey and things seemed fine… Thing is a non alcoholic would not have started drinking after a 6 month break with a bottle of whiskey, a full bottle. I was drinking on school property, getting found out by the staff, even drinking with the staff on occasions. My charm always got me through and I never got into shit for it. But school was small fry for me. The days of varsity were hitting, HARD!
The December before I started my university career, it was my brothers 21st. We had a big party, and I was surrounded with red wine basically on tap and gin to boot. Can’t remember getting home that evening, but I do remember the drama that occurred on the evening. This was the beginning of the blackouts. The drama, you ask? Well my dad and my brother got into a fight that near ruined the evening, but all was good in the morning. I somehow got involved in the middle of the fight and ended up being the most hurt, emotionally. Anyway, this was time for my second break from drinking. Stopped for about 4 months this time, and then one day, at a rugby festival in Johannesburg, I decided to get tucked into the booze again… This time guess how I started? Yes you guessed correctly, another bottle of whiskey, a FULL bottle. And so began the beginning of the end. The next two and a half years I deteriorated into a full time drunk.
Let me outline the next two years in bullet form, as we would be here for days should I write it in paragraphs:
• Broke up with my girlfriend of 2 ½ years
• Got involved with a group of friends that drank as hard as I drank
• Went through relationship every two months
• Started ignoring uni
• Started my early daytime drinking, before 09h00 basically
• Starting blacking out on a regular occurrence
• Dabbled with soft drugs
• Became rather addicted to painkillers (I managed to get my hands on post operative drugs all the time somehow)
• Started getting a clouded head, my decisions were screwed up
• Then the last few months arrived!
So it was February 2003, my 20th birthday. Got to the pub with my girlfriend at the time and all our mates. I didn’t have a cent on me and I still managed to black out that night! I started off on the Jamesons and ended up on the Stroh Rum. I was offered a lift home, but thought it best if I drove. Blacked out and woke up in the morning with screaming. I thought to myself, shit, what did I do last night? Did I kill someone, is there blood on my car, what the fuck happened! It turns out that I had a minor accident involving, to this day I imagine, a curb. Both the tires on the right side of my car were blown. I couldn’t deal with it on the day however as I was hung-over and by this time in my drinking, my hangovers were debilitating. I got over this hangover and this car accident reasonably quickly.
That night in fact, I was out having a couple of drinks again. The wheels really started falling off after this. I was involved in a major car accident less two weeks later. This car accident left me in ICU for 7 days. This, one would think would be a wake up call from something. But to me I was totally oblivious. The weekend after I got out of hospital, I was back at the same bar I was at the night of my accident having a couple drinks, drugged to the gills on codeine. About a month later I was jetting off to Argentina, a week of blackout and hangover’s. I would not be able to tell you what happened on that week away from South Africa. The few things I do know, I cheated on my girlfriend at the time and I forget the rest. It literally was a week of forgetting about life. I got back and screwed over my best friend (with the girl I cheated with in Argentina). I lied to his face and he has never forgiven me for this. Understandable really.
The next 5 months I cannot recall for the life of me (I blame it primarily on the booze and the head injury secondarily). All I know I the last night I drank it was the only time in those 5 months that I do remember. I ended up at one of the bars in Northern Johannesburg after a heavy day of drinking. I spent more than a thousand Rand on drinks that evening, and I think the bar was well entertained by me… I performed my usual trick and ducked out of the club without anyone noticing… Then the evening is clear. I went off the road and punctured a tire. I was without any tools to fix the tire, and definitely in no state to be changing tires. I managed to get to a garage about 5kms away. I arrived there, and promptly blacked out after saying to myself: “Drive to your brother’s house, it 2 mins away.” Next thing I was home in my flat and had no clue how I had arrived there.
I woke in the morning to a family that would not talk to me, let alone look at me. I finally had hit the bottom for the final time. I had finished bouncing and there was no foreseeable future for me… This was one of many times I had contemplated ended my life. I eventually made the decision to enter the fellowship (Alcoholics Anonymous).
And thus ends the story of my drinking, my short and not so illustrious drinking career. I was 20 years old and I had had enough. I did not know where to go. I was a lost sheep and I was not willing to continue with my life the way I was going.
I maintain to this day, had I not stopped drinking then, I would have been dead before my 21st birthday. My angels were with me, as they are today!
“Life is difficult.”
M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled
This is part one of a three-part blog.