In the final months of my active alcoholism I was living in the attic room of my house.
I drank about 6 bottles of cheap Spanish wine plus a dozen cans of strong German beer every day.
The alcohol had little effect on me by this stage. I only drank to dampen the delirium tremens, the violent shakes. I often could not control my hand enough to get alcohol into my mouth, holding my wrist steady with my other hand to raise the drink to my mouth.
Usually cracking the bottle or tin can against my teeth.
I was no longer getting drunk anymore.
You know you are fully addicted to alcohol when it does nothing intoxicating any more.
I slept in 5-10 minute fits and busts. I did not eat for months. The television told me to kill myself and voices not belonging to me talked insistently in my head.
Alcohol-related Psychosis it is called.
No one told me this would happen when I bought my first alcoholic drink when I was fourteen years old. There was no health or warning label saying “Could lead to Psychosis and Premature Death!”
Maybe there should be. Or at least alcohol can be addictive for some.
Anyway there is more to alcoholism than alcohol.
In the depths of this alcohol induced madness, I rarely saw my wife, who could not bring herself to look at me and what I had become.
If I could have got it together I might have killed myself.
But I couldn’t get it together. Psychosis is all involving, doesn’t leave much time for planning anything.
So I staggered on. When I say staggered, I could not actually walk more than a few yards or climb more than a few stairs.
By the time I reached my first AA meeting
- the alcohol had stopped “working”.
- I had surrendered.
Regardless of these two factors, I could not admit I was alcoholic. My pride and it’s best friend shame were still talking away to me.
I was willing to admit I was addicted to alcohol and that I was about to die from it.
We often wonder why some people don’t accept their alcoholism?
How did I start my journey to acceptance?
My wife came to my first meeting of AA, she practically carried me in!
The Chair of the meeting was a person I had drank with before – I though how come he is here?
I spilled more drink than he ever drank?
Then it dawned on me that maybe I should have come here before?
Especially when he shared that he had been trying to get sober and recovered for ten years!?
I then listened to the other alcoholics sharing their stories.
The stories mentioned the progression of the alcoholism, which I obviously identified with.
They also mentioned how they, even now in recovery, struggled with their emotions and anxieties, how they found living life difficult.
They talked about issues which had bedevilled them and me since childhood, this spiritual malady they talked of was like the emotional disease I had suffered from all my life, whether it was depression, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, PTSD, etc.
They had used alcohol to self medicate these conditions, especially as alcohol for them had felt like an elixir for them as it had for me. We all had all dealt with our negative emotions since adolescence in the same way.
Now a new way had to be found.
When we left the meeting my wife had a psychic change similar to the one I had.
She said these people are just like you. They can help you, I can’t.
A week before I had heard a voice in my heart, through the psychosis, saying to go down stairs to my wife and ask her for help. I asked her for help in that round about alcoholic way of “do you think I look a bit jaundice (I actually looked like Homer Simpson with a heavy sun tan!)?
The help I asked for was not to come directly from my wife but she led me to where I could get it. In a room, full of people just like me, suffering the same illness as me.
I will be forever eternally grateful for it being there for me. For them being there.
We will be there for you too!