Monday, August 17, 2009

Onwards and upwards and thinking of drink

Oh Cardiff Drunk, you unfaithful blog whore, you give all your time to your other blog and never caress my blank pages with your lovely Trebuchet characters.

Ah, yes, 'tis true. I have been very busy in other parts of the blogosphere. I shall, again, promise to make time for my first and only true blog. I miss it actually, and would go so far as to say it's been a useful part of my recovery. If people read it (and feed my ego) by posting comments all the better really. It's working as a form of counselling for me at the moment - talking to the air. That's what counselling is really isn't it. They listen, they're not supposed to judge or lead the conversation, but maybe make suggestions, so essentially they help you heal yourself. And this is what this here blog does - it's my empty room.

That's reminded me actually, I went to the local counselling folks and haven't heard anything. I must give them a ring and check up. I say that now and mean it; it's just a phone call, it's no big deal, a couple of months ago it would have been an insurmountable obstacle and a source of great fear and anxiety. I also plan to phone Pathways, the agency that helps ill people back to work, and from which I was gaining a deal of confidence. I was thrown off my benefit as, despite what my doctor says, despite what the alcohol specialists said, the department for work and pensions say I'm well enough to work. I've appealed against this and I think that now entitles me to go back to Pathways for some more help - they offer advice on self-employment, and that seems the best route to me now. Yep, the thankless slog of rejections and no money that is freelance writing. The work I've done at the other blog has been a great help in restoring my confidence in my ability to write and edit - things which I do naturally and speedily and these are skills that are in demand.

I've been lucky I know. I have no financial worries, no housing worries, no physical health worries - in fact my skin has continued to improve and is now little more than an occasional annoyance.

I also know I'm walking in the lovely green fields of fresh sobriety. Their green will fade.

I think about drinking a lot. Sometimes I crave it fiercely. But, antabuse has been a great help - I can't drink. Some days I have a great feeling of NOT WANTING TO DRINK AT ALL EVER AGAIN, of remembering in pristine clarity what it's like to wake up with a car in your head and no escape but to drink again. Other days I envy drinkers. I was warned by fellow blogger Anybeth about my regular visits to the pub, and perhaps that isn't helping. Although my policy of going only during the day and not for great long periods of time is a good one. But, yes, I envy those who enjoy their drink and don't let it wreck their lives.

Anybeth, of course, had a drink problem and now drinks in such a way that it doesn't wreck her life. And, recently I've met two people who have done the same. I'm not sure what to feel about this. On the one hand I think - as I have always secretly thought and prayed - look! Damn good evidence that people can come through problem drinking and return to 'normal' drinking. Make no mistake that's what I want - no-one could love drink as fiercely as I did and not want to have some sort of relationship with it. But another, and quite possibly wiser, part of my brain wonders if I can. If I'm just one of those people who for reasons psychological or genetic, just can't stop, that no matter how much I sort out the rest of my life (and I'm doing great things in all areas of my life at the moment) and my anxieties and my depression, as soon as I drink a switch will flip in my brain and that will be that.

It's the age old problem and I think everyone who treats us and everyone who has treatment thinks about it a lot. In hospital most of the people I met were of the opinion that they had to stop and stay stopped. I never directly asked a doctor, but they were certainly encouraging abstinence over moderation, and I believe the illness model is the current fashion.

A couple of things tilt me in this direction - my absolute joy and delight at first being drunk as, I believe, a 12 or 13-year-old. And, my seemingly natural tendency towards addiction in other areas of my life - be it writing, reading, dope, coffee whatever. It's a cliche of alcoholism - the reformed drinker who becomes a gym addict, the love of strong coffee (however mild, it's a psychoactive drug and a very fast acting one) among alcoholics. In hospital I also noted that a lot of people were absolutely delighted to be off the drink, but equally committed to maintaining their dope smoking. I can't preach, and I wouldn't want to, but this seemed to be a swapping of addictions rather than a cure. Despite its many advocates I know regular and heavy smokers who are to all intents and purposes addicted to their weed - I know one who bitterly regrets it: "It's a killer of dreams," he said to me, mulling on what he might have achieved if he hadn't have been so stoned along the way. It's probably a less destructive addiction than alcohol in many ways but I think it can be just as pernicious.

You might boggle at this, but another part of me (isn't your mind segmented too?) thinks that I'm just on the road to recovery from alcohol and drinking again will be part of the process - this sort of thinking is partly encouraged by the very non-judgemental style of a lot of alcohol treatment, especially counselling. Despite the misery of some of my life, misery caused most obviously by drink, I've never hit the fabled rock bottom and known and acknowledged that drink was the cause and started on the way up. It's a tempting thought isn't it? Drink, I'm not through with you yet. Mm. It sounds crazy I know, it's not at all the most dominant of the parts of me...

Of course the answer will probably only come if and when I drink again - and both are equally applicable at the moment.

You see Drunk in Cardiff blog, when I come to you, I come unfettered and full on - that's true blog love... I really will try and write something every day, but it's something I've said before.

Well, if you spent it, thank you for your time.

I don't know how you feel, but I feel a hell of a lot better for getting that off my chest. Now, I must away to the siren call of my other blogs.


Cardiff Drunk.


Anybeth said...

I spent my time, and I want you to know this. It's the absolute truth.
I drink, and it doesn't "wreck" my life, BUT...and this is a big BUT: I know without a doubt that my life would be far better if I didn't drink at all.

Why do I say this?
Because I know that I am an alcoholic that is just managing my disease the best I can. My time will come up again in the not so dinstant future where I have to quit drinking, for good, again.

I am doing everything I can to stall that day from coming, but it creeps up on me. My 39 year old body does not handle the booze as well as it did 10 years ago, and will continue to get worse as the years go on.

I have days where I am so hungover I don't want to drive to work, because I'm afraid I'll be driving drunk. I have nights I am up until 2:00am just doing nothing but drinking and listening to music.

It doesn't happen all the time, but it's enough for me to know I am not a "normal" drinker and I should not fool myself into thinking I am.

love ya.

The Drinker said...

Loveya too Anybeth...

That's a big and brave and very honest comment (honesty is almost always brave).

I think I'm very close to where you are - and very close in age, I'm 38. Because of my lifestyle up to now almost all of my close friends are or have been heavy drinkers - some passed through the phase, others have gone on to treatment and like you I um and aw about their status and what drink might be to them now. Others now drink in what might be called a moderate or social sense - of course I don't know if they're screaming in need every night, but that's how they present themselves. Others binge then withdraw for a while.

At the moment, I don't drink. I've gone so far as to say I'm committed to six months off it but even that feels like a struggle now.

Some days I love drink so much I could cry for the loss of it. Others I hate it and could cry for ever having met it. If this is a disease and this is the cure, at the moment it hurts - I know I'll have better days when things don't conspire as they have done today to put a raging thirst into my throat. The gigantic Chinese takeaway I'm about to eat will help.

As ever, many thanks, and apologies if I have misrepresented you as a 'normal'!