I know who I am

I have banished alcohol from my life.

I am an alcoholic, and I have decided that I will be a better, happier, more productive person without alcohol.

And I will be a better husband, father and grandfather too.

I might even live longer, though that is a mixed blessing.

I am posting this blog because I believe that part of changing my life is admitting in public that I have been addicted to alcohol all my life.

My parents drank too much, I drank too much. I learned from them that the way to escape from the stress and upset of unhappiness was to drink.

My parents were very unhappy with their loveless relationship and with their lives. My childhood and schooling were abusive, and I have never escaped the consequences. I was born into the comfortable, professional middle class, sent away at 11, bullied mercilessly, and totally lacked the skills and confidence to stand up to it all.

I adopted tactics. Keep away from groups, teams. Do solo activities. Be alone. Drink. Hide. Forget.

Chronic lack of self esteem, fear of male environments, anxiety…I have managed them, lived with them, but they have nearly destroyed me.

I am not alone in this. Either in alcoholism or abusive, loveless childhood. There are many others.

I have tried to change many times. During a long illness 25 years ago I stopped drinking for four years, without much difficulty. Then I slipped back. Slowly but inescapably. Work pressures, stress, anxiety…

I can go a few evenings without a drink, but then I may get a little elated and can’t stop. Or I just think, why the hell not?

I usually have had a drink every evening, while cooking, sometimes before. Not during the day.

And after a drink I lose my ability to control my decisions. So I do unwise things.

I buy things I want (but may not be able to afford). And doesn’t the internet make that so easy!

I say things which are a little (or a lot) rude or unhelpful.

I eat more than I need and should. And then more.

I have another drink. And another.

I lose my conscious control.

And my dementia is part of all this. Because that too has loosened my conscious control.

Luckily, after diagnosis I was prescribed donepezil, and this restored my ability to control my language and actions. My conscience or my inner voice of control was restored. But alcohol damages it again.

Alcohol also destroys my balance. I just fall over after a few drinks. Wobble doesn’t come into it. And again my balance has deteriorated with brain disease.

So I need to push alcohol out of my life.

I have moved all alcohol out of my house now, given to my son to store, so we can use it at parties or give it away. But there is none in the house. And that is important. I am not strong enough if it is readily available. Yet.

This is not going to be easy. I know.

I will probably have many occasions when I gasp for a glass.

I gave up smoking in 1979, after six years or so. That was relatively easy, but I still have occasional urges to buy tobacco and papers.

Alcohol will be the same.

I read a piece in the paper over the weekend about a woman who similarly removed alcohol from her life. Lots of what she said chimed with me.

The pretence that just one glass was really not having a drink at all that day.

The fear of being dull socially if sober.

The lost mornings (and sleep) when I have been pretty useless. Even just a little bit.

Not being as sharp as I might.

So, it’s gone.

And I have to keep my mind in equilibrium to make sure I can do this. I will find ways of being calm, of reflecting, of enjoying simplicity and quiet.

My five ways of wellbeing mantra will keep me going, as long as I remind myself regularly.

And I thank my wife for supporting me in this, as well as tolerating me for so many years. I have given much cause for misery.

Of one thing I am sure.

Dementia and alcohol do not mix well. My fragile hold on reality and physical control cannot survive the numbing effects. And having used alcohol to escape my demons for 60 years I have to face them.

And I have written this in order to publicly admit that I am banishing alcohol from my life, and to apologise for the times when I have allowed alcohol to change my behaviour into boorish, rude, foul mouthed, bad manners. If you haven’t seen this, you are lucky, and I am glad.

But I know who I am.

8 thoughts on “I know who I am

  1. Well done George. You don’t need alcohol to be the lovely person you are. Alcohol has destroyed so many people in my life that I don’t want you to be another on the list…..hugs big man 🤗xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That took a great deal of courage, George, and I respect you for it. I know I won’t be the only one to feel that way.
    Much love, Viv

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  3. What a brave man you are George Rook, to bare the truth in public is so very hard to do, I can only applaud you and support you, I never would have guessed after listening to your wonderful, articulate speeches about Dementia support.

    I cant say cheers to you any more, but I will say bravo for winning your battles. speak soon, my thoughts are with you, best wishes, paul.

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  4. George. Thank you so much for sharing your life. I can say life because I am maybe one year older than you. I am a manic depressive but thankfully I never drank alcohol but I have succumbed in my life to massive anxiety which necessitated as many as 10-15 valium a day to live that day. Thankfully now I can admit the doctors have given me a cocktail part of which is valium and the mood remains balance and the anxiety too. I say this because you mention using alcohol to curb your anxiety. I am listening on youtube regularly to an exceptional physician, Dr Gabriel Mate, who I found by chance … everything about me is by chance because I was in a horse riding accident nearly 30 years ago so live in groundhog day as cognitive deficits from frontal lobe damage prevail so I also understand about your worries and dementia. I know the aphasia, the balance, the names, the spaces and so much more but it is not from doctors but more from life and living it. Like you i have the support of my parner KT and of course a dog called Freddie, without whom I would not really want to go much further in this life. 2017 I was diagnosed with breast cancer but due to memory deficits I have no recollection of the experience but what I do know is that my hair is very fine since it grew back and there is a little patch in the front with looks a little bit bald! You talk about changing your attitude to alcohol and giving it all away. Alcohol like my 10 – 15 10 mg valium is a form of security blanket to get rid of pain. For my depression I have found bibliotherapy and listening to youtube as a vital component for coping skills. As I have previously mentioned, the Physician who has made a significant impact in my understanding of life, mine and that of others, is Dr Gabriel Mate. I wonder if you have heard of him and if not I would suggest you listen to him on youtube.
    I hope alcohol leaves you alone. You have the potential for happiness, your partner, your dog, your friends and all I can say is there is a quote “Live each day of your life”. I think it may even be from Jonathan Swift. I wrote my book Fortune Favours the Brave. It may be of interest to you because it is about life and overcomign many obstacles and then just arriving at a state of mind of living in the moment and in the day. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1912639610/
    Today was a good day. Went out and experienced two Random Acts of Kindness by people … one person gave us newspaper they had just read…simplicity can be powerful too.

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    • Thank you so much for writing. It is, indeed, simple often random acts of kindness that make a day enjoyable. I find huge support and comfort with my friends in dementia, and will start at AA today.

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  5. I am shocked at your admission’s, but you should be proud of what you are doing. I support your intentions. I was married to an alcoholic, not longer so, but he has been an AA member for many, many years and we are able to friends. Take care, never give up.

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  6. Good luck with what lies ahead. I am glad to read that your family is with you. You have been brave to speak publically and I hope this strength will help you along with your family.

    Like

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