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.