Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Rock bottom

These confessionals are tricky to know where to begin, so it seems best to just state a few facts and let this flow from there. When I started this a year ago, writing about what was going on at the time proved as cathartic as writing always has done for me. I hope this is still the case as I've contributed very little to the web since then - mostly, I think, because I've been a predominantly happy chappy.

Alas that is the case no more, as a problem has reared its head. (I wouldn't say I'm intensely unhappy either, but then a deep down analysis of the vagaries of my mood isn't what this page is about.) If you've read any of the prior posts on here, you'll know that I've had a problem with drinking for a while now. If you haven't read them, go have a look for an idea of where I was a year ago with it all.

I did a month off drinking and at the time that felt like a success. Unfortunately, since then my drinking has caused problems to me and to others and it finally hit breaking point this weekend just passed. Cue one very drunken argument with her dearest to me, a day spent coming to terms with thoughts of being alone again, a day off work laid motionless thinking about things, and then today.

Today I went to see one of Blackburn's alcohol misuse teams (yep, one of). The first trigger for this, to be honest, was the intense sense of panic I felt at the thought of losing her. My immediate reaction, as always, was to assume blame and think logically what I should do to fix the situation.

A little later, going on in to a long sleepless night characteristic of a body recovering from a binge, I laid thinking about what had gone on, trying to piece things together. It's one of the most difficult parts about drinking too much - sometimes you can't trust your opinion of whether you were in the right or wrong. Over the next few hours I drifted back to events from the past. The same conclusion threw itself up more times than not - I'd caused a problem by being so drunk I didn't have any recollection of being in control of my actions. These times stand out to me because I'm normally quite a peaceful man so they bob up and down in memory like a flashing buoy in the ocean.

I think I've never had to face up to the way I behave because I maintain a large circle of friends and family so any one person's exposure to this kind of mad behaviour is limited. The exception is her, who over more than a year has witnessed a fair few incidents.

The sense of guilt and remorse I've felt since I seemed to see those incidents in a new light for the first time, is difficult to express. I think it explains one of the two motivations I have for taking this so seriously this time, and involving professionals and by extension my GP and people close to me, which is that I need to know fully again what kind of person I am sober. People tell me all the time that I change, and my reaction is always "well yeah, everyone changes after they've drunk" - but like I said before, I can't trust my drunk opinion enough to judge other people's opinion of me. I need to know things against the great leveller of being sober to know how right or wrong I am. I want to know if me drinking too much is the cause of our problems, or if it's something else - that's probably an extension of my desire to fix everything and get a true answer at all costs. My belief at the moment is that the variance in my character and behaviour after a drink probably accounts for two thirds of the problems we have, with the rest being either down to her being in a crap mood or one of those genuine disagreements that crop up from time to time. I can't know or prove this, though, until I remove them from the equation.

The second motive is, well, a kind of grim acceptance that I'm hurting myself. I've been able to ignore certain things for quite a while now, for various reasons, but recently they've all begun to catch up with me. I've developed an excellent talent in keeping the separate parts of my life ticking over just well enough to avoid messing them up, to give me enough time to fit drinking in too. Alas, even after perfecting the art it becomes so intensely wearsome at times that I can't take it any more. I've also developed a strong sense of self-loathing in a way I'd grown very unfamiliar with in recent years. I think I despise weakness in people so much that seeing myself being weak and lieing to myself constantly makes me feel sick about myself.

My intention at the moment is to stop, indefinitely. The guy today said doing that can be dangerous, but I've done it before and indeed it's two days since I've touched anything already. It feels like a bad time of year to do it, but I honestly feel like a long break is the best way for me - and I know I need someone's help to manage it, because intellectually I always reason that I can do it myself, but drinking isn't much of an intellectual opponent and usually beats me down with iron fists after two rounds. I need to know whether this fear I've never lost that I'm boring when I'm sober is true, or if it's just a remnant from how shy I was 10 years ago. I think I've been weak in relying on drink to carry me through social occasions and give me a break from the whirlwind in my head 24/7, so I need to experience life just as I am naturally. My aim with this blog is threefold, really: 1) to stop me keep on lieing to myself, and bring it into the open, 2) as a way for me to keep in touch with the people who I've chosen to share this problem with, and 3) for me to explain and look into a lot of the things I've always wondered contribute to a problem like this.

In a funny way, for a split second today while I was sat answering questions about whether I was planning to self-harm and whether I'd ever used a weapon, I thought that all of this at least gives me something constructive to think and write about, and it might even make a good dissertation topic. We'll see what comes out over the next few months.

Tomorrow: where I think all this began.

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