Many years ago (beginning of the eighties) I was on holiday with a friend, accompanied by our respective girlfriends. Ten days in the sun on a Greek island.
Our days consisted of getting up late around midday, going for a swim and having a shower − mostly to help with the hangover. Then lunch accompanied by beer that would mark the start to the day’s drinking. Night-time was all a blur − cocktail bars and discos. Our holidays could be described as a homage to alcohol.
I was successful in my work with a high pressure job and drank alcohol most days. I justified my behaviour as “work hard – play hard”. I thought of myself as a bit of a wild man, one who knew how to have a good time.
“Why do you have to drink so much?” was a question that my girlfriend would ask repeatedly. My reply, “I´m on holiday” seemed an obvious and completely rational explanation. “I mean, isn’t that what everyone does?” What I did not realise was that my default position was to drink. I drank unless I had a good reason not to.
I have to say that I had a really good time; at least I think I did, as most of those memories are a bit blurry, glutinous and indistinct. I can remember dancing on a bar, my girlfriend shouting at me to stop being such a dick; laughter, exaggerated, loud manic behaviour, as I was determined to show everyone that I was the life of the party. I wasn’t happy but I was having a good time. The problem was I didn’t know the difference between the two. It wasn’t until years later that I realised that having a good time and being happy are two quite different things.
Looking back now it seems absurd, even crazy, spending money to fly to a distant and exotic location to get drunk. I could have done that much more cheaply at home, but on holiday I could drink all I wanted without feeling too guilty or stupid.
Intuitively I knew that something was not right. I suspected that my relationship to alcohol was not healthy. In fact, like most habitual drinkers, I was addicted to alcohol, but for years I managed to fool myself by making rules to show I had control, such as: never drink alone, never drink before 12:00 midday; never drink anything stronger than beer during the week. Sooner or later I would break these self-imposed controls, but rather than stop drinking, I would rationalise it away (stress, celebration etc.) and simply renegotiate my agreement. I didn’t have control; I was constantly trying to regain control.
I won’t go into detail here of the other drugs I consumed whilst drunk. That is a whole other story
The idea of stopping was frightening: How would I enjoy myself? How would I relax? I would have no social life. The idea of not stopping was also frightening: I would ruin my marriage, my family, my health. What I didn’t realise at the time was that all of my fears were caused by alcohol.
Here I am nearly twenty years free and independent of alcohol − free of the slavery and fear caused by alcohol. I don’t need it, don’t want it and don’t miss it. I drink all that I want to, when I want, and where I want. I simply do not want to. My marriage is better than I could ever hoped, as is my health and my happiness. I have had many years to reflect on this whilst working with others to help them get free and independent of the slavery of alcohol addiction. I can tell you that there is not a single thing in my life that would be better with alcohol, not one.