Denial colludes with ignorance to conspire against the platitudes of common sense within the mind of an alcoholic. I recall being sat motionless in a hospital bed and some talk of ominous consequences. My train of thought was that of escape, or rather release from this odious predicament. Sitting at home amongst familiar surroundings tenderly clutching a bottle of white cider seemed much more preferable.
My sense of mortality was non-existent. This doesn’t mean I felt immortal, I was in complete denial of the potential for this dire situation to become even more grave. The consequences of withdrawing from physical dependence didn’t present itself for consideration until the concern for my physical well being had become critical. Stomach distended despite there being no nourishment to mention in quite some time. I presented at the hospital Accident & Emergency department hoping for a quick fix, a remedy, a pit stop of sorts.
Ascites is the abnormal build up of fluid in the abdomen, caused by liver scarring. I couldn’t wait for the water tablets to disperse the fluid so I could get home. I had no humility or care for the help I was receiving. The dis-ease of alcoholism was all-consuming in it’s compulsion to continue in the same vain as before.
My stomach returned to normal. Bloated and jaundiced I can understand why alcoholics pursue the intoxicating effects of alcohol into the depths of insanity and death. I had been ravaged by disease of the mind, body and soul. The previous year I had survived pulmonary Tuberculosis and the way I perceived the situation, drinking had become a real game of Russian roulette. Even at this stage drinking alcohol remained alluring. King Alcohol demanded obedience and I wasn’t going to disappoint.
I attended monthly Liver Clinic appointments to monitor the affects of alcohol on my body. I enjoyed the approval I received when it was proven in the test results that I had refrained, abstained and remained alcohol free. However, I wasn’t always compliant with the doctor’s instructions. I binged a couple of times and guilt enshrouded my attendances following those indiscretions.
‘I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her name was grief’. I remember seeing this on social media and thinking how profoundly wise it was. Depression is anger turned inwards I recall before thinking of the stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Sadness emanating from a yearning for what could’ve been if trauma wasn’t the catalyst for suffering. Bargaining meant the difference between white-knuckling and relapse. Striking the deal between satisfying the obsession to drink whilst rolling the dice in terms of staying alive. A conflict every alcoholic has encountered in their journey.
I feel I could develop every sentence of the last paragraph into another paragraph. Dissecting the very essence of an alcoholic until the insanity can be explained.
This jeopardy continued throughout attempts to normalise my alcoholism. I justified drinking at weekends because I had worked hard all week, or moved into a place of my own, or finished an educational course. Alcoholism was insidiously lurking, anticipating the opportunity to entice with offerings of engaging fun and laughter.
The last time I drank was a three day relapse after eighteen months of abstinence. I can’t say I did it in ignorance as I’d been to my first AA meeting two years earlier. The parallel between drinking after medical and spiritual warnings is evident. I returned to AA with a new found humility that enabled me to ask another alcoholic to sponsor me. Step One gave me the protection I needed against the first drink. I accepted that I am an alcoholic and that my life becomes unmanageable when I drink. One drink is too many and a hundred isn’t enough. The obsession encourages the first drink and the allergy sustains the drive to drink into oblivion.
Today I don’t have to drink. I resented being told I didn’t have to drink anymore. I didn’t understand that underneath the resentment I felt was the realisation that I had other options. I could now opt to join a fellowship, attend meetings and read the Big Book instead of poisoning my mind, body and spirit with alcohol.