Members' Stories: Kevin
Just how long should you grieve a divorce?
My name is Kevin, I’m an Alcoholic
When I first started drinking, I don't think I noticed the effect until I was well and truly drunk. At first it had a lot to do with being one of the crowd. The difference was, my friends could relax without drinking, but I wasn't relaxed until I had a drink, or to put it another way, I wanted to feel how those other people looked. My father was alcoholic and I swore I would never end up like him. If he tried really hard he could stay off the booze for short spells, but he had to avoid it completely. I decided that if I ever started drinking like that I would stay away from alcohol altogether. There was nothing wrong with the way I drank though. I had it under control. I could take it or leave it. I worked hard and was entitled to unwind in the company of like-minded friends, I enjoyed a good night out.
My wife complained that I was always going up the pub and didn't spend enough time with her. So I said "come with me then, you don't have to sit indoors all the time." I explained that I have to meet people there and I get a lot of my work that way. It would usually lead to an argument and I would storm out and get drunk. That's how I "solved" all my problems. The trouble is I never really solved anything. My wife divorced me in the end for unreasonable behaviour, which I thought was unfair. I tried to be a good husband but I just couldn't cope with all the pressure.
Anyway, now I was on my own, I had the perfect excuse to drink the whole day through, and nobody blamed me at first. I had always mixed with hard drinkers and I was great company for them. I got into trouble with the law a few times, but I was able to blame my actions on the divorce. It's amazing how easy it is to gain sympathy from the police when you break down and tell them your wife just took the kids and ran of with your best friend. After a couple years though, I got worse instead of better. I was still drinking to blot everything out even though I'd had plenty of time to get over the divorce.
By now I was drinking in the morning just to face the day. My fair-weather friends had started avoiding me. Occasionally someone would suggest I do something about my drinking, and mostly because I was so ill. I decided to drink less, but that didn't work. So I tried to stop altogether. I was amazed at how difficult it was to stop completely. The longest I ever managed was three weeks without a drink. It seems stupid now but I started drinking again because I thought I had learned how to control it. The next time I tried to stop I found I couldn't stop at all. They say alcohol is a great remover; how true! I lost everything and was now homeless. Every penny I could lay my hands on went on cheap white cider. Sometimes I couldn't even afford that so I began to steal small amounts of money out of coat pockets, and that only made me feel worse.
I became desperate to do something about my drinking, I got the shakes and sweats if I couldn't get my drink, but I hated it. I was so miserable I just wanted to end it all. I didn't care how, I just wanted it to stop. That's when I asked for help at my local Drug and Alcohol Team unit. I was amazed that they understood exactly what I had been going through. I had to spend ten days in hospital to detox me, where the doctor explained to me very simply that I was one of those people that was "allergic" to alcohol, that for me alcohol is poison, that I will never be able to control alcohol as long as I live.
That's where being a member of AA comes in. People that are not "alcoholic" just don't understand. In AA I don't feel like I'm different any more, I have something to belong to, I have found new meaningful friendships. I am also reminded if I ever start to think I can drink like "normal" people, I will end up right back where I came from. Best of all, I found that by following a few simple suggestions on a daily basis, the desire to drink alcohol has completely disappeared. I have discovered that I can solve, or at least cope with, any problem that comes along today by using the tools I found in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. The people in AA really care about what happens to me and I have a life way beyond my dreams. I have been able to get my life back on track and make up for a lot of things I felt guilty about in the past. My one small regret is that I enjoy my life so much today that I wish I had done something about my drinking problem a little bit earlier.
Kevin - Bournemouth