I was going to do a kind of year in my life, outlining the last year and what's happened to me and my family in that time but hey, that needs a little more time to put into words so I'll do that on the first day of 2013. Christmas Eve last year was a sad time for me personally and the other members of my family. We had just lost a loving father, and husband (in my Mum's case. I probably didn't need to explain that one but I've been told to always underestimate people who read blogs online so there you are?). Two months had passed, I had returned to South Africa after a turbulent time in the UK being drunk and in hospital and ferried around in order to get to my Dads funeral in one piece. That objective was met but not without my family feeling the backlash of my anger at the helpless and hopeless situation that I'd found myself in. At my Dads funeral something hit me. I had been cold to it all, wishing I was the one in the coffin and not him. Now, that sounds over the top but it wasn't and the amount of shock I was suffering was enough to bring anyone to their knees. I didn't think that I was going to show any outward emotion but when I saw the coffin I cried more than I have in all of my life. I've never experienced uncontrollable crying like that, it was a hard day.
I didn't choose to be an alcoholic and I certainly didn't have the intention of hurting people. I couldn't control it and although many people who are not alcoholics think this is not true, it is, I realised that many times during that week and the following months until I was so desperate that I physically could not continue in that way. I was physically and mentally lost and hollow, I didn't know how to really 'feel' stuff and when I did, I didn't know how to deal with the feelings. The addict in me had been alive for 20 or more years, without let up. I was always using some substance, usually alcohol but sometimes other stuff like Cocaine or Ritalin. DF118's were my favourite because I could be comfortably numb on them and still function). A single day did not go by in those 20+ years when I was functioning with no help from something. As I learn more about my disease, this isn't as surprising as it may sound. I simply couldn't just 'do' life. That's all history now and I have 333 days of clean time behind me which is a miracle and I pray that by Gods grace I can keep it up. I also saw my wife for the last time over a year ago and couldn't get my head around the divorce as we were only married a year (officially two but the divorce took a year due to me wanting to fix things. Even I cannot fix something that is so broken that the pieces aren't even recognisable as pieces anymore!). Anyway, I got back to South Africa and tried to get back on track. This was impossible, I couldn't do day to day stuff let alone recovery in a tough rehab. If I thought it couldn't get any worse I was mistaken and what happened in January was what eventually had me looking at death as the best option (again, I hate sounding dramatic but I have to tell it how it is). I am going to write about January when I am a year sober. It has more validity and impact that way as a year landmark is amazing and measurable as to my success. I'm not there yet but with God's will and guidance and grace I will be in a month.
So, Christmas was cancelled for us, there was nothing to celebrate. The one thing to rejoice in is that my nieces still had a Christmas and I saw them on Skype. They are my world along with my recovery and I miss them so much but the pros of being here far outweigh the cons. At least they get a sober Uncle Simon and they need never know about the Alcoholic Uncle Simon. This gives me true happiness.
So, here I am sat alone in my flat in Cape Town and you know, it's not that bad! I am happy in my own company and I could never ,in the past, have spent an evening in alone especially as there is a bar in the same building as me and I can here the noise that I used to thrive upon. This is out of place but I just want to mention the irony of my marriage and alcohol. I first met my wife to be, then not to be if you know what I mean, in a beer tent at a festival. I was drunk and was the life and soul of the party. This is what attracted her to me and what meant that I was always surrounded by people. I was already deeply into my addiction to alcohol, had been for years. That's the fine line between being a bit of a bad lad that women find attractive to being an alcoholic that is the most unattractive trait one can imagine and one that, rather than creating this group of followers, actually alienates everyone who you are close to because nothing else matters other than drinking.
I'll try again without getting sidetracked! I'm here in my flat, happy and content, listening to music. I like my company because now, I'm quite fond of myself. I don't have regrets anymore and this is how the story was meant to go, I would not be sober today if I hadn't caused such pain and suffered such pain. My past doesn't define me, my future's an exciting unknown, but it's my present that matters, who I am today and every future today. It really is like Alcoholics Anonymous famously and sometimes irritatingly say, 'just for today'. What matters now, on this Christmas Eve, is that I am happy in myself and with myself. I'm simply here in a wonderful part of the world to do good and just do the next right thing. My faith is stronger than ever, especially after my Dad died. I believe he is proud of the way I am overcoming this addiction every single day, it does get easier but it never goes away. This Christmas my heart and my prayers go out to all those addicts who are in active addiction, in that dark place. I think particularly of a friend who got clean for a year and we became very close out here. She's back in that dark place where she'll sell herself to get her next hit. I hate this and I wish I could pull her out of it and bring her back here where it is safe for her. I cannot and many people I know have and will become casualties of this cunning, baffling and powerful disease. I haven't experienced love like I have for my fellow addicts before, and the 5% who stay clean for a year need to show the other 95% that although we cannot fix them, we can be there for them and this is my Christmas message to everyone, even non addicts. The notion of helping others is so valuable. Do we live our lives for ourselves or for others. I've tried both and I know which is the most rewarding to me. Someone asked me whether I believed in Karma the other day. I used to think it sounded quite logical but then it doesn't take into account stuff like grace or forgiveness. We don't have to suffer because we've done bad things, we just have to be open and willing to do good things, it's as simple as that. My family don't want to dwell on the past mistakes. All they want from me is for me to continue on this path of not picking up the next drink and that is the most significant gift that I can give them this Christmas. I think of my English friends getting pissed in my old haunts, was it so much fun? I certainly miss the people but I don't know if I ever had fun, I can't remember! Happy Christmas! At least now I have the tools to be the alcoholfreeme.com.