On almost the eve of celebrating my first year free from any alcohol or drugs I thought it was a good time to write something more balanced about my time leading up to what has been for me the most painful and gruelling two years of my life. I say more balanced because on earlier occasions when I've tried to put pen to paper about these times it was clear that it was with a huge amount of anger and resentment on my part. I'm more stable now and indeed more able to look back with honesty and some clarity and understanding, of the events leading up to me going to rehab and trying to beat my alcoholism. I've been unfair on my now ex-wife and I think people need to know that. Sometimes I thought she wasn't being as helpful as she could but she didn't deserve to be a part of this story, she followed her heart and I was a good lier and manipulator as all addicts are. I acknowledge that she has suffered due to my behaviour right throughout this whole saga. She has needed prolonged counselling herself and has had her self-confidence and self-esteem shredded by my behaviour towards her. I'm looking at the facts and although the drinking was the problem and it would be easy to blame it on my disease, ultimately I was the person that said and did things that I am ashamed about. I truly never meant to hurt her and I hope she knows that I am sorry. I pray for peace on both sides. We both have new and somewhat improved lives and she will be ok, she has a bright future ahead of her and she's still a wonderful and loveable young woman even if she's not my wonderful and loveable young woman anymore. After today when the happiness of my whole alcohol free year starts and I move forward this is the last time I will talk about this particular episode of my somewhat eventful life.
So, from the minute I got married I was torn apart by an anger at myself for leading this bizarre double life that was becoming more and more impossible to hide. I was so confused and I watched the whole drama play out, knowing that it was all going to kick off at any minute and being totally powerless to do anything about it. Deep deep down I knew this marriage wasn't going to work before it had begun but then came the denial, the false belief that everything would be ok. Anyway, I wanted to show the world how much I loved this girl. I had to go ahead with it because I didn't know how long I had left. Addiction had caused me to fail many times before but I wanted to make a success of it and anyway, I wanted my big day. I didn't think about anything beyond that. For that brief moment I was happier than I ever had been. Sadly, the moment was all too short and the decline began quickly. I was going to lose everything in a way that would affect many other people. People that cared for me, trusted me and even loved me. I couldn't take the responsibility of accepting that love whilst harbouring this thing that I couldn't speak of. I didn't understand what was happening to me, so how could they? I was going down fast, I couldn't halt it and I would lose the women that I loved. The hardest thing in those early days was the conflict inside myself, I wanted to hang on to her but I knew it was going to be an impossible task. This isn't something that has haunted me for a few months, even a few years. I have been addicted to substances of one kind or another for 20 years and a day hasn't past when I haven't had a drink for about the last 10. This wasn't going to get better quickly, I knew that but why would I expect anyone else but me to know. I was the only person who was aware of this and it was the most damaging and lonely secret I could ever have imagined. My wife, as much as I treasured her as a person and am heartbroken still that I am no longer a part of her life, was just a pawn in my game or more accurately, my fight against the evil that is addiction. She was a repeat of old hurt and similar mistakes, a retread. She joined the ranks of the others, also blameless and also beaten by the addict within me. How sad is that and how does anyone keep bouncing back? My time on this earth was running out and something had to change............
Fast forward two years, the first, a huge mix of hurt, anger, denial, confusion, self-loathing and self-destruction. The second was my true recovery. I had a new clean date following my last dramatic relapse here in South Africa which by the grace of God, a huge amount of hard work (I'd like to take a bit of credit at some point!) and the life saving commitment from quality staff at a certain rehab in Cape Town, remains to this day. In the first of these two years I unexpectedly and tragically lost my Dad to cancer. This was a life changing event that I wasn't prepared for and simply didn't know what to do. I was in such pain after the realisation that I'd lost my Dad and my wife in the same short space of time, on top of the daily nightmare of trying to stay sober that I went totally off the rails and just drank because I had absolutely nothing left to give. I could only make things a million times harder for my family who were also grieving the loss of my Dad. I hated myself for that. I didn't want to feel anything, the pain broke me more than ever before and things just couldn't get worse. I didn't care about myself and I didn't want to live. By some miracle I saw my Dad that last time in hospital and I was present to read at his funeral. The promise I made to him, that last time I saw him, stuck with me and still does. I told him I would return to South Africa and that I would beat this, in a couple of days time it will be my Dad I think of when I allow myself a little pat on the back for coming back from that time that I can't even describe in words and celebrating a year of sobriety. For the next few months I was dead inside and wandered the streets of Cape Town and drank with my close family not sure if I was ever coming back. If there is this notion of a rock bottom then surely this was mine? I made a totally rational decision to drink, knowing that I was a chronic end stage alcoholic and I was going to die.
The last year has been my proper life in recovery. My third attempt but this time I felt that something inside me could just not do this anymore. I had two choices, to die or to live a new life. The latter was my choice and it was a long and hard journey but something did change in me that led to me being here today in my new home in Cape Town surrounded by some of the most amazing friends I never thought I would meet. My life is good and I worry about little things again like if there's milk in the fridge or if the cats are in at night? I do things that real people do. I am not living a lie anymore and I am not constantly stressed about where to get alcohol. It is all around me of course but I have too much pain associated to it to even be tempted by it. I have not felt this happy and worry free in all of my life as far back as I can remember. Maybe this is what life is about? Maybe this is what I've been missing out on for all of my life? I'm free and I'm happy as the alcoholfreeme.com