17 June 2005

Forever touched and changed

Enough of frivolity let's get back to bleak issues... I took these bottles out of a cupboard especially to photograph them. I keep them as a reminder. Someone who drinks twice a week for pleasure may never see the full horror which alcohol can visit upon a human being. Please continue drinking twice a week and enjoy the chemical high and the stimulus to your conversation. You have no problem and never will have. In fact there is no need to read this warning. You are so lucky.
Anyone who used to drink to control shaking and who could not manage a single day without eventually passing into a stupor might read on. Despite eleven long years of sobriety I am astonished how near temptation always is. The inner voice still murmers “Just one won’t hurt.” Oh dear my friend no, that way lies madness. Let me tell you without prettying it up: That’s fucking crap it’ll kill you. You see once you have been touched by this curse you have it forever.

Last week I had my recurring dream. I am swallowing two or three cans of beer an evening and waking early with no hangover. I’ve cracked it, social drinking is a reality again! But all that euphoria evaporates as soon as I’m on the hook, I quickly move on to total loss of control and drink everything in the house. I am at square one again. It cheated me. I awake in a sweat, scared but sober.

My work colleagues know I never attend Christmas parties, leaving parties, birthday lunches, retirement get-togethers or social evenings. They know my reason and I think they respect it. I hate the sight of people losing self-restraint, I would rather drink bleach than sit in a bar with a Perrier while my colleagues drink. I hold strong views but hell I joined the fucking club, I think that entitles me.

Please don’t tell me I’m negative, there’s very little I’ve discovered about prolonged drinking that’s at all positive. Remember I am not talking about the lucky few who drink yet never suffer the craving of addiction. This is about the luckless souls for whom discipline is lost. Drinking has had such a profound effect on me and those around me that I’m hardly going to be ambivalent am I? Hear this message clearly: “If you pick up again you don’t start off at the beginning. The slate is not wiped clean, you pick up precisely where you left off, in the fast lane at full speed.”
Since quitting booze in 1993 and cigarettes in 1997 I have saved a small large fortune. I am not bragging just stating facts. The financial incentive was huge for me. I take holidays, I've paid off the mortgage early and bought things I would not otherwise have afforded. More importantly I have probably saved or potentially lengthened my life.

I have been changed irreparably by drink, I am less confident now and I feel like a huge part of my life has been hacked off and discarded. I am more emotional, alive and alert than ever before. I wish I could be a normal drinker, but I can't. I can never say 'never again.' You can’t can you, but I know I benefit enormously from the words of wisdom and encouragement that I read on the blogs of my readers, former drinkers and non-drinkers alike. Thank you all, my friends.

“I once called you my friend, now I'm stumblin' once again
I'm slurrin' words & bustin' bottles over the heads of saints.
I know it's been so long, but I still see you when your gone
I still feel the weight of that look upon your face almost every day.”

Slobberbone – Stumblin’


doughgirl said...

One is to many and a thousand never enough...Great post Perfect.

You are absolutely right, the slate is not wiped clean no matter how much sobriety/clean time you have behind you. We all only have one day. Tell it like it is my friend.

I was an alcoholic/addict who nearly lost it all, I got clean and sober, got most of it back....picked up and lost everything almost my life included. Whatever I thought I had lost that I had not, it merely a yet for me. That means my children and death. Period!!! Neither of those are an option for me.
I have come to far and struggled way to long to even think that no matter what I am going thru that a drink will make it better. There's no such thing as one drink in my world...never has been never will be.

My days of drunk dreams have passed (at least for now) but this disease still grabs me in anyway it can...usually it like to tell me Im fat, and that leads me to think that a couple of anti anxiety meds will do the trick, which then takes me to full blown benzos, which takes me to cocaine and booze...if I dont die...Ill wish I had becasue the emotional torment of cleaning up wreckage and detoxing is way harder for this alcholic/addict than putting down the drink.

Luv Ya

Perfect Virgo said...

Thanks Doughgirl. I knew if you didn't understand then no one would. This time I decided I would tell it like it is. This is an ugly matter and ugliness is not nice.

I could have gone further still, perhaps I will in a later post? There is of course much more frightening detail to share but that's enough for now.

Thank you for sharing some of your story here too. You are so right about weighing up the difficulty of putting down a drink aginst trying to sober up physically and emotionally. Better to put down.

Yes this is a disease that grabs. Especially when you are feeling low. I am depressed at the moment so that's why I decided to post a harsh reminder of the temptation.

Love you too.

transience said...

you have made me speechless again. this post was a rollercoater ride--one i would gladly get on again if only to know a bit more about why we do what we do and how life goes on afterwards.

thanks, pv.

JJ said...

All it takes is that first drink. I too tend to avoid certain parties and finally after one year people have come to understand a little bit better. On another note on the very first day of my recovery I throw away every single drop of alcohol that was in the house and haven't had any here since. Though I did receive a couple great bottles of wine at Christmas time I quickly re-gifted them...LOL.

Perfect Virgo said...

T - this is a subject that is important to me but I don't tend to blog incessantly asbout it. Eleven years on and as you have read, I have other things in my life now. Recovery is still underway and I sometimes analyse why I fell into the pit in the first place. It does no harm to remind everyone how close beneath the surface it always is.

Thanks so much for reading.

JJ - did you ever read my post Hotel California.? It seems pouring the juice down the drain is a common starting point.

I keep bottles for guests and to prove to myself I can resist. Like you I give wine away. Parties are tough, I also remember "firsts" dry, eg: birthday, Christmas etc...

Kimberly said...

I'm very proud of you PV.

I have too myself quit drinking for about 6 years now and I haven't smoked a cigarette in 6 months. I can't wait till I can happily say that I have been sober for 11 years.

This really has touched me in a way I can't describe. My father is an abusive alcoholic who has made a lot of peoples lives miserable. I wish I could get him to read this.

As for the money issues, yes, I too have noticed that I can afford much more now. It's a nice feeling to know that your much healthier then you were before. And when I look at people who are just like I was, I want to help them.

Thanks, I think this post has meant a lot to everyone.

Perfect Virgo said...

Kimberly - 6 years is a major achievement and 6 months for cigarettes too. I just love to hear these good news stories, I am proud of you too.

I am very sorry to hear about your father, drink affects people differently but I can never find excuses for violence - maybe that trait was already there.

Genetics plays a part so your former seduction by booze is all the more understandable. I had an uncle who drank himself to death at 47, in fact just 3 months younger than I am now...

doughgirl said...

Perfect, something you said hit me.... I don't think that just becasue you don't go to meetings that you are a dry drunk. I think that when you quit drinking you worked and work very hard to change that person.

You are full of peace and serenity even if sometimes YOU can't see it. Your writing emits it clearly.

I applaud you for being able to do it on your own. Im sure that like most of us, some days are better than other, yet you trudge on.

You are a great, caring friend and for that I am truly grateful :)

Perfect Virgo said...

DG - well you do have a good memory! It was ages ago I told you I sought no help in my recovery... I have tried hard to change me on my own and in some respects it has worked. Thank you for noticing serenity in what I write, it's good to receive confirmation. Not too much serenity in this post though, but of course anger was the whole point!)

I said I'm feeling depressed, you spotted that as well. Yes some days are better than others, I have been trudging for a few days now. I expect you remember me talking about a friendship that's full of love. That's a hard one I'm dealing with.

Actually I feel a bit brighter because of today's weather. The temperature has soared to 28c and I've taken 3 cool baths already! Someone lent me a bad copy of Sin City which I'm going to watch after my next bath!!

Thanks as always for reading so carefully. You are a beautiful friend and I consider myself very lucky.

Kimberly said...

PV...I think your right, violence is something that a drink cannot make happen, but it sure doesn't help.

In regards to you asking whether quitting cigs and going back to the UK had a link, I have to say no. No matter what it takes I aways make it to England. I have a tie there thats very important to me, hence the book I've written.

This time though I just find it much easier to live life knowing I'm not dependant on anything, and everything seems to be much more affordable as well.

I only quit because I was in the hospital with pneumonia in my left lung and it felt like somebody ripped my chest out when I smoked(this was before I knew how sick I was)When I was released I just kept on not smoking. Sometimes it takes a scare to make you see things.

You have made a major achievement, keep it up :)

finnegan said...

“If you once pick up again you don’t start off at the beginning. The slate is not wiped clean, you pick up precisely where you left off, in the fast lane at full speed.”

Sobering words indeed Virgo.

I was blown away by this very moving and straight-from-the-gut entry.

Perfect Virgo said...

Kimberly - I understand the link you have and realise you will afford it above all else. Still, this year's flight will be subsidised!

Scare tactics are highly effective. Over a 6 month period I watched a neighbour die from cancer. By the time of his death he was a pale shadow of his former strong self. After 20 years I lost my taste for smoking and never went back.

Finnegan - when I first read it back I thought it sounded too angry. I chose not to edit because I realised it was meant to be angry. How about this analogy... It's like owning an un-earthed appliance. Plug it in and it will electrocute you. No one will buy it from you, you're stuck with it. Everyone else's works fine.

What about the dream? I guess it's temptation and indelible memories that won't be sponged away by time?

doughgirl said...

I think the dreams happen when we know the disease is on. I mean sometimes its easy to figure out its on and then we do the next right thing to prevent picking up. So when that happens it comes to our subconscious..Maybe?

Perfect Virgo said...

DG - yes, good description. We have periods where the disease lies dormant and we get an easier time. When it stirs we sure know about it...

Dreaming must be a sign it's trying to influence our subconscious mind while we sleep and our defences may be lower.

recoveryroad said...


Of all of your posts, PV....I've enjoyed and related to this one the most. By a long, long way.

Perfect Virgo said...

Kenny - a different story from everyone else, yet the same. Sometimes you just have to get an angry one out...

The Flea said...

Virgo -- I don't have time to read all the comments you have accumulated here, so forgive me if I repeat something already said.

I guess I could mention how amazing it is what you have achieved since getting back on the wagon (or is that the other way round?) -- but then, YOU of all people know this better than anyone. Your regular posts on this subject are proof of the enormous effort and cost involved with drinking, and quitting strangely enough.

Although I was never a heavy drinker, I was a marijuana addict, which is also a very self-destructive habit. I had cones for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So, I understand your posts to a certain extent. It's interesting you have those bottles lined up as a reminder. Seeing your photo made me realise that my glass bong, stained a dirty brown, still sits in a prominent position in my house. And I suddenly realised I don't know why it's there. Maybe I too seek a reminder of the past addiction and its accompanying apathy, depression, cruelty and sweat-soaked anxiety.

Strange, that I'd never thought of it.

Perfect Virgo said...

Flea - thanks for sharing your own experience with addiction. We each have our poison I guess, some just control it better than others. The havoc it causes is simply frightening.

The reminders we keep perhaps just provide that little bit of comfort or heaven help us a safety net...

While I don't intend to blog endlessly on the topic I accept that a thread will inevitably run its way through my thoughts.