In the beginning, I had a taste for alcohol, even though I didn't have access to it very often. I was about 13 years old.
Weddings were a good opportunity because
a) it was socially acceptable for kids to have one or two sips, which was even considered funny, and
b) if you were as resourceful as I was, you could easily get three or four drinks by asking different aunties, uncles, and older cousins.
Then there was my dad's stash, which I could secretly take one or two drinks from each day, or more if he was already drunk and wouldn't notice anything missing.
The Family Business
My dad didn't seem like an alcoholic to me because he said that only men in the park were alcoholics, and he was just a drunk. Drunks didn't drink alone or in the morning, so he worked the night shift and had lots of friends who drank with him. One drink was never enough for him!
It didn't even seem strange when my big sister gave him a mug that said, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…"
The one thing I did know about him, though, was that he thought I was stupid.
Now, I know that's not true -- it never was true -- but when I was a kid and did something that upset him, he would say, "Michael, are you stupid or something?" and I just assumed that he thought I was stupid.
My mum was my protector, and I was hers.
The envy that this one little sentence caused, Is another whole chapter. My nickname with my siblings was "The Brat."
On weekends, Mum and I would visit Grandfather or Nana and watch Audie Murphy and Debra Kerr movies on Sundays. We would study the form guide together on Saturdays and go to the races, while Dad was at the club most weekends or sleeping off the night shift from the previous week.
Being a Grown-Up
I got my first lover pregnant, and being good Catholic kids, we got married at 17. Just four days before the wedding, I got my driver's license, so I could borrow my dad's car from the reception and take my new wife to a motel for our wedding night, while I was drunk.
After dropping out of university, sales seemed to be the way to go for me, an introverted squash player and stamp collector.
This was my big break into the world of serious drinking. In my first full-time job (I had worked part-time in hospitality and cleaning during university), I was made a field manager and given a team of canvassers after seven weeks. This allowed me to spend half the day in a pub with other "managers" and drink after work on Fridays until I would drive home drunk to my new, beautiful wife and son.
Yada, yada, yada…
I experienced business failure after business failure, and I never made the connection between my love of alcohol and my uncanny ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, with too little money and too many excuses.
In 1997, I moved to a new town and began drinking full-time. My second wife followed me with our four children, and I spent nearly a decade drinking myself to death.
When I came to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in late 2005, I got a brief glimpse of what the problem was and how I could fix it. It took me two and a half years and five attempts to realise that I couldn't do it on my own, and finally, with the help of some friends, I began my sober journey.
This is the story that led me to a happy, sober, and awesome life.
Now, it has been fifteen years since my last drink, and I write about addiction. I do it because I can - through the medium of this marvellous webinet thing.
I do it because I want to help others who have a similar pain and who want a solution.
And I do it…
because I have a responsibility to give back to the world that I live in — it’s the rent I pay for the blessings that I enjoy every day.
This story was prompted by Anthony Metivier. I completed an online course of his and Jonathan Levi, and he told me that if I want to help others, I have to write my story of pain and relief. Because, if I can recover from a seemingly unending story of pain and failed recovery, then others might like to hear it and learn from it.
Maybe someone JUST LIKE ME can benefit from my struggle.
Maybe there are a few of you. You can recover too.
You will recover if you do what I have done.