I first started drinking as a shy, quiet 16 year old, and immediately found alcohol to be a great way to gain confidence. My first drunken memory was from a 6th form party at a local nightclub, where I drank cheap cider plus whatever else I could get my hands on. My next memory from that night is waking up in the club car park, next to a drunk girl, lying in a pool of vomit.
Unfortunately, there have been many more experiences like this in my life. As a teenager, most of my friends were doing the same as me; drinking under age and trying to get in pubs/ clubs, and therefore it didn’t feel too unusual. Even at this early stage however, I was always the drunkest person in the room. I clearly remember waking up one morning after a night of solid drinking and was horrified to find I had wet the bed. Although it did worry me, I believed it was an isolated incident and brushed it off. How wrong was I?!
In my late teens, I went to university. The main reason I wanted to go was because the drinking culture appealed to me. On the first night, I was found passed out on some stairs near to my flat and was kindly taken to a stranger’s home where, to my horror, I eventually woke up disorientated on the kitchen floor! Another drunken highlight was cooking while drunk then falling asleep, only to be told the next day that the fire brigade had attended. I had no recollection of this. I denied any involvement but my flatmates suspected me. Eventually, after a few months, I ended up leaving university as I’d spent my entire student grant and loan on alcohol.
Over the next few years, I drifted from one dead end job to another, whilst continuing to drink to oblivion every weekend. The awful, shameful memories from this time are too numerous to mention so I will list the top ten:
1) Crashing my car into a lamp post following all day/night drinking binge. I remember my mum crying, asking me how I had ended up like this and my whole family being ashamed of me.
2) Wetting myself both in bed and in public on a regular basis
3) Waking up freezing cold one December in a field in the countryside and not having a clue to this day how I got there.
4) Going to a work Christmas party where I fell onto a glass, cut my arm, and proceeded to insult the boss’s new girlfriend when she suggested that perhaps I’d had too much to drink. I had no recollection of this and only found out the next day, when I was also told that they’d had to put me to bed in the hotel we were staying at. To top it all off, I was mortified to find I’d wet the bed again.
5) Going on holiday to Ibiza with my drinking mates and being thrown out of a karaoke bar for urinating in the public area whilst in black out.
6) Losing my job – following an extremely late night of drinking, and driving for 1.5 hours to get to work, my dad had called my employer to check I was ok. Needless to say, it didn’t go down well and I was asked to leave.
7) Coming home in an ambulance after being found in unconscious in someone’s garden in another town.
8) Sleeping with girls I couldn’t remember going home with and subsequently wetting the bed.
9) Regularly phoning in sick to various jobs due to horrific hangovers and not really having any conscience about doing so.
10) Going to Blackpool on a night out and getting thrown out of a club. I didn’t know which hotel I was staying in and got lost, only to be found later by my friends wandering the streets. As I’d also lost my car keys, my mum had to come to get me as I couldn’t get home.
Eventually, I met my wife, had children, got a decent job and house and settled down. This should be the happy end to the story but sadly it hasn’t quite worked out like that.
Due to working shifts at the weekend and having parental responsibilities, I didn’t drink as much as when I was younger, however when I did, it ended in the same way every time; blackouts, wetting myself, crying in public, being told by others how drunk I was and what I had done.
My wife and daughters mean everything to me and should’ve been the only motivation I needed to stop drinking. I’d always been a social drinker but was slowly starting to understand I couldn’t just have a couple. I always drank too fast, racing to the bar for the next round. All of my memories of special occasions are blurred by alcohol, including my own wedding.
I know that I’ve always had a problem with alcohol. I used to drive around at work and randomly cry due to depression caused by drinking. I felt trapped and wanted to stop but I just didn’t know how or if it was possible. The low moods I suffered following a drinking binge were awful and despite attending regular counselling sessions, I continued to drink.
Last year, I was successfully alcohol free for over 7 months but then stupidly thought I could moderate my drinking going forward. How crazy was that idea?!
I’m now 43 and have decided I will not waste anymore of my life on alcohol. I have now been sober for 47 days. I feel in a really good place both mentally and physically. My future depends on staying sober.
I wanted to share my story as I feel there must be other men or women out there with similar experiences to me who also want to be free of alcohol. I have found reading blogs, books, listening to podcasts and watching webinars, as well as hearing about other people’s experiences of being sober has really helped me to understand what I have to do. It has been a huge relief for me to share my story. I can now look forward instead of back. Only I can change my the future. I am just thankful I have been so fortunate to have such great people around me.
For anyone who reads this story, thank you very much.
Edited by Sober Fish
The problem with alcohol is that whilst you’re under its power, things are fake. Alcohol suppresses your real feelings and emotions, and whilst under its influence, you believe that fake feelings and numbness are highly preferable to the real thing.
Alcohol is a liar.
The inevitability with suppressing anything, is that it’s temporary. The real thing will eventually pop back up. As I write, I’m envisioning of one of those plastic bath toys that you submerge under water. You hold it .. push it down .. hold it … and boom, eventually, it flies to the top with a vengeance.
18 months on, I feel everything for real & you know what? It’s not so bad. Feelings are like waves .. yes, on a stormy day, they can be overwhelming, but thankfully, those days are rare. In the new world where I’ve chosen to reside, my sea is mostly calm; delicate waves gently crash to the shore, the water is clear and inviting.
If I enjoy something, I really enjoy it. I don’t need a substance to fake the actual way I feel. I enjoy feeling proper, genuine joy that doesn’t plummet after a short time like a sugar crash. I also don’t mind feeling proper, genuine pain because I now know, as with anything, it is temporary. It will pass.
Life is not perfect at 18 months sober. I still have work to do. My gut instinct is on high alert most of the time & continues to shock me with its severity if something threatens my equilibrium. I sometimes feel a bit stuck as don’t want anything to rock my very stable world, yet yearn for the spontaneous fun that sober living doesn’t provide.
I still need to completely understand that I am enough. It’s a hard one when you’ve spent your whole time on the planet believing you’re not. But I’m further than I was and that’s just fine.
What I absolutely do know is that the trade I make to continue my sobriety is more than worth it. The thought of a hangover or the shame after a session is enough to convince me I’m still doing the right thing. The thought of being drunk or out of control, of saying something I can’t remember or doing something I regret, is a concept in which I never wish to participate again.
Sobriety allows me to be me. I got my life back. I stopped living a life that made me unhappy and replaced the fake me with a genuine, happy individual, proud to be alive.
Living an alcohol free life removes many aspects that contribute to ill health; lack of sleep, bad food choices, dehydration, headaches, stomach problems, skin problems .. the list goes on. Instead, I am fit, healthy, emotionally stable & free.
People ask whether I miss alcohol? The answer is categorically no. Why would I miss something that fucked up my life to such an extent I didn’t know myself? No thank you.
Soberdom can sometimes feel like a secret club. From the outside, you can’t quite see in. You hear all about it but because the rumours say it’s dull & boring, you have no desire to go inside & check it out.
But not all rumours are true.
In my opinion, Soberdom really does glitter with gold. It sparkles in the sunlight. It gives you hope & freedom that you might never have felt before in your adult life. It brings happiness & tranquility & ultimately brings you back to you. For me, there really is no alternative. There is no reason to return to my previous life. Alcohol free really is the only way to be.
Isn’t it funny the reactions that an in depth study on drinking alcohol can provoke?
‘Oh it’s the Daily Mail, must be crap’ or ‘we’re all gonna die anyway, what’s two years less?’ or ‘so & so lived til 95 & they’re ok’
I think the point was missed.
Of course alcohol will harm you. No study needs to tell you that. We know it but we choose (mostly) to ignore it. Ingesting any kind of poison over a prolonged time will result in some kind of damage.
I know I’m going to die. No study needs to tell me that either, but I do have a choice whether I choose to damage myself to the point of no return or give myself a fighting chance on this amazing planet.
I’m sorry (not sorry) but I don’t want to die of liver disease or develop dementia or get cancer. I’m sure no one wants to. But having the attitude ‘we’re all gonna die anyway’ and cracking open another bottle in defiance ain’t gonna help the cause.
Sure, I’ve already increased my chances of all of these things during my lengthy career knocking back the wine like water, but now I have seen the very bright light. This stuff kills and maims worse than anyone has been telling us. It’s also not just about the hideous diseases to look forward to at the end of our lives, it’s also about the slow, torturous mental health issues that it brings on a daily basis.
There are always going to be the sober haters. I don’t give a shit. My life is nothing to do with them. This part of my life is about love and care for myself, not deliberate destruction. My body is clever and precious and mine. I have a lot to see and do and a lot of people to stay alive for. I need as many precious years as possible so two years tagged on the end for me is a Brucie bonus.
Nothing is going to take them from me.
So this is it. The end of my beautiful adventure. The adventure I was so apprehensive about but so looking forward to at the same time. The adventure that has and will continue to change my life.
I’ve always wanted to come to Thailand but was always waiting for the elusive person to go with. Turns out that was me.
It’s quite strange that we have become so reliant on other people accompanying us on journeys when we are more than able to do things alone. We don’t ‘need’ other people .. yeah sure, it’s great to have adventures with someone but it’s not an absolute necessity. The beauty of travelling alone is that now the whole world has been opened up for me. I can go anywhere I like now without ‘waiting’ for someone else. There are no restrictions.
Of course, the internet makes things very easy. You are never really alone or lost or unable to communicate. It really is a wonderful thing and I guess a bit of a comfort blanket. Losing my phone would be far more upsetting to me than losing my passport. At least if I lost my passport, I could stay forever.
I can honestly say that there hasn’t been one moment that I’ve wished I was with someone else. I’ve enjoyed pleasing myself. I’ve liked the things that have happened that have pushed me in a direction and opened up other opportunities.
I have been so aware of the ‘meant to be’ moments .. the tuk tuk guy in Bangkok that changed the course of my day, the amazing trekking tour in Chaing Mai, the plane detour to Phuket which ultimately made me decide to stay in beautiful Koh Lanta for longer, the Tinder dates. I’ve snorkelled when I didn’t really want to and taken back streets instead of main roads to find street markets & music. I’ve spoken to interesting people with fascinating lives, eaten incredible food and managed the whole thing using proper raw confidence rather than a fake alcoholic mask.
I’ve learnt that when people say ‘pack light’ they mean ‘pack light’. Next time, I will have a tiny rucksack & some Persil. I’ve learnt the sun is strong, the water is incredible, the people are beyond awesome. I’ve learnt I’m safe, that we are too conditioned to anticipate danger. Sure, bad things happen .. but good stuff happens too.
I’ve learnt that we are too addicted to ‘stuff’. ‘Stuff’ is not important. Life is. I will be assessing my ‘stuff’ when I get home & decluttering anything unnecessary. I will also be planning my next adventure.
If you have ever wanted to go somewhere but are waiting for the right time/the right person/the right whatever, forget all that and do it now. Life is short, the world is massive and it’s all there waiting for you.
Until next time Fish Followers 🙋🏻🐟🐟🐟🐟
When people say Thailand is beautiful, they’re not kidding. In fact, I’m not sure beautiful is the right adjective. It is outstanding, heavenly, stunning, amazing, literally perfect in so many ways.
I have finally made it to the islands. Utterly breathtaking. Yesterday was a bit stressful after my plane was diverted to Phuket as apparently Krabi airport was closed. Luckily, I had walked 4 miles in the airport while waiting for the first plane. There was no chance of walking anywhere before the second plane .. the airport was tiny, cramped & boiling .. like torture knowing how epic the weather was outside.
In typical Thai style, there was no explanation as to why the airport was closed or any hint when we would get to our final destination. I’m learning however, that getting stressed won’t change the situation. It is what it is, whether I go mental or get pissed or cry or moan. It just won’t change a thing.
Luckily, I met some great people from Vancouver in Canada .. Tom, Dennis, Laury & Debbie .. this blog is for you .. and Debbie, you don’t need to phone the Embassy! I’m safe! They kindly lent me their charger to charge my phone and also let me share their cab to our final destination .. thanks guys, you rock! Not you though Tom 😂
We eventually landed in Krabi after dark & negotiated a rate to get to our hotels. The Canadians were dropped off first and I was left alone. I think thoughts of ‘I hope I’ll be ok’ & ‘let’s hope he knows where he’s going’ will always occur as a girl, irrelevant of where I am or where I’m going, but he was so miserable, I knew I’d be ok.
After trying to drop me at two random hotels (he refused to look at my map or my instructions in Thai of where we going), I eventually made it, tired and a little deflated. I guess, like life, travelling isn’t always quite the dream you’d like it to be ..
After drawing breath, having a word with myself & assessing my new surroundings, I ventured out of the hotel. It was very quiet with only the sound of the waves crashing to the shore. I had a brief thought of ‘I wish it was a bit more lively than this’ and was quite pleased to find that there is still a glimmer of sociable Sober Fish in there somewhere! I carried on walking towards some lights and eventually found the ‘action’ .. a cluster of cute little beach bars, music playing & people chilling, and realised I’d stumbled upon a little gem of an area in Krabi. I had my standard coconut milkshake & chicken & cashew nuts to die for before heading to bed, excited about tomorrow and what this place would look like in the daylight.
After another fantastic nights sleep .. it’s all about the air con and the ear plugs and the mosquito bracelets .. only 1 bite so far .. I woke up with excitement to see outside. The sun was just coming up and I could see the sea from my balcony. It was stunning.
After yesterday’s waste of a day and the amount of travelling I’ve done since I’ve arrived, I’ve now made the decision to go to Koh Lanta tomorrow and stay there for 5 days rather than keep moving. I want to go on boat trips & enjoy the sun rather than continually packing up my case & wasting valuable time. Oh and to all those who said pack light, I hear ya. Next time, I’ll listen.
Today is about being lazy. I’m on the beach with my book & finally in my bikini, soaking up the rays. The sea is as clear as, warm like a bath. There is a slight breeze and I’m in my happy place.
I really couldn’t wish to be anywhere better. It really is Heaven.
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