I am The Plastered Prince, I’m 39 and I AM NOT AN ALCOHOLIC ….I just can’t say No
This is my blog about owning my Sobriety, being accountable and honest. I apologise for the length in advance (ahem).
“I don’t have a drinking problem, I have a stopping problem.” – Unknown
I want to be honest and admit I did write a blog before (never actually did anything with it, so it’s more I created a ‘word document’ than a blog) It went like this…………I quit drinking … Drink is everywhere I go and everywhere I see ………I feel so enlightened …… it’s like the veil has finally be lifted ……… all my problems are gone….. and this was only about 26 minutes after quitting. Actually it was about a month in and I was fucking proud of doing a month, then though I found a whole community of Alcohol Free/Sobriety/Recovery podcasts, blogs, websites, groups and all that I had written had been said before. It was in effect a plagiarised cluster bomb of words and I was left feeling downcast, downtrodden but not down the pub (zing) so I binned it. What did I have to offer anyway, then a few months later a few people (literally 2) asked if I thought about doing a blog.
In-case you read this and have no idea who I am (Yes Ellen, Oprah, BBC and CNN I’m talking to you. Available all early mornings for interviews, snippets and ‘let’s go to’ video chat), I live in the UK and like most people on this small island I had a rather unhealthy relationship with alcohol. What do I mean by unhealthy; I still went to work, I didn’t sleep on a park bench, I didn’t morning drink and I don’t smell like boiled sprouts. This Plastered Prince (this is what I’m calling myself now) was a typical binge drinker just making it through the working week, gripping on with my finger nails just to get to Friday evening (apart from the run up towards Christmas then Thursday night drinking was acceptable. Problem is my run up to Christmas started in September) and then once I popped I could not stop, come Monday morning I would hit reset. Ground hog day stylee.
Drinking (alcohol) has been in my life since about I was about 14/15 although I’m sure it probably started before this, it was pretty standard to get through the week at School then meet your mates for Friday night drinking down the Pier, over the Park or at the Beach (which is also the Pier) sometimes all 3 on 1 night cos we was well hard and like to strut around in our Pringle jumpers and reeboks. So the habit of using alcohol as a way to unwind, relax and enjoy social time with friends started young and I wasn’t alone, this was nearly everyone I knew at School and it’s where my habit forming love of drink began (and for some smoking, this was never really my thing though), interestingly I remember at school being taught Sex Education, the dangers of smoking and even not to trespass onto the railway through fear of 750 volts (this is still an important lesson) but I don’t remember anything about Alcohol and its effects. So, for a good 20 plus years my relationship with Alcohol was about getting plastered, consuming the most amount until throw up or pass out or both, moderation was never an option.
Over my lifetime I just ran with this concept and with focus and hard work (and just a little bit of steam) I refined and honed this talent until I become its ultimate ruler, it’s King (or princess, bit on the nose) lets’ go with Prince and I could do plastered me better than anyone and whilst I didn’t pop this on the bottom of my CV under the Skills and Achievements section (maybe more Hobbies/Activities) it’s been the defining factor of my life up until very recently and that is a sad indictment of the wasted life. Overtime like a ripe banana ninja (because I didn’t see it coming, you don’t) it started to go black and rotten and I’d lost more than I gained (not just the memories and especially not weight). Once the tolerance builds up 2/3 drinks becomes 6/7 drinks then it’s counted in bottles, then you stop counting out of shame and sometimes you even do a bit of early morning recycling and then as we found in The Hunger Games the Odds are not in your favour no matter how much you think you have control, the Banana Ninja is waiting to jump you when you least expect or want it and a potassium laden chop to the face is not far off.
You might be wondering why I stopped, you may be wondering how I got to this point, you may be wondering if I will ever shut the fuck up but what did change and put me on this collision path with everything in my life?
Was it going to the Doctor’s for some unrelated issues and having my liver scanned (fatty deposits, yes please) Blood results (high liver enzymes , oh yes please…BINGO) and being advised to make some life style changes – no it wasn’t, perhaps maybe the blackouts – no or arguments at home -no, lost weekends in bed – no, no, no and whilst I always felt shame about these things (and still do to some extent) it never made me want to stop; not permanently anyway.
The cataclysm that made my whole world tilt on its axis was one night after a rather pleasant evening drinking with friends I acted like a total dick and whilst this wasn’t unfortunately an unusual occurrence this particular time it was like Zeus himself had reached down from the Mount Olympus and bitch slapped me, hard. Thunder shocked into how destructive I could be to those around me whilst under the influence it made me question what was I doing?
To be the joker and say it how it was regardless of the consequences, that was my M.O. but in reality drunk me was a spill-it-all, like a know-it-all but worse…….. It became the Truth according to idiot, truth to some extent yet often elaborated sometimes even made up without a care about the radioactive fallout I become a pretentious prince. Primarily looking back on this I can see this was the drink taking hold, hiding my insecurities behind a glass of joy juice and besides if I don’t remember it then it didn’t count and that’s fine – right? The actual truth often going unsaid and unheard in the sober light of day behind a wall of shame and regret. Besides everyone loved that about me didn’t they (or so I thought) and stopping drinking would destroy my whole identity and the relationships I had cultivated and then what, what fills the void? What would my family think, after all they all love a good old-fashioned knee’s up (i.e. getting shit faced), would my friends invite me places (50/50), would my marriage survive (yes), would I like the new me (mostly, mostly…..nod to the worst read line in Aliens 2 )? I needed answers and I needed time to figure this out.
But why didn’t you just stop?
The point of drinking in moderation is that sometimes you don’t drink in moderation. – Artie Lange
For years I had considered stopping but it never seemed a good time ‘It’s thingys 40th ’, ‘whatsherfaces Wedding’, ‘Someone’s BBQ’, ‘it’s a Friday’, ‘the Sun is aligned with Saturn in Aquarius stage 5‘
I tried every kind of moderation known to humankind and it just didn’t work for me, the only thing I had never tried was stopping and I’ve been like a fly around a fresh turd with this idea, circling the warm steaming pile for some time, never wanting to take the first dive (this is exactly how I thought life would be without Alcohol A…BIG…PILE…OF…SHIT) and it has been the scariest thing I ever done (even scarier than getting married and being worried about getting heckled by gay haters (oh yes massive insecurities going on here), in fact on the day the only person that ‘heckled’ us was a woman saying how wonderful it was we could get married and good luck for the future …. what a bitch right!!).
When you do dive into that shit pile and stop drinking you have to change your whole life and it’s consuming for a while, even now I still have to remind myself I don’t drink when the urge comes on, after years of drinking my brain is trying to unravel it’s wiring (more on that below) and the process of change is slow (but rewarding) and it started with saying No to that first drink.
Just Say NO!
First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you. ~Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
This is the process I go through when I say ‘NO, I’m not going to drink’:
First of all, think of my consciousness as a small tiny ant let’s call it Max and he or she is sat at a console controlling my brain (think a warped Pixar’s Inside Out mixed with a Bug’s life), visualise and now hold for 20….
Max with its 6 legs wants a drink, it’s had a busy day collecting leaves, twigs and shit, as a reward it wants some amber nectar so it gently presses the blue ‘go on’ button a few times, this can be resisted at first then it taps the yellow ‘it can’t hurt’ and green ‘you deserve it’ buttons in quick succession and once you agree because ‘why not’ and ‘1 won’t hurt’ (which also happen to be buttons) I relent and take that first drink. Max is then sated for a bit; the itch has been scratched.
Then it returns and after an explosion of blue, green and yellow button smashing another drink is taken and Max slowly starts to mutate, the legs, body and antennae double in size and the soft outer layer grows into a hard shell (which is handy to keep all the feels out), the mandibles erupt through the skin (this helps when the savage words surely to come soon cut deep) and it’s no longer an ant but an angry malevolent Beetle that thwacks all the buttons in any order and then opens the cover on the big gold button labelled ‘Who Gives A Shit’ and presses down (aaaahhhhh feels good) and its straight through past the semi’s to the final, collect your $200 and I couldn’t even say no to cooking Sherry at this point
Max the malicious then multiples and sends these plunderers to every part of my brain, they have smashed the console now and we’ve lost all control ………………..it’s now an army of flesh eating Scarabs that has taken over and they are speaking and acting for me, the memory core has shut down and then BAM! I’ve checked out completely waking up the next day at some point feeling like you have been flayed alive by said beetles.
And this folks was my brain every time I said…. not drinking this weekend or tonight or only having a couple and that internal battle is exhausting and the end result is always the same. Not to mention the next day shame, regret, feeling like death and the damage limitation texts, phone calls etc…. I just don’t want have to do this every week, I can’t just have one and I always know how it will end if I try and that’s humbling to admit.
So, when I say it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever committed to I mean it and anyone going through it deserves your support. When people say to me oh it wasn’t that bad or I’m sure you’ll drink again please go back and re-read the above and ask yourself would you want to go through that cos I don’t want to and don’t have to.
But how do I keep that little ant happy now, where does it get joy after a day’s foraging at work. Without the amber nectar what does it have? What happens at Weekends, BBQ’s , Holidays , Bank Holidays , what do I do next and where do I turn now and who even am I ?
*** The science part *** – I learnt (thanks to HSS, see below) that these ants/beetles/cravings/wants are due to my brain being out of whack, I’m not just a useless prick who can’t control his habit, cos if I could I would. This is years and years of consuming alcohol, building a tolerance and being hard wired to think Alcohol is the key to survival when it’s the complete opposite. Just think, if this was the case why don’t children need it to enjoy life, kids have fun right and don’t consume alcohol (remember childhood, care free, exciting) My brain is working against me in ways I never knew or understood until now. Alcohol is a majorly addictive substance and it’s why stopping for some people is like asking them to chop off there own hands (some actually would prefer that, I probably would have taken that option, left hand though as need the right one for w………….riting). Now I’m the Preachy Prince.
So what Did you do?
One morning after deciding to quit I googled…Am I an alcoholic? We’ve all done it – don’t lie, apparently yes, yes I was, I also had liver disease, ear and foot cancer and at least 2 other illnesses with symptoms unknown to Google, basically I was the royally screwed and expected to drop dead that minute, after a nervous 30 seconds I took a breath (realising that voluntary not breathing might be the thing that actually did kill me) and then typed ‘How to quit drinking’ scrolling through I found an article called ‘Afraid to quit drinking – 3 common fears’ by a site called Hip Sobriety (link here : Hip Sobriety – https://www.hipsobriety.com/home/2015/4/30/are-you-afraid-to-quit-drinking) , it’s through this I found a link to ‘quit lit’ i.e. books about quitting ( I know it sounds like clit if you say it fast enough, I believe there is also a market for this but not my area of expertise so don’t go expecting any insight here, according to the majority of my female friends not many men are). The very first book I read was Allen Carr – Easy way to control alcohol, this book was like someone punching me in the face going told ya, told ya, told ya, obv’s, stoopid …………. It told me in a very IN YOUR FACE demanding way what the deal was with alcohol and this (cliché alert) opened my eyes. During this time I kept coming back to the Hip Sobriety webpage, reading the article’s over and over, finding myself nodding agreement and uh ah moments, connecting with the voice of this person called Holly that I’d never heard of but she seemed to speak sense and I noticed they ran something called Sobriety School, an 8 week virtual quitting programme and I signed up (it’s all on their web page if you want more info, I won’t go into on this blog) and after 8 weeks I walked away knowing more about alcohol then I ever did (why didn’t I know this) I also found ways that I can bring joy into my life, smite the cravings, look for sober social groups (how I found the mindful drinking group club soda https://joinclubsoda.co.uk) and that without alcohol I was a better more stable person. You have to put the work in though and want to change, it is afterall your party. The people I met are pretty amazing each with their own unique story, I learnt that kindness to others and more importantly to yourself goes a long way, you can be a better version of yourself and still stay sassy (i.e. a gobshite) and that to move forward you have to take the past out back old Yeller style and kill it, kill it good and forgive yourself in the process.
Then slowly over time and say it quietly cos I rarely shout now; you find out who the real you is and find that hidden potential, it just might be that I am more of an introvert than I ever thought possible, the paradigm of my ‘ideal self’ has shifted and I like it.
Here’s to the future.
What’s coming next time on this riveting blog?
The Future, literally ……….. Hip Sobriety School, Yoga, Fitness, letting friends down and meeting new ones. Alcohol free wine. My first alcohol free drinking social (and getting hit on by a woman for the first time in years) My last night drinking and lots of other things
Depending on if more than 5 people read this (my target audience) and that Netflix don’t come calling for my life story and get too busy I will probably do this every month.
Today I am 4 months and 25 days alcohol free
follow me on instagram @ThePlasteredPrince