Alcoholic/Addict’s Success Story
[intro]I grew up in middle class very happy farming family. In most respects it was an idyllic way for a young boy to grow up. I went to the best private schools in the area and because we were farming it meant attending boarding school from the age of 8. School went well – academically and in the sportsfield. There was little to complain about.[/intro]
I can’t actually remember my first drink. Alcohol was not a big issue in our family. I never saw my parents drunk or even a little tipsy. My first real experience with alcohol was the day I left school.
I had the unfortunate experience of being in class with older boys but I played sport with boys my age. The result was that I never felt like I belonged and I had a constant drive to prove myself. I was very focused on achieving and even when success arrived I still felt I wasn’t good enough.
I drank a huge amount the day I left school due to peer pressure, blacked out and hated the experience. I drank a bit in the army but my main drinking started at university, and it progressed steadily from there. It felt like I drank differently to my friends – I was always the last to leave a party. It is only much later that but I have only begun to understand this.
I am married and have three wonderful children, that have now left home after university and making their own way in the world. I was a binge drinker in the early days in spite of being very physically fit. I competed in about 50 marathons and 3 Ironmen, the Comrades Marathon and raced cars and bikes. I also worked extremely hard and kept very long hours. However, the feeling of success still eluded me. Alcohol helped me in the early days with confidence and made me gregarious.
I worked on the Stock Exchange in London and Johannesburg and fell in with the drinkers. It became a daily habit and often I would drink to blackout, not realising that it was not normal. I turned into a functioning alcoholic. I became argumentative and mean towards my family. I was verbally abusive and could not remember the events the following day. I am, by nature, a very kind, gentle and generous person. But alcohol turned me into a monster.
I was asked by my children to leave home. This still didn’t stop me. My decisions at work and home became frozen with negative consequences. I became the type of person I despised. I had low self esteem, tremendous anxiety and became isolated from everyone who had ever cared .
My downward spiral quickened and bore out everything that is said about alcoholism being a progressive disease. My daughter began phoning me at five every morning just to see if I was alive. I suddenly realised I was sick of the anxiety, the depression, the shakes and the nausea. I needed something else.
With encouragement from friends and family I turned to Houghton House. I had met with Dan Wolf a few times previously, but had been in denial. I was then still in the blame game. My health was perilous, on the verge of a stroke with blood pressure, kidney and liver problems.
I really wanted sobriety desperately and Houghton House provided me with the guidance and platform to build a new life. Houghton House counsellors, Marius and Lauryl, guided, encouraged and helped me to where I am now. I remain engaged and count them as friends now. I learnt so much about my character and how to handle myself in life and situations that are challenging. I drank a lot because of resentments and now I have put these to bed.
I spent six weeks in primary care at Houghton House and then a month in secondary care at the GAP. I found the extra time at the GAP essential, and in context of my 30 years of drinking it was such a small sacrifice.
I am now fitter, healthier and more active than I have ever been. I completed the Ironman and many cycle races in better times than I did 25 years ago. I have so much time in sobriety. My relationships have been mended with family and friends. I am able to spend time with my children without them being worried about the next drinking calamity. Trust is back. Life is happy and optimistic.
I live every day according to the 12 simple steps. Every day in recovery is a joy, I am engaged in life again, I feel, I have emotions. There are good and bad days, but I am alive and the worst day in sobriety is better than any day drinking.
If anyone has a problem with alcohol try Houghton House as a first step in the journey and live the simple way of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps. It is if anything else a wonderful journey of self discovery.
Rather than being embarrassed by being an alcoholic I have embraced it and earned extraordinary respect from friends, family and work.