Don’t get complacent (Guest Post)

busy bar scene

This powerful guest post is from our lovely long-time member @behind-the-sofa. He is a Peer Support worker at Connect in Auckland and has previously shared his Sober Story here.

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I watched this programme from the UK last night called ‘The Virtues’. In the first episode the protagonist Joe says goodbye to his child and his ex as they head off to Australia. It’s obvious that he’s an alcoholic and he’s had some clean time, as demonstrated by his ex asking him if he’s gonna be alright. There’s an implication that he might go and do something, i.e. drink the pain away.

Cut to him in a crappy pub, sheepishly sitting there eyeing the pint of lager in front of him. He looks around, strokes the curved glass sensuously, is anxious and uncertain. He takes a sip. He remembers that taste. It almost instantly awakens something in him. Soon he’s gulping it down. He heads back to the bar before it’s even finished and asks for a top up. The fuse is lit. He downs it again then asks the barman for a double vodka, then another. Down the hatch they go.

He’s away. He shakes off all doubts and insecurities and goes over to a table of people having a few drinks. He buys all of them a round. And then another and another. He goes up to a table of two young women and buys them drinks. He buys the barman a drink and soon everyone is like old friends. Cut to him doing coke in the filthy toilet with the barman. Cut to him carrying various trays of different shots to everyone. Cut to them all singing in the pub. Cut the barman getting annoyed because he’s racking up a huge tab but hasn’t paid any of it yet. Joe takes offence to this, and asks everyone in the bar if he’s been out of order. Everyone cries ‘No!’ he’s been a top bloke, he’s been buying them all drinks.

The booze and drugs start to catch up with him and he stumbles falls to the ground. Others pick him up and carry him outside. He’s fine, he says, and wriggles free and stumbles off into the night, almost walking backwards into traffic. There’s then a great camera angle of just his face as he goes looking for another drink. He’s talking to himself, completely smashed, ‘just one more drink, just one more drink’. He finds a place that’s open and downs a drink, but is soon escorted off the premises for presumably being too drunk. He goes and gets a late night kebab. The camera is still on his face as he shovels the food into his mouth. He’s swaying and talking to himself. Food is going everywhere. He’s got no idea what is going on. He’s having a conversation with a voice about ‘the virtues’ of the bible. And he become annoyed and aggravated with it. He’s smashed and spiralling down and down.

Cut to, the morning. His work mate is knocking on his flat door. He’s late and he needs him at work doing painting and decorating. Joe is passed out on his lounge floor. There’s vomit down his cheeks and a big pile next to him on the floor. He’s also urinated himself.

I felt upset watching this. It brought back a lot of old memories for me.

I’ve been that person, sitting alone in a pub, feeling disconnected, anxious, worthless, lonely – many, many, times. That was my life for years. But the minute I drank the poison it instantly wiped all of that negativity away. Made me gregarious, happy, lively, jovial. Stripped away all the pain and worries, giving me a huge shot of personality. I'd feel connected – alive – like this is the real me, this is the person I want to be, who I felt I was inside but couldn't express.

Except it was all just fake, and I'd wake up broke, sick, ashamed, and foggy, a million times worse than I was before. So what was the lesson?

What I've learned is that there's no shortcuts to connection and feeling good. It takes time and hard work and if you try to get through by chemical means, sure it’ll feel good temporarily but the price you pay is huge. Big time depression and hopelessness, trapped in a cycle which needs more and more of the substance but makes you feel progressively worse.

Like I said, it upset me to watch it, I felt quite emotional. Sorry for the old me, scared for the future me if I ever relapse. I know how alluring that stuff is, I recognised myself as the person stroking that glass, whose eyes light up after the first sip. I know that hungry wolf will awaken in me with that same ease, and that’s scary, the fact that over five years of sobriety could all be gone, just like that, but I guess all I have to do is not take that first sip.

Although it upset me on many levels, I also enjoyed watching it. It was an amazing portrayal of a relapse, and it felt very close to home for me. I need those reminders of how shit life on booze is so that I don’t get complacent and don’t romanticize it. The more things that show how terrible booze is the better in my opinion, rather than those oh so glorious sunsets and good times portrayed by advertisers.

@behind-the-sofa

9 Comments
  1. Belle 4 weeks ago

    It’s really confronting seeing alcoholics and people abuse alcohol since I’ve become sober. I’m starting to realise that a lot of my ‘drinking buddies’ are heavy drinkers and using it as a crutch. For almost 2 decades iv’e struggled with alcoholism and now I’m starting to free myself from the fog and the holds of alcohol. I pray every day that my higher power and I will keep me safe and sober.

  2. jmtn 1 month ago

    I think the romanticizing is incredibly difficult to overcome. I really liked your post!

  3. toxicdrops 1 month ago

    Great article, you put pictures into your words and this helps us to visualise just how awful and heartbreaking alcohol can be. Thank you. I need the truth, not the so called romantic glamour that has always been a lure for me. Last night I drank because I was depressed and felt unworthy. Today is my new day 1 in sobriety. I went sober 5 months last year and after a few weeks the good feelings do come into place. I want that back so badly. I hate what drink is doing to my life now and my mental wellbeing. Thank you for the ugly truth.

  4. JR 1 month ago

    Thank you for sharing such and with such vividness! How scary anyone can fall.

  5. Pixie2017 1 month ago

    Great post. i am finding out how to be the “me” that I can be proud of instead of drunk me. Thanks.

    • soberup 1 month ago

      I don’t want to be that person alone drunk vomit everywhere. This is my day 1 of so many i want to stop it now i don’t want to be a fool in front of family friends and colleagues. Day 1 and i am struggling to sleep. I drink 2 bottles of wine and have no problem sleeping but feel like trash the next morning. My husband seems taken aback that I choose not to drink tonight. However i did have a bit of a temper or short with him. Will confide in him in the morning i just want to get through tonight.

  6. Agirl 1 month ago

    Great post @behind-the-sofa, thanks. I’m pretty sure I socialised drunk (after hours) about 80% of the time between 18 and 49- all of my adult life to date. My public persona was the drunken self, and that’s who I thought I was. But I’m not. Now that I’m sober 24/7 I have to be me all the time. Face reality all the time. Literally find out who I really am, after all these years. It’s not even vaguely tempting to go back there, but it does require effort to keep growing up especially as I have left it so late ;). Thanks for the reminder.

    • Pixie2017 1 month ago

      Great post. i am finding out how to be the “me” that I can be proud of instead of drunk me. Thanks.

  7. JM 1 month ago

    Hi @behind-the-sofa! Great post. It’s true, it’s like I thought alcohol was the key to unlocking my real personality that was fun and outgoing and unself-conscious. And I could be those things while sober, but not on demand, like with booze. And I feel like I would be that guy in the program if I started out having a glass of wine. A voice in me would say, ‘I drink again’, and I’d be off to the races, making myself ill and full of regrets and possibly do damage to myself physically and… awful to contemplate. Yes, I’m with you, will not take the first sip, and will not get complacent. And that’s the thing we can have the glorious sunsets and good times, just not with booze. Thanks for sharing!

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