Five years ago today I got dropped off in the morning at the Lodge I was staying at….. Hungover, still wearing the clothes from the night before, I went to my room and frantically rummaged around looking for tobacco. I found a half-smoked cigarette and went out the front again to smoke it. Standing there, not wanting to go back inside to my little cell and not having the energy or the lust for life to go anywhere, I pondered the purgatory I found myself in. The cigarette tasted yuck but I needed the fix. My stomach felt like acid after the night of drinking on an empty stomach, I craved fat and sugar. I went back to my room and rummaged around again, this time for change. I found a few coins and decided to walk into Glen Innes and look for food. The bakery had fried chicken and chips under some hot lights, it looked both repulsive and delicious, I had to have it, my body craved it. I was self-conscious, standing there half drunk, dishevelled. Bright and bubbly morning people were in there picking up snacks on their way to work. I bought a large bottle of coke too and got out of there quickly, the day was getting warmer, my skin was starting to crawl, I needed to get back to my room.
Back indoors I tried to turn my lap top on, I needed distraction. It didn’t load properly – it never did. I had to turn it on and off many times before finally the loading program kicked in. I did this mindlessly, I don’t know how long it took, maybe ten minutes, maybe an hour, I almost went into a meditative trance, it was the only way to get through the tedium of trying to get the damn thing to work. I put on the only DVD I had, ‘Paul’ with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, two geeks on a road trip in America who befriend an alien. An alright movie, but after you’ve seen it umpteenth times it kind of loses its lustre. Still, it was distraction. I opened the chicken and chips and lay on my bed with the laptop and shovelled it into my mouth, I drank the coke, totally mindlessly, doing whatever I could not to think. If I did think, I’d realise I had no more money, minus money in fact – I’d gone on a bender in town a couple of nights beforehand and even though I was broke my bank card kept letting me withdraw money from the atm and so I’d gone $1000 overdrawn; No job; I’d walked out on it the day I went on my bender; no friends or family that I was still on speaking terms with; all bridges had been burnt, bombed and barricaded (save the one mate who’d dropped me off that morning). On top of the things I didn’t have, I also had a huge case of social anxiety that I was grappling with very unsuccessfully…. The day before in a ridiculous attempt to try and find work, I’d turned up outside Simon Gault’s restaurant in the viaduct, hip flask of vodka in hand, in an attempt to try and quell my nerves about the job interview, it didn’t work though, my anxiety got the better of me and I couldn’t go in. Instead I sat down on the peer and gazed down at the water and contemplated jumping in. Death would have been welcome to me at that time of my life. I was too scared of physical pain to do it to myself but if it came to me on its own accord I wouldn’t have turned it down. Back to my room though, I lay there disgusted with myself. The middle of the day, my blinds drawn, desperately trying to shut myself away from the world. I could hear my neighbours and people walking past my door, I just wanted everyone to go away and leave me alone. I didn’t want anyone to see me as I was. And that’s the day five years ago that I decided to get sober. And I’m still sober today!…… It’s been hard going and arduous at times and I’ve still got a lot to work on…. A LOT!! – trust me….. but if you compare me today to me five years ago, I’m so much better and I’m so much stronger….. I can look people in the eye when I talk to them, I can smile at strangers, I can go on holidays, I can go to coffee shops and supermarkets without fear… my diet is a million times better….. everything is a million times better…… I even work in an AOD respite centre now!!…. I mean tell that to me five years ago!! Haha!!….. Living Sober has been a big part of my journey thus far…. I’m not gonna name drop everyone…… sorry, but you all know who you are…. So thanks to everyone and here’s just a few little thanks/name drops @Mrs-d (1st mentor, inspirational and got me my job basically) @prudence@morgan@suek@nugget@mac007@drydash@quietlydone@mari135@inthegarage66@brummiebird@liberty@enzedgirl@pearl@temperance@seizetheday the list goes on and on…… much love to everyone who shares this space and their stories and struggles and successes : ) : ) : )
Thanks @mrs-d …… lying in my room, hearing you on the radio that day in early sobriety when my thinking was so muddied and miserable, you expressed what I was thinking and feeling but couldn’t put into words and most importantly you gave me hope that it was possible… and you’ve pretty much been doing that ever since…. thanks : )
Tom oxoxoxoxox Oh my God you absolute legend!!!!
5 years…holy-fucking-moly! 🙂 oxoxoox
I LOVED reading your post and read it twice. Just got home and first thing on my list was to reply. I am so glad we met here and are friends on Facebook. Maybe one day we get to share a tea without both of us collapsing from anxiety on Prudence’s porch, that would be nice!!!! I can relate to a lot of things you wrote here….It gives me hope that your anxiety went down over the years as I still struggle with mine, especially social. Just tonight alone was hard since I met two new people at a restaurant I hadn’t met yet (through colleagues).
Oh @behind-the-sofa I can’t begin to explain how proud I feel of you. You wouldn’t have believed this day would be real 5 years ago would you.
If anyone thinks they’re in too deep, well Tom proves it can be done! I read your story and I used to live close to G.i. and was picturing it all.
You are one of the people I felt I couldn’t let down when times were tough in the early days and I wanted drink.
Be proud of yourself Tom, you’ve done amazing! Big hugs to you xoxo
thank you for this reply @seizetheday ….. yep, if I can do it!……. ooooh, you know GI….. so glad I don’t live in that lodge there anymore…… pleased that I helped you……. the feeling is mutual….. that’s one of the big things about LivingSober I think…. having people you feel accountable too…. have a lovely day : ) xoxo
Heart properly warmed reading that @behind-the-sofa. 5 frickin years, how good is that! So much has happened in that time. You were one of those who held the way for me and let me know I could do it warts and all, because you were. Thanks, huge thanks. 🙂 And I’m so proud of you although I don’t know you irl (maybe one day), but I know for me anxiety is the emotional equivalent of bone grinding on bone… and you did it anyway. I have so much respect and my heart is full reading the changes you’ve had. You SO DESERVE IT!! Looks good on you Sir. 😀
Love this reply! Thanks @liberty …..yes, so many changes for the better…. and yet we’re constantly in a state of becoming – aiming for something more….. but every once in a while you have to reflect and realise and appreciate the changes that you’ve already made…. love that metaphor of bone grinding on bone! that is exactly how anxiety feels!!….. it’s so raw, you feel so exposed and vulnerable and small…… self medicating my anxiety was perhaps the number one reason why I drank….. and I still have anxiety, I think it’s here to stay, but the thing about being sober is you can learn to be ‘comfortable with your uncomfortableness’ as someone told me recently…… : )
Oh Tom, you’ve really nailed this “Life” gig mate!! I can hardly wait to read your book, it will be brilliant. I hope you’ve started it. Been great following in your footsteps. Huge congratulations on your five years. So proud of you. Legend xxx
Congratulations on five wonderful years sober man. That’s just unbelievable. And yet here you are!
I love reminders of that shitty last day. I never want to go back there, ever, ever.
Here’s to the next 5 years and all the ones after that too.
Flippin Awesome Tom!
So, so proud of you.
If I didn’t take me 27 hours to get there, I would be with you in a flash with the most massive hug going!
I also feel honoured that you felt it appropriate to name check me.
You were one of the candle lighters and rooted for me on the goat track when I popped along later that year.
So pleased for you I am bursting with pride as to how well you have done.
Five years is no mean feat.
High five from a Brummie in Blighty.
Oh hello @behind-the-sofa!!!
Tom you are a shining star and you’re such an inspiration. I’m not checking in here so often but sober every day for over 4 and a half years. We have our first grandchild living with us and his Mum and Dad so my cup of happiness overflows. Lots of love and congratulations to you on 5 amazing years xxx
Hey Tom, this is great to hear, 5 years! I just popped on after a long time away and your post was one of the first I saw – so happy for you Dxxx
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