This guest post comes from beloved community member @inthegarage66 (known by his shortened nickname as @itg). For a while now he has been promising to share the details of his final night of drinking, and explain what the tipping point was that led him to finally make the firm and clear decision that he will never drink alcohol again. Well finally here it is, his moving and poignant story.
I’m sharing this bizarre story with you for two reasons. One, it’s cathartic for me; and two, it might help those of you who are fighting this awful battle to understand that you are not alone. That booze makes us all do stupid and dangerous things. And, most importantly, that with the love, help and support we get from our friends on Living Sober, we can turn our lives around.
I guess we all have a Tipping Point. A potentially horrible event or situation which makes us realize that enough is enough, and we need to quit. We absolutely must quit!
For our wonderful Mrs D it was one instance of hiding booze from her lovely husband. For others I expect it might be the ending of a loving relationship, a serious health issue, a guilty conscience, an argument. The list is probably endless. And we’ve all been there.
For me, initially, it was Mrs D’s TV appearance two years ago. At the time I was hungover, feeling guilty as hell, too much Hiding In The Garage, and I knew it was time to quit. Which I did. For a few months.
Then I figured I had this booze problem sorted, tried the moderation game, and you know all the rest. Because most of us have been there as well. That said, I was still doing pretty well. Until a few months ago, when the wheels really started to come off. Almost literally.
Which leads me to my final Tipping Point. But to tell it I need to explain something first….
Wifey has never really come to grips with the fact that I have a drinking problem. She knows I drink too much, and is not at all happy when I get pissed. But she either doesn’t, or won’t, internalize the sad fact that for me, one glass is never enough. So, from time to time, when she is sipping (and I mean sipping) on a very small glass of wine, she will kindly offer me a small one. On the strict understanding that that is all I have. Which it never is, or was.
Now, we both really enjoy our motorhome. Several months ago, we were parked up in a lovely paddock in rural NZ for a few days. Magnificent totara trees, bell birds and tuis singing, bush clad hills in the distance. A balmy, warm summers evening.
What wifey didn’t know was that a few days before I had stashed a supply of booze in the motorhome lockers. Two six packs of beer, and two cheap bottles of Chardonnay. Four cans of beer were in the fridge, and wifey was sort of OK with that.
The first night I drank two of those, (acceptable drinking by wifey), then sneaked outside a few times to glug one entire bottle of wine down as quickly as I could. Tried so hard not to appear pissed. Staggered to bed after wifey, and crashed out.
Hungover the next day, felt like shit (we’ve all been there), went for a slow bush walk with wifey, and got away with it. Yet again. Yay.
But later that day, the second day in a row, I fucking did it again!! Same routine, except I had to hide the empty bottles somewhere, so I sneaked out in the middle of the night, and hid them behind a totara tree. How low could I go?
Shocking hangover next morning, and the plan was for me to drive for a couple of hours, over some tricky hills, to our next lovely spot. Wifey doesn’t drive the motorhome. Now, I have promised myself time after time after time that I will never, never drive the motorhome with a hangover. Yet here I was, with an absolute shit of a hangover, driving a vehicle worth six figures (yes, it’s a very nice campervan), towing a little car behind, with the most important person in my world next to me. Trusting me to drive safely, with no idea how I was feeling. Unbelievable.
But wait, there’s more.
About half an hour into the two hour drive, the steering wheel started to vibrate. Now this is not a small motorhome. It is, in effect, a motorhome built on a medium truck chassis. Big wheels. And a vibration in the cab is serious. The more I drove, the worse the vibration became. We stopped. I checked the tyre pressures. All good. No change from what they should be. In the meantime, I’m fighting with my hangover, realizing that it’s going to take all my tired skills to keep us on the road. By this time, we were in the middle of nowhere, steep hills, winding road, no phone reception, nowhere to stop. We finally got to a safe place to stop, by which time the motorhome was just about shaking itself to bits, wifey was scared stiff, and I was just holding myself together. The hangover from hell.
I crawled underneath to have a look, and one of the front tyres was delaminating and had almost, but not completely, blown out! That’s why the pressures didn’t change. But at any given moment, that tyre could have burst, and we could so easily have been plunging down a vertical bank, in the middle of nowhere.
I called the Automobile Association, and a few hours later, we were safely parked in a camp ground, with two new tyres. Whew! My lovely wifey could see that it had been a rough day for me. So what did she do?
She kindly offered to pour me a cold one.
And that, my friends, was the exact moment of my Tipping Point.
How could I let my loving wife be so kind to me, knowing full well what I had done. Hidden booze after two night’s secret drinking – in a paddock at night behind a tree for fuck’s sake. Driving our lovely motorhome when I was in no fit state to drive, with a shocking hangover, and a blown tyre. I could so easily have killed us both.
The realization of what could have happened hit me like a sledge hammer. As did the realisation that I couldn’t live with this deceit in my marriage any more. And at that moment, that very moment in time, I decided that I would never drink alcohol again. Never.
That was over 200 days ago. I haven’t touched a drop since.
My love to you all. @ITG.