Men’s Week - The Enemy in the Bottle

Where shall I start….???

Well, I’m 56 years old, male, and have been married for 17 years (third time lucky) with two mid-teenagers. For most of my life, I was in the Royal Marines followed by the Police.

Drinking was never prevalent in my family; in the early 80's, we thought we’d 'made it ’ if the whole family shared a bottle of Liebfraumilch over Sunday lunch!!

In the Marines, I was never one of the pissheads. My role was a sniper and demanded a clear head without any distractions. I was at the top of my game and admired for being the one that could do things that others couldn’t; I had untold pride and kudos.

Prior to this, I was never a heavy drinker; the room would always spin after a few pints and would often make me throw up. Sometimes, after a successful deployment, the teams would celebrate to excess in the time honoured tradition by getting hammered but I didn't. Instead, my obsession was to get laid. I was a serial womanizer with an Honours Degree in flirting, but I was also an incurable romantic and neither big headed nor arrogant. I loved what I did. I loved myself. Alcohol didn't feature – doing what I did was my drug of choice and I was totally addicted and respected for it.

When I joined the Police, I was quickly ushered into a specialist firearms role. I was an armed close protection officer to Prime Ministers, VIP’s and even royalty. I mixed with the best, in the best places, doing the best job. Once again, the role demanded professionalism, a sober head and decision-making at the highest level. I was admired, respected and appreciated. I loved what I did and I loved myself.

Towards the end of my time in the Police, I had a different role which allowed us more time to concentrate on our social life. The kids were now growing up fast, sitters were freely available, invites were more frequent and life was good. I soon realised that the attention I’d received in my previous roles could be replicated in a social environment by being just that bit louder and more outrageous, all helped along of course by the astonishing generosity of Messrs. Sauvignon Blanc.

In 2012, I retired from the Police. Life wasn't just good; life was fucking amazing!! I was lucky enough to count the time I'd spent in the Marines towards my pension, so I retired at a decent age with a huge lump sum and a very healthy monthly income. At this time, the whole Country had Olympic fever; my Father was even carrying the Olympic torch! It was summer, there was money in the bank, holidays were booked and new cars purchased. It was truly amazing; I could literally do anything I wanted!

Over the years, I’ve met some pretty evil people, I mean seriously evil, but despite years of training, being the very best at whatever I turned my hand to and being totally in control, I found myself, for the first time ever, completely and absolutely unprepared for my meeting with Mr. Reality.

I'd cleverly worked out that, with a little helping hand from Messrs. Sauvignon Blanc, I could really make others laugh. The prudes and bores were the exceptions however; they all found it all a bit much; but hey, who needed that kind of negativity anyway?! I loved having so much time on my hands; there I was, sitting in my sunny garden with a glass of wine or two, while all those suckers worked for a living! Ha!

I was actually living the dream. To begin with, Messrs. SB were actually very good to me. They didn’t make the room spin and they also helped to get me noticed, which had seriously been missing of late. As my friendship with them blossomed and my tolerance increased, they literally became the gift that just kept giving. My sex drive went through the roof and I regularly found that I’d end up with a raging ‘hornover’ the following morning! What wasn't there to like?!

In December 2012, we went on holiday to an all-inclusive paradise in the Indian Ocean for Christmas. Pool waiters would headed to my sunbed from 11am, smiling and introducing me to Messrs. SB’s Indian relatives. I even had friends around the world now!!! The 12 hour flight to paradise had also been a breeze because the airline staff had been so ridiculously generous with their wares! It was wonderful!

In April 2013, things went totally crazy when I set up my own company! Yep, just me, mostly working from home and it was an overnight success! I was back at the top, back to being noticed AND it didn’t even take up a lot of my time. It really was a lovely balance; who wouldn’t want a decent business and still have plenty of time to do what they want?

I did all of the cooking at home and luckily my new business gave me plenty of time to continue with that task. There I was, prepping, cooking, and sinking a bottle of wine like an absolute boss!! Keith Floyd would've been proud!

Social events were still fab but I had noticed that my cheeky wife had started introducing me as ‘Mr Marmite’! I had also noticed that my adorable daughter seemed to be frowning a lot and saying negative stuff like 'Dad, please don’t have another drink’. Unbelievable!

Some friends started to drift away as they do. They obviously had more important things going on but there were still those who liked an outrageous evening. They were my real friends right?

I knew what was expected of me when there was a social event so of course it made sense to have a few glasses before going out to 'warm up'; it was imperative that I was on top form from the moment I arrived.

With so much time on my hands, and life being so good, it seemed only right to enjoy it to the max. I had bugger all else to do. I had my lovely family but couldn't help noticing the little niggles about insignificant shit cropping up more regularly. I just assumed that was part of being married and having kids, so didn't think too much of it. Sometimes, I felt like they did it to just wind me up. I was still putting meals on the table and even though one bottle of wine a day had now progressed to two, I was still me. It was nothing I couldn't handle if they would just stop their nagging.

I was also pretty certain they were making stuff up. There were numerous occasions when my wife would say 'We discussed that the other night’, or ‘Do you remember what you said to so and so?' and I had no recollection. Perhaps she was inventing these incidents to see if I was paying attention?

Mr Reality would occasionally pop up to rudely point out any extra pounds that were creeping on or to wave his ‘tiredness wand’ over me. He even went as far as to make me look older by changing my face shape and my complexion. What a bloody cheek!

At Christmas 2017, we returned to our Indian Ocean paradise. The service had definitely slipped. The airline cabin crew were slow or inattentive, as were the staff at the hotel. I didn't get excited by other guests and the mornings were so hot, I was even sweating at breakfast! The journey home was shite too; I was uncomfortable, sweating profusely and I noticed they'd actually started rationing the drinks too. Not impressed was an understatement.

After arriving home, the new year started with a bang. Our local pub was under new management and it was party time! That night, I took down two useful telephone numbers with my fumbling fingers and blurred vision. Unsurprisingly, I took them down incorrectly. Then, to top it off , I proceeded to tell the wife to fuck off at bedtime and then wondered why she wasn’t impressed by my ‘hornover’ the next morning.

On New Year's Day, Mr. Reality beat the shit out of me. My alcohol consumption had made me hurt the person I was most close to, and in my mind that was inexcusable.

A few days later I decided to visit a Life Coach/Counsellor. Before I went, I had a small glass of wine 'to calm my nerves’. Upon arrival, the counsellor said 'You smell .. like a drunk. Not just like someone who’s had a heavy night with the smell lingering on your breath, but actually like a proper drunk .. it's awful, it's coming out of your pores'. (Thank you BH xx)'

That statement rocked me to my core. I vowed never to touch another alcoholic drink again.

We had several sessions after this and completely found myself again. I knew I'd always been there but had somehow lost my way and gained a dependency on alcohol.

So that was it. I stopped and I mean stopped. I knew I couldn't moderate as had been there, done that and it doesn’t work. I just stopped.

It was easy writing this as I have a near photographic memory and so it wasn't hard to recall the chain of events, the spiral, the indicators and the reasons. Although I recognised it at the time, ignorance and a belief that I had it under control overruled more useful or rational thought.

It's not difficult to end up where I did. I’m 100% certain that if alcohol was launched for the first time tomorrow, it would be banned as a Class A drug immediately.

I could’ve easily made this post twice the length with more anecdotes, patterns, hidden booze, lies and excuses; the list isn't exhaustive.

I haven't touched an alcoholic drink since 8 January 2018. It may be a cliche, but I can honestly say that since becoming sober, I’ve never felt better. I've lost 1.5 stone, am healthier and already look 10 years younger (quite gorgeous actually)! I’ve been to countless social events and even had one of the best days ever when I joined 82,000 mostly drunk people at the recent Army v Navy rugby at Twickenham.

There are some superb alcohol-free beers out there so I don't feel like a complete leper, and the bonus is that I get to drive home every time! I feel energised, vibrant, enthusiastic, productive but most of all, I am free. My wife is proud, my daughter is uber proud – and I am the proudest of them all.

Anonymous xx

Edited by Sober Fish

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