DryPosted: September 12, 2012
Its been just over 3 months since I went straight edge, and reading back on the first post I wrote about it I think I should probably go into more detail about some stuff I was a little uncomfortable about discussing last time.
Its been a fairly easy 3 months, as I haven’t had any nights out (my social life is pathetic, down to my inability to make plans with friends and also work stuff) and I was never a massive drinking at home kind of guy. I mean, now and then I’d have a can or two watching TV or after a particularly tough day, but I guess I was pretty much a social drinker.
First of all, I just want to make it clear that I don’t have a problem with other people drinking, my attitude is that as long as its not causing problems for you or those around you, go for it. I drank semi-regularly for close to a decade, and I’d say for most of that time my drinking was fine. The reason I decided to quit was increasingly when I got incredibly drunk things got weird.
Back in 2008 I went out to watch the FA Cup final with one of my best friends, Rich. The night was an utter disaster, we wound up going to a pretty dodgy, rough bar and somewhere along the way I got spiked. I can clearly remember talking to Rich and speaking utter bollocks, rambling lies because I was feeling on edge. I can remember looking out of myself and hearing the words I was saying and thinking, “What the hell am I talking about? And I sound weird.” That’s all I remember until waking up on Rich’s couch the next day, my dad asleep in the other chair.
It turned out that I’d gone weird- I’d rambled on about the CIA being after me (at the time I was really into the show Chuck and had recently rewatched one of the Bourne movies), I’d made some kind of obscene comment to a barmaid, tried to glass a bloke I’d never met before and punched Rich.
It scared the shit out of me. Nothing has ever come back from that night, not even little flashes of memory. I lost a few hours of my life during which time I acted like a nutbar. It terrified me and for about 8 weeks I didn’t drink, terrified that as soon as I got drunk I’d have some kind of flashback or relapse to that condition.
I did start drinking again, but I was wary, but after months of nothing happening kind of pushed it to the back of my mind, telling myself it was due to the spiking.
I’d still get drunk and I’d make stupid decisions- I’d waste money, I’d stay out longer than I should have, I’d make terrible, cringe inducing passes at women and occasionally I’d slip into bad drunk vibes- brooding, moping, getting angry. Which was weird, I’ve always been a largely happy drunk, sure there have been a few weepy moments and one Halloween where I drank gallons of cider and puked up all night because I realized the girl I liked was interested in someone else (it turned out I’d misread the signs and she wasn’t interested in this bloke, but neither was she interested in me, ah well, c’est la vie). But for the most part I’d get drunk, goof around, throw myself about on the dancefloor and go to bed feeling good.
But the hangovers were kicking my arse, I’d lose the next day entirely. And then there was my last drinking session. I got weird again. There was a bit of conspiracy talk and I left a message for a girl I thought was kind of cool. The message must’ve been weird, I haven’t heard back and the fact I saved her on my phone under a code name doesn’t bode well. I’d gone weird again, and there was no drug this time.
Here’s the thing I didn’t mention in the last post about going straight edge, there’s some history of mental health issues in my family. Nothing serious, there’s no Norman Bates or Michael Myers in my family tree but its there. This terrified me, the line of work I’m in has taught me that alcohol and drug abuse can play a major part in exacerbating these things (its a massive issue and I don’t want to go into the whole “do drugs cause mental illness” argument, so here’s my opinion quickly- I don’t think drugs makes people go nuts, however, I do think that for those who may have dormant conditions it can awaken them and make them worse. The problem is, that those people who have these issues are often drawn to drink and drugs as a way of coping with what’s going on in their head. Millions of people can drink or have the occasional joint with no long term damage, but for some it is a risk).
Twice now these little paranoid fantasies had come out, I’m not saying I think I’m mentally ill, I just think that I’m someone who thinks about things and due to my love of sci-fi, thrillers and comic books its all rattling around in my subconscious, being brought to the surface by booze. However, I didn’t want to push things and as I’m fairly normal the rest of the time I decided it was time to knock the drinking on the head.
I didn’t like who I was when I drank, I didn’t like how I couldn’t stop when I reached the fun, party mode. I’d always push it too far. Clearly my self control isn’t the best, so it would be better to stop outright.
Its been easy, like I said, there have been no nights out and I didn’t have much booze in the house (there’s a small, full bottle of whiskey in my bedroom which remains untouched). I can honestly say I haven’t missed it, when I go out for meals I’ll have a soft drink and when I’ve had a rough day I’ll just crank up some angry rock music on my iPod and air guitar my troubles away.
The toughest part in a way has been talking about it with people. People talk about getting drunk and I’ll share stories and say what drinks I like, but I never feel comfortable saying “but I don’t drink anymore”. I think I’d find it hard to explain why I stopped, I know someone who stopped because they were a full blown alcoholic and that makes sense, you can just say you were an alcoholic, but I clearly wasn’t.
I don’t want to go into the mental health thing with a lot of people I know, especially as some of them I don’t really know that well. I know its weird that I can write about it here but I can’t talk about it in person, but I’ve always found it easier to express myself at the keyboard than in person, and if anything I’m often too honest in my posts.
The other thing is, and this is going to sound lame, I’ve always kind of associated drinking with masculinity and coolness in a way. I think boozing is part of British culture and especially in South Wales being able to handle your booze and drink a lot is seen as something to be praised. I still do it myself, I was watching Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents and watching one of the teenagers, Sophie, pounding down the shots I just thought “what a legend”.
Boozing is tied up in my whole idea of what’s cool. Look at my heroes- Lemmy, Keith Richards, Hunter S Thompson. I even have a T-shirt with a cartoon of George Best on and his quote “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.” I realized at the time it was a kind of tragic statement from a man who’s life and talent would disappear into a bottle, but it kind of tied in with the whole “live fast, die young”, boozing, brawling and bedding lifestyle I’ve always admired and wanted.
I’ve had to redress my whole opinion on the booze issue. Like I said, for most its something they can do with little or no permanent consequences but for me things have changed. It wasn’t good for me, so I decided to quit. And as I move on with my running and stuff, hopefully I can find a different way of looking at the world and how I want to live.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.