In celebration of 21 years sobriety I’ve decided to talk about the things I may have missed as, the day I stopped drinking and using, I was warned that I only had two years to live. I was 32.
Even I realized that 32 was too young to die and, powerful as the pull of drink and drugs were, the desire to live was much stronger.
The first five weeks I was clean and sober I was still running a pub. Each night as I locked up and walked through the bar in the dark the whisky and vodka called to me in beguiling tones and alluring accents pleading with me to drink them. I ignored them though I was desperate to stop shakes and hallucinations that I thought would never go away.
That is the first of the things I have missed or would have missed. Since I stopped drinking 21 years ago there have been many new drinks launched and I would have tried every single one of them. I’m not going to lie. I miss alcohol.
Had I not got sober I wouldn’t have had all the pets that I’ve had in that time and still have now – around twenty I think if you include the goldfish that survived less than two hours.
I would never have met some of my closest friends who have guided me through good times and bad over the years and who have never judged me for my past. They love me in my present and for my future.
I cannot think what would have happened had I not been around to discover the delights of salad cream with chips. Actually I would: there would be a lot less people in the world who had been bored to tears with me telling them how good it is.
I would have missed out on K-PAX which is one of the most inspiring films I have ever seen. Watch it yourself and be enraptured by the off beat person who turns up at Grand Central Station claiming to be from the planet K-PAX and I dare you not to cry at least once as you watch it.
There’s a song by Paul Weller called Where’er Ye Go which reminds me strongly of the way I feel about my episodes of Bipolar Disorder, particularly the periods of dissociation. I cry floods of tears when I hear it. These are part in sorrow at having such a destructive illness and part in gladness for the experience. They are also because the words are beautiful and deserve a big reaction.
I’ve done lots of voluntary work in recent years and found it to be worthwhile and fulfilling. I even got to troubleshoot on a retail street refurbishment – me, the old alky and drug user, the dregs of society helping to rebuild and strengthen things in the community. Who’d have thought a waste of space could become so useful?
I’ve done some nasty things especially in the early years but all I can do is make amends and move on. Endless flagellation and wearing of hair shirts is pointless.
I have a charmed life, a wonderful life: all these things are glitter thrown across what could have been a dull and ordinary life. Life can throw what it wants at me but as I take up my camera to record it I will never cease to be thankful, grateful and feel very blessed.