I needed to talk to someone, anyone. The emotions I was feeling were slipping out of my control! The stress and anxiety levels were becoming outrageous. I was convinced I was moving inexorably towards some kind of mental breakdown. Fuck it, I googled for help. Drinkline and Alcoholics Anonymous were the first two hits. I didn’t really fancy phoning AA as I’d heard that there may be a religious undertone and being brought up with religion forced down my throat I had became a faithless atheist.
So I phoned Drinkline, their lines closed at 8pm, I had 15 minutes to find someone who could help. The call was answered by a youthful voice who asked how he could help. I explained how I felt, that not drinking wasn’t the problem, that my head was full of yesterday’s stress and the day befores stress and tomorrows stress. I’m not talking at home, I’m staring into space thinking about everything! A million pieces of broken glass flying around in my head, each piece trying to tell me something different, just a cacophony of noise!
He stopped me talking. ‘unfortunately I’m not qualified to help you but if you don’t mind, I’ll put you on hold and get my colleague to talk to you, he’ll help you with how to abstain from drinking’.
I repeated my initial response. I wasn’t worried about drinking it’s the shit in my head that’s fucking me up.
I got put on hold.
Less than a minute later he was back on the line explaining that his colleague was unavailable and perhaps I should contact ‘Frank’ as they deal with both alcohol and drugs and they’re 24 hours. If they don’t give me what I want then feel free to contact Drinkline again tomorrow. Conversation over. I was now slightly disillusioned; surely the evening was when most people needed help?
So AA got the next call. A mature, soft spoken gentleman named John answered my call. He was 68, he hadn’t touched alcohol since he was 44 and he had drank heavily since he was 16. He listened to me, acknowledging everything I told him. He explained that it was normal to go through what I was experiencing. He took a few details, first name, which area I’m from and contact number. Someone we could call me tomorrow, make sure I answer as they won’t leave a message. He politely ended the call. God wasn’t even mentioned!
I went to work the next day slightly nervous about getting ‘the call’.
I shouldn’t have worried. Danny called me at midday, introduced himself as a recovering alcoholic, over twenty years sober. He wanted to help, he let me explain how I felt, again I was told this was normal. Because of the years of drinking to hide from stressful situations and make shit memories go away I was now on a voyage of discovery, I was going to have to get to know myself again, learn how to cope with each situation one at a time. I was going to have to take it one day at a time, this was the key, taking each day one at a time, don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow, concentrate on today, on now. Danny suggested that a local AA meeting would be very helpful, I’d be surrounded by people in different stages of recovery, they help me and I’d learn from them. I wouldn’t need to talk about religion and ‘The Greater Good’ could be anything I wanted. I’d already reached the dizzy heights of Step One by admitting that I had a problem. Danny gave me both his mobile number and his home number and made sure I understood that I could call him anytime, night or day. He understood and he wanted to help. With that, we ended the conversation.
I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders, I felt confident and I now had a mentor, a guide for my perilous journey deeper into sobriety.
I’ve looked up the locations and times of local meetings and I’m giving attendance serious consideration. I’ll call Danny if I ever feel that helpless again.
My partner asked how the call went, I gave her some details and I expressed an interest in attending a couple of different meetings. ‘Fucking great, I’ll look after the kids all day and you fuck off with your alky mates every night. Maybe you’ll meet the woman of your dreams in one of these meetings and you can live happily ever after together, celebrating being sober’.
This reminded me of something else that Danny said. Some of the things you drink to escape from will still be there when you’re sober….and you’ll need to deal with them!