My name is Gavin and I am an Alcoholic
I was born in Derby in 1978. This is my story. I was quite insecure and afraid from the get go and would often have disturbing thoughts about the world and its fate, even at the age of seven. Alcohol was always on the scene and I always had sips of my dad's beer. My parents used to drink and row every night and I remember repeating their names over and over while in bed banging my head.
At school I was the class clown, shy and outgoing at the same time. Life seemed very contradictory. I was a lot slower than the others and was disruptive in class, which led to my own spot outside the head teacher's office. I suppose I always felt different. I can remember as clear as day watching the other children playing and thinking, 'How do they do that?' and 'If only they knew.' If someone had asked me then what it was that I knew and they didn't, I would have said 'I don't know'. That sense of impending doom was looming even then. I never liked bullies and learned to lash out quite young. I also could never vocalise what I felt and found hitting out was a good tool. It quickly became part of my vocabulary.
Ten years old at a cousin's christening, my older cousin and me went on the rampage and mine-swept all adults unattended drinks. I went from shy to not shy, staggering around on the dance floor giving it the big one with a bit of 'Agadoo', then passed out on a bench. This was the first time I got drunk and it was all captured on VCR for posterity and family amusement (at first!) This behaviour continued. The obsession was on. I believe that this is when my power of choice was lost. This was my solution to the way I felt and thought, or so I thought. A procession of being kicked out, knocked out and thrown out of everywhere I ever went from then on, was set in motion.
I moved from Derby to Dorset at the age of 13 (under duress due to leaving the army cadets and my friends behind). I went from near-expulsion for bad behaviour from my last school, to an all-boys school. Shirt, tie, blazer and a deep Midlands accent resulted in me sticking out like a sore thumb. If I felt different before, I definitely felt it now. My drinking was a great comfort at this time of my life. Yearning to be liked and pining for Derby, I accepted bullying to be accepted. Soon, enough was enough and I started to retaliate, and was swiftly expelled within seven months. No mainstream school within a fifty mile radius would accept me with my record, so i was placed in a 'special' school.
At fourteen due to me stealing my parents cars, violent outbursts, and self-willed obsession with going back to Derby, I was kicked out of home and put in the school hostel. On leaving school, I briefly returned home, only to be kicked out again at the age of fifteen. I hitchhiked the 250 miles back to Derby. At this time my heroes were alcoholics, drug dealers and gangsters. I was attracted to this life like a moth to a flame. I was living in a squat and fell in with people who were up to all sorts of skullduggery. It brought money, reputation and power. I had arrived. However, this was shortlived. My drinking and violence gave me a reputation which preceded me. If I am honest, a lot was born out of fear and self preservation. I became a lone wolf. Throughout all this something must have been looking out for me as among other things I survived a potentially fatal stabbing.
At this time, my uncle, a childhood hero, was suffering the consequences of alcoholism. I drank like him, with him and fought him on occasion. And soon I was locked up. The Millenium came and went and I encountered my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous while still incarcerated. I went to meetings so I could get out of my cell as I heard biscuits and tobacco were given freely. So you could say I went to scoff but unfortunately I didn't remain to pray at this point. My unwillingness to conform and get on with people went with me. Consequently my sentence was increased. Within no time after my release, I was back where I left off and worse. I saw my uncle in town, he was yellow, bloated and hanging around with street drinkers. I was ashamed and made my excuses. That was the last time I saw him alive. He died from pure renal failure at the age of 35, after he pulled out his drips and left the hospital in his dressing gown to go and get his next drink. He had been top of the list for a liver transplant. This is where I relate to the disease of alcoholism and the obsession of the next drink. I later endured countless experiences of this sort, which nearly finished me off on many occasions. The mental torture I encountered when not drinking was indescribable and I would need to drink. Why wouldn't I. It was my solution to my living problem. I resolved not to follow in my uncle's footsteps, even though I knew I was on the same path. I substituted one chemical for another, telling myself, I will escape his fate. My Grandad said, 'You're just choosing to be hung rather than be shot by the firing squad, the end is the same, Gavin'. Wise words I failed to heed. Within no time, I was taking other chemicals and drinking as much as ever. This soon landed me on the rocks.
On throughout the years I encountered multiple treatment centres, mental institutions and overdoses due to my unwillingness to surrender all of my old ideas. A lack of power was my dilemma. My willpower is insufficient against the power of alcohol, so I have no effective mental defence against the first drink. Eventually I was finally beaten into a state of reasonableness and found myself in another AA meeting. Here I asked a man if he would be my sponsor and he presented me with a programme of simple actions to work on a daily basis, and the necessary power then became accessible. A God of my own understanding was spoken about. To me, it became a reality in the eyes and actions of these people who had recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. I believe that God was always there, I just turned my back on G. O. D. Good Orderly Direction.
When drinking I was treating the dis-ease of alcoholism with alcohol. Today I treat the dis-ease of alcoholism with the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and have found freedom from the restless, irritable and discontented existence of alcoholism. I have met the woman of my dreams, we have four beautiful children with another on the way, and I truly carry destiny in my arms every day. And this from a man who in the end was sleeping rough on the streets in a cardboard box behind a pub, as hopeless as they come; who having not enough drink to carry him through the night, and on finding three quarters of a can of Carling Black Label at a bus stop nearly kissed it like the F.A. Cup. I had sold myself short for many years.
Today I am a man who has struck gold and as long as I continue to mine it and give away the entire product all is well. This Twelve Step recovery programme works as long as we work for it. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is the present, the present is a gift. Enjoy it.
Gavin GG, RTR Plymouth, Feb 2011