I REMEMBER when I was a young boy the overwhelming sense of fear that I felt when the B Specials parked outside our house in Cupar Street – and alcoholism in our home.
There was B Specials outside and Carlsberg Specials inside.
I suppose you could say that I was baptised in fear as fear became my way of being. I was terrified of everybody and everything and I swore as a child that I would never ever drink alcohol.
Alcoholism is a killer disease, it's a disease that tells us that we aren't alcoholic and we grow up with the disease of perception.
My promise of not drinking was short-lived as at the ripe old age of 13, I tasted the magic elixer that transformed my fear and brought out which I thought was the best in me but turned out to be the worst in me.
Suddenly I could do all the things I believed that I could never do, ask girls to dance, go to places that I should never go to and most of all not care about anything or anyone, anymore.
I became selfish and self-centred to the core. It wasn’t that I was a bad person wanting to be good, I was sick and wanted to become well.
My beautiful mother Marie, who passed away 18 months ago at the ripe old age of 90 was 51 years sober one day at a time. She got sober in 1969 and was one of the early women pioneers in AA, sadly my drinking took off about the same time.
She had to watch and love me through the hell that I was living in, knowing the disease herself, she was powerless over my recovery. She was also my beacon as I watched the miracle of her sobriety grow and my decanted life diminish.
I did all the usual tricks like changing places, people and things. To be honest I was always on the run from me, wanting to be someone else, somewhere else, doing something else. I know now looking back that I yearned to be sober but my head told me that I would die without the booze. That’s the nature of the disease, pride and ego were my jailers.
Every now and agin I would check in with my mother and I remember her AA books beside her chair. Deep down I knew I wanted what she had (sobriety) and I knew that the secret was within her AA books but could I look at them? No, the books were like a crucifix to a vampire.
Unfortunately I know now that I hadn’t suffered enough. Pain and suffering was my teacher. Of course, I did the usual swearing off the booze, telling myself that I would never drink again. I made promises with myself and others and tried many alternatives but king alcohol was always lurking in the wings.
I went on to drink for 26 years and I can honestly tell you, things got worse. The old cliché that you have to hit rock bottom is true. Alcohol removes everything from you: family, friends, jobs and most of all your love for life. You just want to die.
Well, I hit my rock bottom and the good news is that AA was there like a harbour in a raging sea and my mum was the beacon that brought me home.
Now I can honestly say that only one thing made me happy – the booze – but now that it’s gone, everything makes me happy.