Me, myself and I…..Guest blog
These guest blogs are nothing short of epic. Loving all the different topics and styles.
Todays blog is a story of a journey, and unlike a fairy tale, real journeys have bumps in the roads…
Me, Myself and I
I was aware from an early age that I was gay, I never really overthought it and didn’t really experience a lot of back lash in secondary school from it, the odd “gay boy” and my friends asking me “when are you gonna come out?”. This didn’t bother me though, I just shrugged it off. I remember doing a “beany baby” show with some girls in Primary school during Golden time, whilst the other lads were doing things about cars or playing football! Like I say, it never really bothered me… Until I had to come out, for some reason this really had an impact on my emotions at the time. It should never of had done because I have a really strong family foundation, who I know would have been more then accepting of it and still are to this day, I don’t think I will ever really be able to identify what the struggle was. I had girlfriends growing up and into my late teens – my last girlfriend actually asked me “are you sure you aren’t gay?”, I would reply “Nah”, knowing full well I fancied her boy-friend just across the other side of the party we were at… Crazy! But, I have learned through life, my sexuality does not define me and I am proud of who I am.
I had always used drink as a coping mechanism, especially when it came to my severe anxieties. I was always the funny, embarrassing, fool who made himself look the clown. Someone everyone would laugh at when he had managed to demolish 3 bottles of wine and several glasses of double gin and tonics. This quickly spiralled out of control…
After Secondary school, I went straight into work, not gaining any substantial GCSE grades. I was surrounded at the age of 15/16, but head strung, independent characters with a lot of background and knowledge, who guided me through the path of a working environment. This was quite intimidating and, rather then use the knowledge that was surrounding me to my advantage, a lot of the time I would just try and rush me way through things to get where I needed to be, slowly (without consciously knowing) becoming more and more selfish. I worked at the same place for around 5 years and then decided that a move to London would be a good idea… Little did I know the temptations of such a big City!
Now working and commuting into London on a daily basis, this is where I believe my drinking problem truly began. Anxiety has always been a ruler of my life and by this point it had taken over. I had a train buddy, a Police Officer, who got on the same train as me every morning… Without fail. She also lived local and commuted into London. She got me through each and every morning, holding my had on the long journeys to work, making sure I had water with me and something to eat and just a general distraction when we were going through that 2 minute tunnel (yep, that’s right, I timed it, just in case we stopped in the tunnel, I would know!). I will never forget the lengths to which this lady supported me. But, she was never on the train home (which was not her fault – she had a family!). This meant I needed to somehow get through this journey each night on my own. I took advantage of this by going for drinks every night after work and getting the last train home… getting in at about midnight, then having to get up at 5am to do it all over again. Drinking obviously has a huge impact on anxiety (I know that now), but at the time, I did not even factor this in to consideration.
I was working in London at a well known newspaper company in Kensington. I thought I owned the world; nice little pad in Clapham Common, good pay and decent bonuses – I abused this by letting my drinking habit spiral out of control. I would find myself, at lunchtimes over at the pub. In London this would be classed as a ‘normal’ thing to do, so of course, if everyone is saying it’s ‘normal’, I must follow suit and began to use this as another excuse to cover up how much I was actually consuming. That then lead into forgetful nights out, meeting random people out, inviting them back – not knowing would situations I would be putting myself into. Enough was enough and I had to be signed off work – which I hated because I love working. But, it had all just become too much – my work had deteriorated.
With my days off ‘ill’, I would go and drink with the little money I had left, find myself in bars getting chatted up by ‘older’ men – allowing them to buy me drinks when money had run out. I finally decided to hand my notice in at my job in London and head home to the comfort of my parents. Looking back, during this time, I was never mindful of anyone else’s feelings, as long as I was okay, that was all that mattered, when actually that is not in my personality or nature to act that way – that speaks volumes to the effect that this drug, drink, because it is a drug, has on people that get addicted to it. I had now moved home and working locally at a recruitment company.
Later on, once I had found my footing a bit more, still drinking though. Moved into a house-share. I was again, slowly spiralling out of control and getting towards my lowest point. I was slowly losing my friends, gaining a reputation for myself and losing jobs because of my habit, lies spiralling out of control, not even I could keep up with myself. “How do I get myself out of this mess?”, is a question I would ask myself on a daily basis, but instead of addressing the issue/situation, I would just pick up again, because it was that easy – it was physically and mentally exhausting. I lost, in total now, 3 jobs due to my drinking habit, numerous friendship groups and slowly losing my family and any kind of self-respect or dignity I had left.
I had moved back home again; how my parents and brother put up with me, I will never know. I guess, I will never really know the length of love they showed until I am a parent myself. I had though, just secured another job at a hair salon as a reservationist – this was now the only job I was capable of holding down, whilst entertaining my drinking habit. My habit and routine had gotten worse and I was picking up in the morning, easily getting through at least 2/3 bottles of wine before getting into work, drinking on the train at 7am in the morning. I looked and felt awful.. but played it off well with my bubbly personality. Shying away from addressing my real issues which were my drink and anxiety.
I had now reached my lowest point, I had just been sacked from my job at the salon. I had turned up to work too many times drunk and holding down the basic expectations were no longer sustainable. My parents were away on their 30th Wedding Anniversary trip to Turkey, not really knowing how bad I had got myself, because I was good like that, putting on a front, not because I worried about what people thought or how they felt, but thinking about where and when I would get my next drink from. Unfortunately, and this is something I will never forgive myself for, my parents had to fly back from Turkey. This was it, we couldn’t cope any longer. I remember the upset and disappointment on my parents face when they walked through the front door after the unexpected flight home – it is now heart wrenching for me. My Brother, who is an amazing person and someone I look up to on a daily basis, was going through a spat of anxiety himself and I, someone who knows how this effects people was supposed to support him. I didn’t and if anything made this worse for him and again, something I will never forgive myself for.
The months to follow would see further relapses, I had taken myself to support groups, which seemed to be working, but with persistent, loyal family and a small handful of friends who have all loved my unconditionally, I am now 10 months sober.
I have been enlighted by my mentors in a new job that I have always dreamt about. Life is tough and everyone has a story to tell, strangely, I am proud of mine, some regrets, yes, but it has made me who I am today. I have learnt not to be quick to judge people or just assume – people can suffer from all difference kinds of walks in life. My job, is my life; it helps me grow, I learn every day and builds me a better future and makes me a better person. I am now living the life that at one point I thought I didn’t have the chance of doing. I learn each day the importance of relationships – the people you surround yourself with make a huge impact on where you are in life.
My Mum wrote me a card when I was in my late teens/early twenties, which had a motivational quote on and I still have it to this day, I will always keep this safe with me:
“Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You!”