The last few days seem to have put some things into sharp focus.
Saturday night we went to one of my wife’s cousins birthday party. A huge do! They’d rented a massive dance hall at a local social club. Had a live band playing and goodness knows how many guests. To be fair this is the Italian side of my wife’s family and the cousin has 6 siblings, with various other halfs, kids, grandkids… etc. Add in friends, us… you get the picture.
At our table it was the odd cider for my wife or daughter’s boyfriend, a vodka and then cider for my daughter, juice and soft drinks for me, daughter’s boyfriend and the mother-in-law… we only had 2 or 3 drinks all night anyway. All around was great merriment and drinking of copious amounts of alcohol. Nothing too outrageous but enough to know that many there woke up late on Sunday with very sore heads. That room many years ago hosted an under 18s disco regularly that I went to on an infrequent basis. No alcohol then but that was about the time I started to drink regularly and it did bring back some odd long buried memories about me as a teenager and looking back now I really wondered what I was really like then? I remember having to leave there in a hurry one night and dodge one of the local gangs as I’d said something unwise to a member of said gang and was tipped off they were “going to sort you out” at the end of the evening. Who was that guy?
A day volunteering in the prison and listening to some people’s drug and alcohol use and the issues it had caused them in their (mostly) young lives was a salient reminder too. Early on I decided that illicit drugs were not for me. Frankly the fear of arrest and incarceration together with a knowing belief that I’d never be able to get off them kept me away. Daft then that I couldn’t see that dependency issue with alcohol until a long time later and when it was so deep rooted I had several years of pain to go through until I finally was able to admit a rock bottom that allowed me to change. Also through my drinking I drove regularly over the limit – put myself in situations where I was vulnerable in the extreme and frankly was only lucky really that I was never arrested and put before the court, meaning being locked up was as much of a risk drinking as it was being on drugs.
I often hear “There but for the grace of God” – never truer in both these scenarios. I could have been the jovial laughing drunk at the party only to face the next morning’s pain and remorse. Also I could have not been able to be there having been “banged up” for my drunken behaviour and part of that group trying to figure out if I can successfully “harm minimise” or whether abstinence would be the better route.