I’m alcohol free
I was born in 1971. I grew up in a new town in Essex. I was one of the few ethnics in a predominately white working class town. My parents were of Asian descent and were both hard working who wanted for a better life.
I was quite a shy boy growing up. I think it was due to having an older sister who did the talking for both of us because she was the one who could talk first! So when an adult asked us a question to us both I would look at my sister to come up with the answer which she always did.
My mum sent me to nursery and I remember the feeling I used to get every morning when I got up. Dread. I used to have an upset tummy every morning because I used to dread nursery. Now I realise I was not feeling ill it was just an emotional reaction to going somewhere where I did not like. Now I have no reason why I did not like nursery. It may have been due to the fact that I did not want to be away from my mother, I did not like the teachers or the other kids or something else. I have absolutely no idea. All I knew was I used to get that sickly nervous feeling in my tummy which made me think I was ill. If I knew that alcohol could have taken that sickly feeling away at that age I am sure I would have drank it!
Even though I claimed I was ill I was still carted off to nursery. My mother always recounts this story of how the teachers observed me looking at the kids playing and then I went over to the group, snatched the toy from them and showed them how to play with it. It was if I looked upon these kids as they were not as smart as me. How arrogant! But hey I was just a kid and they could not see how it worked like I did. I don’t remember this scene that my mother recounts however as time progressed I realised early on I was academically smarter than my peers by quite a margin.
When I joined school it was pretty much like nursery. I remember my first day as I imagine you do too. I remember that sick feeling again and my mum chatting to the female teacher and metaphorically giving her the keys and instruction manual on me.
Then it was time for mum to go and I remember the door shutting, me left with all the other kids I didn’t know and then my eyes filling up with water, everything going blurry and starting to cry. I was completely overwhelmed by this feeling of being alone. It was horrible. But as kids are great at doing I was easily distracted by some toy or other and then I was on my way playing with the other kids just like they all were earlier before. I was now one of them. I remember other kids getting dropped off by their mums during the year and some reacted like me and others just ran and got stuck in to all the play. I imagine my sister’s first day was the opposite of mine. I bet she just jumped in and got on with it as that’s what she was like.
At the school there were only 3 ethnic kids. Me, Charles and Rosy. Charles was half Mauritian half white and Rosy was black. Charles is still a very good friend of mine to this day and Rosy I still know through a mutual friend so I get kept up to date on her life. One thing we never experienced was racism. I never felt different to the rest of my colleagues and it would be sometimes mentioned that they forgot I was even Asian. I am fairly certain kids have no capacity to be racist. You either like someone or you don’t. Colour never comes in to it. You grow up to be racist but as a child it’s just not in you hence I never had a hard time being a different colour.
Infant school was a breeze. We did a bit of academic stuff and I was pretty much ahead of my class all the way through. The reason being we were taught to read, write and add up before we went to school. Just having that slight advantage meant that you were yearning to learn something new. When something new came along I lapped it up, digesting and fully understanding it while the others were still trying to grasp what was taught before.
For this reason I was top of the class. No joke. There was one other boy who was in my league and we always battled for the top spot. Sometimes he won sometimes I did. Funny thing was he was naturally intelligent. I don’t think he studied at all. He was just clever.
I used to study out of fear of my dad’s disapproval. I was very scared of my dad. I never really knew him. He was just this big loud spoken person who disciplined me if I was naughty. Throughout my childhood years I never liked him and when I was around 25 I had a frank chat with him to say I felt he never cared too much for me and that I do not care for him too much. The only link was the fact that we were both very fond of my mum (his wife). We have not spoken for 7 years but he is still with my mum. When I visit my mum he just makes sure he is not about.
I never really had a father to discuss ideas with or get an idea of how to be a man. I was pretty much left to my own devices. I had an excellent relationship with my mum. In fact I think my bond with my mum is made doubly strong with the fact that my mum knew that there was no bond with my father and she took it upon herself to make sure I was ok.
I think not having the support of my father just made me more scared of the whole world around me. As a boy you just do not know what the right thing to do is. If you have no guidance on matters of being a “man” you just either follow the wrong boy to get an idea of what to do or just not step up to the plate. I did the latter as it was easiest.
I never really exerted any strong opinions either way growing up. I was not the funny guy, political guy, sports guy, tough guy or musical guy. During my formative years at school I defined myself as the smart boy. I was the guy who did well at school. I was by no way a geek. I used to wear designer clothes and I knew the right people but I never put myself out there. That was because I knew I had nothing to back it up with!
If I were honest you could say I suffered from low self esteem. I probably had opinions but because I had no way I could back them up with any confidence I would shy away from expressing them. I was scared of someone challenging me, making me look stupid and me ultimately losing face. It was better to keep protecting myself by telling myself that my opinion did not count.
I read somewhere that having a strong father son relationship was essential for boys under 12 for their self esteem and I can sort of understand that. I think if you know your dad is behind what you say then you might stand up and say them. This is because you have had your dad’s approval and maybe that is all that matters when you are that age. Anyway I am not a psychoanalyst or psychologist and I am not here to blame anyone for the way I felt in the past however I felt I suffered from low self esteem.
I spoke down to myself all the time:
“No one cares what you think”
“Do not say that as you will look stupid”
“Other people know better than me as they are better than me”
This protected me from me putting myself in the firing line. I kept quiet and stuck to my role:
The quiet clever guy.
This strategy worked well for me through secondary school. I fitted in well and had an ok time. I had a laugh with my group of friends that I hanged around with at the time and continued to be the clever guy.
I was never in the popular gang however I was accepted by them. I was a classic inbetweener. Not in the geek gang, not in the sports gang, not in the bad boy gang but in the general mass of those in between all of the other gangs
When it came to girls I did not get much action! That was because I never put myself out there. I was the quiet guy. I was the brainy guy. I was not the outspoken guy, funny guy, tough guy or trendy guy.
I remember the first time I kissed a girl. We were at a party. I was aged 13. There was cider going about. I must have some but I am sure I did not get drunk. There was one girl who had got drunk and decided to kiss me. I was quite taken aback but enjoyed the experience. But the funny thing was now I was feeling confident and I saw another guy kissing a girl. He had his hand down her knickers. I watched him then he got up and left. So I went over to her and started kissing her and she obliged! I then, like a parrot, copied exactly what he did and stuck my hand down her knickers too. I did not know what I was doing however I just copied what the other guy did!
Looking back these girls were drunk. I must have associated something about girls who get drunk becoming more sexually available from then on. It is this that must have led my curiosity with alcohol and girls to pubs and nightclubs…….
Now I am going to take you on a journey of my alcohol days. It is quite a journey. So I want you to sit back, read and enjoy this trip I am going to take with me. I won’t ask you to do much but when I do I hope you do.
Ending this love affair with alcohol is easy. It really is. I want you to believe that no matter what other experts say. The reason I know that is because I did end it. Quite easily.