Age 28 – 33
Smoking, occasional drug use and daily binge drinking
At age 28 I was a free man. I was free from an employer and I could do literally what I wanted. I also was single. I was no longer with Lucy so I had no one to answer to (not that I listened to Lucy anyway!).
At age 28 I was still hanging about in the town I grew up in. I had managed to find people to drink with in the day (if they were up for it) and in the evening. I remember I had my DJ decks at a friend’s house, Karina, and I was seeing a girl that was a friend of Karina’s called Elaine.
Elaine loved to drink. We had a lot of benders together but we would always end up fighting. When I say fighting I mean her bashing me when I had wound her up too far. Karina lived near the town centre so whenever me and Elaine stayed round there the temptation to go out was always strong.
Karina’s ex-boyfriend Darren came round one time and he went out with Elaine for a drink. By the time they had come back Darren was convinced I was seeing Karina. He explained to Elaine that he was going to beat me up because he thought it was wrong.
I remember looking in to his eye and explaining to him that Karina is just a friend and eventually, with the help of Elaine, he calmed down and realised it was a stupid idea. The drink had got the better of him and I was glad it did.
It made me realise who I was hanging around with. The town I came from had above average unemployment, above average social housing and above average crime rates. I knew a lot of people who were either unsavoury or knew unsavoury people. That was just the way it was in the town.
Coming in to near scrapes was part and parcel of growing up. I had taken a few beats before but I realised that my home town, as much as I loved it, was holding me down. I needed to get out of the town and start a new life and make something of myself. Technically I was unemployed, had no money (all I had was an overdraft) and nowhere to live
I decided to cut ties and move to Chigwell in Essex. I rented a room off a guy Tony, whom I still know to this day, for £55 per week. When I moved in he moved out! He had started seeing this girl and he was staying there all the time so I was left in the flat pretty much on my own.
Since I had decided to give up drugs I thought I could really indulge in my drinking. I think I had issues with doing drugs. It was a pain to get “sorted”, the quality was always flaky and ultimately you did not know what was in them! At the time there was a lot of publicity about “don’t do drugs” and “Just say no” etc. that my consciousness got the better of me and I thought drugs are not the way forward. However this was not the case with the drink.
In fact with the drink the opposite was true. No one was saying “do not drink” or “just say no to drink”. There were posters of drink companies all around me showing people having a great time whilst drinking. This all said to me is that drinking is ok. So in my mind I thought I was doing myself a great benefit by saying no to drugs and yes to alcohol.
This was the trigger for me to be ok with drinking alone. So at age 28 I took my first drink alone. It was great. It did not signal to me that I had a drinking problem. It just meant that I no longer needed to think of something to do whilst at home. I cannot really remember what I used to do when I was younger and I was on my own. I imagined I would watch TV or something and then go to bed. But now I could actually have fun, at home on my own!
Before I moved in I had gone to France to get some cheap booze. I bought about 30 crates of strong lager called Skona (my friends called it Skoda!) for less than 50p a can. When I moved in with Tony I got him to help me unload the 30 crates and pile them up in my room. God knows what he must have thought when I was moving in however he did not say a word! He just helped me load the crates in my room and then said “see yer later!”
So I would drink my 2 cans every night, have a great time with or without people and built a business from this little room in a small flat in Chigwell. Total cost of getting pissed £1. Still no recognition that I had a problem.
I met a girl Emma and we got on really well. Only after 6 months did she mention something about my drinking. She was only 19 however she made a throwaway comment to my question “do you think I lack confidence?” which she answered:
“Is that why you drive a big car, chase money and drink beer every night?”
It was a funny comment which we laughed about however she had linked my drinking of beer with lacking in confidence. How did she know that? She was my sweet 19 year old who as a little naïve in life. How wrong I was about her and people in general.
Now let me tell you everyone knows why people drink they just do not like to say it. Drinking makes someone feel confident. So if you know someone who drinks you know on some level they do not feel confident about themselves hence they need that confidence boost. That is what is so great about alcohol. It makes you feel how you want to be. Confident. It is a confidence boost in a can or a glass. Within minutes you can go from feeling unconfident and uncomfortable in your own skin to the person you truly believe you are. How magical is that.
And the good thing is this stuff is legal, is drunk by successful people and actually has some medical benefits if drank sensibly. I was only drinking 2 cans so how bad is that? In my mind alcohol was amazing.
Forget the notion that alcohol makes you relaxed. All it does is make you feel more comfortable with yourself. It changes the way you feel. This in turn helps you come to terms with yourself, the people around you and what is going on in your life.
Over the next 5 years I drank daily, built a successful business, made a very good friend and met my wife….