Being a man is not easy. Growing up is tough – there are expectations – to provide, to be strong, to be athletic, to be good with the ladies and to be a success. There are norms – drink hard, play hard, work hard and be hard. It is difficult to hit all the nails on the all the heads.
As life progresses and you find yourself away from the path you envisaged for yourself, you might find yourself drinking harder and playing harder than you should. You may not even notice it – slowly you forget about that dream you had as a kid or a teenager.
Life gets in the fucking way
You need a job. You get a job. The pay is shit or poorly mediocre. The career path is more side street in Waterford than Times Square New York. Life is ok. You still play your sport, but not like you thought you could have. You feel a little empty some days but you pick up and crack on.
Then you take to drinking a little more. Why the feic not? Weekends are there to be enjoyed, and what better way to enjoy than getting on the lash. Some days it will be sitting supping on high stools – ordering the creamiest of Guinness from old barmen who take almost too long to pour a pint.
Some days it will be beer gardens and pint bottles of Bulmers in Hazy May sunshine. Some nights will be mental dicsos and clubs drinking JD and Coke or Captain Morgans and Dry. Some nights will become mornings and nights again.
Partying takes over.
After a certain while, you forget that this was meant to be once or twice a month. It becomes Thursday through Sunday and a cure on Tuesday for the blues. You become manic. Family question you but you laugh things off.
Sure I’m only having the craic you shower of ninnies!!! (whatever a ninny is)
Apart from 3 years when I was on the Dubs GAA from 28 to 31, I was partying. When I say partying I mean acting out the life of a drunken mad man. And the off season with the Dubs was not spent twiddling my thumbs either.
I spent years on the session. Years – Drinking longer and harder than most. I took pride in my ability to consume and not get too paralytic. I spent a decade looking for drinks, consuming pints and looking for highs.
I knew I had a bit more of a problem than others. When most people went home, I would keep going. I would carry on on my own, at parties I wasn’t invited to, drinking with people whose names I couldn’t remember, in clubs on my own…stumbling around streets.
I would talk more shite than a lorry of pig poo. I was a belligerent and a pesterer of women. I fancied myself something chronic and the drink brought this out ten-fold.
All night and next day drinking sessions were the norm on weekends – no sleep. I was well able for it. I loved it. I relished the mad, random situations and chronic absurdities I would find, create and ignite.
I felt nothing more than happiness when I sat in a pub and regarded the first pint of the day. I would address it slowly and when it hit the back of my neck and I felt that cool honeyed liquid parch my scorching throat, I would utter blissful and satisfied murmurings.
“Ahhhhhhhh, that’s better”
If I knew then what I knew now….
Would you change the past if you knew the future? It is an impossible question to answer. I have no regrets about wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars, Euro’s and pounds. I have no regrets about spending so many years locked in a battle with the daemons.
I have no regrets for one reason and it is a very good reason – I won the battle. I came out the other side in my early thirties and took control of my life as it slipped away. I was heading for the pit, I was on a one way ticket for Useless, next stop train wreck.
My mind was creaking under the pressure of my habits. Drinking and drugs had wormed their way into everything I was doing. I simply could not handle it anymore.
I wanted it to stop
Coming clean about my problems was the most important step for me. That day one when I realised that I would have to knock this lifestyle on the head. I was one of those who could not handle it. I was one of those who became consumed by it. I was weak when I thought I was strong.
But I was strong enough to admit it – I wanted to stop.
Admitting I had to change was a huge relief. It took me almost a year to get sober. I did it myself and I did it my way. I thought if I was strong enough to get myself into this situation, I was strong enough to get myself out.
I always say to people that only you can tell if you have a problem or not. No one else knows what is really going on in your head. If you think you are ok, then you probably are. But if you are lying to yourself, living in la la land, then you could end up pushing away everyone who ever loved you in life.
There is a good chance your future will be a short lonely and pitiful one.
Get back on your Path
For those who have issues then the important thing is to get back on the right path. There are all kinds of books, videos, groups and counsellors that can help you. But I would ask you to write down the answer to this
– What path do I want to be on in life?
Then write down the steps you think you need to get back on this path. Then confide in your family or a friend(s) and tell them what you are going through. You will be amazed at how people respond. People who love you will support you and you will get through it.
Would I change the past? No. But if my younger self came to the conclusions I did when I was older, then maybe he would have changed his mind earlier.
Or maybe not.
At the end of the day, it is up to you….