I am an alcoholic, a term I have struggled to come to terms with but one which I have come to accept. It’s been a difficult journey getting here, but it’s the best decision I have made in the last 20 years from a personal point of view.
How did it all start? Hard to say, but from the age of 18 I have always enjoyed a drink. My first taste of alcohol came via my father, I was 5 or 6. I remember my dad entertaining his friends and me asking for a sip of his cold glass of beer (can’t the remember brand, this was in the mid seventies).
I know some readers will struggle with the idea of a father giving his 5 or 6 year old a sip of beer, but my father wasn’t ignorant or illiterate, he was a chartered accountant and a brilliant one too. Within 6 years of qualifying as an accountant and returning to Nigeria from England, he had risen to the post of Chief accountant at one of the largest companies in the country. Though a flawed man in some ways, he was absolutely brilliant.
To my dad, it was probably a little bit of indulgence, or maybe he wanted to put me off due to the taste. To me it brought me closer to him and I recall enjoying the bitter yet refreshing taste of it. From then on I looked forward to having a taste of beer. On my way from school, I would dream of having a cold sip of beer whilst walking home with my mother, it remained a dream because I never got my dad to indulge me again.
I would get to taste alcohol again at the age of 9, but my first real drink was when I was 14 or 15 (maybe even 13), it was at Port Harcourt International Airport and the last day of term. I ordered a bottle of merit and a bottle of Sprite to dilute it (I have no idea why I ordered the Sprite). To be honest, I was surprised that I got served alcohol, I have always looked younger than my age (not anymore though, currently fed up with being called “Sa” here in Lagos, maybe it’s the grey hair and belly), at 18 I looked 13 and unable to get into Shrine and at 23 I needed ID to buy cigarettes when I moved to the UK.
I enjoyed every sip of the Merit/Sprite mix and got a weird buzz, something I have never felt again while drinking, for those who smoke, it’s like the buzz you get from the first drag after not smoking for a few days. We boarded the plane and it was my best flight from Port Harcourt in the 6 years I spent there. It was a DC 10 if I remember correctly and it was only because the plane had brought passengers from Lagos and was picking up passengers en-route to the UK or US via Lagos. The plane was half empty, since the usual flight was with a 737 and later the new Airbus 310 (That was when Nigeria Airways was worth it’s salt).
That I believe was my journey to where I find myself today, an overweight alcoholic husband and father to three boys. With this post I’m taking my first step to a new life, I hope to recover from what I see as a disease.
Over the next few weeks and months I’ll try to blog about my journey to becoming an alcoholic and hopefully (touch wood), my journey to recovery.