Posts Tagged ‘quit’
“I told you I was trouble,” Amy Winehouse sang, “You know that I’m no good.”
For me, that’s the most poignant lyric she ever wrote. It sums up the mind of an addict. You see, it wasn’t a brag; it was a mixture of ‘keep away’ and ‘help me’.
How do I know? Because not so long ago, I was Amy Winehouse.
For most addicts, there’s a constant presence on your shoulder telling you you’re not good enough, that somehow, you’re ‘less’ than everyone out there. Your thoughts go round like a washing machine on high-speed. The noise in your head is constant, loud and harsh. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a rich and famous popstar, or Mary Taylor in Islington, homeless and sleeping rough in a shop doorway; it’s that same mindset. Alcohol and drugs are merely the medication.
Addiction isn’t fun. Addiction isn’t “Let’s go to the pub and get pissed and have a right laugh” or “Let’s get fucked on drugs and get up to mischief”. Addiction is lonely, terrifying and insidious. Oh, sure, you start out like everyone else, a few drinks here and there, a dabble or two in something a little harder. You don’t realise when it stops being fun, but it does. Suddenly you find yourself alone in a room, afraid to go out, because ‘outside’ is too damn scary.
So you take that hit, and for a short while, the noise stops. Peace through oblivion. Then you come around and the noise starts again, louder this time, and coupled with the anxiety, fear and terror that come with withdrawal. So you take another hit. Sweet, blessed relief. And somewhere in the back of your mind you hope you don’t wake up from this one. You’re nothing but trouble, you see. All you cause is pain and worry.
I read a fantastic blog by Russell Brand today, in which he said:
“When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction, you await the phonecall. There will be a phonecall. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone. Frustratingly it’s not a call you can ever make — it must be received.”
The problem is, addiction is the only disease in existence that tells you that you haven’t got it. Lock an addict away and they’ll be looking for an escape, or biding their time and playing the ‘yes, I’m fine now’ role until they’re alone again. I’ve had people in the kitchen pouring drink away while I’ve been climbing out of the bedroom window on my way to buy more.
I’ve been a day out of hospital after being found in my flat, hours away from death, and already I’m figuring out where I can get hold of some gear. I believed the booze and drugs were giving me something. In fact, it was the opposite. They were hollowing me out, alienating my friends and family and slowly stripping me of all that was real and good.
Sadly, all the love and support in the world wasn’t going to help Amy get better. She was trotted out on stage at every opportunity to make money for her record company. She didn’t have the luxury I’ve had of anonymity, of being left alone so she could get better. Contracts had been signed and albums were due. Her star had to keep shining, and all the while the press were snapping at her heels, waiting for her to fall again.
I can’t imagine anything more frightening than the whole world waiting with bated breath for me to fuck up, then posting it on YouTube when I do.
Yesterday evening, people shut down Facebook and Twitter on their computers, still in shock and disbelief at this tragedy, before heading off down to the pubs and clubs for a well-deserved weekend blowout.
Mary in Islington sits down in her shop doorway, begging for a few coins to get a can of beer. Just a little something to help take the edge off. You might have seen her last night, she may have come up to ask you for some change, desperate and devoid of pride, but like a lot of people, you probably looked away, annoyed and uncomfortable.
Sunday morning rolls around, and half of London wakes up with a hangover. Some might even still be going. iTunes seizes the opportunity to promote Amy’s albums on its homepage to make some cash, and somewhere in Islington, an ambulance arrives to take away the body of a homeless woman found dead in a shop doorway.
And all over the world, recovering addicts wake up and pray to a God they’re not even sure exists for the strength to stay clean one more day.
The world carries on. Then somewhere, a phone rings.
This is what I learned on holiday in Ibiza:
- I’m never again flying from Stansted…
…and the same goes for flying with Ryanair.
- Getting a tan may be bad for the skin…
…but it’s incredibly good for the soul.
- My friends are even more fantastic than I realised…
…and my best friend knows me frighteningly well.
- A jetski is guaranteed to make you look cool…
…and even falling off one is fun.
- Most of the island’s public toilets have run out of soap…
…and the hand dryers are all broken too.
- Mixing beer, mojitos, caramel vodka shots and gin is a tremendously bad idea after six months off booze…
…and smoking on top of it doesn’t help the situation.
- I never used to get knackered after five minutes of dancing…
…and my stomach never used to wobble either.
- The film ‘I, Robot’ in Spanish translates as ‘Yo, Robot’…
…and this makes me laugh like a seal.
- Laughing can make you forget you’re hurting…
…even if it’s only for a few seconds.
- I learned that saying goodbye always hurts like hell…
…but even more so when it’s your decision.
- And that I don’t know what’s worse — only having part of someone…
…or not having them at all.
- That sometimes you shouldn’t dare to hope…
…because it can be as destructive as despair.
- And when you’re missing the person you love…
…there’s little difference between one mile and a thousand.
- That you can run as far as you like from a broken heart…
…but eventually you have to return and try to mend it.
- And even though I didn’t want to come back…
…it’s also really nice to be home.
I’m about to embark on one of the most difficult journeys I’ve ever made.
Here I go.
I’m giving up alcohol in the new year.
There. It’s out. It’s public. No going back.
There are a couple of reasons behind my decision.
Reason number one: I simply want to see if I can do it. After all, it’s a big old challenge. Booze is the lubricant that greases the wheels of new friendships, flirting and one night stands. How different will life be without that crutch to fall back on?
Reason number two: I desperately want to give up smoking.
My problem with smoking and drinking is that as soon as I get even a whiff of an alcoholic substance, I’m overcome with the craving to stick a fag in my gob and puff away.
This would be fine if I could limit myself to social smoking, but for me, it’s all or nothing. It starts with accepting every social invitation I get just so I have an excuse to smoke. Then before long, it’s crept back into my daily routine like bindweed in an untended garden.
Reason number three: As I hurtle further along the road of thirtysomething-ness, the effects of too much beer and wine tend to hang around a lot longer than a simple next-day hangover. Namely on my belly.
Having spent my entire twenties being the envy of my friends because I had abs you could bounce a fifty pence piece off of, this is, as you can imagine, somewhat horrifying.
So all in all, a couple of really good reasons to ban the booze.
So why does the thought of a life without alcohol strike utter terror into my heart?
Far from it being socially acceptable to be teetotal, most people look at you like you’ve grown an extra head when you ask for a soft drink instead of a beer.
Having just spent Christmas on antibiotics and therefore tipple-free, I found myself getting mildly irritated as my family and friends slowly became louder and gigglier as the day wore on. I felt like I was on a different wavelength.
And what is this going to do for my sex life? No longer will I have the ‘confidence’ to walk up to fit boys in bars and devastate them with (what I believe to be) my witty repartee.
Am I going to become *gasp* boring?
Before I go and hurl myself into the Thames, let’s look at the positives:
- I’m going to lose my rapidly expanding beer belly
- I might make it to the gym on a Saturday morning for once
- I might actually kick the fags for good
- I’m going to be a hell of a lot healthier (see points 2 and 3)
- I won’t waste my weekends dying on the sofa with a hangover
- I’ll stop snogging guys I wouldn’t fancy in a million years if I was sober
- I won’t wake up in a strange bed and recoil in horror at the person lying next to me
- I might actually make it through a party without creeping off to a bedroom somewhere to crash out for an hour
- I can laugh at my friends when they get into a state and remind them of what they did when I see them the next day
Hmm, this is actually looking a lot better than it did a few minutes ago.
So I guess mine’s an orange juice.
Well, for a while, anyway…
I’m sick of smoking. I really am.
I’m sick of paying six quid every single day, I’m sick of putting on clothes that should smell like washing powder but smell stale and old instead. I’m sick of having yellow fingers, I’m sick of getting jittery when I run out or haven’t had one for an hour or so. I’m sick of having no money at the end of the month, I’m sick of the fact that given the choice as to whether I eat or smoke, I’ll choose the cigarettes every time.
So can someone please tell me why I stood in the middle of Soho Square yesterday after a fairly successful week of abstinence, inhaling from a fag with a look of such bliss on my face you’d have thought I was getting the blow job of my life?
I had my first cigarette at the age of eleven. After mercilessly baiting my father for as long as I can remember about wanting to smoke like him, he sat in front of me, lit a cigarette and told me to finish the whole one in front of him.
So that’s exactly what I did. Perhaps I had been fortified from passive smoking, perhaps my natural stubbornness drove me to show old Pa I wasn’t going to be beaten, but there was no coughing, no spluttering, not even a gag. I happily puffed away like I had been doing it all my life.
And guess what? I enjoyed it.
I know when I took it up full time at the age of seventeen I was probably trying to fit in, but I felt like smoking suited me. It felt good having a fag in my hand. Smoking appeals to the bad boy image, it smacks of not playing by the rules, of being a bit edgy. Think James Dean, the cast of Grease, Sharon Stone in the interrogation scene from Basic Instinct. You wouldn’t take any of them home to meet your mother, but they’d sure as hell give you a good time in the sack.
Fast forward thirteen years and I’ve decided I’m done with the demon darts. It’s not sexy, it stinks. It’s not cool to be standing outside in the freezing cold in winter because you’re banished by law from every bar and club. Shamefully walking into the off licence at the end of the road with my last £2.50 and buying the cheapest pack of ten on the shelf is just plain sad.
So why do I kick them time and time again just to go and ruin it all for a few minutes of feeling like a “bad boy” again?
Am I so utterly seduced by the marketing that I’m still clinging desperately to the rebelliousness of my teens? Would I really feel that incomplete without cigarettes? Am I so weak that I can’t cope with just a few days of feeling a bit uncomfortable while I kill of a few nicotine receptors?
Am I not ready to give up yet, or was I just born to smoke?