Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vodka Credit Card

Genius: The Best of Warren ZevonImage via WikipediaOn January 4th, 2012, I made my final payment on an outrageously high credit card account that I first acquired late in 2002. It came as something of a surprise as I rarely check mail from the company that arrive every fortnight for nine years. After I got sober in early 2007, one of the first of things that I focused on was making fortnightly payments.

Why did I let my credit card totally out of control? Simple. I was totally out of control.

My marriage ended in March, 2002 and I returned to live with my parents. Towards the end of the year  a former Nursing colleague rang me and asked if I wanted to be a house-sitter for three months while she was on extended leave in Perth, Western Australia. I jumped at the opportunity. All I needed were my clothes and my recording equipment. I moved into the house the next day while she flew out later that day. Within hours, I began drinking....heavily (again).

For the first few weeks, with the exception of the times my children were staying with me, I was in an alcoholics heaven. I decided that I wasn't in a rush to return to Nursing. I did decide, however, that I'd have to find a financial supplement to the money that I had called upon from my superannuation fund. It came to me during a mid-morning drinking session. It was the same day that one of my closest friends rang to tell me that Joe Strummer from 'The Clash' had died unexpectedly. I had a few drinks using his death as an excuse.

I then took it upon myself to inquire about a credit card. Fifteen minutes later I had a sum of money that I remain too embarrassed to mention deposited in my bank account. I called a taxi and withdrew the lot. I hadn't even signed a piece of paper! On the way home, I got the taxi driver to drop by the bottleshop (liquor store) where I gingerly purchased a box of twelve bottles of vodka. This was to become a dangerous practise. More of that later.

Within a few weeks, my vodka habit reached over a bottle a day....every day. The only exception at this point, was when my children were staying with me.

My Nursing friend arrived home a few weeks earlier than expected. She arrived at 11.30pm on a Friday. I immediately told her that I wasn't long home from the pub. She bought this lie and ended up having quite a few glasses of wine herself. The following morning I awoke around 5.30am and took my first cup of vodka. By the time my friend awoke, I was half-way through a bottle of vodka. I'm not a person who handles guilt well. I sat her down, explained my situation with alcohol and that I would vacate her house by the following Monday. She said that this wasn't necessary but by the time Monday morning arrived she witnessed the extent of my alcohol abuse over the remainder of the weekend and voiced her concern.

I made sure that I was sober on Monday morning and called a Real Estate agent who knew me personally. To cut a long story short, by mid-day on that Monday I had moved completely into my own two bedroom house. It was perfect. Plenty of room for my children plenty of nearby amenities for them.

As things panned out, my children wouldn't be staying at me 'new' house until the following Monday. This meant that I could drink to my hearts content until the night before they arrived. So I did. It was during this one week that my vodka habit reached two bottles a day.

The only time that I didn't drink was when I had an upcoming acoustic gig (which I eventually gave away due to the urge to drink) and again, when my children were staying with me. Having said this, I had previously suffered a few alcoholic seizures. I was generally given a 30 minute warning, or 'aura.' This occurred twice when my children were with me. I had to sneak through to my bedroom & have a cup of vodka as a preventative. Fortunately, due to my extremely high tolerance, my children were unaware of my intake or effects. Now that they are older, my children have told me that they were never aware of my alcohol intake directly but were aware of it as being the cause of my marriage breakdown.

From that time on, I got set in a relatively predictable path to the outsider; namely that I was an alcoholic. To me, however, I was initially having a great time. I never missed a second of cricket on the television, watched the news when I remembered and so forth. My favourite pastime was putting on the television, turning the sound down and putting on my favourite music, namely The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon, The Faces and Free.

It was during this period that I started losing my grip on reality. Forgetting what day it was, not knowing if it was dusk or dawn, numerous bumps and bruises by falling over or bumping into objects....all without leaving the house.

On my visits into town, which were usually spurned by one of those drunken, "it seemed like a good idea at the time." I would always wear a hat and sunglasses in a poor attempt at disguising myself. People who 'knew' me or had worked with me would cross the road to avoid me. I know this for a fact as my ex-wife told me some years later. This didn't bother me as I had nothing to say to them. Even to this day I have nothing to say to many of them as rumours began surfacing that I was on drugs, namely heroin. Anyone who knows the first thing about me know my views on illicit drugs. I could have been drug tested at any given time during my 5-year bender and there would have been no drugs, illicit or otherwise, would have shown up.

My final wake-up call came at 11.30am on April, 27th, 2007. I was driving back from the bottleshop with two bottles of vodka. I was pulled over as part of a random breath test. I blew 0.28%. I had not consumed alcohol since approximately 11pm the previous evening. I was astounded, as were the Police. Once I was 'processed' at the Police Station, they were kind enough to stop at my car in order for me to obtain the two bottles of vodka and driving me home.

On arriving home, I drank the first bottle of vodka in approximately 15 minutes. I then had a moment of 'drunken clarity.' I couldn't go on living like this. I had been hospitalised on numerous occasions due to seizures, my anxiety levels were through the roof and I really didn't enjoy drinking for the past twelve months.
I rang my parents who lived an hour away. In the hour that it took them to arrive at my house, I had made my way comfortably through the second bottle of vodka.

On arriving back in Stanley, Tasmania, I slept for the best part of three days and suffered what would be my last alcoholic seizure. I spent one night in hospital. Two days later I made my first repayment to my credit card....and yesterday was my final one.

Today I am sober.

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  1. Wow! Two bottles a day. You are truly lucky to be alive.

    When I was at my worst, I was drinking three bottles of wine a day. If I drank a bottle of Vodka, it would have probably killed me. Luckily I've never been a Spirits man or my problem would have been far worse!

    You should be really proud of the turnaround you have made. It takes so much strength to walk away from that!


    Dale :)

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