Taking tough steps to conquer alcoholism
“I was really popular at school. I had loads of friends and there used to be a real buzz about things I was involved with,” says a 40 year old man I will call Frank. “When I left school I was a really social guy, but at university things started to change. I became a bit of a hell-raiser. At first it was fantastic. I’d be at the bar longer than anyone else. I used to think it was very cool that I could drink anyone under the table. But over time things started to go wrong. I had all this bravado, thought I’d sail through my exams. It came as a big shock to me when I failed them. I became withdrawn and eventually dropped out. Now I can see it all really went wrong for me because of drink, drinking was a big part of my identity, part of my persona, I never thought it would become a problem”.
Drinking problems can be complicated. Because alcohol plays a big part in oiling the social wheels of life, finding out that you have a drink problem can put you in a very difficult position. In some cases it may mean that you have to change your social life to such an extent that it is no longer an option to go out with old drinking friends.
“Everything became a bit depressing, I lost a lot of friends, I found it difficult to keep jobs and I got into quite destructive relationships.” I spent a few years doing it my way. I gave up drink on my own, stopped seeing the old drinking pals. I kept sober, but I was very lonely. It was only when I started to address my loneliness and depression that things changed.”
A persona is a mask, a public face that hides us from the world. Sometimes, like with Frank, we can put on a show of bravado rather than build our personalities from more truthful and enduring aspects of identity. Frank found to his surprise, that when he got behind his hell-raising persona his life became more satisfying.
“I found that taking my problems seriously, rather than drinking and brushing them under the carpet made things much simpler for me. I feel better about myself now because I’m more honest with myself. In the old days I’d have ignored financial worries and just got drunk. Now I’m much more able to handle change and periods of uncertainty.”
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