Many people think that becoming the victim of alcoholism is the worst part of life, and such people cannot succeed in giving up their drinking addiction. However, this is not always true. Just read this success story of how this victim of alcoholism gave up drinking with the help of genuine doctors and rehabilitation efforts. Here the story begins:
No one starts drinking with the thought that he/she will become an alcoholic, and neither did I.
Yes, I started drinking because I enjoyed the “KICK” that Alchohol gives. That’s amazing, being happy all the time. But I could never imagine that this happiness will make me a drunkard.
It was not just the quantity, but this “FEEL GOOD FACTOR” makes you take more. Then you can blame situations, the atmosphere, the mental and physical state. However, mainly, it depended on the orchestrated BELIEFS with which I liked to live. This concept one can understand in the course of this autobiographical account. I guess these so-called feelings came in some patterns.
Let me narrate this near-death ordeal of mine, in bits and pieces, roughly put together, as I remember them.
I vividly remember that I took the first sip of alcohol on my 18th birthday, in Chandigarh in 1991. At that time, I was studying in 12th grade at DAV college. Before that, I was adamant and resolute not to drink in my life, because my father died of liver cirrhosis (due to over-drinking). At that time, I was seven years old. I had seen hell because of his love for alcoholism. I had seen my mother suffered a lot due to this. Every day, new horrific torture. His drunkard state and my mother are going through agony.
Every evening, my mother used to wait until when nobody knows for my dad to come so that they can have food together, which had become ritualistic mayhem at my home. I did not understand much. Finances were fine; mom had everything, then why so much misery. It was all due to alcohol; this I realized later. I was sadistically happy on the day he had died.
Therefore I resolute that whatever happens, l will never drink. But, that day on my birthday, my brother- in- law and my sister came, they were newly married. We moved out for lunch to celebrate. And suddenly, I see the best of champagne cork popped. It was pre-planned. It was supposed to be a pleasant surprise for me. The whole dining of that five-star hotel’s restaurant, along with its staff members, were embarrassing me to take a sip. And I did. (Today, I wish I should have refused them at that moment).
My sister and brother-in-law keep blaming themselves for all the destruction that followed after that in my life. But, no one knows what lies in your future. Coming back to the celebrations, I could see a well-arranged, awesome 5-star party all set for fun and enjoyment. The love which these people poured onto me was beyond my expression. For me to refuse to sip, champagne was impossible. And also, no one starts drinking to become a drunkard, right ?!?
That was my first, and I declared that it is going to be the last. But, frankly speaking, those few sips of alcohol made the world seem so right, the life worth living, and I started to love myself.
So, I thought, “I had done it, take a drink, and I did not have any urges or cravings.
Great!! I thought that means it was my father who did not do it correctly. He lost his will-power, his control; he LOST it, I concluded. After that, I was sure that I will and CAN regularly drink throughout my life, like most of the people around me. Nothing happened to them.
Then I started drinking occasionally. Initially, it gave me a lot of confidence, improved my public relations, especially with the opposite sex, it was trendy and cool. It gave me a sense of the “oomph factor.” It was also a measure of MANHOOD, at least that’s what my friends and I thought at that age. So, I didn’t see any negatives in drinking, and I was in MY CONTROL. I thought I CAN DRINK…. much frequently.
It continued for a year or two. During this period, I had a few and scanty hangovers, a few black-outs, which were brushed aside with the morning “lassi (Buttermilk) and buttered paranthas “… the Punjabi (Indian) way.
Then, I went to my new college at Delhi University in 1992. It was a different world, much more vibrant and potent for alcoholism comparative to the small and conservative Chandigarh city. There the atmosphere & situations were different. Like most of the outsiders, I was also desperate to fit into the world of DU… This NEED gave rise to my being part of a group in the hostel who drank, sometimes they even smoked up. Now I started drinking every day. And most of the time I over drank. It is the “peer pressure ” we keep on speaking about, I guess.
Now, the next stage was when I required heavy drinking along with smoking to get the HIGH. This high lasted for a much shorter time now. So, I carried on drinking until I reached a state of almost losing consciousness. I would either gulp in the food or sleep without eating at all. In the morning, I used to repent and feel guilty.
After completing my graduation in 1995, drinking was a routine. I usually did not remember whether I had food or not in the night. And, I became a critical complainer and a nagging person by nature. I was taking care of a huge farm alone, a position of unaccountable behavior. People started avoiding me. (But in the mornings, I was fine.) Now, that hurt me. I did not want to be a LEFT OUT person. I took pride in being a courteous, gentle, considerate, and compassionate human being. Now, I started to make people happy at the expense of my discomfort. My self-respect and self-esteem touched a new low.
I wanted to please everyone. But I was not able to control my aggressiveness and rudeness after I was drunk. After such a state, I would become a touchy kind of person with a negative connotation. This high I required to get the FEEL, and I became constant of this.
After this, my internal struggle and fight with drinking started. When I used to drink, I felt guilty, shameful, and even more miserable. Instead of it giving me comfort, it gave me more pain. It happened again and again. It started a constant struggle. I kept away from it for some time using my, so-called, willpower and self-control, but alcohol sucked me right back in.
It started from around marriage in 1997 and lasted for around 7 – 10 years till 2005 or so. Slowly, during this struggle, my frustration and anger converted into aggression and loud outbursts on my family, my staff, and most anybody whom I could bully. I started making adverse decisions. Those decisions harmed business, reputation, relationships, and self-esteem. There were times of sanity between these long spans of anger, frustration, misery, and self-destructive actions.
But from inside, I was in agony. I started thinking myself to be a ‘lesser’ being, who has weak willpower. And, I started looking down upon myself. I thought I am the reason for pain and destruction for my children, my wife, and everyone closely connected with me. Also, at this stage, I became physically weak and fragile. I lost my confidence and pride. But, I did not let anyone see that. My ego stopped me from accepting it. Secondly, I didn’t want anyone to get more miserable than what I had already made them.
So, I went for my complete physical examination and tests. I had to keep it secret, so I went to Faridkot, which is about 30 km from Firozpur, my home town. In Ferozpur, I thought that everyone knew me.
All my fears came true; my liver was not functioning correctly. It was a difficult situation. But, I chose to ignore it because the doctor had recommended further examinations. And he had asked me to LEAVE drinking till the next tests.
Then, till 2006-7, I blamed the whole thing on my circumstances and family, who, I believed, never understood me. I went into the self-pity mode. I kept on repeating these repentances in my mind. Making a self-belief that others are the culprit and the reason for all my misery and PAIN. These are the ‘self-beliefs’ I spoke about earlier. It just made me drink even more till I reached a stage of total DESPAIR.
Now, at this point, I did not care for anything or anybody. I even almost ran over my 11-year-old son when he tried to stop me from drinking. And I can’t forget the scene ever in my life. I knew I needed help and wanted to get out of this terrible situation but didn’t know-how. I wanted to DIE!
At this stage, alcohol had become my only hope for survival. Everyone tried to make me aware of my grim situation, medically, physically, mentally, etc. But, I already knew it. I was not MAD, and I had tried to stop drinking so many times. I failed to understand why all these people are asking me to do something impossible for me. And why they do not realize that I will not be able to sleep or eat or digest or relax. Or even get-up and open my eyes in the morning. Yes, I got addicted to that stage. And no way out.
Finally, that stage came when medical complications started. Blood in my urine was the last straw, which happened after days of indigestion, constant cough with yellowish sputum, yellow eyes, distorted and swollen face, memory blankness, shivering of hands and body, etc. The ultrasound revealed a grim liver condition, along with the spleen and pancreatic damage. The first concern was health, and I have to go to a leading hospital thrice in just one year. The rest is history. I was finally advised to go to “The Hermitage.” This place gave me a new LIFE.
I wish that at an earlier stage someone had uttered these words, that becoming addicted is a “Disease” and not a weakness of character, that it needs “Willingness” and not will- the power to get away from this habit of drinking. And that rehab is not a wrong and shameful place to ask for help. One should not feel guilty about staying in rehabilitation. Detoxes are not “mental hospitals.”
Unfortunately, none of my close ones ever suggested these solutions. Still, yes, they keep on repeating other things such as I am an educated and intelligent man so that I could control myself. Even my family did not think I required it, even though all of them are well educated. Nobody knew that it’s a disease and that it is not ALCOHOL.
So much IGNORANCE.
My new life began. Like a newborn, I went through a painful process while evolving for a new life. I learned how to live again. All this happened because my WIFE understood something extraordinary!! This ‘something’ was so simple, yet so complicated that only 2-3% of the world understands it. Today, I am alive, happy, enjoying every moment of life, emancipated from shackles of the Disease. Namrata (Rosy Bhandari), my wife won me BACK FROM THE DEAD! Thank you, my love, my savior. I love you.
Thank you, God, for The Hermitage, Dr. Bhatia, and all the members of my recovery family.
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