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. Believe me, 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 I liked to live with. This concept will be understood in the course of this autobiographical account. I guess these, so-called feelings came in some kind of 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 in DAV college. Before that, I was adamant and resolute not to drink in my life. This was because my father had died of liver cirrhosis (due to over-drinking). At that time, I was 7 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, a new horrific torture. His drunkard state and my mother 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 a 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. Obviously, 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 thereafter 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 good, 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 drink normally all 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 I and my friends 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.
This continued for an 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 into my new college in 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 totally 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 everyday. And most of the times I over drank. This 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 till I reached a state of almost loosing 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. I became a critical complainer and a nagging person by nature. I was taking care of huge farm alone, a position of unaccountable behaviour. People started avoiding me. (But in the mornings , I was fine.) Now, that really hurt me … I did not want to be a LEFTOUT 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 own discomfort. My self respect and self esteem touched a new low.
I wanted to please everyone. But I just could not avoid being aggressive and rude when I was drunk. After such a state I would become a touchy kind of a person, in a negative connotation. And this high I required to get the FEEL which I was now used to. I was badly stuck… I realised it. IT IS A NEVER ENDING CIRCLE FOR ME!
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. This happened again and again . This started an unending struggle. I kept away from it for some time using my, so called, willpower and self-control, but alcohol sucked me right back in.
This started from, at 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 mostly anybody whom I could bully. I started making negative decisions. These decisions harmed business, reputation, relationships and my self esteem. This harming phases came in waves …. There were times of sanity between these long spans of anger, frustration, misery and self destructive actions.
But from inside, I was in an agony. I started thinking myself to be a ‘lesser’ being, who has a weak willpower. I started looking down upon myself. I thought I am the reason of 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 to accept it. Secondly, I didn’t want anyone to get more miserable than what I had already made them.
So, I decided to get my complete physical examination and tests done. 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 properly. It was a serious 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. This justification 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. I can’t forget the scene ever in my life. I knew I needed help. I 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. I had myself tried to stop drinking so many times. I failed to understand why all these people are asking me to do something which is impossible for me. And, why they are not realising 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 was totally addicted at 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, unending cough with a yellowish sputum, yellow eyes, distorted and swollen face, memory blankness, shivering of hands and body etc. The ultra sound revealed a grim liver condition, along with spleen and pancreatic damage. The first concern was about health. I got admitted to a leading hospital thrice in just one year. Rest is history. I was finally advised to go to “The Hermitage”. This place gave me a new LIFE.
I really 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 a rehab is not a bad and shameful place to ask for help. One should not feel guilty to stay in rehabilitation. Rehabs are not “mental hospitals”.
Unfortunately none of my, close ones ever suggested these solution but yes they keep on repeating other things such as: I am an educated and intelligent man, so 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 its not ALCOHOL.
So much IGNORANCE.
My new life began. Like a new born, 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, The Hermitage, Dr. Bhatia and all the members of my recovery family.