For Alcohol Awareness Week 2021, the theme is Alcohol and Relationships. The following blog has been written by Rory, a follow-on blog from Wednesday’s blog with Tich.
Tich has been a constant thread throughout my life. From Boys Brigade where I met him 34 years ago aged 11, through to most recently where he was my first stop in Scotland when visiting post [lockdown] restrictions. He is there at all of the key points – birthdays, Christmas, weddings, but the memory of each is always overlaid by how well he was at that point. Like the school trip to Prague where in hindsight Tich was drunker than everyone else, his 30th birthday party that lasted 3 days. The constant calls where everything always seemed to be someone else’s fault and could he borrow some money. Doing everything you could to support but seeing his family break down when his kids were toddlers broke my heart. The joy our friendship gave us was always tinged by my concern for him and the impact of his alcoholism.
The visits to rehab have been the defining points, each brought a reset and with it some of the old Tich remerging. Helping you get to rehab has always been instinctive but I know that I have never borne the main impacts of your addiction, it was always partners, employers and your kids.
I have felt complicit at times, but I’ve always tried to enjoy our friendship, but be there if you wanted to make more positive decisions. The first two rehab visits didn’t bring true sobriety, but they were important steps on the journey and gave me insight into how hard it is to get support, and the importance of friends and family to enable the support and provide encouragement at all stages. I’ll never forget being in a restaurant with my folks and your girlfriend calling to say you’d overdosed as you thought that was the only way you were going to get admitted to rehab. I then had to hobble over as fast as I could to you with a broken leg (in any other situation this would have been funny). After being told we’d wait hours for an ambulance, my dad drove you to the hospital, we were dismayed that you were released after a few hours. Looking back, the support from myself and others the next day in getting you to a doctor without drinking and working you through the process for NHS rehab was key and it wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
But it is the memory around the most recent rehab which most sticks in my mind. Not long after leaving rehab, you relapsed. I was in France for my Dad’s 70th and I had to drive to a layby to call you. I was so emotionally drained, a lot of us had overstretched ourselves financially to get the rehab and I suppose this was my rock bottom. I just said, “I can’t do this anymore” and I really felt like I couldn’t. Perhaps it was the rock bottom we all needed to hit. I certainly felt it, I cried a lot.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the 12 step process but it was quite emotional to see you write our journey down with so much clarity, reflection and eloquence, you can feel the process you’ve gone through in the words. Without understanding yourself and your addiction alongside the impact on others, it’s hard to see how you can address them. In understanding these things it has given you the confidence to move forward without alcohol. It’s revealed the person I knew when I met you.
I now know that the drive for change needs to come from the person who needs it but you can do everything you can to make sure they are aware of what support is available for them. I read up on them so that I could provide additional support if required, over time a lot of people who know our experience have come to me for advice and I am happy I have enough understanding to at least help them with the basics of the type of support available, the process and how a friend can help.
A big part of this is to speak to people like Scottish Families and with that understand how much emotional turmoil it is putting you under. Always remember who that person is at heart, that’s not gone away. You have your limits but beyond them do everything you can to be there for them and remember that the person you knew is always still there.
Every step of what Tich has achieved is significant, brave and also terrifying. Praise is justified and important. I have always tried to help with some of my coping mechanisms like exercise and provide you with the sort of support that everyone should have.
I maintained my support in the memory of the Tich I knew from school and it has been a joy getting him back. It has been incredibly emotional. I can see that your recovery has been done in a structured steady way, driven by all of the support available to you in Glasgow. I can’t see how it would have happened without these and I can’t recommend them enough. I am immensely proud of how you have rebuilt your life and who you have become over this period.
Over the past 5 years, we’ve developed a new relationship, it’s far more two-way, he is a big support for me in a way I would never have thought about before. I’ve enjoyed learning about recovery and understanding the broader steps people take to rebuild their lives in a sustainable way. It is lovely meeting the new people in his life who know the person he is now. It is great endlessly pestering him about sporting challenges that still never quite happen, seeing his kids hang out with mine, Christmas with my folks in Edinburgh, and planning visits to London now the restrictions have lifted. Looking back I still can’t believe this has happened.
If you are worried about someone else’s alcohol or drug use, we are here to listen and to help. You can contact our team on 08080 10 10 11, firstname.lastname@example.org or use the webchat on our website.