Today I received a bottle of ten-year old Glenmorangie, single malt Scotch whisky from a grateful client. He produced the bottle and immediately I imagined the peaty, smoky flavour I would experience as the alcohol evaporated over my tongue. My mind drifted to the gentle softening of reality I would feel as the fumes reached my brain. The next thought was that surely now, after abstaining from alcohol for nearly eighteen years, I can sip a wee dram of this delicious liquid without ill effect.
The last time I drank an alcoholic drink was at Christmas 2001, it was a not very nice red wine, which I enjoyed/quaffed with lunch. This was at the house of an acquaintance, in an attempt to have a ‘normal Christmas’, you know, like other people do. In place of the post-lunch charades, however, traditional in many households, true to our nature, we indulged in a few pipes of crack-cocaine before arguing over who would have the last of the heroin. Inevitably, it was an acrimonious affair as most interactions within groups of drug addicts are. I left the house, went back to the smelly, dirty squat that I was infesting at the time, and dug out the secret stash of gear that I had squirrelled away. The rest of the evening was spent banging up heroin and snoozing, dribbling quietly and fretting over how I was going to get the money to score on Boxing Day.
It was two months later that I managed to get a place in a halfway house, where they sent me to rehab and I was set free from the terrible physical burden of addiction. The mental side was another matter, and I am still picking the bones out of that little enigma to this very day. The level of self-loathing it takes to treat your body and other aspects in such a nasty way is dark and horrible. Where I learned I am the kind of shit that deserves such, is a mystery, but apparently I learned it somewhere. That belief persists in me today and is evidenced by the choices I make.
There was never a time when I savoured anything nice. In my mind there was never time. Good things, on the rare occasions that such things happened by, needed to be bolted because they would be snatched away if savouring or enjoying were to be attempted. So, if I ever had a bottle of whisky, it would usually be dispatched ‘by the neck’, as in the western movies I watched as a kid. What I know about savouring peaty, smoky flavours I learned as theory rather than by practical experience. Most usually, drinks were selected because they ‘get you pissed quick’, and whisky does that well.
Since I decided to leave alcohol behind and move forward with my life as a clean and sober alcoholic/drug addict, things have changed a lot. Outwardly, I have acquired some stuff, a couple of houses, a family, several motor vehicles, a sometimes-growing company, but it appears that inwardly I still manifest the mindset that keeps me feeling unloved. There is no doubt, logically speaking, I am loved. Possibly too, I am respected occasionally, but it seems that I do not love myself enough to make the choices that put my happiness as a priority.
I tell my children that the point of family is to help each other so that everyone gets what they want. My life is spent serving that ideal. Recently, I can see, that I am not getting what I need and, whereas before that didn’t seem to matter, it has started to become more important. In fact, it’s not that it didn’t seem to matter, it is more accurate to say that I didn’t even know that what I needed was a thing to be considered, so unimportant was I in the universal plan.
Not so long ago, a couple of things happened in my life that blew my cosy, complacent world apart. The first thing was that my sister died of lung cancer. She was diagnosed in November and was dead by April. It was a particularly nasty type of small-cell lung cancer which ripped through her, resistant to treatment, it spread and killed her fast. Although we were not close, we had an antipathy that was as virulent as her disease, the experience of mortality at close quarters shook me badly. I had known her for fifty-three years and that length of acquaintance leaves behind some ties, so the loss affected me. There was some soul searching and sadness, but the focus was thrown on my own life. The suddenness of the onset and the end brought my own existence into question. Anyone can die at any moment, there is no saying how much time any of us has left, so the question for me was, is there anything I would rather be doing right now?
This brings me onto the second thing that happened, in answer to that question, a person appeared in my life, an angel messenger, and showed me in clear and perfect detail exactly what I would rather be doing. Communicating intuitively with a soul on the same wavelength, experiencing the timelessness of deep connection, flying free.
My life or rather, my existence, was shown up for what it had become, marking time until the end. Grim duty, service, little joy or fulfilment, it was not ‘bad’, but it wasn’t good either, the things that I needed, the things that feed my soul, were not present. The angel messenger demonstrated that I could be loved, and I understood that it was my choices that had built my life into what it had become. I fell in love with my messenger, it seemed that she was perfection. The circumstances, however, were not perfect and we were torn apart. The message of the episode needs to be writ large on the walls of my life to prevent me sinking back into the habit of merely marking time until the inevitable happens.