Experience, strength and hope


A new friend recently invited me to the pub for a drink to toast the imminent arrival of my new baby boy. I was touched and grateful for his offer of celebration and support and although I didn’t turn him down I had to turn the drink down. It’s been a while since I’ve had to tell someone that I don’t drink. Those cultural drinking ceremonies and gatherings are largely outside of my life now but it was a reminder that I’m going against the grain in my home society. I have been sober for nine years and had my last lonely drink in a Cornish pub overlooking St Michael’s Mount before a chance encounter with a wonderful man who lead me to Alcoholics Anonymous in 2010. From my first meeting I decided to stop drinking, one day at a time, never believing I could sustain it, but next year it will be a decade of sobriety. The overwhelming emotions and life struggles that lead me to misuse alcohol in an attempt to suppress my pain are still present today but I use different tools to deal with them. Some of them helpful (my men’s circles, my fathers group, yoga, meditation, singing, personal development work, massage) some not so helpful (chocolate, cakes, anger, obsessive work, Streets of Rage 2 on PS3). But I’m heading in the right direction. Alcohol itself is not bad, but my relationship with it warranted scrutiny. I enjoy my freedom since I stopped drinking and no longer miss it. There is a world beyond it and I’m grateful to be living in it. I love connecting, celebrating and ceremony so do invite me out for a drink but I’ll meet you in the cafe for a hot chocolate (and maybe a bun) instead of the pub.

Ben ParkesComment