Accepting the past and looking to the future
I’m an eastend boy born and bred. I’m one of seven children who grew up in Garthamlock in Glasgow and some of us have suffered various addiction problems. My mum died of cancer when I was sixteen and my dad died in my arms three years later of a broken heart.
I drifted through school and didn’t really enjoy it that much but I still managed to leave with two O’levels. From a young age my dad had instilled a hard work ethic into me and I was a milkboy throughout my education from the age of twelve to sixteen and I’d get up at 4am each day to do a shift before going to school.
When I left school I took a job as a vanboy delivering beer kegs to pubs in the Bridgeton area. I did that for a few years and the next step was to become a barman and I worked in various eastend boozers. I worked my way up to management positions and became the chargehand of Bennigans in Garthamlock until I got sacked for repeatedly drinking on the job.
By this time I was in my mid-twenties and with the benefit of hindsight it’s fair to say I was addicted to alcohol. It had a negative impact on all areas of my life. It had a proper hold of me and it’s all I could think of each minute of every hour.
I went on to work in my aunties pub called Ramsay’s on Duke Street for a couple of years before moving onto manage the Gantry in Shettleston and then the Black Bull in Parkhead. All these pubs were typical eastend boozers where gangsters and violent types would use as their base. Alcoholism, drug dealing and violence were everyday occurrences and I was stuck right in the middle of it. I had a reputation for boosting profits and that was all that mattered to the breweries.
Most of my thirties are a blur. I think I worked in some other pubs and got sacked a few more times and by this time I was in a relationship with a lovely woman called Jackie and we went on to have two wonderful sons but of course, alcohol ruined my relationship with all of them. We separated and I eventually met another woman called Angela, sadly she unexpectedly died of a massive aneurysm and I dealt with this by using alcohol and then drugs. To this day, I don’t think I’ve processed any of this grief.
Eventually I left the pub business and spent some time unemployed, skint and alone. I eventually started working again as a cleaner at the BAE shipyards in Govan and then in a gym in Milngavie and worked my up to supervisor positions. I was there for about a decade and eventually managed to quit the booze for many years. I relapsed time after time and I eventually substituted this addiction and focused solely on drug use as I felt it was a safer option than being addicted to alcohol. Of course, drugs decimated my life the same way alcohol did and I ended up getting sacked again. I would use cocaine, speed, ecstasy or whizz daily and then I thought I might as well start dealing it to generate some quick money. I never got caught but I regret this period of my life.
As I was approaching the age of sixty, I was back on the booze and suffering seizures, had a stroke and then diagnosed with diabetes. I was at crisis point, my body gave up and I hospitalised and then my step-daughter intervened and sought help for me. I was offered an addictions care manager and received various detoxes and spent time in several supported accommodation services to aid my rehabilitation and I was diagnosed with alcohol related brain damage (ARBD).
I’m taking it day by day and trying to accept that the past can’t be changed but the future is there waiting for me to shape
I’m now seven weeks sober and I’m again giving abstinence a chance. I have some support in place now and having that reassurance is a good thing for me. Knowing that someone is on hand whenever I’m feeling vulnerable has been crucial and something I’m not used to. I’m attending AA and recovery meetings and engaging in counselling to address the trauma of losing my mum at a young age which I had always blocked out with booze. I’m addressing the impact that my father’s death had on me as well as the grief of losing my partner. I’m hoping to start CBT sessions soon to try and change the way I think about myself and my relationship with alcohol and drugs. I’m also trying to re-find my faith, going to church again and I’m getting baptised next month.
I often wonder how my dad’s alcohol problems impacted on me and if I was always doomed for a life of addiction. I’m entering my twilight years now. I know I need to slow the pace down and put all of that madness behind me. I’m taking it day by day and trying to accept that the past can’t be changed but the future is there waiting for me to shape. I know I’m good person and I want to show this by helping people and being the person I feel I’m supposed to be, and not the façade I’ve portrayed all my life.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Jack.