An Ode to G

It’s my oldest daughter’s birthday today. She’s just turned seven. This time last year I was in early recovery so whilst I was sober I was still processing a lot and no doubt still distracted. I’ve always been close to my daughter but this has been the first year I can say I’ve been fully present. I wanted to write a little poem for G and just like Fee’s poem last month hopefully she will read it one day.

You will always be my first born and will forever have that place, I still remember vividly the first time I saw your face

You changed my life forever from the first time we ever met, You changed me from a boy to a man, my new role was finally set

I continued to have my struggles but I kept them all from you, I was good at being a daddy but if only you’d really knew

I’d drink to keep me smiling, I’d drink to keep me fun, I’d drink to stop me crying, drink in the bath after a run

I drank because it numbed me from the pain I felt inside, whilst your arrival, love and presence helped keep your Daddy alive

I didn’t face my demons, for years I let them win, Having you kept me going but so did drinking gin

Now I’m clean and sober, it took me long enough. My focus is on our family and making myself mentally tough

I love you more than you’ll ever know and will always be here for you, at least I know from this day on I’ll always be sober too

Family first, that’s me now and to give you a great fun life, to make memories with you and memories with Fearne and memories with Mammy, my wife

Beautiful girl inside and out, a bookworm just like Dad. We have such a laugh and sing and dance and there will be plenty more milestones to add

Happy Birthday beautiful girl x

Two Tales of Pancakes

Day 378: I’ve just finished making pancakes with my little girls. A very basic event and probably easily forgotten by the pair of them within a day or two. We had a nice 30 mins though.

I won’t forget Shrove Tuesday in a hurry though. It was Pancake Day in 2021 when I last had a drink. When I hit rock bottom.

I don’t remember being overly stressed and I wasn’t consciously depressed that day but that was largely down to me suppressing how I felt with drink. It was half term and I was off work whilst my wife worked. I started drinking beer from early afternoon – Maybe it was boredom, the monotonous day I was living and also the fact I knew for another 3-4 hours I’d be cleaning and entertaining kids before my wife returned home. In reality it was dependency. I knew alcohol would take the edge off. The life I was living like so many others was draining. Working from home, parenting and pottering in the house with nowhere to go. No socialising with friends. Having a drink took the edge off and made me relax. The pandemic was still very much in it’s deepest hold on us all.

My wife returned home, she’d had a stressful day at work so I encouraged her to have a bath and I’d make the girls some pancakes The craving for more drink after my afternoon beers was there and I remembered I had a bottle of Gin in the garden box. I made several trips into the garden to take sips from the bottle whilst continuing to help the girls make their pancakes look pretty with their array of fillings and toppings. My wife oblivious to my secret drinking that day.

It gets much more vague after that. The evening consisted of me acting strange around my wife. Looking vacant and not making much sense when I spoke. I was taking Propanolol at the time but popping these prescription beta blockers like sweets. I became unsteady on my feet and confused. All in all I hadn’t had that much alcohol by my standards – especially given the consumption had been spread over about 5 hours.

What followed was my exit from the family home, bare footed and in my nightwear and running off into the nearby fields and woodland. The police were called. I returned home at some point and then tried to run out again which resulted in a scuffle with the two policemen. I don’t remember this. There is a hole in the plaster of my living room wall as a souvenir of the event though. Paramedics arrived, I was taken to hospital under police guard and after a number of hours a Doctor asked if I’d voluntarily agree to entering treatment as an inpatient at the local psychiatric hospital. I was told if I declined they had the powers to section me under the Mental Health Act.

Whilst I don’t remember anything post pancake making and the conversation with the doctor in hospital I do then remember being taken by the police to the hospital at about 1am. And that was that. I haven’t drank since. Since Shrove Tuesday 2021.