Today I have been sober for 24 days.
Last Sunday, my wife went to Bangkok.
I also said “farewell” to a friend who had been staying with me for the past two weeks and returned to Phnom Penh on Sunday. This friend is also a member of AA, and it was he who first introduced to me to AA back in January, and took me to my very first AA meeting at his house in Sihanoukville.
So I had one day to myself, (Monday), and then yesterday another very old friend of mine, Bob, arrived from Australia to spend a couple of weeks with me.
On Sunday I had duly attended the morning and evening AA meetings in Pattaya, but yesterday and this morning, I have failed to go.
Bob is not an AA member, but like so many of us, he has been a very heavy drinker throughout his life and is now trying to follow my lead and stop completely. So he won’t be a bad influence on me during his stay, but he will not be going to AA meetings, and as a consequence, I have been a bit careless in my attendances. At the time of writing, (4.45 p.m.), I am determined to go to a meeting tonight, so if I have to cut today’s blog short you will know the reason why.
For those of you who do not have a drinking problem, and in particular, for those who have never been to an AA meeting or have not read their literature, it will probably be difficult for you to understand the value of these meetings, and how therapeutic they are in keeping us alcoholics sober.
There has been many an alcoholic, who has succeeded in quitting the booze, for months, and even years, but has fallen off the wagon when they mistakenly believed that they no longer needed to go to meetings. I will try not to make that mistake.
My wife is still in Bangkok, and I have only spoken to her a couple of times on the phone. I am pretty sure she is up to “no good”, and I am quietly making final plans to deal with the situation. I will write more about this later.
Meanwhile, I have had an excellent two days with Bob, who I have not seen for over two years. I picked him up from the airport yesterday morning, and we drove into Bangkok for a long breakfast in Washington Square, before heading off down Sukhumvit to visit my sick friend, Dave, who has been released from hospital, and is continuing his recovery at home.
The hospital did not want Dave to check out because his liver was in a very delicate state, and they were concerned that it would start bleeding again, but Dave is almost out of money and he could not afford another night there. As it was, it cost him over 200,000 Baht, and his savings are now perilously low.
So Bob and I spent a few hours with Dave, exhorting him to think carefully about his life as the next bout of drinking would surely kill him. He accepts that this is the case, but neither of us is convinced that Dave intends to follow our advice, once he is in slightly better shape. At the moment, although he looks much better than he did a few days ago, he is still in a lot of pain, and is not sleeping well.
In the late afternoon, Bob and I drove back to my home in Pattaya, and we went out and “had a good time” in a few places of entertainment. I will say no more.
Bob has also recently separated from his Thai wife of 7 years, and yesterday was the very first time he has “let his hair down” in all that 7 year period. Needless to say, Bob’s marital experiences, even though he has lived abroad with his wife in Hong Kong, London, and Australia for all of their married life, almost mirror my own marital problems in every respect. Admitted infidelity by his wife, over and over again, together with her deep rooted inability to be honest, were the key features that doomed their relationship.
So as I am now approaching the 7th year of my own failed relationship, we have much in common, apart from the 35 odd years that we have known each other.
Today, I was so tired that I missed my morning AA meeting yet again, but Bob and I enjoyed a late breakfast on my swimming pool terrace, and it proved very fruitful, as we were able to call an English Doctor who has been looking after Dave for many years ( and helping him financially), and he confirmed to us what we pretty much knew: that Bob’s medical situation was critical, that any one of his last three crises could have ended in his death, and the doctor recounted to us a recent occasion when he was holding Dave in his arms and was convinced he was a “goner”, only to se him miraculously recover yet again.
There is no doubt that one more drink, and Dave will no longer be with us.
After breakfast we took my golden retriever, (Cookie), for her annual shots at the vet, stopped off afterward at one of the lakeside bars for lunch, (where everyone made such a fuss of her), before returning home so that I could do a little blogging before heading off to my evening meeting.
At the bar I met yet another of my alcoholic friends, but this time a ‘practicing’ alcoholic, who was well in to his cups by the time we arrived around 3 o’clock. Geoff is a beer drinker. He drinks at least a case – maybe two – of beer a day. As soon as he rises in the morning he has his first beer, and his last one, just before he passes out at night. This has been going on ever since he moved to Thailand to retire, several years ago.
He only ever goes to his favourite bar of the moment out at the Lake near his home, except on Fridays, when he goes to Pattaya Tai market, where he starts drinking at one of the market bars from early morning – along with many other alcoholic deadbeats.
I have known Geoff for over three years, and during this period his disease has become increasingly out of control. When sober, he is a gentle, quiet, almost shy man of 63, but as soon as the beer takes over, he changes into an angry, confrontational and progressively more unpleasant person.
He has a Thai wife and a 7 year old daughter, with barely sufficient pension to pay for his drinking habits and put food on the table. During the past year his marital relationship has undergone severe strain as he treats his wife very badly when drunk and she has left him on several occasions. The last time that Geoff’s wife left him, he was so distraught that he became very ill, (refusing to eat anything for days), and threatened suicide if she did not return.
Knowing Geoff as I do, I don’t believe he was bluffing.
She is now back with him after that recent separation and today he was relating in his usual drunken state that they had been fighting yet again, and that she had broken his phone and her daughter’s toys in an “unprovoked” rage. Things are not at all good, and I fear that final breakup of his marriage is only a matter of time…..
I also fear for the future of this family, as I am very fond of all three of them and the situation is extremely volatile and charged with drunken resentment and anger. I hope sincerely that they don’t end up in a gruesome picture on the front page of the local Pattaya rag.
I will continue with Mobi’s Story tomorrow – time permitting.