Today I have been sober for 118 days.
This the first time, since I was more or less a kid, that I have made it through Christmas day without taking a drink. It was a bit of a mental war of attrition, as my depression was telling me to go out and lay one on, and my alter ego, (well I am a Gemini), was telling me to stay sober and to take it one day at a time.
I wasn’t a great Christmas day. I managed to make the 9 a.m, AA meeting, the first one in several days, which was extremely crowded. There must have been well over 30 people in a room that usually holds about 20 or so comfortably. I had barely squeezed into a seat when I received the sms from the lady who had decided she had a better offer for Christmas day. At that point, the prospect of a pleasant evening with a charming lady was the only thing that was keeping me going, and my depression immediately took a turn for the worst.
After the meeting, many of the guys went down the road for a Christmas brunch and exhorted me to join them, but I declined. I just wasn’t feeling very sociable, and made my way back home.
Once home my depression continued apace, but I pulled myself together and sent a short email to all my family back in the U.k. and South Africa, thanking them for their Christmas cards, and apologising for not reciprocating. I am such a lazy, unfeeling sod.
A little while later, my eldest daughter, Nattaya, called me. I didn’t want to talk, but I hadn’t spoken to her for over a year, and there was no way to refuse the call, so I took it. She was very nice and friendly and we chatted for a few minutes. She told me what she and her husband and her sister had been up to, and wished me a happy Christmas. It was nice talking to her. Her world and family seemed a million miles away from my sad existence on the other side of the world, and it made me realise how much I missed her and Samantha.
When I finished the call my eyes brimmed and I shed a few tears. For a few moments, it seemed that the easiest solution to my extreme depression would be to inject myself with a massive dose of insulin. All my problems would then be over. But I then I thought of something that a guy had ‘shared’ at the morning meeting. He was recounting how, when feeling severely suicidal, he had almost thrown himself in front of an underground train at a station in London. But then he thought of the distress and trouble he would cause to the train driver and stepped back from the brink.
I decided that the same thing would apply to my family – especially to my daughters if something happened to me. So I tried to pull myself togther and spent the rest of the day at home. My Christmas lunch consisted of stale bread, mouldy cheese and some sliced ham that was curling up at the corners. I couldn’t be bothered to go shopping, and messed around on my computer and then watched a movie, and fell asleep for a while, half way through.
In the evening, I went out and stopped by a number of places in an attempt to find some Christmas cheer. But it didn’t work and after a few hours of wandering aimlessly around in Pattaya and Jomtien, I gave up and drove back home and messed around with my computer for most of the night, finally dropping off to sleep around 4.30 this morning.
But I am still sober, and still alive.
MOBI’S STORY – (PART 26)
THE RETIREMENT YEARS (CONTINUED)
I didn’t hear from my wife for a while after I sent that fax. I was busy sorting out my affairs: meeting with my divorce lawyer, taking care of all my personal business, and in particular, locating and renting a small house for myself and my daughter to live in.
At some point, I cannot recall exactly when, I learned from my ex-neighbours, Joe and Doris, that my wife had returned to England. I still had not made any further contact with her, and a short while after she returned, my solicitor sent her the divorce papers.
During the next month or so, my neighbours kept me regularly updated on my wife’s movements, and I was able to keep abreast of her thinking on my action and on the divorce settlement. She had told my neighbours that all the grounds that the solicitor had put in the divorce papers were all lies and completely untrue, and that I had been very cruel to her. She was very distressed and cried a lot, and sought their emotional support.
So whose side were my neighbours on? Well it transpired that Doris felt a lot of sympathy for what had happened to Noi, and was inclined to believe some of what she had to say, but Joe was a wily old bastard and he wasn’t taken in by the crying and lying. He had long since sussed her out, (one of the very few in England to do so), and saw right through her obfuscation and fake drama. But they were, (and are), lovely, kind and generous folk, and they tried to avoid taking sides, and helped us both, as far they were able, in equal measure.
I eventually did meet with Noi a few times, and we started to speak to each other in a relatively civilised manner. Noi had made up her mind that she was going to try and ‘woo’ me back, and she made a number of overtures to try and get me back into the marital abode. She had been distressed by all the accusations that I had made about her in the divorce papers,(which were all supported by accounts of actual events), but as ever, she tried to twist what I had said, and take them out of context.
When I met with her, It was apparent that she had decided that my main gripe was the fact that she was too “house proud”. She started to play a bizarre game whereby she implored me to come to the house and see for myself that it was dirty and untidy, and that she didn’t care anymore about keeping it clean and beautiful. She couldn’t, or wouldn’t understand that her fanatical desire to maintain a perfect house was merely a symptom of a much bigger problem, and in reality,she was a spiteful, selfish, self seeking, obsessive, control-freak of the worst kind.
Rightly or wrongly, I played along with this strange, friendly game of hers because it meant that I wasn’t fighting her and that I could slowly push things along and get everything sorted, particularly with regard to Samantha, without having to argue with her at every turn.
In the end, a couple of incidents scared me away. The first was when I visited her one day and she had cooked me a nice lunch, and tried to persuade me to stay come back until everything was settled. I told her I would think about it, but a few days later she invited me to meet her local pub for an evening meal. It was one of the very few occasions when Noi had too much to drink. She didn’t drink much, but it was enough to make her very tipsy, and once the alcohol had taken hold, she suddenly became very romantic. She kept trying to cuddle up to me and kiss me over dinner, and as soon as we finished the meal, I quickly paid the bill and tried to make an escape to my car. But she followed me, grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. She started begging me to come back, and told me that she was sorry for everything and that she loved me and couldn’t live without me, and she would change.
I was embarrassed, and frankly a little disgusted. I had no feelings for Noi anymore and I had suffered too much for too long to turn the clock back at this late juncture. I just wanted to get away, and realised my stupid mistake in playing along with her friendly attitude, as I knew deep sown she was up to something which could only lead to more grief.
I finally managed to disentangle myself from her clutches, get into my car, lock the door and drive away. She was still trying to cling onto the car as I drove off, and I almost felt sorry for her. She looked so pathetic – I had never seen her like that before.
After that incident, I kept my distance, and was very careful in my dealings with her. I found a suitable house, and took it on a six month lease, and then spent most of my time getting myself and Samantha moved in.
It was during this time that my drinking, which for years had been excessive, took a decided turn for the worst. I was alone in England after being with Noi for some twenty six years; I had a difficult and expensive divorce to negotiate with an unstable wife, and I had a teenage daughter to take care of. I simply drunk myself to sleep every night, and as the days went on, I required more and more alcohol in my body to achieve the desired effect.
I was resigned to starting a new life for myself in the rural shire of East Northamptonshire, and was certainly committed to staying with my daughter for at least a year, until she completed her schooling and went on to University.
Yet within a few weeks, I was back in Thailand – more or less for good. So what happened?