Jomtien, 17th September, 2010

The “Home” page is my daily blog. The remaining tabs contain previously blogged, episodic ‘stories’, which are now re-published in chronological order.

I’m now 11 days sober. Nothing to put out the flags for, but considering my earlier pathetic efforts this year, I consider it something of an achievement.

To those who follow my comments section you will see that I am having a bit of a ‘debate’ with some guy who is always predicting gloom, doom and failure for me unless I follow his suggestions to the letter. As I have written in my reply, I admit that he irritates me but he is in no way going to influence me one way or another in how I continue to strive to maintain my new-found sobriety.

I’ve been down this road enough times in the past few years and have received endless advice from all manner of people to know that there is no single, correct way to achieve lasting sobriety. Much depends on the individual and his willingness to accept: that he is an alcoholic, that he is incapable of being a social drinker and that the first drink will be ‘fatal’.

Working the 12 step programme; making lifestyle changes that exclude frequenting bars and mixing with other drunks; meditation; spirituality; therapy to get to grips with lifelong psychological problems; and medication to tackle serious depression, are all tools that the alcoholic seeking true sobriety will use to one extent or another.

No two alcoholics are the same, and each will find his own path to sobriety; some slowly, some quickly and some not at all. Many will fail many times before finally succeeding; many will die before they get there. But the guy who keeps commenting in my blog that I ‘must do this, that or the other… or I am doomed to fail…..’ is simply writing for his own benefit, or is deliberately trying to upset my ‘sober applecart’, for if he knows about alcoholics as well as he claims to, then he, more than anyone should know that the worst thing you can do is threaten an alcoholic, or try to control him. It never works.

My 11 days of sobriety are not necessarily a ‘model’ that will stand up to extreme scrutiny. I doubt whether there are many alcoholics in their first weeks of sobriety who could put substance to such a claim. We are all human and we are sobering up after decades of abuse – in my case more than 40 years. I cannot change overnight and people should not realistically expect me to.

Yesterday I attended two AA meetings, but today I will not attend any. Why? Because it just didn’t turn out that way. I slept too late to attend the morning meeting, I wanted to meet up with my one, true, sober friend in Pattaya for a brief meal at lunchtime and that put paid to the noon meeting and I won’t be making the evening meeting as it is early (5 pm.) today and I am still busy at home. But this isn’t the start of the slippery slope. I will definitely go to a meeting tomorrow – maybe 2 or even 3; who knows?

I still go to bars to spend some time with women. I drink a few Cokes and sodas and they have a few ladies’ drinks and cheer me up. I tend to pick bars of a time and place when they are pretty empty, except for the ladies. This way I don’t come across any drunks and the ladies are at their friendliest due to lack of punters. I don’t do this every day – just when I feel like a few hours of friendly, female company. They always lift my mood and for this alcoholic, I consider them to be good therapy.

Eventually, this month, next month, this year, or next year – who knows – I will find the right ‘live-in’. She is out there somewhere; I just have to find her. When I do, I will cease my bar wandering and spend my time in more worthwhile pursuits.

In the meantime, I am keeping my ‘girlie-bar’ visits to a minimum and slowly picking up the pieces of my life and trying to instil some order and discipline into my daily existence.

Included on my  agenda over the next few days are: starting  to pack, exercise, meditation, finding an AA sponsor ( I have one in mind), dealing with a few personal matters such as getting my teeth cleaned (2 years overdue) and having a check up on my glaucoma (also neglected for over 2 years).

Now here is another episode of “Nid”, my third wife, whose contribution to my alcohol addiction was probably pretty significant, given that my troubles with her occurred when the state of my drinking was already ‘teetering on the brink’.

Nid (Part 7)

My suspicions had been aroused ever since that second letter had arrived. It was all too ‘pat’ and seemed somehow contrived – especially as the translated text sounded almost identical to the first letter. There was no up-date on the state of health of Nid’s mother and no indication of when Nid might be coming back to Bangkok, so when I saw the knowing smiles and glances being exchanged by Nid’s ex-working colleagues at the Derby king that day, I knew something was up.

But nothing could have prepared me for the tremendous shock I felt when I discovered the truth. She wasn’t up-country in Thailand taking care of her ailing Mum; she was in Amsterdam, undoubtedly being entertained by a farang punter.

The elderly Bar tender, Yai, made to grab the cards back from me but I held onto them grimly; poring over every inch of them, trying to discern exactly what Nid was up to. But apart from the innocuous photographs on the front which bore pictures of Amsterdam and the tell-tale “Nid” signature on the back, there was nothing more I could learn by myself. The brief handwriting on each of the cards was written in Thai and would need to be translated.

I asked Yai to translate for me. At first she refused, but then she asked me to return the cards to her and she would oblige. Like a fool I handed the cards back to her and she immediately handed them to one of the bar girls with an abrupt instruction in Thai and before I knew what was happening, the girl and the cards had disappeared into the back room of the bar. They were gone.

I ordered another beer and sat down with one of the girls – the one who had seemed sympathetic and had indicated the presence of the post cards to me a few minutes earlier. I bought her a drink and pressed her for more information. At length she admitted to me that Nid was indeed in Amsterdam with a ‘customer’ but she could give me no further details of who the customer was, how long they had been there and when she might be coming back – if at all.

In spite of the fact that I had really seen this coming, it was a terrible blow to my self esteem and my pride, but most of all it felt like a searing rapier had just been thrust into the middle of my aching heart.

I was completely devastated and I remember little that happened that day, once the beers started to work their ‘magic’ on me and had started to ease the pain.

I do know that somehow I had managed to make it home, and woke up half way through the next morning with a terrible hangover. It was during this period that I started to take ‘uppers’ to get me going in the morning, booze from around lunch time onwards to help ease the pain of what Nid had done to me, and at night, addictive sedatives to put me down at night. Incredibly, despite the liberal use of very strong sedatives,(Mogadon and the like),  it would often take me many hours to finally fall asleep, only to wake after barely two or three hours sleep, to start the cycle all over again by popping my little ‘white horses’(amphetamines).

I was in a mess, but somehow, with the aid of booze and drugs, I kept going. I had taken the reality of what Nid was and what she had done very, very hard. I couldn’t get her out of mind. I was totally obsessed with her and I would continuously picture her with her new man in the bedroom, indulging their desires in various stages of intimate love-making. It was tearing me apart in a pattern that was to repeat itself over and over with women who had similarly harmed me, for the rest of my life.

It was during this period, when my savings were finally reaching the end of their ‘life’ that I became very friendly with one of my work mates – a young Thai man named Som, who was very solicitous of my welfare and was instrumental in helping me come to an important decision that was long overdue.

He suggested that I move out of the room that I was sharing with Nid in Patunam, and find a place in the Bangkok suburb, where he lived with his family and friends.

There was clearly no future in my marriage and it took little to convince me that he was right and that it was high time to make a move and start a new life, away from Nid and her lies, deceits and hurtful behaviour.

Within a week I had found a modest, but liveable room in a working class area of Bangkok, near to where Som lived and had left the marital home forever. Before I left, I had held a ‘furniture sale’ for all the excess furniture that I would no longer be able to accommodate in my new, humble accommodation and the proceeds for this had enabled me to fund the move and pay the required room deposits, as by this time my savings had been well and truly exhausted.

Note: This period of my life has also been extensively covered in my Vignette, “Metta” which has recently been published in this blog. “Metta was originally published as a short story back in 2000, underwent substantial revision for publication in my blog, but, never the less, was written as a piece of fiction, although it is largely autobiographical in content.

Readers of “Nid” and “Metta” will therefore find there are some minor discrepancies in the time-line as narrated in the two stories which overlap during this period of my life; mainly in regards to when and how I finally parted with Nid. The discrepancies have little or no bearing on the subject matter and the ultimate direction of my life, but for the sake of accuracy I can advise that the timeline as narrated in this story,“Nid”, is the accurate one, and that narrated in “Metta” contains a certain degree of ‘literarily licence’.

Once I was safely ensconced into my new home, with all memories of Nid hopefully expurgated, I slowly started to recover my senses and  my health and to remove my dependency on  drugs. Much of this was thanks to Som and his friends, especially the “leader of his gang”, Pee Prasert, who advised me and guided me and gave me spiritual refreshment in a way I would never have thought possible in such an unlikely setting – a very impoverished, working class suburb of urban Bangkok.

I spent many happy evenings and weekends with Som and his gang and although I would frequently drink more than was prudent, I stopped all the drugs – the ‘uppers’ and  ‘downers’ that had become a part of my life and had been slowly destroying me. I was starting to enjoy a drug free, full night’ sleep again, and Nid was slowly becoming a distant memory.

I did still pay the occasional trip to Patpong and the Derby King to catch up with my old farang friends, but the visits were few and far between. My helter-skelter existence of working for the workaholic Ittiput, my new social life,  which largely revolved around my new found Thai friends and, of course, my seriously reduced disposable income, kept these trips to a minimum.

Then one day, maybe a month after I had moved my home, on some ‘spur of the moment’ impulse, I found myself in a taxi going down to Patpong from my office in Wireless Road. It was around 8.30 p.m. – I had been working late yet again and upon leaving the office, I suddenly found myself at a loose end. By the time I would have got home, Som and his gang would have probably dispersed for the night, as it was mid-week and many had to go about their business at the crack of dawn. Unusually, there were no show business people in town to take care of and Ittiput himself had disappeared somewhere with his DJ girlfriend. So what was lonely Mobi to do with himself? Too early to go home and sleep but too late to meet up with his new friends. Patpong seemed to be the logical choice. Go and see if there were any of his old mates hanging around the Derby King.

Nothing prepared me for the ‘old mate’ I was to come across sitting at a table in the Derby King.

The bar was empty except for a group of girls sitting at a table in the corner. I ordered a beer and suddenly, my heart took an enormous jolt. The girl with her back to me was talking in Thai. I could recognise that distinctive voice anywhere. It was Nid!

Almost at the same moment that I recognised her voice, she turned round and looked at me. “Hello Mobi, how are you?

“I’m fine thanks, how about you?

All very civilised, but for how long?

As if in some kind of parallel universe, where we knew each other, but had never been married, we continued the small talk for a couple of minutes, before Nid turned her back on me and started talking to the girls at the table once more in Thai.

I climbed down from my bar stool and walked over to where the group were sitting. I looked over Nid’s shoulder and saw the subject of their conversation. Spread over the table, there were dozens of colour photographs, and Nid was holding one in her hand, explaining animatedly in Thai about the background of this particular photograph. She must have made a joke, as all of the girls suddenly burst out laughing

I looked closer and was shocked. They were pictures of Nid and a young westerner. But if that wasn’t bad enough, many of them had obviously been taken in a bedroom. I could see Nid and the man in various stages of undress, lying on a large double bed. The closer I looked the more appalled I became. They were compromising pictures of my wife, in a bedroom, with another man!

Suddenly an uncontrollable rage took hold of me. I pushed my way forward to the table and roughly grabbed up all the photos, including the one from Nid’s hand.

I was shaking with rage and jealousy, and screamed at her, swearing and insulting her in the vilest  manner.

Then Nid lost her cool and started screaming at me – demanding the return of her photographs. She made a lunge at me but I held on to them grimly. She picked up a glass to smash at me over my head, so I headed for the bar door, still clutching the dreadful photographs.

I careered out into the street, followed by Nid, still shouting and still threatening me with ‘blue murder’. She approached me and made desperate attempt to wrench the photographs from my grasp. In a moment of sheer rage, I let go of the photographs and gave Nid a hefty punch to her head – the first and last time I have ever hit a woman in my entire life.

She went down like a stone and immediately the girls started screaming. Within a few seconds, every nearby bar door had opened and a crazed, rushing throng of Thais – doormen, pimps and bar-girls –  descended on me and literally wrestled, punched and clawed at me until I fell to the ground – a wounded animal.

I was at the mercy of a drunken lynch-mob!

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