Sirens 

I had to travel to England for my job yesterday. This ended up being an eighteen hour working day. The silver lining was that my boarding pass afforded me access to the business lounge on the way home. This carrot had dangled in front of me all day making the 4:30am start and the (thankfully not too) sore ears on the flight over from Belfast all the more worthwhile.

Back in the (not so good) old days when I was drinking the business lounge was a veritable Aladdin’s Cave for me. Never mind the comfortable chairs, tasty nibbles and widescreen televisions. For me the allure was the complimentary alcohol. Fridges stacked to the gills with ice cold bottles of beer. Upon entering the lounge I would always throw my bag down at the nearest seat and make an immediate beeline for them.

Budweiser. Tiger. Carlsberg. Stella Artois. All my favourites just waiting to be consumed. I was like a child in a sweet shop. A very greedy child. Most business commuters relaxed with a glass of wine. Possible even two if it was the end of the week. During my allotted time in the lounge I was a man on a mission. The mission being to drink as much of the good stuff as I possibly could before I boarded my flight. Irrespective of whether or not I had to work the next day. When the beer goggles were on all rational thought was out the window.


I think my record was six. Or possibly eight. I tended to lose count after four. I fine tuned my time management skills to perfection, leaving boarding to the last possible moment so that I could glug down an extra bottle. I took it even further by emptying the fridge and cramming my carry on bag with extra bottles for later on. It was all included in my ticket price I reaaonee and I work hard. I’m entitled to this. I deserve it. At the time I justified these actions as totally normal and reasonable behaviour.

Looking back now I realise how utterly unreasonable my actions were. I was a binge drinker. I could not drink responsibly. Moderation meant nothing to me. Once that first sip passed my lips there was no turning back. I drank to get drunk. To escape from the endless, intrusive OCD thoughts. To forget about the burdens of being a husband, father and son. It was a cowardly existence but it was all I knew at the time. And I was right. This was me. The others didn’t understand. Nobody understood. Only Mr. Budweiser. He was my best friend and was always there when I needed him.

The next day would bring new friends to the party. Mr. Hangover, Miss Shame and a host of other negative emotions which plunged me back under the waters of depression and guilt. It was never worth it. And next time it would be different. It never was however. Circles are vicious by the very fact that they are circles. They never end. You always end up back where you started.

Yesterday all the above hit me like a brick in the face when I walked into the lounge. There it was sitting invitingly before me. The fridge. The colourful bottles with their delicious contents. Ice cold rivulets of water trickling  enticingly down their graceful necks, luring me onto the rocks. Seductive sirens that my old self could never have resisted. And do you know what? For a moment I was tempted. What harm was one beer? I could control it, I deserved one, teensy weensy bottle. Right?

I quickly recovered my senses and crash landed back to reality. I was flying home to Fionnuala and the kids. No more greedy. No more needy. I had changed and was never going back to that dark place I once inhabited before. Different sirens began to sound. Alarm klaxons blaring, reminding me of the crushing consequences of having ‘just one beer’. I gathered my resolve and consoled myself with a glass of Diet Coke and some crisps. I stared gloomily at the two businessmen sitting opposite me enjoying a beer and a laugh.

Why couldn’t I be like them? I mused. Why couldn’t I be normal? And then it hit me. I was being normal. Going home sober to my wife and kids after a long day working was normal. Pouring myself off the plane barely able to string two words together was not. I had the weekend to look forward to. Watching my son play rugby on Saturday morning. Having relations visit later that day. Normal stuff. Alcohol, like all drugs, distorts your perception of normality.

We are all tempted. Many times every day. There is nothing wrong in that. To be tempted is to be human. Temptation is not a sin. Succumbing to temptation can be, however; at the very instance the thought becomes a conscious action. Temptations swirl through our brains like dry autumn leaves on a windy day. The seasonal wind squeals like a banshee as it effortlessly carries them through the air. Just waiting for a suitable target to land upon.

I heard the squealing wind yesterday. I heard sirens. But, through the grace of God, I did not succumb.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you to tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will always provide a way out so you can endure it.’

How do you deal with temptation?

29 thoughts on “Sirens 

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  1. Fantastic! I celebrate this one small victory with you. And yes – you are being normal. Who knows but that laugther over a shared beer could be a facade covering the wreckage of a broken life? Now you can share a laugh with your beloved over a warm cup of tea – or whatever. 😉

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  2. Thanks for changing. Its not just your life, you changed several lives in the bargain. You taught people around you that it was possible to change something.
    You taught your kids, future grandkids(!) too, that things happen in life, but we can do something about it and stay strong with that decision, because its worth it in the long run for all.
    Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Most of the time when I’m tempted, I try to remove myself from the situation if at all possible, but I’m not always afforded that option.

    I stopped drinking at the end of last year before it started disrupting my life – I didn’t want to hit “rock bottom” before making a change. I got rid of all the alcohol in my house and haven’t really been too tempted until about a month ago. I was out with a group of friends (who didn’t know I had stopped drinking) who ordered margaritas with our meal. The smell was so strong and inviting, I really wanted a drink but then I remembered all the things I’m working toward. Like you remembered about your family, I thought of my goals and how going down that slippery slope could derail some of my dreams. I had to make a conscious choice not to give into temptation though if I did “no one would know”.

    Like you said, perception is key. By the grace of God, you’ve come to understand how drinking negatively impacts your life and have made the necessary changes. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  4. It’s at moments like that I stomp my foot and say in my most southern pronounciation…GET…BEHIND…ME…SATAN – 😉 great post and glad to see you are getting control over it instead of vice versa. Stand on this promise… “resist the devil and he WILL flee” – James 4:7

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  5. From the other side of the fence (a non drinker living with a binge drinker) what can I do?? I know deep down nothing really! But I can’t understand how this demon overrides the person I love to the point he hurts all of us (emotionally!) yet still can’t see he needs to stop?! He attempts to cut down rarely but he never means it. I explain (for me) the feelings of dread, exhaustion, despair, worry, not to mention every time it happens I can’t sleep, and is always at the end of a very busy work week so I then spend the weekend feeling terrible as if I’ve been drinking!
    I’ve tried tough love, understanding, patience, threats, ignoring, codependency I am now aware of and have got help to stop that! I’ve had therapy but he refuses.
    He does not drink daily at all so Monday – Thursday I have the perfect husband. Friday and Saturday is just a write off for me. He cannot understand he can’t have “one drink” or a “couple of drinks” the minute he starts I know he won’t stop until he’s stumbling around unable to string a sentence together.
    Being a non drinker does help really he thinks I want to make him “like me” I don’t! All of my friends drink? I have no issue with drinkers! I have an issue with drinkers that get blind drunk and hurt themselves and others.
    Is it the being drunk that’s the attraction? As he says it’s “fun” yet it makes him insecure and sad?!
    He has always had an addictive personality and I do thank god his addiction is now a weekend binge of alcohol instead of what it used to be but at the same time I feel like if he was truly happy in life and with us he wouldn’t want to get so bad every weekend?
    Sorry for the huge post!!! I’m just desperate to understand from the other side!

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