Last night was a tough one. It took all my strength to beat back the alcohol monster I shall call Gollum.
For those that don't know, Gollum (or Smeagol to give him his correct name) is the fictional character in the Lord of the rings who strangled his best friend with his bare hands to gain possession of the one ring. He later mislaid it in the Misty Mountains and spent the rest of his tortured life trying to get it back.
Gollum is my nemesis. If I starve him of what he wants most, he shrivels up and crawls back behind his rock in the dark recesses of my mind. If I feed him alcohol, he begins to take control of my life and tries to destroy me. Gollum is the alcoholic voice that you must overpower.
I was finishing up work at about 5 pm last night when Gollum began to remind me that it “was time to take in some alcoholic beverage".
It doesn't seem to matter how many not drinking thoughts you have during the day or how determined you are not to drink because when Gollum comes calling the pied piper is playing his tune.
Why this is, I have no clue. It has been given a name – addiction. But that doesn't go anywhere near to explaining why it occurs. Why would the human mind, that tries so hard to preserve life itself, be so determined that you should poison yourself?
I sat alone with these thoughts a while and of course considered the option of drinking. Then my wife decided that she was off to see her daughter and have a drink.
Then my son decided he would go with her.
These are dark moments. Left alone to my own devices drinking would be the easiest option. I wrestled with Gollum for fully an hour, and the battle waged backwards and forwards, to and fro, like a playground seesaw with two overweight 50 somethings doing their best to bounce the other off the end.
The mental battle raged in my mind until finally, mentally exhausted, I wrestled him to the ground and beat him back into the murky depths of my consciousness. This too shall pass.
This saying (this too shall pass) is one of the most potent weapons you can utilise in your fight against addiction. The moment will pass. Thirty or forty minutes of mental anguish is a small price to pay in exchange for a future full of promise and hope.
I am the victor today, but there will be more battles ahead in the next few weeks, and I must be vigilant and prepared for them when they come.
One solution to this problem is to have dinner at around 4 pm. Eating always precludes drinking. If you let yourself get hungry, then you are opening yourself up for a Gollum attack. Just like a real war the route to victory lies in being prepared. You are of course, always open to a surprise raid so be vigilant, eat well and drink plenty of water.
This battle of conscious mind vs the subconscious mind is a complete mystery. The subconscious mind controls your life and puts you on autopilot. Tasks, like driving a car, or picking products on a production line, can be done with no conscious intervention. Have you ever commuted to work in your car, got out at your destination and wondered how you got there?
All through the journey, your subconscious mind took the controls while your conscious mind worked on listening to music or solving your life issues.
All addiction is fought in mind, and it is in the conscious mind that war wages. But why should this be? If your conscious mind knows that alcohol is poison and is harmful to you then why should it argue against itself that you should drink it?
How can you make a rational choice when you are under attack from within your own ranks? This is like Manchester United trying to win football games with Jose Mourinho at the helm.
Part of the answer is that subconsciously your mind has been perverted by constant TV watching. Corrupted by the adverts that promote alcohol and product placement in your favourite soaps. We all know that cider is refreshing, whisky is cool to drink, Guinness is a man's drink and Stella... oh Stella with her voluptuous curves, dancing bubbles and salacious glistening drops. Stella, Stella, why have I forsaken you?
Because the drink that is formerly known as “wifebeater” has been given an advertising makeover. That's why. Although of course, this doesn't explain addiction that manifests itself in other ways like cocaine or other drug abuse but yes, you can do yourself a big favour and stop watching TV in the early days of recovery.
For myself, I'm limited to watching Liverpool FC, and that's it. All other TV has gone. The Sky subscription has gone. All those catch up TV recordings and stuff that you can't miss – all gone.
What you see and hear is what defines you. Walk into a supermarket and see all those crates of beer stacked up and it whispers to you. Stop going to the supermarket, do your shopping online instead.
If your mind controls your addiction, then stop feeding it indicators that alcohol is a good thing. Do everything in your power to force Gollum back under the cold, clammy rock from whence he came. Banish him from your land of hope and glory. Send him packing to lands hitherto undiscovered in the outer reaches of your mind. If you feed him, he will quickly grow and loom over you like the monster he is. Starve him out of existence. Put him back in the zoo with a huge "don't feed the animal" sign.
As he becomes weaker, so your power over him grows. "Back in your box!", "Get thee gone thy monstrous devil". He will bow to your command if you stop feeding him that which he craves.
This is why moderation doesn't work. Continually feeding the beast and keeping it fit and healthy is no way to combat addiction. The only answer is sobriety.