An Alcoholic Says Sorry

An alcoholic says sorry

About a year ago I wrote an article apologising for the hurt and pain that I caused by my drinking behaviour. For some time time now I have been meaning to record the video version of that apology. This is that video.

An alcoholic says sorry

Hi, John here.  I recently made a commitment to the members of bottled up that I would  do a video series talking about recovery, my own recovery, and probably talking and in more general terms about what recovery is, what it means, what it entails and how you do it.  This is the first video of that series.

Now this one’s actually a bit different from most of them, because what I want to do in this one is something which I’ve done before on paper, but I’ve never actually done on camera.  I want to apologize. I want to say sorry for many of the things that I did when I was drinking.

One of the things about starting to look at recovery, is that we need to look at what we’re recovering from.  You can’t actually recover from anything, unless you know what you’re recovering from.  And, for me, what that means there is a need to know what the problem was at that time. I had to look and say this is the problem and also what did it entail and what were the consequences in my life.

When I look at some of those consequences, some of the things that I did, some of the behaviors, then I have to say I’m deeply ashamed. I’m deeply ashamed of some of the things that I did, I’m deeply ashamed of the person that I became and I’m deeply ashamed of the hurt that I did to other people.

I consider myself, and I did, even at that time. I considered myself a good man.  You can fill in whatever you believe that actually means, but I considered myself a good man. I wasn’t a bad man I wasn’t a thief, I wasn’t a liar, I wasn’t a violent man, I wasn’t somebody who had affairs.  That’s what I believed.

But when I took alcohol, it was different. I’m not saying that I was a violent drunk, but I scared my wife.  And yes, I’m not proud of it, but I pinned her up against the wall and I terrified her.  I was very vocally aggressive, vocally violent and I look back now and I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed of that.  I can’t turn  round now and say well that wasn’t me it was the alcohol, but it was me.  I was a person who chose to take that drink that resulted in me behaving in that way.

I used to say I didn’t have affairs.  I did!  In my head I had many, many affairs. Most women had the good sense not to take me up on it, most women had the good sense to avoid me, because it tended to be when I was drunk that I wanted have affairs, I wanted to sleep with other women, other women just didn’t want to sleep with me.  My head was a cesspit and I’m ashamed of it.

I used to think it was a good provider, that I brought money into the house, but I spent money as quickly as I brought it in, quicker sometimes.  And at the end of my drinking we were heavily in debt.  I bounced cheques in bars, I bounced cheques wherever I could, anywhere I could to get money. And I stole money, I stole money from the household, I stole money from our home stash of money, I stole money from my wife’s purse. I stole money wherever I could, because I needed it to feed the habit and I have to say, I look back at that and I’m ashamed, I am ashamed.

These are some of the big things I’m ashamed about.  These are the big betrayals, the violence etc but there are also the small betrayals.  The betrayals that happened on a daily basis, the lies, the trust that is eroded through alcoholism.  And I did, I lied, I lied and I lied and I lied.

I didn’t lie about everything but did lie about alcohol.  I lied about how much I drank, I lied about whether I had drunk, I lied to go for a drink I lied about the money, I just I lied, I lied a lot and I could stand there and look my wife in the face and tell her a barefaced lie.  Most of the time she didn’t believe it but I expected her to, and for the erosion of that trust I’m ashamed.

And then there are the promises, the promises that I made in a regular basis – “I promise won’t drink again” and I drank!   I promise to be home at a certain time and I wasn’t. The promise that this week I’ll take her out and I didn’t.  The promise that……….., you know you name it,

I made many, many promises.  I promise to clean the house, or I promise to fix the things that were wrong with the house and I never did.  I’d find money and I’d go drinking.  So, my promises were worth nothing and that again betrayed the trust and when I got sober, I expected her to trust me and she didn’t and who would blame her, because I lied and I cheated and I did all of them and for that I’m ashamed.

And sometimes it’s these small betrayals that are the most insidious but also the most severe.  The big ones tend to happen from time to time. The small ones happen all the time and they just erode the trust, they erode the relationship.  They just wear it away.

So, finally my wife turned round and she said to me, as she was walking out the door, I don’t love you anymore I don’t like you anymore and I’m leaving before I hate you.  At the time I thought it was harsh, but I look back on it now, if I had been in her position, I don’t think I could have stayed nearly as long as she did.  I don’t think I could have coped with me and I don’t think it would have wanted to cope with me.

The person I was at that time was as I say a liar, a cheat, a drunk, violent, angry, aggressive, and most of all selfish very, very selfish and if you are out there and watching this and you’re probably watching it wondering what to do with the drunk in your life, then I apologize to you.  I apologize on behalf of drunks everywhere. I apologize for alcoholics because it’s the family that gets hurt more than anyone else and that’s why my wife and myself started bottled up because we want to put something back in, we want to make amends we want to help the people who suffer this on a daily basis.

 My wife suffered it for 29 years, not my first wife, she divorced me.  My current wife also lived with an alcoholic, that’s Lou who’s the other part of bottled up.  So she knows what this is like, she knows the day to day hurt, the day to day lies, the day-to-day lack of trust, the pain that goes with lying and living with an alcoholic.  She knows all that.

And when we talk sometimes about the past, we don’t do it very often because we live in the present, we live in this time, this is not because we have forgotten the past, far from it.  I used to say that I got sober to save my life and I did, I was given six months to live.  I got sober to save my life, but I stay sober to have a life.

And we’ve got a good life and that’s why I don’t dwell on the past too much, but I don’t ever want to forget it.  I don’t ever want to forget what it was like and more to the point what I was like, because the person I was at that time, that was part of what got me sober when I looked in the mirror and I couldn’t stand the person that was looking back at me, I hated that person, I hated him with a vengeance.  So, my only option was to change.

 I didn’t change just because I was told I was dying.  I changed because I’d already died inside.  That was the real thing that kicked me into sobriety was my abhorrence of this person in the mirror, this person I had become and the hurt that I caused all around me.

So, I just say to all of you who are watching this, I am truly sorry for what I did, for the pain that I caused, for the suffering that I gave out. I truly sorry for all of that.  And I’m truly sorry if you’re being hurt by another alcoholic.

I’m sorry, thank you.

7 Replies to “An Alcoholic Says Sorry”

  1. Hi John,

    Thank you for putting your experience out there? My struggle hasn’t gotten to that point. I don’t even have a beer a day now. The last beer I had was a few days ago. And, I literally took it for medicinal reason. About a third of a bottle relaxes my respiratory system. (I went on line and found out it was the barley in the beer. Barley tea doesn’t work quite as well however.). I offered my wife the rest of the beer as it had done it’s job. Though she declined, in wanted her to know that I did not ‘need’ it.

    My problem right now is that I am struggling to get my family to look openly at the our domestic or family issues for what they are. It is easy to blame them on my drinking or my mother moving in. (She’s 87 yrs. old with some dementia.) Here is where bottled-up has been such a help. Alcohol is no longer what I am using as a coping mechanism. Now I am working on patiently helping my family work through a daughters teenage years. Not masking the problem with alcohol is real progress for me. Once again, I thank you for this site!
    Take care,

    1. Thanks for the comment. Really good to hear that you no longer ‘need’ alcohol. I understand what you say about it being easy to blame all problems on your drinking, and you are almost certainly correct that not all of them will because of your drinking. However, people change at their own pace and it is difficult (if not impossible) to speed it up. A mistake that problem drinkers often make is that when they address their drinking, they expect everyone to forgive, forget and move on. They become frustrated that their family and friends are not ready to do that. We need to be patient and listen to them instead of expecting them to listen to us. Well done on what you have achieved now just let your family catch up.

  2. Thanks for sharing about your experience, John. I am trying to understand my problem drinker, her motivations to drink, and I hope, her motivation to stop. Hearing about your experience, of course isn’t the same, but it is still helpful. She does not drink everyday or always to excess, but she drinks frequently, an often to excess. She claims it helps relieve her anxiety. But from what I’ve read about the physiology of alcohol, it exacerbates feelings of anxiety, which leads to more drinking.

    1. For many people who have an alcohol problem, much of the drive for drinking is about feelings and immediate gratification. Yes it is true that alcohol exacerbates anxiety in the long term, but it is a depressant so in the short term it relieves anxiety. Unfortunately the anxiety will return worse than ever when the alcohol wears off and it will require a higher dose of alcohol to relieve it. This is the vicious cycle of addiction!

  3. Hi I’m new to this ,I’m always sorry but struggling drinking still stop. What makes things worse .I’ve being deceitful and shame leading me to depressing from drink

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