Dave's Progress. Chapter 28: The Spiritual Hangover

OK, it's time to admit it. Sometimes, on the odd occasion, I have been known to drink a little too much. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm an alcoholic, but I do think I am prone to the odd binge which leaves me feeling not only physically unwell, but also seems to upset my spiritual equilibrium. It's all a far cry from when, in my teenage years, the odd binge drink was regarded as just part of the fun. And indeed, this great English tradition seems to have gone on and you can see the evidence of it in any major English town centre come the weekend. God knows, even the government is beginning to take note of the effects of this unusually British phenomenon, where you go out to a club and get so pissed that you can hardly stand up, become belligerently aggressive, maybe become over amorous with the opposite sex, and then go home, donner kebab firmly fixed between your teeth, chilli sauce running down that new shirt you'd just bought from Next.
As for myself, I used to view drinking somewhat romantically, through rose-tinted spectacles, so to speak. All of my heroes growing up had been writers, and for the large part the ones I admired had been raging alcoholics. F.Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Faulkner, even Chandler and Hammett had been known to put away their fair share of alcohol. So it was that I shared their solitary pursuit of sometimes drinking 'till you dropped. Perhaps most famous of all though for his drinking habits was Charles Bukowski, even making it the subject of many of his books. He was also famous for going with prostitutes, and I remember a story about him that he had once slept with a 350lb lady of the night while barely conscious through drink. C'est la vie, non?
But what about that old phrase "in vino veritas". And this is where I come to what I mean about the "spiritual hangover". As I've grown older no longer is alcohol simply a pure joy and the repercussions only physical. The hangover's I now get are spiritual ones, in that I wake up, combing over the night's previous events, which alcohol seemed to make a good idea. Often, I am full of admonition and contrition for myself. Why did I make that stupid phone call? And just how did I end up in a strip club at 4 o'clock in the morning? The answer is, my friends, alcohol. And no matter how much I say I will never do it again I always seem to do it. It may be weeks, months before I indulge myself again, but somehow it always seems like a good idea at the time. And somehow it always feels like a bad idea the following day.
On a more sober note, there was a point in my life when alcohol seemed to completely take over. It was when my mental health was at its lowest ebb, and I used alcohol as a coping mechanism in the absence of any effective medication. I can only say that there is nothing worse than being seen as a drunk. Even the health professionals, who are supposed to be largely non-judgemental, appear, from my experience, to be hugely judgemental of people who abuse alcohol. They just can't seem to stand the supposed self-indulgence and self-pity that goes along with drinking too much. But, I think an important point is to be made here, as many often turn to drink, as I did, in response to their mental ill health and a system which would appear to fail them. After all, dual diagnosis of both substance abuse and mental ill health seems to me to be quite common. Having been through the mental health system, I can without doubt say, that there are many out there who turn to drink in their hour of need.
Anyway, I'm glad to be out of that situation now. Although I do still drink, it is nothing like on the level of what I used to consume in my darkest days. And, perhaps, having come through the experience commonly referred to as schizophrenia is just like one great big spiritual hangover, forever waking up to remember something about the way you have behaved in the past which sets your conscience ringing and ushers in waves of self doubt.
But anyway, here is a poem about the old demon drink which I composed whilst not too well. I will dedicate it to Charles Bukowski and u.v.ray, who has recently become a follower of my blog and lists his occupation as "drinker". I hope you enjoy my poem and alcohol never consumes you as it once did with me. The poem is called "The Legend of the Holy Drinker" and goes as follows:

Too big for the world,
So the world made him small,
And every time he took a sip,
The bottle took something out of him,
Instead of him taking something out of it.

And then one day he met a prostitute,
Had sex with her without regret,
But she was a flunky,
A heroin junkie,
And betrayal was her major subject.

So eventually she acknowledged his pathology,
But stole away his own ideology,
That everyone deserves a second chance,
The legend of the Holy Drinker left jammed,
Stolen and locked away by others' hands.

That's all for now from your normal, average delusional and paranoid man.


dcrelief said…
Dear David,
I relate to some of these experiences, with the exception of the prostitute (I'm hoping!).

This is a really nice post, and I loved the fluidity/descriptiveness of the poem. You too have often inspired me, through your writings, to focus on things that bring me joy. I wish you joy!

My peace to you, Dixie :)
u.v.ray said…
I enjoy reading your posts. I enjoyed this one. Drink has never been an escape for me. I love my life. Drinking has only ever been a pleasurable part of it.
David said…
Dear dixie,
Thanks for your comment. I hope I can continue to inspire you with my ramblings.
Peace to you too, dc, and may you continue to inspire with your own blog.
Yours with Warmest Wishes,
David said…
Dear u.v.ray,
Thanks for commenting and becoming a "follower" of my blog. I hope you continue to enjoy reading my posts. Must say it is quite flattering to have another published writer enjoy my writing.
Thanks once again,
klahanie said…
Dear David,
Another informative blog that I shall briefly touch upon one theme.
In so far as drinking goes; I had to realise that 'Mr. Alcohol' and me were not going to be good friends. Indeed, there was a time I thought booze was my best buddy. Turned out to be my worst enemy.
Ironically, I started drinking to numb out the fact I was becoming mentally ill. Instead of working in my favour, it made my mental illness more profound.
I am glad that you have managed to maintain a healthy balance with your drinking. Moderation and understanding the potential consequences of alcohol abuse is the key.
As always, an honour to visit your blog, David. Warm regards, Gary.
David said…
Dear Gary,
I know that for many of us who have had the misfortune to experience mental ill health that the bottle has at some point been a coping mechanism. That's why I hope I have made the serious point about dual diagnosis. I know at one point, with me, people mistook me for a simple drunk, whereas in fact I had serious underlying mental health issues. I still maintain, that despite what psychiatrists have proposed, that my drinking only came as a result of enduring mental ill health, and they should have seen it that way, instead of making the erroneous assumption that I was just indulging myself.
Thanks for your comment amd as always with Very Best Wishes,

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