Working Away or a Functioning Alcoholic? Lies, Truth and Self Destruction

As I struggled to get out of bed to find my phone, that I could hear buzzing away somewhere in the hotel room, I knew it was my wife wondering why I hadn’t called. In fact, come to think of it, I wasn’t even sure if I had called and thinking even further, I was still drunk from the alcohol the night before!

After stumbling around I discovered the phone was underneath where I had slept and sure enough it was her, but rather than call straight back I had to ‘get my head on’. I went into the bathroom to swill my face but not before boiling the kettle for a hot drink to try and make my voice sound a little less like a sore donkey rasping. Also, to give me time to piece together in my mind about last night’s meal with clients, where I was, who I was with and then the big one… How drunk I really was? By now I had almost learnt not to call home in the evening after a certain time, or when I was drunk, because my wife could tell by the tone of my voice how many alcoholic beverages I had probably had, yet after all these years, I still denied it. I have been known to call her (and would do so many times again) to try and convince her I was sober, but of course this was never the case and clearly would lead to hostility between us, worry on her side and then resentment and denial the day after on mine, a probable indicator of a functioning alcoholic, carrying on as normal.

Before reading on it might be useful to follow this link to Alcohol.org – What is a high functioning alcoholic’

The day before had started with a 6.15 am  flight from the local airport to Germany where I had 2 days of informative presentations to deliver to clients on why our company was a leader in its field and confirmation on the benefits of a joint venture with us, before moving into final contract discussions with the lawyers. I arrived around lunchtime and with an afternoon of business discussions and getting to know more about each other and the opportunities ahead (with some good banter and prospects), I was ready for a drink. The taxi dropped the clients and I at the hotel for around 5.30 pm and I went straight to the bar after check-in with the plan to meet in the bar at 7.30 pm prior to dinner at 8 pm. One of the guys stayed with me for a drink and then went up to his room, whilst I stayed and had 4 or 5 more drinks before going to the room for a shower, taking a large glass of wine with me as I went. I was functioning well at work, but questioning if I was an alcoholic? I mean, this was normal for people who working away, surely?

Now was the time to call home. Not to early that I had to call again later, not too late that the kids were in bed and explaining that the busy day was to get busier because now poor old me had to entertain the clients and talk shop. Whilst on this phone call I was usually pacing up and down the room knowing full well I was feeling the effects of the alcohol already, so there was need for concentration.

There was truth in what I said. It was a busy day, it was stressful, tiring, and I was entertaining the clients, but I was also knowing full well that I would be drinking like crazy and even hiding swift ones from the clients whilst quaffing as much wine down me (and topping everyone else up) during dinner. Sure enough, this is how it played out, exactly as it had done many times before. Then back to the hotel and a nightcap before bed and ready to start in the morning, well, for most of the clients, apart from me & the guy who I had clocked as someone that also liked a drink…. We went back out on the town until when, I have no idea and only recollect leaving the hotel at approx. 11 pm and staggering to some bar. Then snippets of loud music and cigarette smoke? This is what is scary about blackouts. You really have no idea. I went through a stage of making notes in my phone to help put the pieces back together, something that sometimes worked well and other times not so well. On this occasion, I was blind!

Before calling home in the morning it was a must to check what the last time I had called or text messaged my wife, and also if I had called anyone else and what I was talking about. This was an apprehensive time and all because I was trying to hide my drinking, even though it was obvious I was far from sober. I just didn’t want the extent of which to be known. Whilst I would usually stay in touch via text, playing down the evening, on this occasion we had a result with no calls to mates or my wife’s mobile apart from a text from me at 11.15 pm (10.15 UK time) saying ‘Good night I love you’, which for the record, was never in question. More importantly the response came back, ‘Love you too, kids asleep and I’m in bed watching TV, talk tomorrow, night night x’. Result… I might have gotten away with this one.

After dunking my head and gargling with warm coffee, I call home just in time to speak to the kids before they go to school and as my mouth begins to open with a ‘put on voice’ trying to pretend I had been up ages, I am first to speak with a struggled but convincing (to me anyway) ‘Morning you lot, how are you all, sorry I didn’t pick up just now I was in the shower. This was just one of many lies in my arsenal along with ‘Oh my phone was on silent because it kept pinging in the night or ‘Sorry I had gone to breakfast and left it on charge’ or even ‘Sorry it had ran out of charge’ all equally feeble and pathetic designed to hide how much I was alcohol I was drinking and how rough I felt.

Eventually the question would come ‘Was you drinking much last night’ and then the biggest lie of all…’ I only had a few I was tired actually and fell asleep early just after I text you’. Ya! Who on earth in their right mind would believe that one and why on earth did I play it down? Truth is, I was steaming drunk again and had no recollection of getting into the hotel let alone into bed.

Phone call done, kids off to school and with my ‘Game face’ back on, into business mode, it was back to the office to carry on with the working day, away from home, pretending somehow all is rosy, but feeling refreshed in the knowledge that the client who stayed with me, was as rough as a badgers arse and clearly not used to it. The morning was a struggle on the inside, but with coffee, mints, and plenty of water, on the outside my professional guard remained. My thoughts always darting back and forth about wanting to go home, not drinking so much that evening and perhaps I wasn’t a functioning alcoholic and needed to moderate… Then back into work mode as quick as you like!

Lunch time arrives and after blagging my way through I am now ready to start again with thoughts of where we would take dinner in the evening and any moderation inclinations out of the window. Come the end of another successful day in the office and arrival back at the hotel, It is almost like a rinse and repeat, leaving the professional and successful day behind and flipping into self-destruction, with no on/off switch when it comes to alcohol. And it continued, as normal and regular. Functioning through the day job and hiding the fact that I had a problem with drinking, always questioning whether I was an alcoholic?

On the occasions when I wasn’t out with clients, it would be drinks at the bar, in the room and maybe out with colleagues and I was always the last man standing… or swaying. Nevertheless, I always got to work, I always delivered, and I always lied about my drinking.

This is only a short summary of one time on one regular day on business whilst working away from home and there are many more with far crazier events and worse consequences. Nevertheless, I will leave it to you to decide if this indeed is a day in the life of a functioning alcoholic or just what happens when working away, after all it has lies, truth and self-destruction!

Thankfully, it came to an end, but not after it got further out of control.

All the best…. Darren

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