Definition of a bottle: “A glass or plastic container with a narrow neck, used for storing drinks or other liquids.” (Oxford Dictionaries).
As usual, it is something that I have seen or heard that has inspired this post. A simple bottle, seen and/or mentioned on a number of occasions, all related to people who have or do struggle with their relationship with alcohol.
I have been poorly since Christmas and am only just approaching functionality. This has led to a scary amount of time confined to the sofa with a duvet and hot water for company. I also had have the delights of daytime TV to pass away the hours, my mind too fuzzy for much else.
The first moment was on Judge Rinder. Not a programme I would normally tune in to, but I switched over mid-way through a particular case. My attention was attracted. A father was suing his son for money he had lent him for a car, as well as some rent payments that were overdue. What became clear was that the money wasn’t the real issue. This father was trying to shock his son into waking up to the reality that he was an alcoholic. His son needed help and the father was desperate.
This young man had a severe problem. He was having blackouts, was found unconscious and subsequently hospitalised. Sound familiar? He spoke about his drinking at work. He used to fill his Lucozade bottle with strong cider. He needed to the alcohol to function. It is not unusual for an alcoholic to dilute bottles of soft drinks with alcohol. I know that now. I thought I was getting away with it. In some ways it was a challenge – I know something you don’t know – kind of thing. Eventually people know, whether it’s in the work place or some other occasion where drinking openly wouldn’t be appropriate. Inevitably this guy found himself out of work.
This made me sad. Very sad. It made me sad because I would half empty bottles of coke and top up with vodka. This was a daily occurrence. I would panic if there wasn’t a bottle of “coke” to hand. This was one of the things that made my son really angry. I got caught out a few times. There comes a time when your secret is no longer as secret as you thought or hoped it would be.
This lad took the decision to seek help; he had been sober for 3 weeks at the time of filming. He knew and it was reinforced in the court room that he was only on the start of his journey, but he as following a programme and he was on the right path. I wish him (and his dad) all the very best for the future. I really do. I hope he can stick with the programme and make everyone proud, including himself.
The next time was on the Lorraine programme. Denise Welch was talking about her sobriety and the journey she has been on. Sober now for 6 years. She was filming with 3 other women of different ages, all talking about their decision to stop drinking and telling the nation why. It was the lady in her early 60’s. She kept a bottle of gin in her fridge. She had a dinner party. Her husband offered the guests a gin and tonic. The gin bottle was full of water. There was nothing she could do. A moment of realisation.
In honesty this is a typical trick of an alcoholic. 9 times out of ten you could get away with it. I would often fill the bottle with water, go and buy supplies, then top up, replacing the missing alcohol without anyone noticing.
My third instance is from “Call the Midwive”. I love this series for so many reasons. The social history is amazing. The personal challenges faced by individuals are very real and topical. There is no doubt that Trixie and her problems with alcohol hit a chord. I watched the new series at the weekend and was moved by Trixie’s contribution within a support group. I would encourage watching and listening. It is towards the end of the programme. It moved me to absolute tears. It was such a real summary of what it feels like to be an alcoholic. It summed up how I feel. I could not have said in it such an impacting way. I will be catching those words and keeping a record. I will address them at a future point. It was so subtle but so powerful. (link below)
Back to the point of bottles. In my poorly state, I had also watched some past episodes of “Call the Midwife”. There was an episode where there was the acknowledgement of a problem, a light bulb moment for Trixie. Colleagues referred to Trixie’s bar, all the wonderful colourful bottles lined up in her room and would take bets on what concoction it would be that evening.
A bottle is an everyday object. For most it is a practical container. It is the receptacle for our milk, our orange juice, our shampoo, indeed anything that is liquid. For an alcoholic the bottle is one thing. It contains what we crave the most.
The allure of the bottle. The desperate need of the bottle. The attraction and desire to the bottle. The panic as to the absence of the bottle. The panic as to the emptiness of the bottle.
It’s all so real.