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OTI Member Stories: Ian

For as long as I can remember, alcohol has featured heavily in my life.


I was born and bred in the North East of England and had the benefit of parents who cared. But both worked hard, and if I recall correctly, they spent the weekend evenings (and in my Dad’s case often the weekdays too) drinking in the local pubs and clubs. Holidays were plentiful but always based on drinking for them. I think they loved me, but let's just say it wasn't discussed. No hard feelings though. Different time and place.


Once I was old enough, I got a taste for it myself – firstly drinking around the Town, then university, then in my career when it brought me into the world of property. Networking with clients to me meant drinking… and I was good at it! Always competitive with myself, I saw drinking as another challenge. It also helped mask a huge inferiority complex. I felt I wasn't clever enough or that I didn’t speak eloquently enough to compete with these guys! Imposter syndrome.


Fast forward to now.


My drinking was becoming all-consuming. It was never seen as a problem externally – I was just a guy who liked a drink. But I was unhappy, and it was getting worse. As someone who’s always worried about what people think I was still drinking to ease social situations as well as in the house and on holiday. But the anxiety and constant focus on drinking were starting to get too much. I didn’t like myself and it was only going one way.


Downhill.


Having two teenagers in the house, I really don’t want a repeat of my childhood. I want to be present and enjoy these times and show them a different path. Be the best Dad and husband possible. Not perfect, but at least giving myself a chance and a clear conscience.


I hit fifty this year. Lockdown whilst grim and worrying has been a chance to reset and essentially keep out of people's way for a while. A perfect time to give this a go. Reset and focus on self-help.


And wow, do I feel better!


The main benefit has to be reduced anxiety and self-loathing. Weight loss, increased fitness, alertness and better sleep have all been benefits as well. And I like myself for the first time in a long time. I now have ambitions beyond my career that focus on spending quality time with my wife, children and closest friends. Not just getting buffeted by life and fitting in with what others want to do which typically involves more drinking.


So, the challenge going forward? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about going back to my old life post the pandemic. And constantly having to explain myself. What will I say? Will people think I’m nuts? Will they think I had a problem? Blah blah blah...


But I'm determined. Will I ever drink again? Never say never because there are people out there who want to remind you of your bold statements. But - really? Why would I want to?

There’s so much life out there when you take off the beer goggles and chuck them in the bin.

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