Our Story Of Addiction – Part 3 | The Twenties
Ever the conservative one, doing my best to avoid any further drama and chaos in my life, my early 20s were somewhat uneventful.
At 21 I met my future husband (now ex) and, having come out of a physically and emotionally abusive relationship a few months earlier, I was lured into believing that he was the person I needed in my life, simply because he seemed nice and ?ormal? I fell full force into our relationship without really noticing that what I felt wasn? reciprocated. The biggest thing for me was that he was kind, he never shouted and he never drank more than a beer or two so, I ignored the early signs of imbalance in our feelings for each other and gave as much of myself as I had to loving someone I believed I could have a good ‘normal’ life with.
At 26 I was to be married and from the moment I opened my eyes on my wedding day I knew what I was doing was wrong. I wasn? excited, I wasn? happy. Somehow, suddenly, I understood that I was marrying a man who didn? love me in the ways I needed him to, in the ways he needed to for us to be happy. But it was too late and the show must go on. I walked up the isle feeling sick in my heart and stomach and married someone who was my friend, but nothing more.
We spent the first 2 years going through the motions. I tried to ignore the prevailing feelings of being unloved and unwanted. I told myself that marriage wasn? all butterflies and rainbows, and that I was simply expecting too much. But the unhappiness eventually became unbearable and I fell into a depression that had me regularly curled in a heap, crying uncontrollably but unable to explain what was so intensely painful. The fact was, that it all was. Everything I felt and believed about myself, and the situation I was in, was breaking me down, and it hurt like hell.
2 and a half years into my marriage, lonely and no doubt open to any kind of attention, I fell in love with a man I worked with, a man who made me realise what I was missing out on. I rediscovered the feelings that I had never had with my husband and he made me believe that I was loveable, valued and wanted although I knew it could never go further than the few stolen moments we shared together
I told my husband that I had feelings for someone else and his only comment was that he was disappointed I was interested in someone outside of our race. I couldn? believe it. That was his only issue with his wife falling in love with another man. I knew then what my value was in my marriage. What my value was to him. And 6 months later when I was ready to face up to the fact that we had nothing left in our marriage and asked my husband why we should bother continuing, he gave me a list of reasons that included all of the financial and material advantages of staying together, but he never once told me it was because he loved me. Or even liked me. I never came into the equation and so I asked him to go.
Dave? 20s, in complete contrast, were a whirlwind ride that showed no signs of slowing down.
From his teens, right through his 20s he continued to excel in his football career and secured a number of semi-professional contracts, which brought him local recognition and a constant stream of extra cash. A full time job as well as his football earnings meant more money for alcohol and gambling but even with a decent disposable income it would never be enough to keep up with either activity.
In his mid 20s, during the season that he scored his teams only goal against Tottenham in the FA Cup, Dave become a father. It wasn? a responsibility that he was willing to face up to at the time and he walked away, choosing to convince himself that his girlfriend had been unfaithful and the child wasn? his. When things went well on the football pitch Dave was a super star but everything that didn? go to plan in the rest of his life was someone else? problem, someone else? fault and in his way of thinking could easily be ignored or avoided if it didn? suit him, especially with the help of alcohol.
[See this Fast Forward post to read about how Dave finally got the chance to put this part of his life right]
All relationships were indispensable and Dave bounced from one to another without ever looking back. It seemed at one point that he might actually settle down when he married one of his football groupies but the marriage didn? last long, doomed by Dave? preoccupation with football, alcohol, gambling and women, in equal amounts. Dave seemed to barely register this event in his life course and to this day, can? say why he married this girl, apart from a recollection of wanting to get back at her father with the bill for the wedding, which was a typical footballers affair and cost a small fortune. Going along in life with no real plans was the way it was for Dave. His relationships weren? any different. They started, they finished and in between he caused chaos of all kinds. Then he simply moved on.
Around this time, a sign on fee to play for a new club provided Dave the entry investment for a sports goods store, which should have set him up for life. With big name football sponsors such as Diadora providing $500k + of sell or return stock, all the right connections and exemplary sales skills it should have been an easy win for Dave but he was already well out of control of his addictions by this stage and all the money made in sales, was taken from the till before it ever reached the bank and dropped straight into the pokie machines. 2 years later the store folded with a mountain of debt and the suppliers recalling all stock. As had become his manner of handling any obstacle, Dave relied on others to bail him out and then moved on again as if nothing had happened.
Dave had managed to navigate his way through the next few years with addiction at his heels but not long after he signed on to another new club he began to spiral downwards. For years he had been confident and well respected for his abilities as a footballer and had enjoyed a lot of success. He was considered ?omeone?and was able to mask his problems behind being popular, the fun guy that all his mates liked, a loveable rogue that the girls couldn? resist. But when he went to the new club he suddenly felt like a no one. He no longer felt good enough and knew that his hey day was over. His confidence in his abilities dropped and the answer was to turn to the things he trusted to help with those feelings, gambling and alcohol. His indulgence in both increased and soon it began to affect his game in ways that didn? go unnoticed. His worst fears were being self fulfilled, and eventually after a shoulder injury he was dropped from the team. It signalled the end of his football career and the beginning of his full time career in addiction. With his football career no longer a driver to maintain some semblance of normality he let his life unhinge and unravel however it may.
Check back soon to read the next installment ofOur Story.
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