03 September 2012

Back to the Past

I've been putting off meaning to clear out some of the dross in the integrated garage for a while, but have always found more pressing things to do or just couldn't be bothered. But things have been piling up in there, because the garage has always been the place to throw in things that were superfluous in the house, it is also used as a laundry room, storage for electrical/garden/car/tool paraphernalia and it houses our camping equipment (several tents ranging from two-berth to sixth-berth/chairs/mattresses/tables/cooking equipment and even the camping kitchen sink) which we collected over 15 years odd of serious camping. Not to mention all the paintbrushes and tins of paint that have built up over the years. There is a substantial shelving system along both long walls of the garage , but stuff has just ended up getting jumbled up and lost. Not only that but boxes of junk have ended up in there making it impossible to get from one end of the garage to the other. There's no way you could fit a Dinky toy car in there, let alone a full-size adult one.

Kay was away for a long weekend visiting a uni friend in Chester, so I decided it would be a good opportunity for me to get up to my eyes in dust, dirt and cobwebs and have a good old clear-out. It was quite a trip down memory lane going through all the camping stuff on the garage shelves, as I practically remembered each and every item and where we had supplemented things for our gypsy-like holidays under canvas.  As I touched things, I suddenly became aware that the last person to touch them had been Greg and I felt a pang of grief/nostalgia that I was touching where his hands had been and no-one else's since. The garage had always been Greg's domain.  He was responsible for storing away the camping equipment at the end of a holiday, getting it out again when it was needed and packing the car in the way he liked to pack it. He did a lot of therapeutic DIY in the garage, either making things for the house or constructing things to make our camping experience more homely. He spent a good part of his days off in there pootling about. But what I had not bargained for was finding this little hoard amongst it.

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Towards the last few years of his life when Greg became alcohol-dependent, he would try to convince me (and himself) that he was not an alcoholic,  but I knew he was buying small bottles of whisky to decant from larger ones and obviously hid them in the garage to take a sly sip from, while at the same time he was protesting to me that he was not drinking so much because, as he kept pointing out, the level of the larger bottles in the kitchen was only going down slowly . Over the last year or so, as I have decorated the house, I have found the occasional bottle stuffed away between books in the study or under his side of the mattress or even once inside a music hifi speaker, but finding this little hoard (11 bottles in all stashed amongst the garage shelves) took my breath away and brought everything over those last few years flooding back in glorious technicolour. It also left me very sad to think that he had to result to hiding them to con me and himself.

11 comments:

Furtheron said...

Part of the denial process of many alcoholics I'm afraid. People think the hiding etc. is from those around us to stop them knowing what we are drinking but in reality it is just hiding from ourselves in the most part. I never drank much at home, part of my denial was "I can't be an alcoholic I never drink at home". No I just spent endless hours drinking alone in pubs! Bizarre! To me the real awakening was in the period where I tried to finally control my drinking and filled in a daily drink diary. Only I read it, it was on-line and locked by a password... I lied on it repeatedly - that told me without a doubt that all the subterfuge, hiding, lying etc. were about me denying the issue. Many alcoholics have similar stories, one friend of mine recently demolished his old shed - he then had to dispose of about 50 "empties" that were under it!

Kelloggs Ville said...

So much emotion to be dragged up again each time they turn up. The sadness and grief of the last touch but do finding the bottles make you a little bit angry or has that passed? It made me a little bit angry reading it because each time I found a hidden bottle it made me feel angry because he was(is) lying to us all, including himself. PS...don't throw out any camping kit - if you plan to let any of it go there will be a scout/guide unit happy to receive it :)

Nota Bene said...

I guess that find was almost inevitable...but I hope the memories of all the camping trips were sufficiently positive to be the ones that remain the longest

htg1961 said...

http://www.alcoholicshare.org/2012/09/04/the-little-big-book/
please ead blog post - submit your story- best 50 published. Thomas Gillis

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It is sad isn't it, and I imagine very much something alcohol dependents do. I imagine it was sad to touch the things Greg had touched last but you've got through that now, albeit with a tear no doubt and much sadness in your heart.

Take care,
CJ x

165ab330-ba3b-11e1-90d1-000f20980440 said...

I have sent you an email, Addy

Doglover

Flowerpot said...

I can imagine how you feel Addy - I went through a similar experience. Very brave of you to do all that clearing out - and therapeutic, if painful.....

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I can only imagine how it must have made you feel Addy. Perhaps some part of you was expecting it and it is good that you have finally dealt with it. A x

Riggli said...

Hi Addy,
My husband is sober a year now after hitting a costly bottom. One of his jobs assigned by AA was to clean up his stashes and show me where he would hide his booze. Even though he tried to be thorough, I discovered many forgotten empties and dulls while packing up our home to sell this summer. I knew how bad things were for him, but never knew the booze was all over my home!

Riggli said...

Hi Addy,
My husband is sober a year now after hitting a costly bottom. One of his jobs assigned by AA was to clean up his stashes and show me where he would hide his booze. Even though he tried to be thorough, I discovered many forgotten empties and dulls while packing up our home to sell this summer. I knew how bad things were for him, but never knew the booze was all over my home!

wife in the north said...

Golly, how shocking for you. I hope that by finding them, and recycling them or throwing them out or smashing them into one million pieces, you feel you are reclaiming space that's really yours.