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Farewell to the Houseguest

A Poem for Reaching One Year's Sobriety and thoughts on why I stopped drinking.

By Conor DarrallPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - December 2023
26
A very embarrassing picture. I am a very embarrassing person.

for Æ...go deo, and for anyone who needs to read it.

What a simple wee ruse,

just to lay down the tools,

I had clutched in my Hands,

Like a lover's grim news.

***

And then just let them stay,

With their keen edges left,

On a bench to the side,

For a twelve-month of days.

***

Never feeling bereft,

That I no longer yearn,

For my skin to be cut,

By their sharp, heavy heft.

***

(There is better to learn

and skills to acquire,

than substandard tradecraft,

and endeavours that burn.)

***

And the woodworker's tired,

Of the efforts involved,

For such short-term bonus,

There's just too much required.

***

No big equation here solved,

Just a tired hand's rest,

And the calming effect,

Of the seasons revolved.

This is a simple little ditty that I am sitting with at 19:55 on Friday, December 1st, 2023. I am drinking a cup of tea and vaping. Both are strong. I have smoked a bit of medicinal weed for the pain in my ankle. I am warm for the first time today.

In a few hours I'll have been sober for a year.

Last year I was attacked by a group of five (or six, genuinely not sure) men while returning from work. I managed to hold them off in a straight-up fight, whilst penned, for long enough to be saved by two Kurdish shopkeepers - immigration saved me…a point for another day. It happened directly outside Tottenham Police Station in London - who of course did nothing (a fact I admit because most people who do not believe the story hear that detail and think 'yes, that scans with London Police', which gives a bit of an insight into community faith in policing here.) They broke a lot of my bones, including the ankle that I've referenced a lot, along with damaging my thumb, wrists, knee, ribs, neck, back. I also lost the pitch-accuracy in my hearing that I had enjoyed and relied upon as a musician. (While never a pitch perfect musician - I also can't read music - I have always been able to tune to a note and give a note without context. It was a small little gift, and I mourn its loss.) It also robbed me of a large part of my mobility, secruity and sense of self for the rest of my life.

It aged me. I nearly died.

I'd imagine my writing reflected this...

At the same time I was undergoing a divorce, was involved with attritional 'discussions' with an income provider and had also recently been embargoed by the Trade Federation.

(That last bit might be an imagined memory. I was prescribed a very high dosage of painkillers for a lot of months)

I had also fallen in love, which, as you can imagine, hurt more acutely than the twisted, shattered wreckage of my leg.

Somewhat around this time I dyed my shoulder-length hair purple. This behaviour was seen as 'typically weird of Conor'. I can gather that I was not okay. My days were spent with my leg (pinned, agonised) elevated, and my mind slowly crumbling like the sanctity of any neat space I'm in. I was a purple-haired skeleton with a cat to talk to, my housemate, and a girlfriend in America I wasn't sure I had imagined or not.

In order to survive this time. I decided to stop drinking.

If you're reading this and booze has taken up a bit more space in your life than you like, I'd really always recommend giving sobriety a go: even just for a week. Alcohol can be pleasurable and wonderful and I never want to shame it; but our relationship just didn't work as a longterm thing. If you fancy changing it up, I'd say why not try a week?

And sobriety isn't necessarily a fix-all. I found that my ADD and verbal communication skills have been exacerbated by sobriety. Or...more likely, the problems were there but being masked.

For me, sobriety has never been a source of pride, nor a source of shame. I just genuinely stopped caring about booze and was lucky enough not to be chemically addicted. My continuing sobriety is not part of my identity. It's just a fact about me. I haven't signed a contract. No-one cares.

Death has never been a threat when it comes to drink, just like life is not an incentive. People who drink too much do so for a reason. I think that usually that reason can be worked on and helped. Sometimes life just needs a change up. I just needed to give myself a break.

Sobriety was a constant I could be in charge of.

I found a hands-off management style worked best. I imagine that I am a fucking nightmare to employ.

I mean this honestly: I put zero effort into my sobriety. I have found that my efforts in life generally fail or fuck-up anyway, so I decided to just not try, and fucking predictably, I have had a goddamn cakewalk of a time.

I always thought of myself as a drinker, a juicer, three-sheets to the wind and always slightly louche. A bit rogueish, a bit fun, maybe a bit sexy. It wasn't. I wasn't. I'm not.

It wasn't in the DNA of my culture either. I was just in pain.

I am luckier than I deserve in this fact, and I know that the situation is drastically different for many people, for a variety of reasons. My privilege blinds me from truly understanding how lucky I am. If you are struggling with your sobriety; I see you and I love you. If you feel like sharing your experience with me, I would be honoured to learn. (Please get in touch)

The effort for my sobriety has been put in by a few key people.

My partner, Ashe. The first person who needs to be thanked. Giver of a gift that I cannot articulate and of immeasurable value to me. Thank you, love.

My housemate and dear friend Jo (who literally fed, clothed and bathed me during this time). The cats. The dog. My drums. My blades. My writing pals. My Stab-Weasels. My Irish trad friends (THAT's a tough sphere to be sober in and you have been fucking beautiful to me. Discussing sobriety in the green room of a London theatre with Altan this year was so liberating...sobriety is something that a lot of people want!). My family. Strangers. Visitors. Thanks everyone for letting me do nothing.

They have put in the effort. They have listened. They have forgiven. They have apologised in the few rare, rare cases that required it. They have gotten closer or gone away as needed. They have allowed me to change. They didn't bother me with their versions of my sobriety. I wouldn't have listened.

So thank you, everyone.

I feel somewhat proud.

In the past a small victory would be celebrated by shaking hands with a few bottle of something flammable and oaky. I'm going to indulge in some music for this one.

I should say that I actually play the drum in this piece. So yeah, I'm still as self-indulgent as ever. I should talk more about my music sometime...

You should check out Joe's stuff here.

CD

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About the Creator

Conor Darrall

Short-stories, poetry and random scribblings. Irish traditional musician, sword student, draoi and strange egg. Bipolar/ADD. Currently querying my novel 'The Forgotten 47' - @conordarrall / www.conordarrall.com

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Comments (16)

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  • Mike Singleton - Mikeydred2 months ago

    Excellent work

  • ROCK 3 months ago

    Extraordinarily candid; well pieced with incredible gut. Bravo 👌

  • The Dani Writer3 months ago

    Wow Conor! This was a real eye-opener and inspiring read. I was just in Tottenham this past weekend. Life in England takes a while different set of kahunas. I am saddened by your losses and grateful for your victories. We are all on a journey and I will sometimes silently not understand how some people can ever be bored. Great top story!

  • Phil Flannery3 months ago

    A well deserved top story. Congratulations on all your successes this year, we all do life our own way and it sounds like you know yours. Regardless how much we live through things on our own, we never get through anything without help. You are a lucky man that you know this and are proud to share.

  • Caroline Jane3 months ago

    Congratulations. Love your mindset. inspiring. ❤

  • Rachel Deeming3 months ago

    Fair play to you. Good on you for recognising it and good on you for doing something about it. That takes a lot.

  • Donna Renee3 months ago

    Hey that’s amazing and I’m glad that you are past that awful experience now. 👏. I kinda understand the loss of part of the musical gift, I’m sorry that it was taken away from you.

  • Dana Crandell3 months ago

    Congratulations on 1 year sober and the Top Story! You have every reason to be proud, and your acknowledgement of those who helped in the effort is a testament to the man the alcohol was masking. Well done, Connor!

  • Babs Iverson3 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!!! It is wonderful to celebrate a year of sobriety!!! But, ohhhh what pain and suffering you went through because of thugs. With cameras all around, how can such behavior take place in London? Sending positive vibes and virtual hugs!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Melissa Ingoldsby3 months ago

    U have survived and thrived… truly a inspired and deep journey of pain, soul-searching and healing

  • Naveed 3 months ago

    Astounding effort! Keep up the phenomenal work—congrats!

  • Wow that was quite a rale and congratulations on a year sober!!

  • Natalie Wilkinson3 months ago

    I’m amazed you’ve kept your faith in other people after an experience like that. What a story.

  • Cathy holmes3 months ago

    Good for you, Connor. Thank you for sharing your story. Your writing here is so honest and flows so easily that, it feels more like I'm sitting having a drink and conversation with you rather than reading on my phone. Well done.

  • sleepy drafts3 months ago

    Just... eff yeah. Way to go, Conor. This is a great piece with some wonderful reflections. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey!

  • Jo Darrall3 months ago

    So blummin proud of you & this is wonderful. Love as always dear friend & soul biscuit x

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