How Times Change
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How Times Change


This post was originally published on August 23, 2013.

I met up with an old friend yesterday—the best man at my wedding in 2000. He was spending a Sunday afternoon with his gorgeous partner and his equally gorgeous baby daughter. I had taken my kids and my niece out for the afternoon and so we met them on the beach. He’s one of those friends that even if you don’t see him for six months, it doesn’t affect the camaraderie between you. He’s just a really good guy who deserves nothing but happiness and I do believe he is a very happy camper these days. We caught up on the happenings of our lives at present—our work situations and our kids. His little girl is 13 months old but he won’t say 13 months because 13 is bad luck so he says that she is one year and one month old if anyone asks. We then laughed at the fact I got married on the 13th of May so it was no wonder why it didn’t last—even though I know it not lasting had very little to do with a number and far more to do with immaturity, alcoholism and general unmanageability. But we found it amusing nonetheless.

He told me that when he and his partner were out recently, the first thing they remarked to each other when walking into a bar was how loud the music was. Once upon a time, in a past life, this man had been a DJ! Yep, he had been the Fatboy Slim of Wexford Town and boy could he bang out the tunes. Sleazy house music was his forte and everyone loved him for it.

We were both actually products of the 90’s rave era. Back then, if we heard a beat accompanied by the sound of electronic music, we considered it pure sacrilege not to dance. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of people would descend upon a lonely stretch of beach or abandoned hay barn to dance ourselves into a frenzy. Of course illegal narcotic substances had a huge part to play in some of the frenzification but mostly it was about the music. It was a time when everyone loved everyone and random strangers would come up and hug you and tell you they loved you—not unlike, come to think of it, a 12-step meeting.

I loved every minute of those parties. I felt as if I inhaled every note coming from the speakers as the DJ played uninterrupted tracks. Hypnotic rhythms sent me into another world where all I wanted to do was dance, dance and dance some more. In 1994, I was 19 and lived for my social life. They were simpler days. I tended to try on my many outfits for at least two hours before deciding what I would wear. My very favorite piece of clothing was a pair of white PVC pants which were sleek and shiny and very tight—even though they didn’t work too well for an all-night dancing session since working up a sweat was a prerequisite for any raver worth their salt and PVC kinda made things sweatier than was comfortable. I also refused to go out without my high heels even though I would always end up throwing them in a corner somewhere while I danced in my bare feet.

And then of course there was the party after the party and quite often that happened at my house. I lived with a girlfriend and a few other people whose names escape me now. My buddy the DJ would be on hand with his decks and endless vinyl records containing spine-tingling delicious music to carry the party on into the next day. He would sip away on his bottles of Heineken while carefully selecting the right tune, quite often in hysterics over the room full of crazies dripping with sweat and making weird faces. The crowds at these after parties got so big that we even started to charge at the door. Sometimes, afterwards, we’d sit on the quay front by the fishing boats smoking pot and watching the sun come up. I remember one particular morning when a friend freaked out because we were throwing cigarette butts into the water. “Have you ever seen a fish swimming in your ashtrays?” he asked. Of course we replied no and he proceeded to lecture us on why we shouldn’t be making ashtrays out of the fish’s home. When you’re full up with alcohol and drugs, this kind of thing has you rolling on the ground in inconsolable laughter.

But for me, the laughter never lasted. That year I was hospitalized again for my drinking. I drank a liter bottle of brandy and woke up in the hospital on a drip…again. Our group of friends started to drift apart—some had children, some got married or moved away. For me, alcoholism continued to control my life, its grip so tight on me that it almost killed me. Today I am happy to say that my disease resembles a silk scarf draped delicately around my neck rather than the suffocating noose it once was. Yet I still carry it with me every day and behind the good memories, there are equally bad ones which I cannot afford to forget. Forgetting can mean complacency which will, undoubtedly, lead to relapse.

Yes indeed things have changed for me and I’m certainly happy that they have changed for the better. Today my joy comes from watching my children grow up and my laughter comes from the hilarious things they say. I’m experiencing sanity and peace of mind for the first time ever and I fall asleep gently at night instead of passing out and waking up with heart monitors and tubes coming out of my arms.The past is the past and there is nothing I can do to change it. There’s an old timer in my home group who has a saying that always hits me in the heart: “My future isn’t what it used to be.” For that, I am grateful.

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About Author

Nicola O’Hanlon is part of the blogging community for the recovery website You can see her blogs on She was born and still lives in Wexford, Ireland.