I knew this would happen. It’s my 6th day without alcohol. Sunday to Thursday all pretty good. Sleep not great, no sweaty shakes or massive cravings and then comes Friday. I’ve been dreading today because I know for me that my drinking patterns and my cravings are more social, associative and conditioned rather than psysiological. No cravings until today. Simply because it’s a Friday. When I did a three month challenge earlier this year the same thing happened , the craving mainly came on those days and ocassions I and many others associate with drink. And it is strange because I know alcohol is an addictive drug and changes our brain chemistry and yet it seems that the associations alcohol has for me with certain days and ocassions cannot be explained by addictive properties alone because if it was just about dealing with withdrawal that withdrawal and its effects should be consistent and they are not.
When I was drinking and trying to moderate, it was the same. My non alcohol days tended to be Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesdays and Thursdays were usually not too bad but Friday was when my drinking gloves came off, so to speak.
I think it goes back to my teaching days. Working in a London secondary school through the 80s and 90s was tough and emotionally exhausting. Friday night was when we separated work from the weekend. Drinking was the fast route to fun, abandonment, dodgy romantic liasons and leaving work behind. The trouble is you do that for 20 odd years and when work changes the conditioning still kicks in. I’m semi retired now, Fridays do not have the same end of working week connotations and yet I still feel the same build up towards wanting and expecting a drink. Today I knew I was not going to have one and boy did the cravings start.
I decided to divert myself. Get on the exercise bike, cook some apples, move plants, more exercise- inside I was screaming at myself-“But I want a drink I don’t want any more fucking excercise. Get a beer, sod the blog, enjoy yourself.” I cooked a dinner, I wanted wine. My partner who normally doesn’t drink fancied a beer. (She doesn’t khow I’ve stopped drinking but just thinks I am on a health kick). What is going on, who is doing this to me? I turn on the telly and the two presenters on the BBC One Show start pouring vodka. 7pm on a family show and they’re bloody drinking vodka, the bastards. A guest on the show, Ben Elton, is offered one. He tells the presnters he loves vodka and says “I’m an evangalist for booze!” Suddenly I feel like I’m the only person in the whole country not having a drink. The impulse to get myself a drink was strong. I really felt I was missing out.
I reminded myself of the many things I’ve seen in other people’s blogs about resisting cravings and reminded myself that I would not be able to have one drink and stop. I also reminded myself how I’ve started to feel a lot better physically and that I have to see things through because things do become easier and better. Then I thought, “I know I’ll write a post about it.” Purge those feelings in a hastily thrown together post which is what this is.
How do I feel now?
Better. It’s 8 pm. The worst is behind me. They’ll be no hangover tomorrow and I’ll have met my first big challenge. I’ll say it again- the knowledge that people in this blogging space are either striving to overcome their physical or psychologiacl dependance on alcohol or have succeeded in doing so is a massive support. For me as well having had that 3 month no alcohol challenge earlier in the year has really helped prepare me for nights like tonight. It really can’t be underestimated how tough giving up the booze is. Depite all the benefits we know about, many of us enjoyed our booze and its not easy saying no to it especially when it’s celebrated constantly in front of our eyes. But just because it’s ubiquitous doesn’t make it right or good or desirable. I’ve made my choice. I want to enjoy my life sober and if a few tough days is what it takes to achieve that so be it.
Right, feel better now. A cup of tea I think.