Ambivalence (Trigger Alert!)

Ambivalence; mixed feelings, contradictory views- yup that’s me right now. So i’ve been 5 weeks alcohol free and part of me feels, “great achievement” and part of me thinks, “big deal.”  Yes 5 weeks AF and I’ve had lots of benefits; no hangovers, marginally better sleep, lower blood pressure, bit of weight loss, blah, blah, blah. Another part of me misses what I’ve given up – the bonhomie of drinking, the getting slightly squiffy and the sheer delight of sampling new beers often in cosy, covivial surroundings.

Life is often not black and white and so it is proving with this alcohol free journey. I went to visit my son and his girlfriend at the weekend.  They have moved to St Albans.  My son, not knowing I’m not drinking bought some of my favourite beers and some corking wines to go with some stonking cheeses.  This used to be my heaven. I tell him I’m not drinking.  We head off to the town centre and the pub for some food and a drink.  I order AF beer. They have real beer.  I feel terrible.  Why am I denying myself? I always used to love that first hit of alcohol. Now I sit there thinking about not drinking just like before I used to think about drinking.  Brilliant, we’ve really moved on haven’t we!

Tangent. ‘This Naked Mind.’  Seemingly the bible for the newly sober, amen. I read this and bristled at some of her arguments.  I get the idea, turn people off alcohol, it’s easier to give up.  Her argument about taste though really annoyed me.  She says that alcohol is ethanol, true, and that drinking it is like drinking poison, true, and that we may learn to aquire the taste but really we don’t like the taste of alcohol, untrue. Alcoholic drinks are not just alcohol. They are often complex drinks and alcohol carries taste. Try AF wine next to real wine and there’s no comparison.  The alcohol carries the depth and range of flavours.  Good wine tastes lovely! For me denying that wine can be tasty doesn’t help one bit.  In fact it puts me off ‘sober propaganda.’ I know alcohol is not good for you in excess but you can say that about many things that give us pleasure. I like the taste of wine and a well crafted beer.  I like the feeling of getting slightly squiffy.  Let’s cut to the chase- people drink because it’s pleasurable. There, I’ve said it. Apostasy. Sacrilege.  Jim’s gone to the dark side!

No, I’m just reminding myself that I have given up something that at various points gave me much pleasure.  My problem, and it is MY problem, is that I am an excessive person and you play the excess card with alcohol and you are heading for trouble.  I know this weekend that had I been drinking, a couple of pints during the day would then have transformed into several beers later on then gin and tonic and once the wine was opened… hello hangover and a ruined Sunday. That is why I am not drinking but I wish I could be a moderate drinker. Ambivalence!

So what stopped me drinking this weekend? I was seconds away from cracking.  I wanted the companionship and lightheadedness, the pleasure of drinking in company. But I didn’t drink. I thought of two fellow bloggers in particular, Anne and Nadine, of how they are peservering and how much the mutual support means to me.  I reminded myself of why I had embarked on this journey in the first place and I also knew deep down that I’d be really annoyed with myself if I cracked. I want to see how I feel about alcohol in 3 or 4 months.  It may well be I get to a point where weekends like this one just gone do not feel like massive feats of denial.  Life is for living and I want to savour it’s many pleasures, but I also want to be healthy and there is much I want to accomplish in the time I have left.

So, I’ll continue, not in the bubbly, naive, trumpet blowing way I started out, but in a more realistic way.  Life is often contradictory, our own thoughts and actions likewise, but there can also be moments of clarity, calm and certainty.  My hope is that after wading through the swampy mire of ambivalence I’ll end up on firmer ground.

Maybe. One day.

 

Jim x

26 thoughts on “Ambivalence (Trigger Alert!)

  1. Addy

    ” I know this weekend that had I been drinking, a couple of pints during the day would then have transformed into several beers later on then gin and tonic and once the wine was opened… hello hangover and a ruined Sunday. That is why I am not drinking but I wish I could be a moderate drinker.”
    Therein lies the problem. If you were a moderate drinker, there would be no reason to give up, but you recognise that you are not a moderate drinker. One drink would not harm you, but it would not stop at one drink. Greg always kidded himself after a detox that the occasional drink would not hurt. But as soon as that first drink touched his lips, he was drawn in and it led to more and more so that by the end of the week, he was back on a full bottle of whisky a day again and into the next spiral downwards urching towards the next hospital detox. Sadly you have to accept it’s all or nothing. Some people just don’t do moderate and it looks like you are one of those. You ARE doing so well and I appreciate it’s not easy. The thought or temptation of alcohol will always be there, but you have to be firm in what you want out of life from now on. The choice is ultimately yours, but it’s between that lovely bonhomie and feeling alcohol brings or the addiction in full swing and hangovers,damaged liver and regret.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Addy. Although my drinking was never at the level of your late husband I take on board what you say. I never got to the bottle of whisky a day stage but that’s because I too have seen what severe alcohol dependency can do and I always vowed that I would never let myself get to that stage. But as I got older hangovers last longer and I want to enjoy my latter years in as good health as I can manage and for me that does mean cutting out the booze. This last weekend was a big hurdle and was hanging over me for last week or so. Feeling more positive. Today and still determined.
      Jim x

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  2. ceponatia

    I’m not going to be one of those post-sobriety folks who tells you what you have to do or how you should think; I think you’re on the right track. It’s hard. Nothing good comes easy. In time your thoughts and feelings will line up with your desires and health goals. Waiting sucks but it’s all we can do sometimes. Hang in there, Jim!

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      1. ceponatia

        My philosophy is that life is mostly bad times peppered with good times, lol. Helps keep things in perspective.

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  3. limetwiste

    Acknowledging that you had enjoyable times while drinking is important. The moderation factor trumps all though. I can’t do it. I am 10 months sober and can tell you it does get easier. Completely worth it being sober. But you knew that already.

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  4. sobrietytree

    Aw, I loved reading this… so sweet to mention me (and lovely Anne!), thanks Jim. Heartwarming. I had a very tough time this weekend too (slight understatement). All the same thoughts. And all the same kind of thoughts got me to keep on keeping on. I’m glad I did. I feel better now. Whereas if I’d indulged, I would feel worse instead of better. That’s how I see it anyhow. Just like you.

    Btw I don’t think you ever started out bubbly, naive nor trumpet-blowing… you were pretty realistic and ambivalent from the start. As was I. I wonder if most of us are…

    xo n/stl

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Nadine, yes I feel a lot better today. This weekend was definitely a hurdle. Hope you are ok, been thinking about what you might have been going through. Whatever it is glad you are coming through it. You’re right that the ambivalence is a shared quality for many of us. That’s strangely comforting. Good to see you back blogging. 🤗

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  5. nomorebeer2019

    Jim, today I saw you had written a new post and it said “trigger warning”. My initial reaction was “hmmm better put off reading it until I feel more solid”… but then immediately followed a deeper, louder and more important reaction: “whatever, f***ck risking getting a craving, I get them all the time anyway, I owe it to Jim to read this and send him support, especially during these more difficult times in our journey”. And boy am I glad that I read it 🙂 We’re having very similar attitudes towards being AF right now – I am going to chose to focus on “realistic” a bit more than on “ambivalent”, just to give myself a useful suggestion ;), but the bottom line is: yep, the honeymoon phase is gone, welcome everyday ordinary (sober) reality !!!! The Naked Mind’s thing about taste and not being able to tell the difference between good vs bad wines really pissed me off too (I’m French after all! I used to love grape picking in the beautiful vineyards in Burgundy. Tell the French wine-maker that his product is the same as AF supermarket wine and he’ll punch you in the face^^ BUUUUUT, Jim, another true fact is that the very same winemaker – and I know several-, no matter how much we want to romanticize him, provided that he tastes his product on a daily basis, very often ends up becoming a heavy drinker with a red face, rosacea, 50 lbs of extra weight, a heart condition, he sometimes even has gout (no joke) – you get the picture. 🙂 And no amount of tasting or chugging or whatever can take that (sad) second reality away. (I know if I was a wine-maker I’d definitely end up with gout and spider veins all over my face and swim/possibly drown in my wine barrels ) 🙂 So yes: drinking is/was pleasurable, DEFINITELY (and boy how I miss it too!)! But repeat the same pleasure too often and 1) it’s not pleasure anymore, it’s the “norm” (just ar “ordinary” as the sobriety we are experiencing now. And down the line, it’s dependency and addiction and, therefore 2) it often becomes SO FUN (not pleasurable anymore) as it gradually turns into psychic, emotional -and down the line, physical- pain. Which is what is so easy to forget, but if we decided to go AF there was a reason, right? And that was some kind of UNPLEASANT aspect that outweighed the pleasure. The fact that you stayed sober during this challenging weekend (by the way, why on earth not warn your son in advance that you weren’t drinking? Did you talk about this at all? Jim, as a child of parents who have trouble sharing their feelings, I implore you: give your son the gift of being open / speaking openly with him! I know as hell my parents never gave it to me and I still hope that one day they will break out of their stiff-upper-lip-never-talk-about-the-real-stuff comfort zone/neurosis ! ANYWAY what I wanted to suggest/raise as “food for thought” in this comment that has now turned into a blog post, is that if you managed to stick to your AF resolution this weekend despite being with your son and despite all the triggers and emotions that came with that experience, it’s because your AF self and journey, in a way, are now REAL (solid, implemented), no matter how many ambivalent thoughts and doubts you have about them. The power of habit is taking hold. In a sense, it’s wonderful news that being AF is no longer a honeymoon (illusory) novelty but has actually become an ordinary, every day, unsurprising (stable) reality. One to work with. Last but not least, the fact that you mention Nadine and me as motivation made my heart swell ❤ and I want to return the shout-out: this week I almost threw in the towel and disappeared for a bit, but I thought of what it would mean to disappoint you and Nadine and leave this whole community … and that immediately shook me back into finding a bit of common sense, and I thought f***k NO. F***CK you cravings, doubts, thoughts. I'm not listening to you right now. So Jim, (I could have said it all in one short sentence, but you know me): LET'S HANG ON, like you did this week end (so proud of you!) ❤ xoxo Anne

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Anne, you lovely, wise woman you, and what a marvellously generous comment, in the sense of how much time and thought you put into it. Having got through the not drinking aspect of the weekend I do feel very upbeat about it now and I also had a lovely time with my son and his fantastic girlfriend. I did broach the not drinking as soon as he mentioned all the special beers he’d bought me. He was around when I stopped earlier this year and he was quite interested about it and his girlfriend was intrigued as to why I wasn’t drinking. Saturday night was tricky as they drank lots of red wine but Sunday we played foot golf, went on a long walk and finished with tea and cake (girlfriend’ idea ) and lots of cheese and no booze all day. I had a great time with both of them listening to lots of my old vinyl which I’ve passed on to him, so looking at it now it was a successful, open, warm weekend. What you say in your comments is absolutely right and your journey and dealing with the shit you’ve had to deal with and doing it sober is inspiring and motivating for me. This journey sure has its ups and downs but travelling with people like you makes it easier and exciting and dare I say, pleasurable. Thanks for being wonderful you. 😘

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      1. nomorebeer2019

        yaaaay Jim I am so glad to hear this and so proud of you !!! And it’s wonderful that your son’s girlfriend suggested tea and cake, she sounds like a catch 😉 Sorry if I was a bit intrusive in my comment 🙂 and last but not least, what on earth is foot golf ?!?!?!? 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  6. Jim Simmonds Post author

    She is lovely, and they are so good together. They are both real foodies which is great as well. Now foot golf is like golf but you kick a football instead of hitting a golf ball. The holes are obviously bigger but same principle. Great fun. Oh and when I say football I mean a soccer ball. Hope things are getting slightly easier for you?
    Jim x

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  7. Dana

    You’re doing it! I feel a bit “fake” in commenting, as you know I am not 100% sober. But then again, I want you to know I feel/believe you are doing the absolute right thing for yourself. Don’t give up, all those I read about who have stayed the course, say it gets easier. Anne, Nadine and you are like the Three Musketeers, “swing your mighty swords of sobriety” and unite against the Ambivalence! Fantastic job!

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  8. Jim Simmonds Post author

    You’re not fake at all Dana. You have moderated your drinking which I tried to do with limited success/ failure. I think successfully moderating is harder than giving up completely and I would rather have chosen the moderation route. What we have in common is a desire to live without alcohol ruling our lives, and there’s different ways of getting there. Oh and it is getting easier in the main , but those big occasions where drink is central, those are tough and will be for some time. I’m glad you are keeping in touch. It means a lot.
    Jim x

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  9. sobrietytree

    Absolutely amazing comments and discussion here… a joy to read. Anne, this insight from a Frenchie who did the vendage is golden, and I so agree on all points… sending love to both of you, you’ve been a huge support and I’m sorry I lost my faith in everything for a while there. Hugs and hope you are well. 💛💛

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  10. Jim Simmonds Post author

    Hi Nadine, I think the comments and replies are the best parts of the blogging process for me. Trouble is you need a new post to get comments flowing. Never quite sure what to write now as everything around sobriety etc seems to have been said. I’m sure I’ll think of something though 🙂
    I welcome the return of your faith and presence. Jim x

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    1. sobrietytree

      Hi Jim, glad I came back here because I didn’t get notified of this comment and I think the others aren’t either! I think it’s best if you “like” the comments, and/or reply directly to them (instead of to your post) if you want others to reply back? IDK. Anyhoo, I’m here because I just saw an email from you (I think); it was send on the 11th (finally back on my computer now, yay) and before replying I wanted to confirm that it was in fact you who sent it? Sorry for being cautious, but in light of recent stuff I need to check before replying with my life story. (Lol, jk, sort of; don’t worry 😄). Anyway, please let me know xo

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