Achievement and Loss- The 7 week Mark

Seven weeks and my overriding feeling is not one of achievement but one of loss. Why is that?My head says well done but my heart says at what a cost.  Our minds can play funny games with us and mine is currently playing the ,”Your drinking wasn’t that bad Jim, lighten up and enjoy yourself,” game.  Very seductive.  Very appealing.  Very half true!

In some ways this “thing”, this going sober, would be much easier if my drinking had been truly out of control and I was waking up trembling in the morning craving my first litre of  super strength lager. But it was never like that.  The drinking wasn’t ruining my life but it was nibbling at the edges and being a person of some excesses, when I drank, I drank with gusto. I nowfind myself remembering the many ocassions I did drink moderately (usually because it would have looked unseemly to do otherwise) but conveniently repressing days when I’d inexplicably reach for yet another drink, spending a day alone getting into a drunken stupor and then feeling shit about myself for around 3 days.  I conveniently forget  the hangovers that stopped me doing my Saturday morning runs or led me to spend a day eating fatty foods to soak up the booze. Well I’ve just reminded myself . Yes, of course there were good, sensible, rational reasons for stopping.  Health, sleep, energy, but boy can good intentions be boring.

This is the thing, despite my ego and superego (apologies to Freud) acting like some sensible parents, my instinctual, childish ID says, “Fuck off you boring killjoys, being human is about experience, we are all going to die anyway, let’s at least have some good times before the inevitable annialation!” Naughty ID! A bit of a drama queen but I get his point.  I do miss much about drinking.  I know the facts.  I know the science but stopping drinking is more than feeding yourself the sobriety propaganda. That gives you some reason and motivation.  It helps.  But I have to recognise aScreenshot 2019-10-21 at 08.18.01.pngnd grieve for what I have lost as crazy as that may sound.  Drink gave me some release.  It was a drug I chose to take because I liked its effects.  It also gave me companionship and an identity. I was bloody good at drinking so it gave me a strange kind of warped kudos and standing.   Of course there were negatives and side effects but those were understood to be part of the deal. You pays yer price.

So what am I saying? God knows. I’m suggesting I suppose that like many things, going sober is not as black and white (for me and I can obviously only talk about me with any certainty) as I thought it would be.  It’s clearly a process.  There are real pluses and I’m grateful for those otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this.  But I have to acknowledge the downsides and probably the biggest of these is the loss of identity, ritual, and shared activity that drinking gave me.

An example of this is when I eventually go to Spain to visit relatives.  I need to visit but I put if off. Why? Because I know that something will be missing. They live in Valencia and a typical day will involve late breakfast, a trip to the centre, beers, chat, meeting friends and tapas. Not much beer or wine but steady, small amounts. A light, sweet feeling of mild intoxication and then a restaurant where good food matched with fine wines is the order of the day. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, or I say to myself, spending a day like that with a non alcoholic beer or soft drink is not going to be the same.  That experience is now dead to me, it’s something that happened in another life.  It was good and it has gone.

Seven weeks.  I have done well and I have no intention of giving up my giving up, but I must also grieve and reorganise my identity. I need to find new ways of getting the comfort and buzz, that not just alcohol, but it’s associated rituals and hinterland gave me.  Maybe it’s the grieving rather than a physical dependency that makes many return to booze. Maybe knowing that that is what is going on and giving myself time will help. There was much that was good about my drinking days. Acknowledge the loss, feel the loss, grieve for it and move on. Better days await.

Apologies if this is a depressing post but these reflections have been swirling around and it helps to write them down.

Jim x

22 thoughts on “Achievement and Loss- The 7 week Mark

  1. limetwiste

    7 weeks. Well done😁
    Keep going. This is your journey and do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable in your new sober skin. There is no one way. Grieve if you need. Remember good times. In the beginning days of being sober it feels like you are giving up something, missing out but as you add days you realise what you are gaining.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Yes I’m guessing it takes time, o think last time I have up for 3 months knowing it was only temporary. This time I want it to be permanent and it just takes some adjusting to a new reality. Thanks for the comment 👍

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  2. ceponatia

    Loss of ritual is an important thing to note and while it’s definitely painful, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Everybody’s life is full of rituals and habits; that’s not inherently a bad thing. Alcoholic’s lives, however, are full of negative rituals. One of the reasons rehab is so successful is that it teaches people how they should be living and gives them several weeks (or months if they’re that bad off) of practice. In A.A. they call it “doing the next right thing” and that’s one of the few things I’ve taken from their mentality.

    I also understand the feeling of missing out when you’re out with people and can’t drink. It’s not even so much the alcohol, it’s that you can’t join in with people in something they’re doing. Regardless of how sober you are, you’ll feel a little left out as they talk about their wine or beers. You can’t describe the floral notes of a diet coke as well as you can with a merlot. This is why I still avoid going to those kinds of places with friend and family. I know I won’t be tempted to drink but it just SUCKS to watch them fawn over their cocktails while I stir my fork around my plate.

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  3. sobrietytree

    “I was bloody good at drinking so it gave me a strange kind of warped kudos and standing.” Oh yeah. I hear you on that one. Though I couldn’t actually handle as much alcohol as most in my entourage, I was kind of the life of the party? Or at least so I believed. Talkative, lively, vibrant, social glue, yada yada. (Or maybe it was just a lot of yada yada. ;))

    I relate to a lot of what you say here Jim. But, I think, like it did for you, there came a point where I was not moving forwards anymore… no matter how hard I tried to moderate, it was that meme that we see everywhere, “If I tried to limit myself I couldn’t enjoy it, and if I enjoyed it I couldn’t limit myself” (or whatever the exact words are).

    I’m still grieving over this, briefly and periodically, even 6 (almost 7!) months in. But I find I only grieve when I am clinging to nostalgia, and when I’m not working nor planning for the future, even the future of this one day. When I immerse myself in the moment, and in planning for the future, I am thrilled with my sobriety and realize it’s the best thing I’ve done for myself.

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      1. sobrietytree

        Well, for me it definitely comes and goes. Yesterday was not a good day. Although I didn’t at all crave a drink I did think back on “the good old days” fondly. Honestly just after I sent that comment to you, I was like “WTF, why do I say extreme things like that.” I know why, it’s to (perhaps stupidly) cheer myself and hopefully others up. But if I could have undone the comment right after, I would have. What I realized just after posting it was that since I wasn’t an extreme drinker, I’ll never know if choosing total abstinence from booze truly was the best thing, until my life is officially ending, and hopefully that’ll be decades into the future. And likely, if I’m still choosing total sobriety then, I won’t be thinking about sobriety having been the best thing, but rather, I’ll be basing the worth of my life on any capacity to love and/or help others, most particularly those closest to me. One thing I can keep straight, though, is that for this day, and maybe this day alone, not bothering with the numbing and self-indulgent drugs feels right.

        I love your presence here on WP, thanks for your honesty Jim. 💛xoxoxo n/stl

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      2. Jim Simmonds Post author

        Hi Nadine what was the “extreme” thing you said.? It all seemed perfectly reasonable and honest. I always value your input. I like the fact that your views and posts show the complexity of life. It’s very easy to see life in black and white, but you highlight the shades and that’s important.
        Jim x

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  4. nomorebeer2019

    Ah, Jim, you speak important words! (Oh, and the line “naughty ID!” made me burst out laughing. I can hear it in my head now, it’ll definitely stick with me^^). I also used to be really good at drinking. I am a measly 5’1 but I used to be so proud that I could knock back several pints of heavy IPAs and hold my drink better than most guys. I wanted to be one of the guys and prove that I could even beat them at their own games. No wonder I could beat some of them: I was probably the only one drinking every day 🙂 I really empathize with the loss aspect. The only thing I can say is 1) Yes, grieve/mourn it. The loss is real, and it’s ok to feel this way. Repressing your feelings of loss would be the mistake. Grieving is moving forwards! These feelings, like all feelings, will pass (DUH^^ thanks for nothing, Anne!) 🙂 2) In the face of loss, the best thing to do is strengthen your own separate identity – separate from the object of your loss. Who is sober Jim? What does he love? What is he good at? What do others love him for? Dig deep into it!! and 3) The “shitty ex-partner distortion glasses” principle (yes, I just made that up, but it fits your metaphor of drinking as a co-dependent relationship ): Obviously, when we lose something or someone, we tend to focus on the positive aspects/memories and forget about all the crap that made us want to leave/quit in the first place. That really annoying habit they had. That horrible hangover you got sick of waking up to. The fact that maybe at some point we might have thought “I want my life to be better than this”. If you’ve made it 7 weeks (CONGRATS) its because at some point “past Jim” had had enough of the unpleasant and upsetting elements that alcohol had gradually introduced into your life and that outweighed the pleasant ones. Remember those shitty moments and make friends with the new you and you will be ok !!! 4) I wish I could go to Valencia right now – hahahaha you lucky sod! Ok, I’m sorry for the interminable comment. Hang in there Jim 🙂 You’re gonna ride this wave like a hero and come out of it triumphant 🙂 🙂 🙂 xxx Anne

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Anne! What can I say? Wise words. You should charge for your comments😀I love how you are so generous with your time to give such thoughtful comments. Your ex is not only a twat, he’s completely bonkers (English term meaning all his screws are loose and is used to describe someone who makes irrational non sensical decisions such as splitting up with a lovely, lively intelligent blogger usually answering to the name of Anne).
      Jim x

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  5. Dana

    Quote, but can’t remember who wrote it – “Nothing ever happens quickly. Nothing is ever, ever easy. Most of all, nothing ever goes perfectly according to plan.” Point being, you are doing it never-the-less! -xo

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  6. Addy

    You are bound to get those thoughts. I can only compare it with my love of chocolate. When I tell myself I need to lose a few pounds and tone up, I try to not buy chocolate, but then my cravings make me sit at home feeling self-pity that I am missing out on something good, life is too short blahdy blah….. You are doing so well and I know you would kick yourself, if you slipped up even temporarily., as you’d be back to day 1 again and that would be soul-destroying. Seven weeks dry is such an achievement. As I have said before, the only thing I can suggest is to keep busy to distract those cravings. As for visits to friends, and especially ones abroad, it is hard, I know, but if you tell them your predicament, I am sure they would sympathise and be tactful in your presence. You can still have fun with them, if you try to banish all thoughts of “what you are missing” and concentrate on the lovely experiences you are having instead.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      What you say Addy is right , I just wanted to convey something of the mixed feelings that myself and likely others may have. It’s a path I have chosen and I do see real benefits. It’s also exciting but it’s change and change is hard.
      Jim x

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  7. Untipsyteacher

    Jim, I know these thoughts!
    I had some very fun times with drinking too!
    I had to grieve that loss. I think most people do, at least the ones I’ve met!
    Of course time helps, but even now, I miss a glass or two of wine with a romantic meal with my husband, or at a dinner party with friends.
    But, when my drinking was bad, I made life miserable for myself and him.
    So, steady on I go. I still don’t think of forever. I just think of today,
    Much Love,
    Wendy

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Wendy it’s great that you can relate to these struggles. You’ve been there, done that so to speak. There are bound to be some downsides but I can see already that it’s worth it and I’m definitely in this for the long haul. Thanks, as always, for your support. X

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  8. msnewleaf

    I’m a couple months behind here, but this post really resonates with me. It IS grief. At one month in, I’m definitely grieving at times. I can see how the future (and even the present sometimes) will be fantastic in many ways because of quitting booze. But that doesn’t change the fact that some things are now changed forever. Thanks for this honest post. It is very helpful. And by the way, some of your other posts are hilarious. Thanks for that, too!

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi , thanks for your comment, I’m glad the post resonated for you. I have to say at nearly 4 months the grieving has lessened although this time of year is difficult with nearly all the rituals seeming to revolve around drink. Well done for 2 months and hopefully you’ll find this a friendly bunch, very supportive. Jim x

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