Monthly Archives: January 2020

I Love Dry January

In my last post our immature, childish Jim was let loose and ranted on about how Dry January spoilt his sense of being special. Well it’s time for grown up Jim to redress the balance.

So here goes, Dry January is a great idea.Simple.

It was interesting that some USA bloggers were unfamiliar with the concept. Over here in the UK we have had to put up with numerous American imports; trick or treat, line dancing, McDonalds and that great celebration of crass materialism, Black Friday. Thanks a lot.

Well in return I think the US should import Dry January. It’s a simple concept. During January, when typically very little happens, quite a few people try going a whole month without drinking alcohol. It’s a noble concept that harms no one and eases the pressure on A-and E departments, relationships and policing.

Some people say it’s tokenism and I get that. Many who start crack after a few days but a significant number stay the course. From that experience some cut back on their overall alcohol consumption whilst others extend the experience into other dry periods during the year. 

For me Dry January was my first tentative step towards giving up alcohol let’s say for the foreseeable future.  I first tried it about 6 years ago and although I did manage the whole month, it was tough.  It really struck me that I had never gone so long without a drink since my late teens; even in January there were so many events and encounters that involved alcohol.  I experienced cravings, feelings of denial, but also towards the end of the month better sleep, loss of weight and it became clear to me that alcohol or the absence of it were significant issues.

The first month of stopping drinking is always tough so the Dry January experience really does highlight how we have become physically, socially, emotionally and psychologically dependent on this drug alcohol.

Dry January helped me see this and gave me that distance from alcohol which aids reappraisal.  More, less successful Dry Januarys followed and led to alcohol free days in the week and ultimately to a more alcohol free months at different points in the year. Going back to the alcohol always resulted in the pattern of excessive drinking returning within days and so finally I arrived at deciding it had to go completely.  That was 5 months ago and there’s no doubt, the first month was the toughest.  

Dry January gave me the perspective and courage to go long term alcohol free and I’m now in that place where I don’t feel I’m being denied or missing something, quite the opposite.  I feel I have discovered a better way of being by being AF. It’s healthier, liberating and life enhancing.  There are some downsides at times sure but I am in no doubt whatsoever that going from Dry January to Dry Life was one of the best decisions I have made. So shut it Jim junior, Dry January is cool or as the Spanish say, “Chula.”  

For the Americans reading this take Dry January, promote it and make it your own and please, please, please take back Black Friday and bin it.

Jim x

 

I HATE DRY JANUARY

Ok I’m getting on, I can’t deny it or fight it.  I’m 64 just like the Beatles song laments. 64! It’s not the new 44 it’s bloody 64. With age should come wisdom and some maturity and yet at the age of 64 I have just had what can only be described as a childish temper tantrum. I have thrown my toys out the proverbial pram.  I want to stamp my feet and scream,”It’s not fair!”.  This time it’s not the impending disaster of Brexit, the new virus about to engulf us or global warming, it’s DRY JANUARY.

You think I’d be happy.  I’ve stopped drinking, I’m a Soberista.  I am part of a new movement, part of a paradigm shifting change of consciousness. Sober is cool.  Trouble is it’s only cool when there’s a few of you doing it.  Cool is shunning convention, taking an alternative path.  For the last 5 months I’ve been cool, the sober one, the man of mystery and intrigue, “Did you know Jim’s not drinking, he’s a different man, I think he now hangs out with cool people, engages in 5 hour tantric sex sessions, he’s so unconventional, oh Jim you are just so fucking special.” There that’s it

I WAS THE NON DRINKER- THE SPECIAL ONE

NOW, well now it’s Dry sodding January and suddenly everyone is a non drinker. They stop for one measly little month and act like the big I AM. Makes me sick, more than that it makes me, well, just like everyone else.

On Friday I was at a concert. Cafe style set up, bring your own food and drink.  There’s me with my AF beer, expensive Seedlip and tonic, thinking that’ll impress this crowd of boozers but when I look round and I see a sea of Non alcoholic drinks.  Everyone has apparently gone alcohol free.  Then it dawned on me, it’s dry January.  Great! Suddenly I’m not special. I’m just part of the crowd.  I nearly went out and bought a bottle of Absinthe just to be different.  “Get a grip Jim,” I said to myself.  I survived the night even though no-one came up to me to tell me how wonderful I was for not drinking.  That was tough as my new cravings are validation and praise for being self denying and inspirational.  It passed though. I didn’t even make a scene.  I wanted to scream out, ” You fair weather soberistas make me sick, you think 4 weeks of not drinking makes you my equal, well think again, you’re pathetic.  This time next week you’ll all be drinking again after indulging in a sober porn wank fest.” I realised I was in danger of losing my mind. My care worker took my hand as she could see I was agitated.  We left early.

I hate Dry January.

Jim x

Lazy and Complacent- Almost!

Two weeks!

I’ve not posted in over two weeks, not really read other blogs or made comments. I feel so ashamed it has made me even more reluctant to come on here. But now I have to face up to my dereliction of duty. I hid my head in shame until an angel showed me the light.

Claire (ditching the wine) recently emailed me a spoof Jim blog to spur me into action. I was touched.  Someone cared.  She wrote, pretending to be me:

“I know, I know. You are such a caring, lovely bunch, your first thoughts are bound to be ‘Why? Is he ill? Is he on a bender? Has he struck up a recording deal and is now planning his world tour?’ Nope! Afraid not. Basically he’s just become very complacent. This also translates as being a lazy arse. He can’t be bothered with his blog any longer. He’s sober now. Moving on. He’s leaving all your bloggers behind. He might ‘pop’ in from time to time, to keep the fans happy but otherwise he doesn’t need it. “

Now I know Claire was/is being ironic. She is a nice, caring and compassionate person as are all the lovely sober bloggers and yet….  there was an uncomfortable accusation within. Could there be a germ of truth in what she had to say? Sure, I could make excuses and to be fair, they are pretty good excuses; work, commitments, planned big events,  relationships etc but these affect everyone.  I carved out time before, so what’s happened? What’s different? I think Claire hit the nail on the head; COMPLACENCY!

20 weeks sober, Christmas and new year successfully navigated, cravings and urges to drink very intermittent; yes I suppose there has been a bit of complacency kicking in.

Claire continued to write;

We all know this isn’t about what we write, or whether we are 5 days, 5 months or 5 years sober. This is about community, support and connection. We all need help it at different times, and when we feel strong that’s the time to help others that don’t. Jim will learn. He’ll see it eventually.

She’s right of course (God it’s so hard to admit that!), giving up booze and the boozing way of life is not a static thing it’s an ongoing process and I only got to where I am thanks to those who are further on the journey but looked back down the path shouting their support and encouragement.

So thanks Claire.  I needed that proverbial kick up the pants.

Complacency? Yes a little and that can be a bad thing.  Last week I played a table tennis match and met a new player on the scene.  He was very defensive in the warm up.  No attacking shots.  “This will be easy,”I thought to myself. “Just attack and he’ll fall to pieces.” Except he didn’t.  He returned every shot, did so with unexpected amouts of backspin and wore me down into a frustrated mess. I underestimated him. HE BEAT ME! How dare he! I was supposed to win.

Pride and complacency, right before a massive fall.  It happened in table tennis, it could happen with alcohol. I can almost hear that voice,” You’ve done brilliantly Jim, you have shown you can master alcohol, you are the Uberfuhrer of Soberistas.  With that amount of control you’d be fine at just allowing yourself the odd glass of Merolt/Shiraz/Malbec.Go on man, live a little, you deserve it, sod all this denial.” Get thee behind me Bacchus!

Yep the little voices are still there, tempting me so no room for complacency.

Then there’s the need to reciprocate.  I have benefitted massively from the likes of untipsy teacher and others who have been sober for years.  They continue because it’s not just about one journey, not just about them, it’s about supporting others; it’s about community. I need to do my bit. I still need the support or may need it.  I need to try and support others as well in whatever way I can. So  thanks Claire, for prodding, poking fun, bullying in a nice way and cajoling.   I needed that.

Now I just need to think what to post!

Jim x

 

 

Finally – Being Sober Trumps Drinking Booze! (No Contest)

To anyone reading this who is doing dry January or is just a few weeks into going alcohol free, I know what you’re going through! It feels like denial, it’s difficult, you’re giving up something you like, is it worth it you think. These are the things probably going through your mind.

After 4 months and after experiencing many of those same mental tortures I can say this; it does get easier, you will feel the benefits, the cravings lessen, even though the pressures do not, but something else then happens. Or at least it did for me and I know for many others that have stopped drinking.

Something magical happens. A turning point, a revelation if you like. You start to see giving up alcohol as preferable to drinking it. Sounds simple but it’s actually monumental. What started as denial and giving up becomes like receiving something wonderful and it feels liberating.

I’ve had a few experiences like that in the last month but yesterday was something else. I had a day out in London where not only did I not drink, I didn’t at any point want a drink , I was pleased to be sober. No doubts no qualms. It felt quite simply great. Best day out in years.

It started by the simple act of driving to the station. Normally a day out in London in the past meant lots of alcohol so no car to station but asking for lifts or ordering a taxi. First act of liberation. I then arrived in London and had arranged to meet a small group of fellow Soberistas; a small group of people that I’d never met before but who shared the same goal of giving up booze. No difficult moments or questions with this bunch. None of us drank alcohol. That in itself was liberating. Straight into the nearest pub for a coffee. Then on to one of this great little cafes you can still find tucked away in the less fashionable parts of Covent Garden. Poached eggs, sausages, bacon, beans, sourdough, a brilliant full breakfast all for just £6.50. All the time, laughter, great conversation, more coffees, fruit juices. We were having a great time. Why did I ever believe you need alcohol to feel at ease with new people? Within a couple of hours it was as if we’d known each other for years. Simply liberating.

Then later hopping on tubes, visiting the V and A , Hyde Park, swapping stories and experiences. A great day, getting to know new people and actually listening to each other not getting slowly pissed. After a wonderful day full of enriching, warm conversations and companionship we went our separate ways. I actually stayed awake on the train, drove myself home and was then able to spend my evening productively. It was so much better than getting drunk, talking garbage and falling asleep on the train, waiting to be picked up and the losing the rest of the evening and the next day to a hangover.

During my day out I never once felt denied or that I was missing out. If anything I look back at all my drunken trips and now realise how much I was missing out on those days. Lost opportunities. For me the penny finally dropped. Life was better sober.

I hope those in the early stages of not drinking stick it out. After the struggle really does come the liberation. Many say the same thing. I have come to see that life is better, brighter and more fulfilling sober. Yes it takes time but it’s worth it. Try it but give yourself time to get the conditioning and social pressure out of your system.

As a postscript I have to add that spending the day with other sober people really made the day extra special. Thanks, you know who you are! Just think, if we were still drinking we would never have met! Let’s do it again soon. There may be some who might want to join us! 😀

Jim x