I feel like an agoraphobic who has just let the situation get out of hand. You know, the longer you leave it to take those tentative steps outside the harder it gets. That’s how its felt with blogging, you leave it for a few days, then a couple more. You realise you really should look at some of your fellow blogger’s blogs and make a few comments. Show you’re still part of the community, but you don’t and then guilt kicks in. You deal with that by more avoidance and pretty soon it feels as if you’ll never get back. I say to myself that maybe I don’t need to blog any more. I started it to help me give up the booze, well job done, its been 9 months without drinking. No need to blog anymore. Except of course if everyone did that who’d be there to support the newbies? More guilt.
Time to stop the rot, open that metaphorical door and step out into open air of blog land. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed the interaction. I’ve missed giving and receiving the support. I know why I’ve been absent. Family issues, lack of focus and motivation; all, in the end, excuses. So what to report?
I did nearly start drinking again. For real.
Not in some miserable, what’s the point kind of way more in a “it’s a sunny day, I miss the warm fuzzy feeling of enjoying a great wine whilst sitting amongst the flowers and feeling at one with the world” kind of way. This must have happened to a lot of ex drinkers I’m guessing. That remembrance of why you used to drink in the first place-it was fun, enjoyable, it made you feel good. I loved my beer and wine and for a couple of weeks I thought to myself ,”Why on earth are you denying yourself Jim?”
Fuck the blog I thought, fuck that austere, fun-less world you’ve inhabited for 9 months. Life is too short. Others manage it. Everyone else on the regular Sunday Zoom family quiz was knocking back the booze and enjoying themselves. Stop the nonsense and live a little I would say to myself. You can be sensible. I pictured myself as a sensible drinker once more enjoying all the pleasures of booze without the downsides. I’d learnt my lesson so can I now join the living and go back to sociable drinking.
I came close, very close.
I put forward some damn fine reasons for me to start again. But something stopped me. I knew this was a big decision, a fork in the road that would shape my life’s journey for months or years to come. I gave myself a week or two to consider. If I felt the same way after a couple of weeks, I’d pick a day and I’d open a cold Guinness that I kept in the garage fridge, then I’d have one of my Belgian Trappist beers also in the garage. Oh this seemed a great day in the making. After the beers, my visualisation was showing me, I’d have a glass or two of a lovely Malbec that’s sitting in my wine rack and finish off with some large gin and tonics. Oh dear. I saw it all clearly. That’s when I realised I can’t go back to drinking. I wasn’t envisaging a single beer or a glass of wine, I was imagining a full blown binge drinking session which is exactly what would have happened. I don’t drink because I’m shit at moderating and before I know it I’d be back to hangovers, excess weight, irritability etc etc.
This, it strikes me is the real challenge of staying sober. Reminding oneself of how bad things had been, how easy it would be to return to those grim days, the days obsessing about alcohol, planning things around the next drink, moving quickly from the first enjoyable drink to the 6th or 7th where you start to feel rough and wish you’d never started. Looking back helped me make the right decision for my future. I gave up drinking for good reasons and those are still pertinent. It’s not always easy staying sober but it’s definitely better than what was there before.
A few days after my Jesus in the desert moment I decided to expand my range of alcohol alternatives as a distraction and investigated the making of Kombucha. I love drinking interesting tasty drinks and felt that Kombucha could fit the bill. I’ll leave the report on that episode for the next post. Suffice it to say I’m hooked. My moment of temptation had passed.
In conclusion I’d say to anyone in the early days of giving up, yes, you’re more than likely to miss alcohol and start to think you could have a different relationship to it if you started again. Those feelings of missing the booze do go and just remind yourself of why you gave up in the first place. I know I have more freedom, peace of mind and happiness sober than I ever had whilst drinking, For that I’d happily forgo the very transient, fuzzy feel good of what was often only ever the first few beguiling sips of alcohol. I made the right choice 9 months ago and it’s still the right choice. It’s good to be back.