One Year without booze- now there’s a surprise!

On the 31st August last year I went for a meal to my favourite restaurant. I knew the next day I was starting a new life without booze so this was my no holds barred goodbye to booze feast. It felt like my last supper or maybe more like the last meal for an inmate on Death Row. It had all the hallmarks of some strange self created ritual. Waiters brining me a succession of favourite drinks; Czech lager to start, white wine with the starter, red wine with the main, dessert wine, liquors. It was my last night and nothing was going to stop me. I went home and drank gin and tonic until midnight. I half wanted to make myself sick, to wake up with an horrendous hangover to have that abiding memory, to stir my resolve for future times when I might weaken. But no, a month of constant drinking had increased my tolerance levels. I felt fine the next day. At the time I just wanted to enjoy my last day with drink. Looking back I can see I was indeed making a ritual of it, a rite of passage, an identifiable marker between one phase of my life and another. Having created that day of overindulgence and expense my new life of sobriety had to work. and it did; for today marks a full year without booze. I’m surprised that I have able to do it and I’m also proud as anyone who has done this should be. It was the right thing for me, but it has come at a cost. Crucially, I must add, a cost well worth paying.

Kinder Scout- Fond memories from being there in March and heading back there soon-nothing to do with the post but I love the Peak District!

Sure, pubs and restaurants just have not had the same allure since I gave up and that is a loss as I loved pubs.. I remember doing my counselling course back in 1990 and in one group exercise we had to revisit loss in our lives. It involved visualisation and we were all instructed to start our journey of loss through our lives from a place of warmth, comfort and safety. We started there and we ended up there. After the session we shared our “safe” places. For most it was either a family home or somewhere they had been with their family. My place where I felt most comfortable? – an English country pub with a log fire and beer. Says it all really but it made a few of my fellow students smile. Now I avoid pubs and a sadness for me is the realisation that much of my love of pubs was not the cosy surroundings or friends, it was the beer. Pubs were places I drank and I could drink there with an abandon I never could have at home. Some good times, some wasted times.

Even now I sometimes miss the experience of going for a walk and enjoying a cold beer sitting by a river or village green, so yes, I did enjoy a drink sometimes.

Then I remember how I needed a drink at other times; to overcome some social anxiety, to fit in, to feel normal.

Then there were the times when I hated drinking but I did it anyway- feeling lost, heavy with dysphoria, drinking to block or obliterate, torn in two hating it but watching myself pour another one.

So I happily exchanged the occasional enjoyment of booze for being able to rid myself of the need and hate it often brought me. It became an easy and obvious transaction. In many ways my life was on the line. Probably it was the best deal I ever made; but a deal is a deal and a deal involves parting with something. That’s the thing that needs facing and confronting.

Who needs a drink when you can walk in places like this

If I have a message for anyone who has got to the place where they know in their hearts that moderation will not work for them and alcohol is having too many negative impacts on their life; it’s this. You will be giving up more than a drug, you’ll be giving up lots of associations. We live in societies where alcohol is woven into the fabric of our social, cultural and psychological lives. When the physical craving is gone the other cravings and pressures will still be there. That’s when you need to remind yourself of why you are doing this. Get through that and you start to see the many advantages; health, sleep, relationships, productivity, financial – the list goes on. Never take those for granted. And be prepared for a battle.

So one year, great. I am pleased but it’s tempered by a realisation that I could have done a lot more with my life if I had stopped earlier. As I have said before, this blog has been key to me doing a year successfully. People sharing stories, the positive, the negative, ups and downs, things that have worked, traps to be aware of- all of this has helped me. I’ll also add that I’m quite competitive so there was no way I wanted to come on here and say I’ve had a drink. I like to win, fairly of course and so far in this “game” I feel like I’m 2 sets to love up. Games can change in an instant so as I go into year two, I’ll enjoy the feeling of winning at the moment but I won’t let down my guard.

Again for those in the early stages of going alcohol free; it’s a very individual experience but with many commonalities; you have decided it’s worth it, my advice is to plan for it, make a proper commitment to doing it, prepare for it, get support, always remind yourself why you’re doing it and what benefits you’ll get and strengthen your resolve. There will be times when you’ll want to abandon this challenge but you can get through those tough times and you’ll be stronger each time you do. On these blogs are stories like mine; people who didn’t think they could ever give up booze who are proving they can. Ordinary folk with extraordinary support. If we can do it with support so can anyone, so can you.

I shall celebrate today with AF sparkly wine and an Everleaf and tonic. I’ll also be able to carry on and meet some friends and play table tennis afterwards. No muggy feeling, no wasted day, no hangover. It’s great being sober! Life is fuller, richer.

No brainer really!

Jim X

27 thoughts on “One Year without booze- now there’s a surprise!

  1. clairei47

    An absolutely amazing achievement Jim. What would Angry Al say now if he hacked your post a year on eh? This is a wonderful post and your honesty regarding the deal we make being sober and the losses we have to acknowledge to succeed in this are so important. If we ‘sell’ the idea that sobriety is nothing but hearts, flowers and Disney we are not helping others achieve success in giving up booze and we are also dumbing down our own achievement. There are very few that manage to give it up after years of excess. You are one of the few and in my eyes that makes you a winner. Your son would be very proud of his Dad. I know I am.
    Claire x

    Like

    Reply
  2. Amy Helina

    I am so happy for you, and proud of you!! Since December, I have picked up drinking again, but am starting a new challenge, possibly going to the end of the year! I am confident I can do this. 🙂 Have you found any AF wines that you like? I’ve read reviews on a bunch that all say they are terrible. LOL. I do like my “mockerita” though, and enjoy it in my wine glass.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      THANKS Amy😀. Good on you for starting a new challenge. If you need any additional help just ask, lots of bloggers on here including me are more than happy to help! I do like Tescos low alc sparkling . It’s 0.5% which used to be classified as AF but now has to be called Low Alcohol. There’s zero alcohol kick and its not bad. Ever leaf is a great AF aperitif! Good luck X

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Collette- one of the many things I love about this blogging community is that we can be honest with each other – disagree sometimes but always respectfully. If only the whole world was like that. X

      Like

      Reply
  3. Sober Veg Mama

    So well said! “A deal is a deal and a deal involves parting with something”. Reading all these blogs of people similar to myself who say “keep going, the benefits outweigh the sacrifices” is SO helpful. Day 7 for us today. I am also very competitive which is one good thing about doing this with hubs – I don’t want to be the weak one, I want to be strong and for us both to develop better habits.

    Like

    Reply
  4. Dwight Hyde

    Congratulations, Jim! It can’t be stressed enough the courage it takes to step out of the fog. That place that was home for so long. Warm, cozy, with so much familiarity. You turned and faced the reality that alcohol was no longer working for you. Not an easy task in today’s society. You went with your gut instinct and took the leap of faith. I’m so proud and happy for you. You are a wonderful light for this community with your honesty of telling it as it is and helping many of us stay on this path with your encouragement. Great job my friend,

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Dwight, that means a lot coming from you as I think you effortlessly connect with so many on these blogs. I feel slightly guilty that I don’t visit other blogs as much as i should and that’s going to be one of my new goals for the coming year. Thanks for your support and encouragement. Who says us blokes can’t be open and sensitive 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. Lovie Price

    I’ve been fairly absent on here for the past few months but always try to catch up when can..you always have great stuff to say and impart.thank you….i also realize i have gotten away from some of the initial intent with blogging about sobriety issues and there fore haunt interacted with my “peeps’ as much as i used to so i beg forgiveness. As with most of us, alcoholism is life long, never “cured” . It will be a constant struggle and never a linear path. I have veered off recently a bit but not strayed completely. I still come here to read and interact for such support. Glad to have you and others around to keep me in check…hugs!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      You’re right about recovery being a constant process not an end point but personally it feels less like a struggle as time goes on and my ambivalence is drifting much more into the “glad I’m not drinking” side of things as opposed to the “I’m missing it “
      Thanks for your lovely comments and get back to writing! X

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s