The bitter taste of success

I didn’t want it, I didn’t ask for it, I don’t like it, but my buttons have been well and truly pushed. I have, like some other bloggers on here, managed to go alcohol free for just over a year now. I have known for probably 20 years or more that my drinking was problematic. I sometimes drank to excess, I always drank more than was good for me, I planned my days and weeks around drink and it was a constant battle preventing myself drinking even more than I was. I damaged friendships with my drinking, I upset my children on occasions and 3 marriages probably attest to the fact that it had an adverse effect on my relationships. I tried cutting down but I eventually came to the conclusion that I had to stop. I prepared for that, I researched it, I sought the support of bloggers and I set a date. 1st September 2109. I haven’t had a drink since. Has it been easy? No. Have I wobbled? Yes Am I proud? Yes.

So what’s the problem? Well I have been on the end of some strange comments by one person in particular seemingly annoyed that I have so far succeeded in giving up and then even more strangely suggesting that the only reason I have been able to be successful is that I don’t really understand addiction. Presumably the logic runs that true addiction in insurmountable so anyone giving up wasn’t really addicted in the first place. This I find insulting and is the logical refuge of the alcoholic who isn’t ready to let go of their addiction or sees it as somehow on a different scale to everyone else’s.

I certainly can see that addiction or dependency is a scale and some are further along that scale than others but to attack someone’s sobriety by saying you couldn’t have been an addict because it was so easy to give up is essentially saying true addiction can be proved by constant failure. That simply is not the case. Overcoming addiction is tough, it will be tougher the greater the extent of the addiction but anyone who is dependent on alcohol and who manages to stop deserves a pat on the back because it is bloody hard. And people on all points on that scale have successfully given up. They don’t boast but they rightfully are proud.

It’s hard going sober because it’s not just about the alcohol, it’s about how we change with the alcohol, how we socialise, it’s about giving up taking part in something that is woven into the fabric of our culture, resisting the urge to just have that pint or glass of wine with friends, colleagues, lovers. I’m pleased that I gave up alcohol. It was certainly not easy and I’ve never glossed over the struggle. What made a difference was reading about the others who have successfully stopped. Those stories showed me it can be done. There was a peer pressure of not wanting to let people down although most bloggers would never knock someone who did have a slip up.

Maybe one or two people just don’t want to see others succeed. That success can make their own difficulties in stopping seem like failure which of course it isn’t. We each of us have to find our own way of combating this dependency on alcohol and I think that peer support is crucial. To undermine someone’s attempt at stopping by saying your success show a lack of understanding of addiction is contrary to the spirit of mutual support which sustains these blogs. Maybe those that say such things need to look at their own dependency and ask themselves whether they really want to give up or are ready to give up. Addiction can be a powerful friend that some might be too reluctant to part company with. You can’t help somebody that doesn’t want to be helped.

Just for the record. The topic in the above rant has not been the reason I haven’t been on the blog recently. That has been down to a couple of trips in my Campervan and having more work than expected. Now I have got this triggered response out the way I’m hoping I can reengage with my blog and calmly reflect on an interesting experience I had a couple of weeks ago.

Jim X

46 thoughts on “The bitter taste of success

  1. Untipsyteacher

    Jim, I will never understand people like that. I know people who were definitely addicted and quit relatively “easy” without much of a problem.
    Nobody needs to be judging anyone else’s recovery. Period.
    Big hugs!
    xo
    Wendy

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  2. MrsMac

    I have a friend with the exact same outlook. When the topic of drinking comes up, he is very quick to tell me that that my drinking couldn’t have been so bad if I was able to quit. WTF!
    When I step back and take a breath I see that it is what he has to tell himself so he can continue to drink. It’s sad and I always hope one day he will stop comparing himself to others and just work on his own demons.
    I think you have done amazing Jim. Keep going.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks. I must admit I was taken aback, accused of being smug about “success” and of not understanding “real” addiction. It really felt like having a year of struggle being devalued. Thankfully it was only one blogger. JimX

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  3. clairei47

    You know what I think Jim. I expressed my views on the particular person’s blog and I know how hard this has been, and continues to be, for you. It is an insult to all of us who have given up so much to maintain sobriety or to those that are genuinely trying and picking themselves up when they stumble. The success stories are just as important as the challenges and I welcome it all. You know this is a reflection of where this person is at. They are not ready to let go of the comfort blanket of alcohol and telling themselves others aren’t ‘as addicted’ gives them an excuse to carry on living that life. Your posts are full of self depreciation, honesty, humour, kindness and hope. You should bloody well be proud. So there!!! That’s my rant over 😉
    Glad you are going to come back into the blogging community again. We missed you lovely Jim x

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Claire, that means a lot coming from you. I honestly believe the success stories inspire others. I know reading them before I started, stories of success like Wendy’s as well as the scary consequences of not stopping (like alcoholicdaze) really inspired me. Jim X

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  4. Dwight Hyde

    To put it bluntly that’s fricked up and totally wrong, indeed! Just makes me shake my head knowing how hard it was for all of us. Keep steering the boat in your direction and leave that crap in the wake. Love to see some pics of your camper van and hear about your adventures. I follow a lot of folks on YouTube who do that type of thing full time. Keep rockin it, Jim😊

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Dwight, that’s exactly it- it is bloody hard and I’ve never heard anything different from those who travel this path. But bloody rewarding too. I’ll put a photo of the camper on soon, still working out how to work everything!

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  5. nomorebeer

    So nice to hear from you Jim ! I think you pretty much nailed when you said that person’s reaction was “the logical refuge of the alcoholic who isn’t ready to let go of their addiction”. Provided they are indeed suffering from addiction of some kind. Because yes, when we are stuck in it, we will find all kinds of bullshit reasoning to avoid having to get out of it, including using justifications like the one you described. In a way I feel sad for this person, who would rather undermine other’s success than take an honest look at themselves. If they looked more closely they would see the courage behind others’ success stories, rather than write them off as “not really addicted the first place”. The best we can hope for is to preach by virtue of example, and maybe this person will one day make it out themselves, and maybe even thank you for providing inspiration 🙂 who knows 🙂 xxx Anne

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  6. ceponatia

    You can’t let yourself take the comments of people who are certainly posting while black-out drunk to heart. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there back in my darker days and I always regretted everything I wrote the next day but it was too late by then. His lashing out at you transparently showcases how much he loathes himself for not being able to take even one step toward recovery in the almost 4 years I’ve read his updates. I can’t even really pity people like that anymore. It’s more of an annoyance but it’s like being compelled to stare at a car accident as I drive by.

    I think you know all of this already though. One benefit of sobriety is we can now see right through a lot of people.

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    1. ceponatia

      And as there is more than a small chance that he will read these comments… don’t take what I said too personally either. The sober you is insightful and pleasant to talk to but to be honest the drunk you isn’t a particularly fascinating or likable person. I hope the former wins the battle but it’s completely up to you.

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      1. ceponatia

        I had a similar thing happen on my 2 year anniversary… I posted a couple paragraphs about my sobriety on Facebook and somebody was “offended” at how self-righteous and braggadocios I was… turns out, unsurprisingly, that this person had relapsed.

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  7. drgettingsober

    I think Brian has nailed it Jim – it was the booze talking and that demon can be a horrible attacking bastard – as we all know coz we have all been there – which is why we’re here now. We’re here to support each other, to share our stories and to be encouraged. I too would have been very hurt if a fellow blogger had attacked me in that way – I’m glad you’ve shared your feelings about it and look forward to hearing about your trip! Love and hugs Xx💞💞

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks DGS, I understand what you mean about it being the booze talking but I think it was also something more because I have heard similar things in other contexts and it wasn’t a one off comment in this case. It can become like a kind of addiction porn where some people get off on the extent of their suffering, the belief that they are in a small group that no one else can understand and that can become something that they in turn become addicted to. That sounds harsh but I have seen that happen in a few cases.

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      1. drgettingsober

        I’ve been thinking about it Jim and I think it’s when the addiction becomes you and squeezes out the rest of you and makes you bitter and twisted and you describe that above very nicely – been musing a post about it in my mind which I hope will make it onto the screen! 😘

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  8. gr8ful_collette

    You shared your experience and insights well, Jim. And everyone else has made such wise contributions. I second all of these, and also want to say that I’m sorry you were disrespected in this way. We all know where it comes from and it’s a big reason we decided to stop;not because it’s easy but because we had grown not to like the person we were when we drank. Bottom line is no one gets an opinion on your journey to sobriety and to post one publicly is a sad cry for attention, not even help. You keep being you and posting your wonderful words. Rant over. 💕

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  9. jacquelyn3534

    Hi Jim! First it’s so great to hear from you! Your blogs are always inspiring, kind, funny and so relatable no matter the topic. I’m sorry somebody lashed out at you. That’s not fair. All comments above are spot on. I’m always a day late and a dollar short on comments but I want you to know I think you’re pretty damn AWESOME!!! 😍😍😍

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Jacqelyn you have soothed my bruised ego with your healing words, seriously, those are very kind words. I’m a big boy now so I wasn’t really upset, more disappointed that someone who has received so much support felt the need to go out of his way to diminish the efforts of someone else. I must admit I initially thought, does he have a point, have I been boastful and made out giving up is an easy path but I know I have never taken that stance. I’m proud, somewhat surprised its gone well so far but I also know I’ve nearly come unstuck many times and it isn’t easy. It’s this very community that makes things work out for many people including myself. One thing his comments have made me realise though is I need to keep going with the blog because having been helped myself by stories on here, mine may go a small way to help others. Here ended the lesson 😀

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      1. jacquelyn3534

        You’re welcome and I meant it! 😊 I agree, this community is quite special! About a year ago I really started to acknowledge alcohol was a problem for me. I know this community has been a huge positive influence for me!! So glad your going to keep going with your blog! 😃😍
        PS-Keep being proud of yourself! It’s a hard process, one of the hardest I have tried to conquer! Cheers to all of us with my morning ☕️!

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  10. Stuart Danker

    Hi Jim, I like the purpose of your website, and it’s a real inspiration for people out there who drink too much (I could certainly use some help there), so I thought you should know that you shouldn’t stop doing what you’re doing.

    Regarding the comment, I think if you keep in mind that ‘people’s hate on you is a reflection of them, not you’, then it’s easier to not be affected by them. Wishing you all the best!

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  11. msnewleaf

    Hi Jim: I just wanted to say that I’m sorry that he took it out on you. You did not deserve that, and I’m glad you posted about your feelings. I hope that some day he is able to read your words sober and apologize to you. In any event, it has nothing to do with you, of course! Except being in the wrong place at the wrong time when he was looking for someone to be angry at instead of himself. Hugs!🌱

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  12. Dana (Lia)

    So glad you are back! Sharing an important issue…those who do not agree or understand your viewpoint and journey, well that is other’s problems/issues. Bottom line, you did what is right for you! Giving up alcohol is a big deal! And one that is a huge accomplishment. I so want to be like you! xoxo, Lia

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Good to hear from you Dana! I think what is important to anyone thinking of quitting is that no matter where one is on the addiction/dependence continuum, giving up is both a challenge and a realistic possibility. The key thing seems to be the internal decision that something has to change but affecting that change can take many forms and numerous attempts. Knowing that others have done it was such an inspiration for me; their stories and the promise of liberation from booze. That’s the prize, the freedom and the realisation that change can really happen. How are things with you at the moment? X

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  13. limetwiste

    Becoming sober is a big deal. Staying sober is a big deal. Every day sober is precious. Even the days spent doing absolutely nothing. Being sober is showing how strong and courageous we can be, being ourselves.
    What someone else thinks about your journey is nothing to do with you. You are doing marvelously. My opinion doesn’t really count. How you think about your journey does. Don’t let any ba*tard ruin your day. Jealousy is plain ugly.
    btw I made kombucha. Well I brewed the tea but didn’t finish. The scoby is looking a little dark. I walk past it daily and don’t do anything about it. Current;y buying it from the supermarket instead. Loving turmeric and ginger. I will make another attempt soon.

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  14. sobrietytree

    “it’s about giving up taking part in something that is woven into the fabric of our culture, resisting the urge to just have that pint or glass of wine with friends, colleagues, lovers.” I love the way you write, I love the way you say things, I love your perspectives and I love your blog!!! And I love that you deal with this issue head on. It gives people like me courage. I have dealt with so much relatively behind-the-scenes negativity in response to my blogs, and each time I think I’ve recovered and am better able to deal, some new level (and/or method of delivery) of negativity comes up that I have to learn to deal with or attempt to ignore if I want to keep going. The funny thing is, I watched successful bloggers deal with negativity before I became a blogger myself, in ways that varied from seeming-disastrous all the way up to apparent perfection, and thought I knew exactly what I would or should do. But we simply cannot know what it is actually like until we experience anything ourselves. And each of us will ultimately have to navigate our own way through it (though hopefully, with the help of others!) in our own way and according to our own circumstance and energy levels. Kudos for making it all seem easy (even this!!) when it most certainly is not (as I myself know from experience, and as you eloquently say). Beautifully done, and thanks for sharing, Jim. Hugs and rock on. xoxo

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Nadine- dealing with negativity is hard- I found myself bristling and nearly overreacting when it happened to me and it made me realise just how easy it would be to become very down on yourself if it were sustained. Luckily on here 99 % of what is put out is positive and genuine; just like you.

      It’s people like yourself that makes doing this worthwhile and I realise I’ve been quite remiss lately- your comments have spurred me on. Thanks Nadine and no- none of this is easy! Well said. X

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