Ramblin’ Man

Happy New Year to anyone reading this. Before I start this incoherent ramble a message to any new readers who are trying Dry January. For whatever reason you have decided to give up alcohol for one month. Stick with it. At the very least it will give your liver a well earned rest but it could well be the start of a fascinating, sometimes uncomfortable period of introspection and change. Nothing to lose and lots potentially to gain.

OK down to business. This is a tough post because I haven’t posted for a while and I’m not sure what I want to say. Having said that I have felt a strong urge to post and yet have been putting it off. So this is a more than usually self indulgent post, a shambolic attempt to figure out what if anything I have to say and where if anywhere this blog is going to go. If that all sounds like an existential crisis, it’s probably because it is one. I’ll just dive in.

The “not drinking “is going well. I’m still not drinking but not drinking, the original rationale behind this blog, is beginning to feel like an irrelevance. I don’t mean that giving up booze wasn’t a big deal and important. It was and it is, it’s just that now that being sober has become a set part of my life, I can see that drink was just a manifestation of deeper issues. I focused on alcohol because it was an issue in my life but its absence has starkly highlighted other issues in my life. As alcohol has moved into the background, other things have moved into the foreground. Alcohol kept some things in their place but like some semi permeable membrane it let other things through.

I’m grateful to myself that I stopped drinking but the landscape that has been revealed by its absence is not always comfortable. One example; feelings and emotions. With alcohol I could dampen down those unconscious emotions and conscious feelings. One example from my youth. Crippled by anxiety, I wanted to simultaneously approach girls and run away from them. A few drinks and those emotions and feelings subsided. I no longer feared rejection, I stopped worrying what people would think of me, I stopped comparing myself to other guys. It was liberating and I could join in. I felt normal. An illusion maybe but I had experiences I may never have had. Of course if I could go back to my younger self I would help me to understand why I had such shockingly poor self esteem at that point in my life. I see that now but at the time I just felt defective and alcohol made it seem OK for a while. And so it goes on and builds up. That’s why, with the perspective of not having drunk for 16 months, I can see that my dependence on alcohol was not about the alcohol per se, it was what the alcohol was helping, and later,not helping me deal with.

So having given up, I can see why I was attracted to alcohol and why bad habits developed but recently I have had something else to contend with. Alcohol helped suppress some difficult emotions but it also let others through particularly as I became older. Through necessity and application I managed over the years to control my feelings. I learned to shut down, to blank off difficult stuff. I became good at that. People dying, yeh let’s deal with that, divorce; let’s not let that get you down. I started to take a perverse pride in how I was able to deal with stuff that others couldn’t understand were not breaking me. But these things always come with a cost and that cost for me was a neutral emptiness or maybe better described as a gnawing, nagging emptiness, a void where I knew there should be something. Then I’d drink and the dam would break. tears would flow and I’d allow myself the misery and sometimes ecstacy of feeling. Of course with alcohol it’s impossible to regulate where things would go. Sometimes I would wallow in regret and anger, at other times remember wonderful times where there was a promise of a fantastic future. But the alcohol has stopped. The membrane now holds up and very little gets through. That, I’m realising is not good. I feel sometimes like the physical lock down we have all had to experience for me has been accompanied by an emotional lock down. Safe, sanitised but not how life should be. And where alcohol would, in the past, help me deal counter productively and self destructively with some of this “stuff”, other coping strategies have now tried to take the place of drink. The “stuff” is still there and needs dealing with. That’s why I say the alcohol feels irrelevant. It’s not a part of my life and I’m tremendously happy about that, but it was only a symptom, a reaction to other things, and unless I deal with those other things, alcohol and similar coping strategies will always be pulling at me trying to lure me into a false sense that all is OK.

Not sure that I have expressed what’s really going on but still trying to get a sense of it all. Maybe with it being a New Year I might let my blog go in a different direction. Like may others, food has taken up some of the slack left by booze. If booze was never really the problem but became the problem, perhaps the same applies to food. If that is indeed the case I need to deal that and unpick what the food is really feeding. What is the real hunger? Let’s see where that goes.

Happy New Year. Jim X

33 thoughts on “Ramblin’ Man

  1. MrsMac

    Drinking at 14 meant I never built up the courage or grew to express my feelings on my own. I always avoided situations or used alcohol. Now that alcohol has been removed I am left at 42 learning how to express myself for the first time. It’s a slow process for me.

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  2. msnewleaf

    I think you should take your blog in whatever direction you need to go. And what you are saying makes perfect sense to me. I think so many of us were using alcohol to medicate something. Or many things. For me, it was more to shut down my uncomfortable feelings, but sometimes it also worked the other way.

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  3. drgettingsober

    Happy new year Jim and it’s really nice to read your blog again. You sound sad or unsure about where you’re at? – though you recognise what is it you need help with – connecting and expressing the feelings that somewhere along the line you learnt to wall off to protect yourself – therapy my friend? 💞💞xxx

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Ha Ha Therapy- is it better to give or receive??? Yes, probably worth revisiting. Insight is there but that doesn’t necessarily equate to change as you’ll be more than aware. There is some sadness I suppose but it’s not all pervasive. It’s me revisiting and reassessing some childhood stuff. Also read a paper recently that made me completely change my view on something and that kind of intellectual (and emotional) jolt doesn’t happen very often. Good to hear from you and a Happy new Year to you. X

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  4. Sober Veg Mama

    Happy New Year Jim. I have no sense to make of it, but sometimes you just need to get it all out, on the blog or paper or whatever, and it might make more sense later. There’s a lot to be found in the process even if the answers aren’t clear, yeah? xo

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  5. gr8ful_collette

    The more I think about addiction, my own and others, the more I see it as this compulsive behavior to try to fill a need inside. I have found food popping up as a replacement as well, eating, especially sugary food, not out of hunger. I enjoyed your post and really related to your line of thought here. Take care, friend. 💕

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Collette, I agree completely and I too have found food to be taking some of the place left by alcohol. Nothing drastic but very aware it’s happening. That’s why I’m diving back in a trying to get to grips with the “need”. Time to exorcise some demons. X

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  6. Untipsyteacher

    Hi Jim!
    Happy New Year!
    I definitely have worked on my inside issues…social anxiety is still a biggie for me.
    But now all my friends know, that after 3 hours at a dinner party, I stand up and say, “I’m going now!” 😂😂😂
    Mr. UT says “I guess that means I’m going, too!”

    xo
    Wendy

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  7. jacquelyn3534

    Happy New Year, Jim! I think whatever direction you go in is great! You’re very insightful no matter the topic! You just inspired me to listen to that song Ramblin’ man. Great song to start out my morning to as I remember growing up with simple music like that and a more simpler time in my life. ❤️

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  8. Jim Simmonds Post author

    Hi Jacquelyn- I wonder which ramblin’ man you listened to? Hank Williams, Allman Brothers. The one I listened to and like a lot is by Lemon Jelly. Amongst the place names is also mentioned the place I live- give it a listen and see what you think. Thanks for your comment- much appreciated. X

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  9. clairei47

    Lovely to read a post from you Jim. I see no issue with letting your blog go in whatever direction you choose. I think that’s what blogs are for. Expressing oneself however you see fit. Not to impress or please others, but to support ourselves and our community should they need it. I wish you luck with unpicking the underlying issues and unpeeling the layers. Claire x

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Claire- unpeeling onions can be hard work sometimes and even make you cry but if you want a satisfying meal it needs to be done. 😀 Enough nonsense, I will see where it goes and I think that is definitely going to involve looking at my relationship with food which has many parallels with that towards booze. Let’s see where it goes. X

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  10. boozebrain

    Ditto what Claire said.
    Have you read or listened to any Richard Rohr Jim? Particularly his men’s work material? That may be worth exploring also. CAC.org and go to the bookstore. There is a digital talk you can buy cheaply called ‘Men and grief.’ I found it helpful. Cheering you on Jim.

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  11. nomorebeer

    Happy New Year Jim 🙂 THat’s a very wise post, as per usual. I definitely agree with you that we need to address the core issues if we want long term changes. I’ve faced a similar feeling with the blog…. I don’t really know what to write anymore, and don’t really think about alcohol that much but don’t want the blog to just become any old diary ^^ Sending so much love for 2021 and energy for you to keep chipping off at that membrane! Underneath is a giant, raw, sensitive and open heart, as the New Age people would say ^^ 😉 xoxoxo Anne

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Anne, I’ll keep chipping away and see where it leads. Yes the blog feels a bit aimless at the moment , I almost feel that I need a fresh start with a different emphasis. I’d actually really like to have a go at podcasting but would like to try that with someone- a kind of interview/chat format. Could be fun? X

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  12. Lovie Price

    do you think it’s the time of year? many are thinking about food choices right now, whether in recovery or not, as well as considering changes. I do believe that food tends to compensates in many ways similar to alcohol , as do many other habits ( my mea culpa has been smoking). Again i am thinking about quitting, but cant seem to bring myself to commit because ( and here comes the excuse) the pandemic..ugh…it’s truly brought out some stuff in me i didnt know was there and have been having to face more weaknesses . Those chinks in my armor have been getting ignored though as this drags on because i cant seem to get past the “poor me” thing..idk…i just keep trying…

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Lovie, it’s not the easiest of times to abandon comfort giving habits that’s for sure but most importantly it’s a time for being easy on ourselves and certainly not too critical. Funny how people who are compassionate to others don’t often show the same compassion to themselves 😉 X

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  13. Lia

    Getting sober is only the beginning, isn’t it? Attaining the peace and contentment for living is a never, ending process. Maybe understanding that, and moving towards those feelings is what life is all about. Bottom line, you are on the path forward, and that is what matters most. Always love reading your perspective. xo Lia

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  14. Jim Simmonds Post author

    Hi Lia, the path forward seems to often have lots of twists and turns and double backs! For me anyway😀. Still better to be on the path than hiding behind a bush- (I still have the ability to talk nonsense clearly, although part of me thinks that sounds like a 8th century Chinese proverb- an no I haven’t been drinking) X

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    1. Lia

      Yes, for me too, …”lots of twists and turns and double backs!” But, as many have told me, as long as I move forward, however small the steps may seem, I’m doing the best I can. AND, you are as well! -xo

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  15. Addy

    Happy New Year. Although I’m not prone to depression, I always feel a bit flat at this time of year. It’s a bit like starting to climb a mountain month by month through the year. As you finally approach December, the summit is in sight. Christmas and New Year’s Eve have you standing on the top surveying the scene below and suddenly, wooomph, you’re back in the lowlands of January again. The dismal weather doesn’t help either. Writing it down as you have done, gives you some pointers to work on. Maybe you do need some one to one counselling, although in Covidland, that might not be possible for a while, unless they do it on Zoom these days. Try not to let it get you down. One day at a time.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Sorry for the very late reply Addy, been really busy and haven’t been on the blog for weeks.Funny you mention counselling as that is what I do that keeps me busy. Luckily working on oneself never stops so it’s very much a process of learning whilst working. Jim X

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