Monthly Archives: April 2021

Tempting? Yes but not really

I was going to try and move away from talking about alcohol in this blog but something strange happened this week. Out of the blue I REALLY FANCIED A DRINK. After saying in my last post how I didn’t want to go to the pub, there I was wanting to go to the pub. I wanted that lovely first pint of cold beer, I wanted to sit in the garden sipping an expensive Chablis. I fantasized about the different gins I could mix and sip. What was going on?

I’ve thought about this a lot- sure there’s the whole spectacle of people coming out of lockdown and seemingly all heading for beer gardens and the inevitable FOMO that that can lead to. But this was more than that. I was feeling a bit down. I was having one of those introspective, negative evaluations of my life moments: family, career, relationships – too many compromises, too many disappointments a sense of unease that seeps to the soul. Sound at all familiar?

I knew from my past experience that having a drink in such moments would give me a lift, would put a smile back on my face and make the world seem a little bit more OK. Although in the past I could drink when I was generally feeling good, the truth is drinking helped cover up the underlying unhappiness I sometimes felt. It was a respite and it was a quick fix. A lot of the time it was the added element of being with friends that also lifted the mood- friends+alcohol= Fun and laughter. Sometimes I miss that. When the existential grey clouds gather round, I really miss that.

I rode those feelings of really wanting a drink. I resisted the temptation and time does make that resistance a bit easier. I know I could have a drink if I wanted. There’s nothing to stop me but I had to remind myself that the short term “benefit ” was not worth it. If even one small part of my drinking was to assuage deep feelings of dissatisfaction with myself and my life then old patterns were bound to reappear and then I’d really have something to feel dissatisfied about.

The truth for me is that I now know those moments where I yearn for the quick fix of alcohol based contentment are a chimera. It’s the illusion of happiness. I know the reasons why I get to feel the way I do sometimes and there are things I know will help bring me out from those places that no longer require having a drink and the escalating consequences that come with that.

The other indisputable truth for me is that in the nearly 20 months since my last drink my “down” time has been so much less than when I used to drink. Overall, I’m happier, more productive, and positive than in my drinking days. My life is so much better without booze and knowing that and feeling it means being able to ride the occasional and probably inevitable surge of temporary temptation. When you drink to drown a deep seated dissatisfaction rather than to gently lift your mood, it’s unlikely you are ever going to be a moderate drinker. As the sign above the temple of Delphi says, “Know Thyself”.

Jim X

I don’t want to go to the bloody pub!

Lockdown is winding down in the UK. Hurrah! I can play walking football from Monday, I can meet my sons outside. I can have friends over for a BBQ. But what am I regaled with on the telly night after night? Pubs! Wall to wall coverage of pubs; pictures and videos of pubs, shots of beer taps lining shiny bars, pub owners relishing opening their doors, interviews with people saying how they have booked tables at pubs for the next 3 months. The coverage gives the impression that all of us are just drooling over the prospect of going to the pub and downing pints- and if you’re not then you must be plain weird! Far less coverage has been given to the thousands who have developed alcohol problems over the course of the last year. That’s not such a nice image.Oh no skip that one, next ad for beer please.

So, I for one am not looking forward to pubs reopening. Good luck to those who are but sitting round for hours watching people get either bit merry/very merry/slightly pissed/pissed/trollied(London expression I believe) or completely wasted (except for nominated driver who has to pretend to enjoy this spectacle) is no longer my idea of a good time.

Since giving up I’ve realised I can talk absolute garbage, be silly, lark about all whilst being absolutely sober. I don’t need a drink to be bonkers and have a good time, amazing; and had I realised this years ago I could have saved myself a fortune. Still I hopefully have a few years of playful and childish behaviour ahead of me. Last week I met up with my two boys and their mother. We met in a park (pubs closed ) had a picnic and played catch/rounders/ frisbee/football/walked. No one drank as most of us were driving. Afterwards we all agreed it was a lovely day. Maybe because we hadn’t been able to meet up for months or maybe it was not drinking and doing something other than sitting around a pub table downing pints. Interesting, even my sons noticed that!

Just had another ping whilst writing this – pubs opening up tomorrow near me- arghh – it doesn’t stop. I know. I have the answer. Someone out there please give me a million pounds so I can open a pub called “The clear head” or “sober as a judge” and I’ll be a pub stocking all The AF drinks and mixers, delicious mocktails, incredible coffee, all sorts of teas and maybe one beer and bottle of spirits for the desperate ones who can’t face a day out without their fix. They’ll be games and music and activities. Now that’s a pub I would look forward to going to tomorrow.

Jolly sober Jim X

What Can I Say?

My last post was erroneously titled “Back Again.” That was 2 months ago and I wasn’t back again. I dropped by, wrote a few words and disappeared. Aware that I wasn’t really “back again” I felt that what I should do is face the fact that doing the blog didn’t have the same motivational pull it used to have. I started it to help me stay the course in what I thought was never going to work, namely giving up booze. But it did work- the writing things down, the comments, reading other blogs; all of that was a massive part of being able to give up and stay alcohol free.

But then , like so many other things, not drinking became normalised. No more Friday night anxiety crisis, no internal wrestling. I gave up and life carried on. Other than the odd time when I’d remember my drinking days and yearn to join in, not drinking became what I did, a part of who I now was. I no longer wanted to drink. I preferred not drinking. So doing the blog began to lack a purpose. I know others have found it useful and that makes me feel a little bit guilty. Suppose others read my blog, think, “yes, if he can do it so can I” and then suddenly the posts stop, some might assume I’d cracked and gone back on the juice. Added to that is maybe a feeling that having been supported by sober bloggers meant that now is the time that I should do the same for others maybe starting out. But it that just didn’t work for me.

So a few days ago I resolved to do a final post saying I’m still here and happily alcohol free and that I would post something if that ever changed. I also was going to say I’d be happy to communicate directly with anyone if they wanted my support. That was the intention. The final post.

Then a couple of days ago I was chatting to my Spanish friend who told me she had been reading my blog, had no intention of giving up alcohol but just enjoyed the posts. That was unexpected and intriguing. I guess it was also helping her with her English and if she reads this I fully expect a comment written in both English and Spanish! I told her of my plan to wind up the blog but with that incredible insight that women seem to have so much more of than us chaps, she said, “if you don’t want to write about alcohol all the time write about different things.” Pretty obvious really.

So then I said, “So what should I write about?”

She said, “Ask people who read your blog (which is now probably just one or two) what they would like you to write about. That might be a good start.”

So I’m going to give that a go as a way of getting back into my blog. I’m reaching out to Blogland- If anyone wants to, then please fire some questions at me, name some topics that might be interesting for me to reflect on and write about, crank up my rusty blogging engine to get me going. Alternatively just ignore me and I’ll go sulk in the corner with my fragile ego. It’s down to anyone foolish enough to be reading this – give me questions or inspiration. Let’s see where “BLOG PHASE 2 – Post Alcohol Musings” takes me.

Oh and a final alcohol free related point. Gordons 0% “spirit” is very nice!

I’m ready and waiting!

Jim X