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”.