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

22 thoughts on “Tempting? Yes but not really

    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks DGS, yes that desire came back with a vengeance and it’s easy to see why it’s such a common thing to crack and give in at such moments. We all want to feel good and alcohol, or our memories of it, remind us that a drink or two will do this but the cost can be high and pleasure often illusory or short lived. X

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  1. clairei47

    Exactly how I have been feeling this past week. For all the same reasons. I really enjoyed reading this and it helped unpick some of my thought processes leading me to thinking alcohol was the answer. Nicely written Jim x

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  2. boozebrain

    Your a wiser man than me Jim. I had a similar experience after my 7.5 years of sobriety. During Covid I developed a great urge to drink. I didn’t immediately, but it led to me thinking, rationalising and debating with myself. Around three weeks later I had ONE drink. Within a month I was back drinking like the old days. Thankfully I managed to stop after nearly five months. It’s a tricky thing the mind. Keep an eye on it. Thinking of ya.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      That’s really interesting and salutary. There’s no room for complacency with this sobriety business- 7.5 years and still had the urge. Then again I suppose this isn’t a surprise because our drinking day memories (many of which were great in my case) are alwasy going to be there and occasionally try to reel us back in. X

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  3. jacquelyn3534

    Hi Jim! The part where you said when you drink to drown a deep seated dissatisfaction rather than to gently lift your mood, is spot on! That’s what got me drinking for years and stopped me from being able to find the root of my feelings. ( since all I was doing was masking them. ) You are definitely a strong and inspiring person! Glad you posted and have a kick ass day! 😁

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Jacquelyn- maybe there is a common element to us immoderate drinkers. I’m not sure I’m strong, I think it’s more being in a position where it’s been easier for me to stop than it would have been 10 years ago. Have a good day yourself ! X

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      1. jacquelyn3534

        I have dabbled here and there into having a drink or two. I can now go long periods of time without drinking. I never over do it but I’m noticing the longer my time periods are in between, the easier it is to dismiss. And I absolutely love feeling great every morning! 😁😁😁

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      2. Jim Simmonds Post author

        it’s interesting what you say Jacquelyn about being able to dabble with the drinking. It shows how individual this whole processss is and that what works for one person doesn’t work for another. I’d be a disaster as a dabbler and I know that about myself. I try dabbling with biscuits and that doesn’t work out too well for me either! Fantastic that you feel great every morning. Hold on to that! Jim X

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  4. Dwight Hyde

    Yes it definitely sounds familiar! After so many years that old reflex is bound to stir up from time to time. Glad you could ride it out with your new Knowing. Just being able to witness that is huge. I’m discovering that starting to work on these “deep seated dissatisfactions” is definitely a required step on this new path. We are the thinker of our thoughts so that always gives me hope for change. Practicing much self-love and focusing on the now is helping me along. Big hug, brother! Glad you posted this.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks for that Dwight, youre right about that old reflex but i’m becoming more aware of the incessant pressures to exercise that reflex, the near constant bombardment of images of drinkers in adverts, TV shows and now even the news, suggesting that drinking is “normal”, desirable. For me this now seems a bigger issue than just an individual and his or her drinking but how our cultural and economic love affair with booze is helping to create problems with alcohol for both individuals and societies.

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  5. gr8ful_collette

    Yes, you described perfectly what I think we all feel sometimes, “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.” And I think, as ex-drinkers, it’s only normal for the old “drink solution” to come to mind as that is the way we used to cope with everything, good and bad and in between. But you nailed it in the end when you laid out the truth, “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.” The hard, but undeniable truth. But the good news is that it always passes. At least, in my experience thus far. And when we dwell on the benefits sobriety brings, well, it’s good that we know ourselves so that we also know how far we’ve come, and how far we can potentially go, which is exponentially farther sober! Sorry for the ramble, Jim! Bottom line, really great post! Xx

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Not a ramble Collette! That was a really good comment and you are right, those moments do pass and the focusing on benefits is so important in those moments. Jim X

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  6. Lovie Price

    good to hear from you and glad you thought the feeling out to a responsible choice… i totally relate and when i gave it it led to relapse, of course.. more & more often when that feeling comes though i am able to tamp it down from my experience. I have identified my deep seated dissatisfaction and honed it to a specific trigger. Where as before when i quit for 15 months, i was simply “not drinking” but not knowing the real trigger . Its been quite a ride. i’m doing ok, and gaining even more insight now , post relapse.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks for that Lovie and part of this process, as you say, is gaining more insights into why we used to drink in the way that we did and released from that bind, we can uncover bit by bit our stories. Glad you are doing OK. X

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  7. ceponatia

    It’s nice in a way, though. I don’t often get genuine cravings anymore; for me it comes in dreams. I take it as a helpful reminder that no matter how long I’ve been sober, I’m just one huge mistake away from ruining my life all over again. I try to stay away from platitudes like that but I genuinely believe that if I ever so much as sip a beer again I’ll be passed out in a bathtub before too long, haha. It doesn’t WORRY me, because I am almost 40 and cut off contact with all of my old friends years ago so I feel no pressure to drink. It’s just a thing to avoid.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      It’s great that you don’t feel the pressure to drink. For me the pressure is never overt or from friends; it’s that more insidious “not pressure pressure” that comes dripping in from seeing drinking as normal and desirable in the images and words that surround us. Thanks for your comment- much appreciated.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Ah Nadine – a voice from the past! Good to hear from you. Thanks for your comment. I want to get beyond illusions so am now using my navigation skills to find this elusive land called happiness. 😀

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  8. Untipsyteacher

    Hi Jim!
    I’m late to the comment party, here! LOL
    I know I get those urges from time to time, myself.
    Just like you said, I remind myself of how much less drama, and more contentment I have now that I stopped drinking.
    And, Mr. UT is way happier.
    I am glad you resisted, and went on your wonderful way!
    xo
    Wendy

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  9. Jim Simmonds Post author

    It’s strangely reassuring to know that the invincible Wendy still has the occasional urge 😉. It’s clearly going to happen now and then I suppose but as you say- stack against what we would stand to lose and it’s no contest. Lucky Mr UT. Thanks for your comment Wendy – always appreciated 🤗

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