Category Archives: alcohol

Lazy and Complacent- Almost!

Two weeks!

I’ve not posted in over two weeks, not really read other blogs or made comments. I feel so ashamed it has made me even more reluctant to come on here. But now I have to face up to my dereliction of duty. I hid my head in shame until an angel showed me the light.

Claire (ditching the wine) recently emailed me a spoof Jim blog to spur me into action. I was touched.  Someone cared.  She wrote, pretending to be me:

“I know, I know. You are such a caring, lovely bunch, your first thoughts are bound to be ‘Why? Is he ill? Is he on a bender? Has he struck up a recording deal and is now planning his world tour?’ Nope! Afraid not. Basically he’s just become very complacent. This also translates as being a lazy arse. He can’t be bothered with his blog any longer. He’s sober now. Moving on. He’s leaving all your bloggers behind. He might ‘pop’ in from time to time, to keep the fans happy but otherwise he doesn’t need it. “

Now I know Claire was/is being ironic. She is a nice, caring and compassionate person as are all the lovely sober bloggers and yet….  there was an uncomfortable accusation within. Could there be a germ of truth in what she had to say? Sure, I could make excuses and to be fair, they are pretty good excuses; work, commitments, planned big events,  relationships etc but these affect everyone.  I carved out time before, so what’s happened? What’s different? I think Claire hit the nail on the head; COMPLACENCY!

20 weeks sober, Christmas and new year successfully navigated, cravings and urges to drink very intermittent; yes I suppose there has been a bit of complacency kicking in.

Claire continued to write;

We all know this isn’t about what we write, or whether we are 5 days, 5 months or 5 years sober. This is about community, support and connection. We all need help it at different times, and when we feel strong that’s the time to help others that don’t. Jim will learn. He’ll see it eventually.

She’s right of course (God it’s so hard to admit that!), giving up booze and the boozing way of life is not a static thing it’s an ongoing process and I only got to where I am thanks to those who are further on the journey but looked back down the path shouting their support and encouragement.

So thanks Claire.  I needed that proverbial kick up the pants.

Complacency? Yes a little and that can be a bad thing.  Last week I played a table tennis match and met a new player on the scene.  He was very defensive in the warm up.  No attacking shots.  “This will be easy,”I thought to myself. “Just attack and he’ll fall to pieces.” Except he didn’t.  He returned every shot, did so with unexpected amouts of backspin and wore me down into a frustrated mess. I underestimated him. HE BEAT ME! How dare he! I was supposed to win.

Pride and complacency, right before a massive fall.  It happened in table tennis, it could happen with alcohol. I can almost hear that voice,” You’ve done brilliantly Jim, you have shown you can master alcohol, you are the Uberfuhrer of Soberistas.  With that amount of control you’d be fine at just allowing yourself the odd glass of Merolt/Shiraz/Malbec.Go on man, live a little, you deserve it, sod all this denial.” Get thee behind me Bacchus!

Yep the little voices are still there, tempting me so no room for complacency.

Then there’s the need to reciprocate.  I have benefitted massively from the likes of untipsy teacher and others who have been sober for years.  They continue because it’s not just about one journey, not just about them, it’s about supporting others; it’s about community. I need to do my bit. I still need the support or may need it.  I need to try and support others as well in whatever way I can. So  thanks Claire, for prodding, poking fun, bullying in a nice way and cajoling.   I needed that.

Now I just need to think what to post!

Jim x

 

 

Finally – Being Sober Trumps Drinking Booze! (No Contest)

To anyone reading this who is doing dry January or is just a few weeks into going alcohol free, I know what you’re going through! It feels like denial, it’s difficult, you’re giving up something you like, is it worth it you think. These are the things probably going through your mind.

After 4 months and after experiencing many of those same mental tortures I can say this; it does get easier, you will feel the benefits, the cravings lessen, even though the pressures do not, but something else then happens. Or at least it did for me and I know for many others that have stopped drinking.

Something magical happens. A turning point, a revelation if you like. You start to see giving up alcohol as preferable to drinking it. Sounds simple but it’s actually monumental. What started as denial and giving up becomes like receiving something wonderful and it feels liberating.

I’ve had a few experiences like that in the last month but yesterday was something else. I had a day out in London where not only did I not drink, I didn’t at any point want a drink , I was pleased to be sober. No doubts no qualms. It felt quite simply great. Best day out in years.

It started by the simple act of driving to the station. Normally a day out in London in the past meant lots of alcohol so no car to station but asking for lifts or ordering a taxi. First act of liberation. I then arrived in London and had arranged to meet a small group of fellow Soberistas; a small group of people that I’d never met before but who shared the same goal of giving up booze. No difficult moments or questions with this bunch. None of us drank alcohol. That in itself was liberating. Straight into the nearest pub for a coffee. Then on to one of this great little cafes you can still find tucked away in the less fashionable parts of Covent Garden. Poached eggs, sausages, bacon, beans, sourdough, a brilliant full breakfast all for just £6.50. All the time, laughter, great conversation, more coffees, fruit juices. We were having a great time. Why did I ever believe you need alcohol to feel at ease with new people? Within a couple of hours it was as if we’d known each other for years. Simply liberating.

Then later hopping on tubes, visiting the V and A , Hyde Park, swapping stories and experiences. A great day, getting to know new people and actually listening to each other not getting slowly pissed. After a wonderful day full of enriching, warm conversations and companionship we went our separate ways. I actually stayed awake on the train, drove myself home and was then able to spend my evening productively. It was so much better than getting drunk, talking garbage and falling asleep on the train, waiting to be picked up and the losing the rest of the evening and the next day to a hangover.

During my day out I never once felt denied or that I was missing out. If anything I look back at all my drunken trips and now realise how much I was missing out on those days. Lost opportunities. For me the penny finally dropped. Life was better sober.

I hope those in the early stages of not drinking stick it out. After the struggle really does come the liberation. Many say the same thing. I have come to see that life is better, brighter and more fulfilling sober. Yes it takes time but it’s worth it. Try it but give yourself time to get the conditioning and social pressure out of your system.

As a postscript I have to add that spending the day with other sober people really made the day extra special. Thanks, you know who you are! Just think, if we were still drinking we would never have met! Let’s do it again soon. There may be some who might want to join us! 😀

Jim x

El Soberista now takes on Los Bastardos

Last post was self congratulatory. I’m done with booze, I don’t need it.  I’d taken on the drunks and heavy boozers, the tipsy and sodden losers and I had won.  I had faced them fair and square and was pleased with my life alcohol free or LAFing as I now call it. But this weekend a new breed of drinker entered my domain… Yes, I came face to face with ………

LOS BASTARDOS
Now Los Bastardos are that breed of drinker that can enjoy one glass of wine and make it last 2 hours.  That’s who have been staying with me the last two days. Nice people, sophisticated people.  That’s what makes them bastards. It’s easy to dismiss and feel aloof about pissheads and drunkards but moderate, sensible drinkers project a calm self assurance and discipline that screams,”oh so you have a problem Jim, you can’t drink in moderation so now you’re missing out on this wine, brought to you direct from the wine god Bacchus, an elixir, life enhancing, so smooth and velvety , poor Jim, you weak, pathetic excuse for a human being.”

Anyway they arrive Friday night, conversation a little awkward.  They are quite formal people. I feel a bit anxious. I find it hard to speak, is there a speech therapist in the room! The booze would have helped, but I’m stranded.  I open the wine they brought; a really nice full bodied Rioja.  They also bought me some Trappist beers. This was turning into some kind of sadistic torture.  “Here we are Jim, really good examples of what used to be the centre of your life. Here they are, they’re yours.. But you can’t bloody have them!” Bastards!

As the evening wears on I feel more relaxed and don’t really miss the wine.  What intrigues me is how slowly they drink. With me, the first glass was a palate cleanser. Down in one, quick alcohol shot and now let’s enjoy the second, make it last, let’s see, about 10 minutes.  That’s how to drink. But they sat there, drinking slowly, enjoying, savouring it.  I knew they were doing it deliberately, taunting me; the bastards.  I wanted to reach for the Rioja and bludgeon both of them over the head with the bottle.  Death by Rioja. Everyone would be bemused, Netflix would make a documentary about it but I would know why they had to be dispatched.  Instead I smiled and poured them more wine.

Towards the end of the evening, the bottle was finished. 3 people, 3 hours, 1 bottle.  Who are these people? I knew as host I had to offer more booze.  All I had were a few bottles of very expensive Chinon given to me as part of a retirement present. “Oh yes please,” they exclaimed.  I opened it, my wine! I poured it, my present! They supped it, those bastards.

The bastards had a nice evening and in truth so did I.  I didn’t really miss the drink but the evening highlighted for me why I’ve embarked on this journey. I was not and I doubt I ever could be a moderate, one glass an evening guy. In truth I’m not sure I would want to be. Everything in excess isn’t that what they say? It was an interesting experience and all part of the journey and of course my guests were far from being bastards.  The only bastard was my resentful, bitter, selfish former self trying to raise his pathetic, drink loving head. Down Boy!

Onwards and Upwards my friends, keep LAFing!

Jim x

Tis The Time To be Merry-(Unless you’re trying to give up the bloody booze!)

Right,  this is where the one year plus sober bloggers have to show their worth.

How do you survive the Christmas/ NewYear season?

Screenshot 2019-12-06 at 11.45.50.pngIt feels like someone has said, “Ok there’s a bunch of people trying very hard to give up booze, so lets really make it difficult for them, let’s pull out all the stops to get them to drink, we will pile on so much pressure they have to crack, ha ha ha” (wicked laughter trailing off)

Now I know alcohol is pervasive in our culture but this time of year it really is everywhere.  You get invited to parties, but they are not called “parties”, they are called “FUCKING DRINK PARTIES” – (Actually i’ve never had an invite to a party with the word fucking in it, I added that for dramatic emphasis, but you get the picture.) Office parties are spoken about in terms of how much booze there will be and everyone knows the only way you can legitamately have sex or flirt at the office party is if you have the always seemingly indulged excuse that you were drunk.  What are the sober folks to do- never flirt or have illicit sex ever again?

Meals out- booze, meet friends- booze, Christmas lights- pub and more booze, and for me the absolute killer , even baby Jesus is now peddling the booze.  Yes, hard to believe but true. My local church sent me an invite to come to a carol service.  The enticement- free mulled wine! Not spiritual enlightenment, free booze! Literally, God help us!  So, there we have it, even the church and baby Jesus are tempting me to drink now.  HELP!!!!!!

Of course I used to love Christmas when I was a drinker.  My favourite time of the year. Bring it on I’d say. It is the time of year when you don’t have to feel self conscious or embarrassed about your drinking because everyone is getting shit-faced. “Hey it’s Christmas”.  Drinkers’ paradise.

Around this time I’d order excessive amounts of every type of booze to be delivered.   Tanker loads of the stuff. And every day in the run up to Christmas was an excuse to open a bottle. Christmas Day itself was my drinker’s nirvana day. Champagne with breakfast and no raised eyebrows, beers with presents, gin whilst cooking and then bottle after bottle of red wine and no one pointing the finger,  because

 

Screenshot 2019-12-06 at 11.50.41.png

IT’S CHRISTMAS. It’s OK to get drunk, make a fool of yourself, have family arguments, be part of the annual spike in violent incidents, hospital admissions and divorce applications because we are welcoming in the birth of a saviour bringing peace and goodwill to the world. Incredible!

Well I’m glad to be shot of it all. Bah, humbug.  Hangovers, embarrassments, arguments, feeling ill, swollen face covered in sweat. Get thee behind me baby Jesus ( apologies to the believers out there I know its never the fault of the child) .  I’m looking forward to being a bit different this Christmas, to spending my time sober.  I know it won’t always be easy but its probably the biggest challenge of the year so, I reckon,  do this and anything is possible.  Walking the path of sobriety hereafter will be but a gentle stroll.

Finally it would be good to hear how the 1 year plus sober crowd managed their first Christmas.  Come on don’t be shy. Share and think of it as your sober pressy to the rest of us newbies.

Rudolph the Sober Reindeer  xxx

Jim’s Recommended listening for alternative festive songs – So much wine – Handsome family and white wine in the sun by Tim Minchin. Enjoy.

 

El Soberista v Los Barrachos – A linguine western

Tuesday 26 November. Jim’s first attempt at drinking at a pub with his heavy drinking football playing compadres. His first major showdown. Would he survive…………


It was a cold, dark evening. Jim knew this was a showdown. One man, armed only with a bottle of AF beer was taking on the the fearsome 9 man posse known as “Los BARRACHOS” or “ The drunkards” as they were known is this part of wild Essex (cue Sergio Leone soundtrack).

It wasn’t going to end well for one party and Jim knew the odds were stacked against him. Los Barrachos we’re heavily armed; lager, bitter and most sneakily of all, Jim’s former friend, Gintonic. There they were, lined up on the table mocking Jim’s feeble looking excuse for a beer.

The 9 men appeared to be friendly but Jim was on his guard. He knew that when he wasn’t looking one of them might try and slip him a beer. Jim stayed alert. He entered the bar and a hush descended across the room. Jim heard a whisper, “Apparently Jim’s not drinking, do you think he’s gone a bit funny in the head?”

Jim swung round , “That’s right amigos I’m not drinking alcohol, and it will be a brave hombre that tries to buy me some!” One of the Barrachos reached for his glass. “Not so quick, my friend,” and with that Jim grabbed his AF beer and lifted it to his lips. He gulped the golden liquid, wiped his lips. First blood to Jim. One of the Barrachos stood up.

“Bloody hell guys he means it, Jim’s not drinking real beer!” Immediately two of the posse fainted on the spot, two reached for their beers and drunk their entire pints in one long swig. Another, one of Jim’s former drinking compadres had tears in his eyes.

“But Jim, you were our leader, you showed us how to really drink. You were the first to say stupid things, the first to inappropriately chat up the bar maid, your hangovers were the stuff of legend, what’s to become of us now, oh Jim please just have a fucking drink!”

Jim was unmoved. He surveyed the bar. The two men were still flat out on the floor from shock, there were looks of disbelief, lots of tears and some anger.

It was carnage.

Jim stood still and proud. He’d won. He was resolute. Jim didn’t want the glory or to gloat in his victory. One the Barrachos gave a knowing smile, the look one man gives another when conceding defeat. He reached out his hand to Jim. Jim looked him in the eye, acknowledged the gesture and shook hands. It was over. No blood was spilt and Jim had found a way to co exist with Los Barrachos on their own turf. One man. One AF beer. A show down to defy belief. This was a day that would be talked about for a few minutes. Jim knew he had to mark the ocassion.

“Anyone fancy some crisps?”

(Fade music with a lingering shot on Jim’s slightly smug face)

 

11 Weeks – Anxiety Down, Frustration Up

A quick post, mainly so I have a record of how one element in my early sobriety has changed. The weekend anxiety syndrome, that horrible unease I got around Friday night and lasting into Sunday has completely evaporated. I knew it had to be conditioning as it only occurred if I didn’t have a drink on those days. For me, and I guess, a lot of others drinking alcohol and the arrival of the weekend were inextricably linked. Drink + Friday = Feeling good, No Drink + Friday or Saturday= unease, anxiety, agitation.

When I stopped on 1 September I would say my first 6-8 weekends were blighted by this unease and nearly made me question my decision to go AF, but in the last few weekends that anxiety has not just lessened it’s disappeared, vanished. I know if I went to the pub on a Saturday it would re-emerge but that’s more about the pub/booze/good time association but even that is lessening.

So anxieties due to social conditioning and association definitely on the decrease. Anyone out there in the early days of sobriety, if my experience is anything to go by, IT DOES GET EASIER!

I won’t go on to mention lots of the benefits, we all know about those. So what could be the cause of the frustration?

For me I’m starting to see a pattern. People now generally know I’m not drinking and as we start gearing up for Christmas meals, social events and drinks parties, the word seems to be out; need a lift? Ask Jim!

Now I don’t mind giving a lift or two, helping someone out if I’m going their way but what I’m experiencing is almost being treated like a taxi service, “Oh Jim, you know the meal we are arranging, as you’re not drinking we thought we’d go to that nice country pub and maybe you could pick us up and drive us all there.” The other three all live in different places and what would have been a 20 minute journey for me will now be an hour’s journey, sit watching them neck bottles of wine, likely pick up an equal share of the bill half of which will be alcohol related and then spend another hour dropping the piss heads back home. You know what, it’s not bleeding fair. I don’t like it. Saying “why should I give you a lift” seems churlish, so I’ll do it. But I’m now getting the same with another social event and I can feel the goodwill withering. I wonder if this is a common pattern for others that have gone sober?

I suppose I could always buy myself a little peaked cap, install a meter and make a little cash on the side and just call myself “Jim’s Taxi Service” but in reality I’ll just grin and bear it. But it is annoying and it is frustrating, or am I being a miserable, cantankerous old bastard?

Anyone need a lift?

History Bloody Repeating Itself

A morality tale from the reverend Jim High Anmighty

I had to laugh. Sorting out my study last week I came across an old notebook and thought “that’s good I can use that for my music notes”. There were some pages that needed ripping out but when I looked at them I could see they were pages from a diary going back to 2011.  I was attempting at that time to train for a second London marathon and the pages were my activity and health log.  I read a few entries and my heart sank whilst I simultaneously smiled.

Here’s an entry from January 2011 :”Couldn’t do the run as planned.  calf still playing up.  Bad weekend,saw  ______ and _______ for dinner and drank way too much.  Sunday felt awful and had usual fry up to soak up the hangover.  Weight 14st.  far too heavy.  must cutback on alcohol.” 

I didn’t end up doing the marathon that year and I didn’t make the changes.  I have diaries from other years, same story.  I record my blood pressure on an app.  So many times I have left comments such as ” BP and weight both up.  Heavy week too much booze and food. MUST cut down,” and so it goes on.  That cycle of drinking, eating, needing to change, next big event more over eating excessive drinking always trying to rein in the rampaging monsters.  

Luckily at times I did rein them in for days at a time but only days.  Without that reining in, even for short periods, I dread to think where I would be now.  Seeing those entries and knowing that was the pattern of my life seems now like so much wasted opportunity but it also looks like denial.  The evidence was in front of me.  I was not in control and I hated it. OK it’s taken me a long time to get here but at last my diary entries have changed.  I can now put in my Blood Pressure app.” BP in normal range, steady weight loss since September, had a few runs, weekends now longer blighted by hangovers and fry ups.”

There’s a lovely irony in being someone who has spent their life trying to help others change and develop only to discover that I was in my very own self repeating hamster wheel of stasis in relation to food and drink. But then I remind myself that my life is not just about my problemmatic relationship to food and particularly alcohol.  I have made changes in other areas of my life. There has been development. I improved my relationships, became hopefully a better parent, worked hard to be a better educator and more recently counsellor. I also like to think I’ve improved my guitar playing and biggest improvement of all moved up a league in table tennis (and yes, sad to say, that IS important to me!).

On balance history had repeated itself in a couple of key areas.  Yes, and they were big areas. Those, thankfully are finally being addressed and I’m not going to be too hard on myself because they are but two aspects of my life.  Having been stuck for so long with the food and drink cycle has definitely helped me be more empathic with those I encounter who struggle with the same issues. I see people at the extremes sometimes of alcohol use disorder, drinking that risks work, relationship and life itself. I count myself lucky that my drinking never went to those extremes, but it could have done.  Those who have broken the cycle are in a great position to speak with empathy, understanding and authority.  I’m at the beginning of breaking the cycle and look up to the people who really have done it. 

That brings me neatly to my final point. I want to repeat something I’ve said before. Fellow bloggers with your insight, experiences  and comments, you have made a difference. The support is probably the crucial factor in me finally making the changes that were so long overdue.  Thanks.

Now I have a favour to ask. A fellow blogger, Lia, (No More) has just got back into doing her blog after a two year absence and intends giving up the booze on Monday 18th November.  Here is a link to her blog; Lia’s Blog

It’s called No More and it would be wonderful if we could give her the support that I and so many others have enjoyed and which undoubtedly helps. She will really appreciate it. I asked her if Icould provide the link, give her a mention and she was morethan happy for me to do so.  So please give her bog a visit and wish her well.  Thanks.

In the end I suppose history doesn’t have to repeat itself not once we realise that we are ultimately the authors of our own histories.  

Here endeth the sermon for today.

Jim x