Category Archives: alcohol

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

 

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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

 

 

Emerging out of the Closet

I knew I had to be honest with people. I was not prepared to live a lie any longer. I knew there was a danger that family and friends would not be able to accept my new identity, my new way of life, but I could no longer live a life of secrecy and shame.  It was time to come out the closet.

I was nervous. Would I be accepted?  Would friends turn on me? What about my sons, would they now feel embarrassed by their dad’s new way of life. I knew I’d face predjudice, incredulity, mockery even hostility for what I was about to tell people. “But Jim, please give it some time, it might just be a phase, you could be back to normal in a few days.” I could hear the possible words that would be directed at me swimming around my head.

“Jim, you’ve spent too much time hanging out with those strange types on the internet, they’ve warped your thinking, influenced you, made you feel you are different than you really are. Jim for God’s sake, turn back before it’s too late.” Maybe they would say that, but my mind was made up. 

I decided to make my announcement to a friend in a pub last Friday.  I could tell she knew I had something monumental to say.  I poured myself some water.  I tried to speak but my mouth was dry.  My hands were trembling.  My friend took my hand, took a huge gulp of her red wine, looked me in the eye and said, “Jim, you know you can tell me anything.”

This was the moment.  I knew my friend would relay what I was about to say to her, to my other friends.  One way or another I would be out the closet and it would be a relief.  I coughed, straightened up and hesitated. I couldn’t do it.  My friend was now highly concerned for me.  Thinking she was changing the subject she said, “Shall I order a bottle of the Merlot Jim, I’ve nearly finished my glass and you haven’t had anything yet? Yeh let’s get a bottle, we can leave the car here and I’ll drop you home in the taxi.”

I couldn’t take it any longer.  It just came out, “I’m not bloody drinking, alright.  I’ve stopped, that’s it. Finito. Don’t keep asking me.  I don’t drink.  I have stopped drinking. I’m identifying as sober! Go on reject me, tell me to fuck off you freak, I don’t care any more. Just leave me alone.” I sobbed.

“Jim, take it easy, I only asked if you fancied some wine. Is that why you’ve been a bit tense, a bit odd?”

“Er yes it is actually, that’s my big announcement.you don’t seem shocked.”

She wasn’t. We ordered our food.

And that was it. I was Captura de pantalla 2019-11-11 a las 21.52.02.pngaccused by my friend of being a drama queen but otherwise my friend thought it was amazing that I hadn’t had a drink for ten weeks and was now determined to carry on Alcohol Free.

 

 

I went home and then told my partner.  She said she thought it was a good idea. “Well done,” she said.

I emerged from my sober closet and the world just carried on.  It was all rather underwhelming. I, on the other hand, felt great.  I had my new identity.  

To make it sound cool I call myself a Soberista, as if I am some kind of revolutionary alcohol free Mexican hell raiser.  Again a little over dramatic, but why not.  

I’ve emerged from the alcohol closet, I’m a Soberista and I’m proud!

 

 

9 Weeks and Hello Again Dysphoria

9 weeks without alcohol. Good.  But I am not managing my time well.  I like blogging , I like catching up with other blogs but it seems to get harder finding the time to do it.  It has been a full on week and two things have dominated; my therapy work and organising a fund raising concert in the New Year. Excuses, excuses.  Oh and  I had my birthday on Thursday. Interesting.

I went with some friends to the pub.  Potential sticky social time but in the end OK.  The pub does a draught non alcohol beer which is unusual and allowed me to feel like I was having a good time on my birthday. The truth is I wanted a drink.  Not a,”I’m a hopeless addict give me a bloody drink,” type desire more a “It’s my birthday, I love the slightly euphoric feeling alcohol gives me, surely if life means anything it’s about being able to enjoy a wide range of experiences and sensations, it’s only a bloody drink,” type desire. But I didn’t drink and that’s because I always have to have that one or two extra and I’ve decided not to.  Sensible but slightly boring.  I guess I’m feeling that way because I’m not getting that whole, “Wow my life is so much better now I’m not drinking,”vibe. Or is this my dysphoria rearing it’s ugly little head again?

BACK TO THURSDAY.

One of my friends, who I mainly know through table tennis, noticed I wasn’t drinking “real” beer.  We spoke about drinking and I was amazed when he told me he had stopped for a whole year a few years ago because his drinking had become problematic. I was intrigued.  He said he regularly had blackouts not recollecting drinking sesssions so decided to stop. He always intended it to be a year and after a year he started drinking again but now does so moderately. Amazing.  That night he had one vodka and orange, a previous time I’d been to the pub with him he had had one pint. He is a moderate drinker and a reformed drinker who clearly before had suffered from Alcohol Use Disorder.   It was an eye opener.  Moderation is possible, but then he is a very focused individual.  It was interesting in that he said he needed a year off in order to recalibrate his drinking, gain perspective and make firm plans about how he was going to change his attitude to drinking.  Sacrilegous as it may sound I did wonder if that could be an option for me.  Stop for a year and try the moderation path.

Who am I kidding! Moderation is not my way.  There was half a chocolate cake left on Friday. Enough for 6 people.  I ate the lot. It was there, my though was best finish it.  I was the same with wine.  I never understood why people bought bottle stoppers, once the bottle was open, finish it.  When I smoked, exactly the same. Consume, eat, drink, covet. Greed, excess or numbing some emotional pain?  Certainly when I don’t have a drink like today I’m prone to dysphoria as mentioned earlier. A glass or three often disippated the mood, made me lighter.  Now I have to ride the mood, see it through.

I have clients who experience dysphoria and I’m often surprised that when I tell them that that is what they are describing it’s often the first time they have heard of the term.  I tell them them that what they are describing; feelings of unease and a general non-specific dissatisfaction with life has a name.  I suppose they haven’t heard of it because it’s not a condition as such more a description of a mood state but a mood state that can be very commonly experienced.  People with depression often experience dysphoria but it’s not a mood state reserved solely for those with a mental illness. I would often experience dysphoria but my wonderful, euphoria (yes, it’s the opposite to dysphoria) inducing wine quickly snapped me out of it. Of course it doesn’t really work.  It’s an illusion.  You end up drinking too much, getting anxiety about your drinking, the unease and unhappiness return and one ends up writing a blog about giving up alcohol on WordPress. Full circle.

My dysphoria is often Sunday based.  I know it passes. I’ll be slightly grumpy and pissed off until it does so.  Then I’ll be OK.  Then I’ll be able to feel good about being 9 weeks Alcohol Free. Anyone know a good therapist?

Jim x

Two Months Alcohol Free and Busy as the Proverbial Bee

Let’s get the self pitying stuff out the way first.  It’s 2.30 am, the clocks have gone back which means in England; damp, dull, grey little England, we will be consigned to our days getting dark around four in the afternoon.  It gets worse, much worse- I have a cold! Not the greatest tragedy ever to afflict a person, granted, but I hate colds and they make me feel sorry for myself. Also it’s my blog and if I want to moan about a cold I can. Oh and to compound the misery I over ate last night using the “feed a cold” excuse to eat in quick succession: scotch eggs with rhubarb chutney, crisps, chocolate, yoghurt and then more chocolate.  Now I’m up becasue I have an upset tummy. Life can be cruel sometimes!

Ok that’s the self pitying done with so now where am I in this Alcohol Free adventure?  8 weeks AF today.  That’s OK, pretty pleased with that and just two weeks away from breaking the 10 weeks I went without a drink earlier this year. Yesterday and Friday also represented the first weekend where I did not suffer the anxiety pangs and cravings which I had every time I got to Friday evening up until this current weekend.  That association seems to be slowy dissolving.

So progress is good and yet it has been quite a while since my last post.  I suppose the fact that this going without booze is getting slightly easier means slightly less motivation to blog and yet I have been wanting to sit down and write a post, see how my other boozeless, blogging buddies are doing. So what is going on?

The simple answer is that I have suddenly become very busy.  My days are getting filled with things to do; appointments, deadlines, correspondence. It has left me little time for this blogging  and it takes an upset stomach in the middle of the night to create the time and space to sit down and write.  The busyness is a direct result of giving up the booze. Being sober, knowing there will be no hangovers, having more energy has meant that I started to

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Oh look, Jim’s a busy bee! 

fill my time and now I think I may just

 

 

have overdone it, stretching and commiting myself a little bit too much.  But then that’s how I am. That’s how I used to drink; just drinking that little bit too much, insisting we open just one more bottle of wine.  Yep, slightly excessive but at least now the excess is in doing productive things, things that give my life meaning and purpose, the holy grails for those of us without faith.

One of the things I’m overdosing on is Spanish.  I use a site called Conversation Exchange

It’s brilliant for finding people who want to learn another language and you learn theirs. I’ve been chatting to one Spanish guy on Skype for 3 years now.  Once a week we chat for an hour; 30 minutes in English, 30 minutes in Spanish. We have become friends, we improve our language skills and it’s free.  With my extra time and energy I logged onto CE to see if I could find a second person to chat with.  Trouble is I hadn’t  logged onto the site for three years and logging on again meant I came up first when Spanish speakers were looking for potential English partners. Without thinking things through I was getting requests to chat and being someone who finds it hard to say no, I have now got two new language buddies and another one scheduled for Tuesday. Having chatted to the two new people, (a retired guy and a successful business woman) I can’t suddenly cut them off but it means 3 or 4 new time commitments each week.  I’ll see how it goes because having to speak Spanish is fairlydemanding and exhausting, I have to think and concentrate! At least my Spanish should improve and in reality what a nice bonus from going Alcohol Free.  I guess I shouldn’t moan, I should celebrate but it does mean less time for other things.

The other area where I am getting busy is my therapy work.  I use a site to get my leads and there seems to be a big upswing in people looking for therapists in my area.  I have a room set aside at home for this but I only usually like to see a couple of people a week but now I have 5 clients and they are all sticking with it.  That’s good as I love doing that work but it does involve assigning a lot of time to it.  I tend to spend as much time thinking about clients, making notes and reading around issues as I do actually seeing them so I am spending a lot of time focusing on these clients and their issues at the moment.  But I wouldn’t change this.  It’s what I love doing. Being Alcohol Free has also given me a new found enthusiasm for what I do. Talking to clients about the possibility of change knowing that you are engaging in a process of change yourself feels very empowering and tangible.  Change can happen, it’s possible, it’s not always easy but with support it can happen.  I know giving up the booze is not like trying to overcome anxiety or a lifetime of feeling inadequate but it is similar in terms of developing the motivation and understanding to make small steps in changing in thoughts, feelings and perspectives.  Those things can instigate and sustain change.

So there we have it.  Two months without booze and the bonus of more time and energy. Time to improve my Spanish and developing my therapy work(and I never got onto the music which I also spend more time on) . I mustn’t in all of this “busyness” neglect the blogging and reading others’ blogs because it really has helped and the support on here has been wonderful.  I must also make sure I  do not neglect my very supportive partner who is becoming increasingly intrigued about what my going boozeless is all about. In short I need to monitor how I use this increase in productive time and not overdo things. I need to leave some unscheduled time and not overfill my time like I did my wine glass! Moderation, ah, if only.

Jim x

Achievement and Loss- The 7 week Mark

Seven weeks and my overriding feeling is not one of achievement but one of loss. Why is that?My head says well done but my heart says at what a cost.  Our minds can play funny games with us and mine is currently playing the ,”Your drinking wasn’t that bad Jim, lighten up and enjoy yourself,” game.  Very seductive.  Very appealing.  Very half true!

In some ways this “thing”, this going sober, would be much easier if my drinking had been truly out of control and I was waking up trembling in the morning craving my first litre of  super strength lager. But it was never like that.  The drinking wasn’t ruining my life but it was nibbling at the edges and being a person of some excesses, when I drank, I drank with gusto. I nowfind myself remembering the many ocassions I did drink moderately (usually because it would have looked unseemly to do otherwise) but conveniently repressing days when I’d inexplicably reach for yet another drink, spending a day alone getting into a drunken stupor and then feeling shit about myself for around 3 days.  I conveniently forget  the hangovers that stopped me doing my Saturday morning runs or led me to spend a day eating fatty foods to soak up the booze. Well I’ve just reminded myself . Yes, of course there were good, sensible, rational reasons for stopping.  Health, sleep, energy, but boy can good intentions be boring.

This is the thing, despite my ego and superego (apologies to Freud) acting like some sensible parents, my instinctual, childish ID says, “Fuck off you boring killjoys, being human is about experience, we are all going to die anyway, let’s at least have some good times before the inevitable annialation!” Naughty ID! A bit of a drama queen but I get his point.  I do miss much about drinking.  I know the facts.  I know the science but stopping drinking is more than feeding yourself the sobriety propaganda. That gives you some reason and motivation.  It helps.  But I have to recognise aScreenshot 2019-10-21 at 08.18.01.pngnd grieve for what I have lost as crazy as that may sound.  Drink gave me some release.  It was a drug I chose to take because I liked its effects.  It also gave me companionship and an identity. I was bloody good at drinking so it gave me a strange kind of warped kudos and standing.   Of course there were negatives and side effects but those were understood to be part of the deal. You pays yer price.

So what am I saying? God knows. I’m suggesting I suppose that like many things, going sober is not as black and white (for me and I can obviously only talk about me with any certainty) as I thought it would be.  It’s clearly a process.  There are real pluses and I’m grateful for those otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this.  But I have to acknowledge the downsides and probably the biggest of these is the loss of identity, ritual, and shared activity that drinking gave me.

An example of this is when I eventually go to Spain to visit relatives.  I need to visit but I put if off. Why? Because I know that something will be missing. They live in Valencia and a typical day will involve late breakfast, a trip to the centre, beers, chat, meeting friends and tapas. Not much beer or wine but steady, small amounts. A light, sweet feeling of mild intoxication and then a restaurant where good food matched with fine wines is the order of the day. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, or I say to myself, spending a day like that with a non alcoholic beer or soft drink is not going to be the same.  That experience is now dead to me, it’s something that happened in another life.  It was good and it has gone.

Seven weeks.  I have done well and I have no intention of giving up my giving up, but I must also grieve and reorganise my identity. I need to find new ways of getting the comfort and buzz, that not just alcohol, but it’s associated rituals and hinterland gave me.  Maybe it’s the grieving rather than a physical dependency that makes many return to booze. Maybe knowing that that is what is going on and giving myself time will help. There was much that was good about my drinking days. Acknowledge the loss, feel the loss, grieve for it and move on. Better days await.

Apologies if this is a depressing post but these reflections have been swirling around and it helps to write them down.

Jim x