Tag Archives: alcohol recovery

A little bit of blogging does you good!

Yesterday was a funny day. Funny strange that is. Let’s backtrack; I’ve been writing my blog for a month now and my intentions were to:

1 Have an online record of moving from alcohol dependency to sobriety, reflecting and hopefully learning on the way

2 Get a bit of support from people either going through the same thing or having successfully arrived at sober living

I’m really pleased to say that both of those goals have been realised but the experience I have had after one month has been so much more than that and very surprising.

Surpise number 1: the flow of comments and interest. I had blogged previously about trying to moderate my drinking. That was two years ago and in the course of blogging I had a few people who commented and I did the same. Only a small number but really useful. For me blogging wasn’t about getting lots of followers but an attempt to become part of a close knit small group of supportive bloggers. That’s how it was until yesterday. Then out of seemingly nowhere I had triple the views I normally have, a bunch of new followers and lots of comments. That was kind of nice but why yesterday? Was it that I suddenly appealed to more people due to my elegant writing, the opening up of my tortured soul, familiarity with my posts and a desire to read them all over again? No, of course not. I think it was down to one word: anxiety. That word being in the title of my last post and a tag seems to have been the reason for a lot more traffic. A surprise certainly, but a nice one, it just means you send you’re day responding to comments. A good way to spend some time.

Let me clear something up about that last post. The anxiety I was talking about was a situation specific, time limited anxiety. It was linked to me not allowing myself to drink at a time when I habitually drank. I didn’t like it. It put me on edge. It triggered some other darker feelings. But it passed. Real anxiety, clinical anxiety is a whole different phenomena and in no way did I want to suggest that’s what I was going through. I’ve seen people with chronic anxiety and it is a debilitating condition that can wreck lives. What I experienced was an episode, an acute short lived experience of anxiety that I overcame. The comments I had were amazing and an eye opener about what others have had to endure and suffer from.

Surprise number 2: The amazingly supportive community of bloggers out there. This has been the real revelation for me. In just over a month I have had numerous comments and ALL of them have been supportive, encouraging and positive. When people talk about online worlds and social media you often hear of bullying, trolls and negative responses. I’ve seen none of that. And it’s not just on my blog. When I read other blogs and comments it’s the same and that is a really wonderful thing to witness. It’s a picture of how this world could be if we truly valued and respected each other. Bloggers do it so why not politicians, religious leaders and others in positions of influence?

For me I would go so far as to say that the support and genuine interest of a few bloggers has helped me successfully manage my first 10 days of sobriety. It’s the quality of the support that’s really impressed me. It’s been much more than “10 days, well done Jim” type of response although that is always welcome. It’s been people sharing their own experiences to help shed light on mine or to offer advice and information that could be the thing that gets me through a sticky patch. Sometimes the comments can be very direct but that’s ok, I like direct and I can choose to act upon or not any advice coming my way. The point is in this blogging community people genuinely care for one another and want to see others moving forward and succeeding. No bitchiness or point scoring. They’ll be one or two just looking to pick up likes and followers but that’s ok. They still give. Oh and there are some big egos out there but hey that’s also ok. If a blogger feels a bit better about themselves that’s a good thing and it could be one of the few places they receive such positivity.

Is it all positive, this blogging business?

I would say the only negatives I can see for myself are:

A. It can be addictive. I’ve heard others mention that and I say this half jokingly because an addiction that does no harm physically and where the outcome is to connect with others in a positive way is hardly a bad thing

B. I have to be careful here. Maybe, just maybe we are too nice to each other. What I mean is that in trying to be supportive we sometimes sugar coat things or avoid any constructive criticism. You can be critical and supportive at the same time. I was a teacher for many years and just giving glowing feedback did not help students make progress. Purposeful, relevant feedback did. Having said that I know I’m now going to get some critical feedback of my own. That’s OK I can take it, just be gentle with me ! 😉

Jim X

Don’t Talk To Me About Relapse!

Ok so I have come out the other side. My last day as a drinking person was on Saturday and I had a lovely meal with different wines for each course. I drank a lot on my final day almost hoping to make myself ill so that I could always remember one of the reasons I wanted to not drink. Trouble is my month of excess meant I’d really built up my tolerance levels so yesterday I struggled with just a mild hangover. Last night I started to get my first cravings but nothing unmanageable. Sleep was poor last night, again all to be expected. I’ve done dry months before so I know pretty much what to expect in the first few weeks. The important thing is I have arrived. The sober journey begins.
Be Afraid… Be very afraid!

But there is a problem. Now that I’m someone who has given up I have to face the mythology and language of sobriety and I have problems with that. Typically people on this journey have a Day 1 that becomes day 2 and so on. Success is defined by the number of days sober and even those sober for years and years will talk in such a way that failure is haunting them; alcohol is just behind them ready to pounce and undo all their hard work. That fear of failure seems encapsulated I one word: RELAPSE. Technically relapse is a medical term meaning someone has deteriorated after a temporary improvement. Someone who has relapsed has taken a turn for the worse, has weakened, deteriorated, failed. In the world of sobriety I see this term, loaded with negativity, used by people all the time. People start the clock, one day, two days, then the “inevitable” relapse happens, self loathing and failure kick in and the sobriety clock has to be recalibrated. What a recipe for failure!

I need something more positive if I am going to succeed and the language we use seems to be key in how we define and think of ourselves. Even the terms used to describe people like me are negative in connotations; ex drinkers, former drinkers, dependent, alcoholic. No thanks. I don’t like any of them even though my blog address is former drinker. I have had to use the terminology that’s out there but I need new terms, new language. I need to perceive what I’m doing as positive not just a reaction to something. Job one then is to think of a new term for what I’m doing- I have made a choice to live without using alcohol and I need a positive, desirable, aspirational term for this state of being. I’ll give this some thought and I would welcome suggestions or terms that others already use.

That brings me to the word I really do not like in this sobriety world; the dreaded RELAPSE. When I gave up smoking 15 years ago I did not refer to day 1 etc. I just mentally noted that I stopped smoking in May 2004. 2 years later my son had to have an emergency operation just before his 19th birthday. He had the operation, came home and we had a party. A few of his friends brought a Shisa pipe. People started smoking something like rose petal tobacco in the garden. It was a special occasion. I had a few puffs. There were other things to smoke, I had a few puffs. Someone rolled me a cigarette. I smoked it. Next day I felt a bit bad that I’d smoked but it was an extraordinary situation. Oh well I was glad I was a non-smoker. My mouth felt terrible and I carried on being a non- smoker. If someone asked me when I gave up smoking I don’t say April 2006 I say May 2004. So was that occasion a relapse? No. It was a momentary and fairly insignificant episode that did not deter me from my decision to be a non- smoker.

Now if that had been alcohol I’m sure many people would say, “I’ve had relapse! Oh God, I’ve failed, may as well pack in a bit more drinking then because I am going to have to start all over again.”Relapse is failure, failure saps your spirit, resetting means failure, failure means self esteem is lowered and that’s a door alcohol loves to walk through. So how can we define those times when maybe a drop or two of alcohol passes our lips without feeling that the whole weight of failure, recalibrating our sobriety clock, and bruised self esteem have to come crashing down upon us? It seems to me we already have a term, a word that would change how we perceive such episodes and ourselves and the word is “lapse.” Get rid of the “re” and you are left with lovely little “lapse” and lapse means a brief or temporary failure of memory, concentration or judgement. The key word in the definition is “brief.”

In my smoking example I had a lapse. I smoked a few over the course of a couple of hours. I didn’t see it as a major failure I saw it as a lapse, a brief misjudgement. Did I need to recalibrate my non- smoking clock? No. I was simply a non- smoker who had had a brief lapse.

People starting out with sobriety seem to live in fear of relapse and I do not want to start what for me is a positive lifestyle choice by living in fear. I know alcohol is addictive, I know it’s going to be in many of the social situations I enter and I know that there may be triggers out there that make me feel I want or need a drink. If I do and it’s a one off the that will be a lapse. I do not intend having a drink but if it happens, if for example I have a glass of champagne at a wedding to toast the bride because that was all there was, if I drink only that and carry on next day as my new sober self then all that’s happened is I have had a lapse, not a relapse, a lapse. My sobriety is intact and I am not going to label myself as a failure. If, one the other hand I have that glass of champagne and then drink the bar dry and go on a week’s bender then I will consider that a relapse. Giving myself that permission to possibly lapse without seeing it as failure means I should hopefully rid myself of that all or nothing mentality that often crushes other attempts at change whether it be exercise, sobriety or dieting.

I have spent a fair few words looking at one word but words frame how we perceive the world. I need words and meanings that will help me change, not words that will drag me down and make me think less of myself. Importantly I am not reframing the language I use just to give me permission to sneak in a few drinks. I’m a soberista (or whatever new word I can think of to describe this positive way of being) and I may not always be perfect but I’m giving myself the best chance of success. I stopped drinking yesterday, day 2 today but who’s counting.

Jim x

And Finally something to think about. A few years ago the BBC did a programme about losing weight. They had two groups in two separate rooms. In a little experiment they gave both groups a huge chocolate cake with identical calories in it. The groups were invited to have piece of the cake and the bulk of the cake was left in the room. The groups were then told to look under the cake to see how many calories were in the cake. Group 1 were told it was a low calorie cake. That group of dieters stuck with having just the one piece that they had already eaten. The other group with the identical cake were told it was very high calorie. Most people in that group went on to eat two or more slices. For me that was a powerful experiment. Group 1 perceived that eating the cake had not ruined their diet and stopped at one piece of cake. Group 2 perceived themselves as having failed and adopted a, “oh well we’ve blown it may as well have another piece of cake” mentality. Interesting no?

Music- My Salvation?

Now here’s a funny thing. A revelation. In this blogI’ve been going on about my alcohol dependence and the problems associated with it and getting ready to stop drinking from this coming Sunday. It has seemed to me that alcohol has dominated many areas of my life and I’ve relied too much on it. But this was the revelation I have just had- except when it comes to music. This fact only struck me this morning as I started practising for an open mic night which I agreed to yesterday and which takes place on Thursday evening. The first thing I did when I agreed to perform was cancel meeting up with a friend for lunch (another stop on my long goodbye to booze). I need to practice and when I play and sing I NEVER drink!

I need alcohol sometimes to quell nerves and anxiety but I never drink prior to or during a performance. Simple reasons- it affects my voice and I make mistakes if I drink so whenever I’ve had to do music or drama based activities I cut right back on my drinking. Over the years this must mean that I have drunk far less than I would have done without having music in my life. I also prefer listening to music without booze flowing through me firstly because being an older guy I’d be fighting to get to crowded toilets every 15 minutes and most importantly music just sounds so much better sober.

So thank you music. You have helped reduce my intake over the years and shown me that you can enjoy life without booze, I’m just amazed that I hadn’t really appreciated that until just now.

My cherished Epiphone – I love you man!

Jim x

Why the Delay Jim?

I said in earlier posts that I had set a start date of September 1st for my sobriety challenge because I knew I had some big social dates coming up. I also wanted to take leave from alcohol in a planned way; my long goodbye. Reading other blogs I can see that giving up alcohol when you’ve become alcohol dependent is a tough task and I wanted to have a “run in” so that I really understood what I was doing and making sure that this was the right decision for me. I’ve said before that having to give up alcohol completely for me is really an admission of failure. Whereas many people can enjoy alcohol in a responsible and moderate way, I cannot. From an early age I drank excessively and greedily. Having tried moderation and failed I can see that my only path is abstinence.

And yet…… I know I shall miss alcohol. It has been a source of pleasure and it is so entrenched in so many social activities that I enjoy. Convivial evenings down the pub with friends is something that will either go or have to change, trips to Dusseldorf visiting the big breweries in Altstadt with my German relatives likewise. I know that giving up is something I have to do for my health and wellbeing and there are many things I am looking forward to in my new sober life but there is also already a sense of loss and grieving for something that has been so integral to my life.

Having said all that one of the social events I wanted to enjoy without the struggle of not drinking was my big Bank Holiday BBQ. This was held on Sunday and was a big family occasion. I knew this was to be my last big booze up and very predictably, I got drunk. It was also a brilliant reminder to myself as to why I have to stop drinking. Every element of my problemmatic relationship to alcohol was present on that day.

At 1 o’ clock on Sunday I fired up the barbecue and had my first beer. From a drinker’s point of view outside barbecues are heaven; buckets of cold beer, opened bottles of wine, you can drink what you like without drawing too much attention to yourself. In pubs you have to drink at the same rate as the others, no such problems at barbecues especially ones you organise yourself. I was drinking to my heart’s content and cooking on coals which I love.

Do not cook and drink, that’s my advice. When I do something usually goes wrong and sure enough a couple of hours into the BBQ and several beers later (who’s counting), I lift the lid of the grill and pick up one of the metal skewers, only without gloves. Ouch. That was stupid. Just typing this is hurting my blistered fingers, but that’s the kind of thing that happens when you mix drinking and cooking.

Sitting down once the food is all cooked I chat to my two sons one of whom who I haven’t seen in 4 months. My sons are fairly heavy drinkers too (wonder where they got that from) and we are now trying different British ales together with some interesting wines. The brakes are off and my drinking has now taken on a life of its own. My partner asks me to slow down. I’m fine I say but I’m not. I know that now because one of my sons told me yesterday that when we played table tennis for the second time I was tripping over myself and unable to hit the ball with my bat. That’s not what usually happens because I play table tennis in a local league and I pride myself on being a fairly reasonable player. I cannot remember that spell of playing table tennis.

My partner yesterday tried to talk to me about my drinking. I had fallen asleep in the living room and woke about 3 in the morning unsure what I was doing there. She slept in a spare room saying that I was “completely pissed” Sunday night and had been very loud and my sons had been embarrased by my rambling, drunken monologue in the garden. I didn’t want to listen to that. Yesterday was the day after the BBQ. I went with my two sons their girlfriends and my ex wife (the mother of my sons) and her husband for a walk to a nearby village. We went to the pub. Most had soft drinks but I was straight onto the beers. Hair of the dog we call it. A few beers sorts out a hangover, what a joke.

It’s now 2 a.m. on Tuesday. My sons left to go home yesterday and I’m up in the middle of the night feeling sick, bloated and sweaty with blistered fingers and a two day hangover. I feel embarrassed by my drinking on Sunday and I purposely do not want to find out what I said and did. Nothing terrible or aggressive I know but I will have been ridiculous and embarrassing nonetheless.

That pattern of unrestrained drinking on Sunday is what I do when the drink is freely available. I have done it before at parties, weddings, funerals, the lot. If the drink is available I’ll go for it. Looking back to Sunday I’m so thankful it happened because it demonstrated to me that I really can’t control my drinking at such events. I did not really enjoy the day in all honesty after the first hour or so and it has left me feeling ill and embarrassed. Good. When I’m having doubts about my decision to give up the booze I shall remind myself of the Bank Holiday BBQ and that should help me fight any temptation. My partner is worried about my drinking and I was so close to telling her of my plan but I decided to keep quiet. I have told her that from Saturday I shall be starting a diet so when she sees me not drinking she will assume it’s because of the diet. I don’t want to make it a big deal, and she’s heard me talk of cutting back to no avail before so this time no fanfare but hopefully I shall show her in a few months that alcohol is disappearing from my life.

So yes, in 5 days time I shall be starting my new sober journey and saying goodbye to booze. I wish I could have been a sensible drinker but I cannot so that’s that. Once my start date arrives I need to start looking forward to all the benefits of being sober and once I experience some of those benefits (and I know there will be many having given up for three months earlier this year) I can give up on the grieving for my troublesome friend.

This period running up to giving up is proving invaluable to me. I have learned a lot about myself, my drinking habits, my reasons for wanting to quit. The blog is really helping to organise my thoughts and I am sure is going to be a great motivation in staying sober. Big changes like giving up the booze are notoriously difficult so knowing why I have to make the change is a very important part of the process. Knowing that others have been successful is also motivational and I thank all those that have shared their stories. Your stories help strugglers like me face up to reality and hopefully make the changes.

Jim x

Not All Drinkers Are the Same

I know it’s an obvious fact that not all drinkers are the same, but it needs restating, for me anyway, because I do not want to retreat into a black and white dichotomy where non drinkers are enlightened beings but drinkers are poor deluded souls needing to be shown the true path.

It’s just not that simple. Yesterday was a great example on a small scale of the complexities of why and how people drink. Me, yep I have a problem with drink. I also approach other things in life like I approach drink, I do them to excess. I used to smoke a lot, I eat a lot, I talk a lot, I drink a lot. Why? Who knows; pleasure, filling a void, social pressures, biology, trauma, they all play a part but I don’t see much point in trying to unpick those elements. Bottom line, I drink too much, I plan things around alcohol, It’s hard for me to moderate, I have to stop.

So back to yesterday, I went for lunch with a good friend who is about to start work as a headteacher in a new school in ten days time. I drove and took her and her children to the home of a mutual friend who lives in a beautiful thatched cottage. I was driving, so I arrived and had three small glasses of wine knowing that the amount I had drunk was about 4 units (the legal limit in the UK) and that when we left I should be completely alohol free (not perfect I admit but legal and I didn’t drive until 4 hours later). I envied the other two as they drank glass after glass of cold Italian wine. My headteacher friend drank a fair bit but had her children there so kept it under control. Now she is a controlled drinker who likes the ocassional binge. When she got home she told me that she wouldn’t have any more and that would be her last drink until she started her new job in ten days time. She has a lovely marriage, great kids, likes a drink but has it under control. She knows that alcohol is a potentially dangerous and powerful drug as her brother died 4 years ago from liver failure due to excessive drinking. She is fully aware of where uncontrolled drinking can lead.

My friend’s lovely thatched cottage and look, blue cloudless sky- and yes it’s England!

The friend who was hosting is a completely different type of drinker. She drinks by her own admission to subdue the pain of lonliness and grief. Her daughter died 20 years ago and around the same time her husband ran off with a younger woman. She lives on her own in the coutryside and drink and fags are her companions. She’s tried giving up but couldnt face what life was like without them. It was too bleak. They provided solace. She knows drinking and smoking will likely kill her but she is OK with that. Take them away and I’m not sure she would survive anyway.

I went home and to make up for having not been able to drink much in the afternoon, I opened a bottle and got to work. My partner joined me. Now she’s yet a completely different type of drinker to myself and the other two. She had one small glass of wine and stopped. Just like that. I don’t know how she does it. That is my hell, one glass and stop, I’d rather have nothing. But it’s what drinking should look like I suppose. A powerful drug and poison is something that if consumed should only be consumed sparingly and in moderation. She can do that effortlessly. She probably will not have another drink for weeks.

I on the other hand finished the bottle and had a couple more beers. I sat alone in the garden watching the sun set and despite the alcohol trying it’s best to relax me I could feel something I can only describe as unease and emptiness seeping into my soul.

Last night’s sunset at home

Two posts in one go is a bit excessive but it helps me clarify many things prior to giving up. I am so looking forward to being able to focus on things other than alcohol.

Thanks for stopping by

Jim x

Alcohol- A wolf in sheep’s clothing

That was a bit of fun in the last post, personifying Al Cahole, giving him a voice. Boy is he an up himself arsehole, but the serious side is it allows me to have a dialogue between different parts of me that are often contradictory and at loggerheads.

Take relationships for example. Al was perfectly correct, I was an awkward, stumbling bag of nerves around girls when I was a teenager. Alcohol changed everything, it gave me a confidence and release from anxiety that was literally intoxicating. So pattern established, you want to meet girls, get drinking. The downside is drinking hardly helps with Libido; as Skakespeare puts it:

Drink, sir, is a great provoker of three things . . . nose-painting, sleep, and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.

That’s the thing with alcohol, it promises much, delivers occasionally but always comes at a cost.

The part of me that likes alcohol remembers the good times with alcohol; the fun, the parties, doing crazy stuff you wouldn’t normally do, the feeling of abandoning the stifling restrictions of day to day life, the promise of the unexpected, dangerous liasions,excitement and unpredictability. Another side remembers the not so good times, all provided courtesy alcohol; arguments with friends, stealing a barrel of beer at University from a young Conservatives party and being set upon and by 10 big blokes, being driven home by a drunk driver, seeing a friend drink himself to death following a relationship breakdown, couples swearing and fighting in the street after a “Prosecco” night, embarrassing my kids, the list goes on and funny how you never see these scenes shown on any alcohol advertising.

I know that I am giving up alcohol in just over a week’s time but doing this blog and having the run up has really thrown up so many contradictory thoughts and feelings. I will be leaving something that has been very important to me and I know it’s going to be bloody hard to navigate certain situations without a drink, I’m excited at the prospect of feeling and being different without drink and I’m also terrified of feeling and being different without alcohol. For me, the relationship has broken down and something had to give, but already, even before stopping, I can sense the enormity of what lies ahead and boy do I now massively respect those who have managed to successfully travel this particular path. Soon it will be time for me to shear that sheep and confront the ferocious wolf in a final showdown.(sorry, unnecessarily dramatic language there).

Thanks for stopping by

Jim x

Newsflash – Angry Al Hacks Jim’s Blog!

Hello blog tarts or whatever you readers of blogs call yourself. I’m bloody angry. That Jim, he’s a bastard and a coward. I knew he would make off as soon as I came round. What a shifty two faced shit bag he is. This is his blog I suppose? “Life Beyond Booze” indeed. What a joke. The man has lost all sense and reason, and, he’s a snivelling traitor I’ll tell you that. You know he didn’t even have the courage to tell me face to face that our friendship was over. I heard about it on another “blog.” 45 years I’ve known Jim, stood by him, been with him through thick and thin and this is how he treats me, discarded like, well like an old beer can. That’s not how you treat your friends is it?

I’ll tell you something else, Jim won’t last 10 minutes without me. Nope. In fact he’s nothing without me and wouldn’t be the man he is today without my guiding influence. For one thing I reckon he’d still be a virgin but for me. I remember him as a shy, insecure nerd incapable of getting off with girls. Once I came along he’s suddenly Mr, “Hello there what’s your name,”rubbish lines, but said with a conviction and confidence. He actually got laid unbelievably but only because of me.

Maybe my new advertising campaign?

And I suppose he’s forgotten all the good times we had together. mad nights singing in the streets, telling rude jokes at fancy dinner parties, dancing as though he was a chicken on steroids. All down to me. Now he’s suddenly come over all self righteous and thinks he is going to improve his life and his health. What a joke. With me people laugh more, relax more, enjoy life more. That’s got to help people lead a longer life hasn’t it? What could be better for your health than gallons of wine. I tell you I am a gift from God, I’m loved around the world, you’ll see me on every street corner so why on earth would he throw all that away.

I blame you lot out there. Yes you, you smug bloggers, putting foolish ideas into Jim’s head. He’s going to end up throwing away the best friend he’s ever had. Girls have come and gone, friends have moved away , some have died. The only real constant in his life has beenme and now he wants to throw it all away. You’ve twisted his thinking. Well I hope you lot are happy separating a man from his best friend.

You know what though? I’m not going to go away. I know Jim must have been led astray. There’s no way he would suddenly reject me after all these years without someone, and yes, I mean you again, influencing, nay brainwashing him. Sober = Boring and Jim is going to find that out. I’ll stick around. I am calming down a bit now. I’ll stay on the sidelines, I won’t say anything but I’ll be there, always just in sight. he won’t be able to avoid me, always hovering with my tempting array of wines, beers and spirits. Eventually he will come to his senses, he won’t be the first to try and life without me and he won’t be the last. I’ll just bide my time and when the moment is right, I’ll plonk myself right at his side and offer him the comfort and pleasure that only I can provide. Then you lot will see who’s boss.

Yes, that’s it, I didn’t need to get so agitated. I’ll let Jim get this sobriety nonsense out of his system and he will come running back to me begging for forgiveness. You wait and see. If you see Jim, you can tell him I popped by. If you don’t no worries, I’m pretty sure he’ll be knocking on my door pretty soon anyway.

Cheers and salut

Al Cahole

(The man to see for some deadly serious fun!)

Ending an Abusive Relationship

Obvious fact number 1- If I had a good relationship with alcohol, I wouldn’t be writing this blog

Obvious fact number 2- A “good” relationship is one where both parties get something positive from the relationship

Obvious fact number 3- My relationship with alcohol is not good

Obvious fact mumber 4- Abusive relationships cause harm and pain

Many of my friends have a good, controlled relationship with drink. They take it or leave it, they can enjoy a glass of fine wine, sip a cold beer before doing something entirely different. They have lives not dominated by thoughts of alcohol. Me? I’m the opposite. I look at events coming up- will there be alcohol, who can I get to drive so I can drink? How to stop myself at such events getting pissed and sounding off about the state of the world?

Then I might have to plan some non alcohol days, they’ll be some craving for sure but there will also be that empty sense of, “so what do I do now without alcohol.” Alcohol has started to dominate my life. There’s very little I can do without alcohol peering over my shoulder and suggesting I take her with me. She pretends she likes me that this time we will have a good time, nothing to worry about. In short alcohol and I are in an abusive relationship. Alcohol holds me back, makes me feel crap about myself, makes me overeat, doesn’t like it if I do things without her,gives me the impression a few moments with her will make me forget the nagging sense of emptiness and unfulfilled promise that dominates my life. Wow, that sounded depressing. Hold on, it gets worse. She also has made me feel ill at times , gives me three day hangovers and even depresses my libido. What a bastard she is!

Except of course it’s not just her. It takes two to make a relationship, and I have often abused her. At university I thought it would be cool to out drink my fellow students, be someone who could drink a skinful and still stand up semi coherent. I made her attend all my social events not just the ones you might expect and I encouraged others to join me in abusing my dear friend alcohol. I abused her, she abused me. It’s been going on for 45 years. I think it’s called co-dependency

Sometimes people wonder why anyone would stay in an abusive relationship. Well for me and alcohol there’s several reasons:

  • I didn’t recognise it as abusive until fairly recently
  • I still get something from the relationship (fun, forgetting, changed state of mind)
  • At least it’s a relationship
  • It’s the glue for many of my other relationships
  • It’s familiar and has stuck with me where others have not
  • Maybe I deserve the abuse, maybe I CRAVE THE ABUSE

At some point most people do realise they have to leave an abusive relationship if they want to survive. I’m at that point. I don’t think and alcohol and I can be friends any longer. She keeps luring me back but the benefits are getting less and less whilst the negatives are stacking up big time. Like ex lovers we have to stay apart knowing that if we do get together we forget our promises and throw ourselves into an orgy of sensual love making only to feel guilty the next day. (OK , I know, I’m getting carried away with the metaphor now)

You get my point. Ours never was and can never be a moderate, mature, respectable relationship. We are too alike. She was good to me in the early days and we have had some great times, but I have to get away. We are hurting each other.

Update

I originally thought I was stopping on the 4th September but it will be the 1st as I mixed up a couple of social events. In the meantime I carry on drinking. Milton Erikson is the father of modern hypnotherapy. One of his patients was grossly overweight and tried all the diets. She saw Erikson and he told her to put on extra weight. She was confused but did what he said. He told her to put on more. She begged him to stop telling her to put on weight. It worked- she became so disgusted with herself that she changed her eating habits. She overcame her eating and weight problem. Now there’s a thought.

Thanks for stopping by.

Jim x

Man About to Give Up Alcohol- Exclusive Interview

Our correspondent, Yura Kiddinme, talks to a slightly confused Jim Simmonds about his upcoming challenge and his new Blog, “former drinker”

YK: Good morning Jim, thanks for doing this interview. I’d like to talk to you today about your new blog entitled “former drinker.”

JS: Hi Yura, yes I’m very excited about the blog and glad to talk about it with you.

YK: Great! so Jim the new blog is all about giving up alcohol.

JS: that’s absolutely right Yura a brand-new blog all about giving up alcohol.

YK: Jim I’m going to ask you straight, forgive the directness: are you an alcoholic?

JS: Great question Yura. The answer is a resounding “no”. Sure, I drink very heavily, can’t seem to moderate how much I drink, I also obsess about alcohol whenever I have to go into social situations and it’s beginning to affect my health and well-being. Other than that though I’ve got it completely under control.

 YK: Yeah okay Jim. Maybe when we finish this interview you might want to look up the term denial. Anyway let’s press on.

J S: Absolutely

YK: I guess it’s early days but how’s it going Jim with this “giving up alcohol?”

JS: Ah, well you see I haven’t actually started giving up yet, that is still a few days away.

YK: But Jim, you’ve called your blog “former drinker,” how does that work if you’ve not actually given up drinking yet?

JS: That’s an excellent question. You see I will be a former drinker but that will be in a couple of weeks time. In the meantime I’m gearing up to being a former drinker. It’s all about the preparation.

YK: Right so you’re still drinking, not strictly speaking a former drinker then are you? At least I suppose you’re using this time before stopping drinking to wind down your alcohol intake, is that right?

JS: To be honest if anything my alcohol consumption has been ramping up these last few weeks. In fact I’m probably drinking more now than I’ve had in ages.

YK: Jim I’m not getting a good feeling about all of this; so you’re telling me that in the run-up to not drinking you’re actually drinking more than ever before? That hardly inspires confidence that you can I give up. So why the increase in alcohol consumption?

JS: Yes I can see you’re a bit confused, it’s a bit counterintuitive. Reality is I like drinking…

YK: Woah…let’s stop there Jim. You’re about to give up alcohol and yet you’re telling me that you love drinking. Jim are you an idiot?

JS: That’s  interesting and you’re not the first person to ask me that question. But let me explain. I love drinking but I can’t carry on drinking.

YK: you love drinking but you can’t carry on? What is going on here Jim? 

JS: Look, I drink heavily, I like my drinking but it’s got to the point where I cannot be moderate in my drinking so what’s happened is I’m spending too long thinking about it and planning around it, it’s affecting my health, my sleep, my weight. I love it but I also hate it and it’s time for the alcohol to go.

YK: okay I think we’re getting somewhere now Jim. It’s harmful, you can’t moderate so you are giving up. So why not just give up now, why the delay?

J S: Will two main reasons I suppose. Firstly if I’m going to give up alcohol and it’s something I like then I want to enjoy a few days where I can drink before I finally put it behind me. Secondly I think I want to drink excessively so I actually remember what it’s like to feel sick of drinking, to wake up with a hangover, to feel nauseous, to experience bad sleep, excess weight.  To remember  those things, I think, will help me in the future.

YK: Jim this seems a very unique approach to abstinence. Are you sure you’re not just mad?

JS: look you got to do what’s right for you. In my mind this approach makes sense, it feels right therefore that’s what I’m going to do.

YK: I can respect that Jim if it’s an approach that brings results, then why not go for it. I’m guessing that you’ve experienced other success using this simple approach in other areas of your life Jim?

JS: actually no, not really. For example I’ve been trying to lose weight for several years now using my own individual approach. In fact this year I managed to lose nearly a stone in weight believe it or not.

YK: that’s brilliant Jim and how’s the diet now.

J S: well I’ve actually put it all on in the last couple of months and in fact got even heavier than I was at the start of trying to lose weight.

YK: so could we say that’s been a little short of success?

JS: no I think we can call it an abject failure.

YK: Jim again this is not exactly creating a feeling of confidence in your new venture. Why do you think this giving up of alcohol will be successful when you’ve experienced so many failures in trying to change in the past?

JS: I’ll tell you why. Because earlier this year I vowed to give up alcohol for three months and I succeeded and so I now think I’ll give up for a year and I know I can follow that through.

YK: and how was it giving up to 3 months, did you find it difficult?

JS: sure it was difficult but I found that it was socially and psychologically more difficult then it was physiologically. So staying at home during the week and not drinking was not too bad but as soon as Friday came along I could feel that old association of “it’s the weekend’ treat yourself’ let your hair down, have a drink.” When I went out to a restaurant I could suddenly feel that craving because of the association that every time I go out for a meal I drink alcohol. Every time I socialise with friends in the evening I drink alcohol so it was the associations that created the real cravings and that I found interesting.

YK: and Jim you say you’re going to do a year. Why not just give up completely and be done with it?

JS: When I gave up to 3 months,part of the reason I could do it was that I knew that it wasn’t a once and for all decision. I knew That I could go back to it after three months if I wanted to which is what I did. But there was also part of me wanting to not go back to drink.I think if I said never again when I next had those real cravings I’d give in as I couldn’t imagine dealing with those cravings for the rest of my life.  Having a craving but only having to deal with it for weeks is easier. So if I say one year I I can imagine that, I can imagine a year without drinking knowing that if it was an awful experience if I felt I was missing out socially and in other ways I could go back to it but what I’m hoping for is that with one year under my belt, feeling physically better and being  more productive,I’m hoping that I will say no way am I going back to drinking. That will be the point when I can truly think of myself as a former drinker.

YK: okay Jim well you certainly have a very individual approach to this and I’m guessing once you get into not drinking you are going to become something of Crusader, waging war against the evil drink?

JS: no, not at all. Believe me, if I could drink moderately and sensibly like many of my friends I would carry on drinking. My problem is for lots of different reasons I’m rubbish at moderating my intake and that’s not just alcohol. I’ma bit excessive all round. So no, those people who enjoy a little drink, fine no problem. But I know there are plenty of people like me and worse where drinking has really messed up aspects of their life. Now if one of those persons rethinks their relationship with regard to alcohol that would be a bonus.

YK: okay well thanks Jim that was very informative. I hope, against the odds, that you’ll be successful in your campaign to stop drinking. I shall follow your progress keenly by reading your blog. I wish you well.

JS: Thanks. I’ll drink to that. Well for the next week and a bit anyway.

RIP David Berman so sad that he took his life last week. Loved his music with the Silver Jews. Just listened to the purple mountains stuff he was about to tour with- “all my happiness is gone” track that says it all – not able to overcome those demons- the music lives on!

Building Up To a Big Change

Frogs- Proof that change is possible!

Much of my social life has been built around booze and trips to pubs. I enjoy trying new wines and beers, I like getting squiffy- in short I shall be giving up a lot.  So, not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s about weighing up pros and cons and it now feels like I’m in a relationship where it used to be great but has now gone sour-it’s doing me more harm than good- so it’s got to go. It will be hard.  It also has to be a journey that’s more than just about giving up alcohol. It’s about discovering new ways of being, of socialising, of drinking liquids that are great but non alcoholic. My world is about to change. Alcohol has been my “friend” for nearly 50 years and losing her will feel like a bereavement, but one of us has to go and I don’t want it to be me!

As I shall be starting on my journey in a fresh way I thought I should start a new blog, so if you have followed me on “Sweet Poison” or stumbled across this and want to follow my new journey please join me; I’d love the company and also your insights and advice. I hope that if I stumble across some new insights/strategies/surprises along the way these may in turn prove useful in some way to one or two people out there.

All scary but exciting stuff for me anyway. I aim to stop drinking on 2nd September. I will post a couple of pieces on here about my preparations and a little bit more about why I have taken this decision. On a broader front I want to look at why we all find it so difficult to make the changes we know we should make but which often elude us. That’s maybe for next time.

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Just a nice picture of some flowers- why not

Thanks for stopping by and I’d welcome your company on my new journey. I hope it is going to be transformative.

Jim x