Tag Archives: feelings

I Have Failed.Sorry.

There, I’ve said it. Failed. Not succeeded. A miserable excuse for a human being. I can no longer consider myself a true member of the sobriety club. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m still not drinking. I haven’t touched a drop in 5 months and yet I still consider myself a failure. Why?

Well, and I feel able to share this in this supportive blogging community, I can’t do yoga. No not just I can’t do yoga, I won’t do yoga. Contrary to what other bloggers say yoga for me is an anxiety producing activity and brings back yoga based PTSD.

So there’s my failure. I haven’t incorporated yoga into my sobriety and that makes me feel deficient. I look around at the other sober bloggers and it seems they are all doing a swan, or lotus or communing together on some retreat whilst I do the “slump” or the “piggy” watching some Netflix box set. The other sober bloggers are just so wholesome and in touch with their feelings and their bodies and I’m still trapped in a viscous circle of sausages, sitting on my arse and reading juvenile comics.

The caring amongst you will,I know, say, “Come on Jim, you too can do yoga, give it a try. Yoga people are inclusive, welcoming and non judgemental.”

The thing is I know that’s not true. You see I HAVE tried yoga and that’s where the trauma kicks in. Just the word, YOGA, brings me out in an anxious sweat. I went to a yoga class 20 years ago. They sat crossed legged and I couldn’t do that. The teacher vindictively singled me out and offered me a cushion for me bum. She seemed ostensibly to be concerned for me but her true purpose was humiliation. I knew they were all laughing at me, inside. I continued. I struggled with each position but I persevered. I looked for too long at one woman and received a withering look. Oh God I was now seen as the creepy voyeur. Could it get any worse. Yes. I lay on my front and had to do something strange with my legs. They parted and I farted. Not gently and softly but loudly. There were titters. My heart rate went through the roof.The teacher smiled and said that happens a lot. And this was meant to be relaxing! I was in pieces. I left that hall and never went back.

So yes I have failed because unlike all you sober bloggers I can never go back to yoga and each time one of you speaks about the wonders of yoga it brings back so much pain. It hurts.

Here’s me doing some moves outside on my own. Just to prove I can do it. I look pretty good for 64 right? 😉

This has not been an easy post, sharing such trauma, but I know you will understand. Thanks for listening.

Jim x

I’m pissed off and I WANT A DRINK!

This is the first day in just under a month a when I really want a drink and feel sorely tempted. I can almost feel the sensation of how a big gulp of wine would soothe my troubled brow. I’m not in a pub, out with friends, I’m at home alone and just really pissed off.

It doesn’t help that in the last few days, without going into detail, I’ve had to show positive regard to an ignorant rascist, listen as two young people with outwardly everything to live for tell me that they are planning on ending their lives, hear that many of our female politicians have had death threats made against them and try and be upbeat when a sobbing man tells me he cannot get the help he needs from the NHS because he has had his quota of “free” counselling.

All this has been going on whilst having essential building work done on my house that has made me feel that I’m living under siege and the costs keep rising as more issues are found.

On top of this my body acts as though it has aged 10 years in a day. The final straw today though was finding that my car has been bashed by a red car in a nearby car park. No note or apology but I think I know the car in question and tomorrow there could be a showdown. That should guarantee a sleepless night.

This all reminds me of how I often felt when working full time. Being a deputy principal in a school, managing staff, parents, disputes, working weekends, drink was a way of switching off and putting stress to one side. We all know the perils of that but it seems really tempting right now. I suppose that’s why I’m writing this post; get through it, get through it.

Pause.Stop. Breathe. Relax.

The car’s just a bloody car, the building work will get done, money will sort itself. The encounters though, yes they were upsetting but at least I was on the right side of them. Mine are minor troubles, some people see nothing but darkness and joy never seems to visit them. My problems are as nothing compared to them.

Ok, I think I’ve regained some perspective. I’m pissed off but I DON’T NEED A DRINK. It won’t help. It was close though.

Jim x

Musical Evenings, Pubs and Restaurants- The Real Tests for a Former Drinker

So, in my last post, I was setting off to go to a musical evening in a Suffolk wood where there would be food, drink, campfire and music.  This was my first big test after 20 days alcohol free.  It was the kind of evening I could not have envisaged going to in the past without drinking.  

During my drinking days I would not drink before performing but once that was out the way, it would be “bring it on!” If I couldn’t have nabbed a lift or stayed over or it was too far for a taxi I simply wouldn’t have gone. In the past being able to have a drink took priority over socialising. For years I have carried this false belief that I wouldn’t be able to get through the night without a drink because drinking at such events is what I have always done for the past 45 years.

Anyway.  I went armed with my non alcoholic beer and some food to share. It all went well. Screenshot 2019-09-24 at 13.39.24.png People were lovely, food probably wouldn’t have passed any food hygiene tests, music quality was variable, the setting and weather very un English like (i.e. warm, pleasant and dry) and the atmosphere wonderful. And only one small craving.  When I arrived the BBQ was set up in a saw mill. People had put their beers and wine in a communal space and I spied one of my favourite beers. There was a brief pang, like when you see an ex lover and fleetingly think, “Oh God she was so nice why did we split up, what was I thinking?” before remembering the arguments, tears and mutual incomprehension. It passed.  And that was it. No more cravings.  I was surprised and a little disappointed.  I wanted to experience the pain and anguish of craving so I could feel a bit more heroic, but no, never happened.  The next day I asked myself why.  Why did I not experience a sense of missing out or any physical cravings? Lets do a list.  I like a good list. (BTW that’s a generic photo- not me)

List of probable reasons for not having cravings:

  • I was going to play and sing and typically I never drink and perform.  I used to drink a lot after performing but the performances went on for a long time and by that time it finished it was time to drive home and any thought of wanting a drink had gone.
  • My playing partner doesn’t drink.  This is a massive factor I think.  I knew there would be no pressure, questions, offers to fetch a few beers etc. We both had an alcohol free evening. We joked, muttered some funny  remarks to each other about some of the performers, behaved like immature adolescents and when we played we really bloody enjoyed ourselves.  Wow, a great, fun evening without booze.  It can be done.  Big lesson for me.
  • Drink wasn’t a big feature of the evening.  There was beer and wine but no-one was really drinking a lot.  It reminded me that many drinkers are sensible and moderate but that was never my style. Good luck to them.
  • I had at the back of my mind all the benefits I had from being being alcohol free at this event; being able to drive home, no hangover in the morning, better singing, more alert, more able to enjoy the moment.

One song I sang was “Thunder Road” and singing it in a Suffolk wood by the light of a campfire, feeling truly alive was a great feeling. I also reflected on the song (I mustn’t get sidetracked into talking about Springsteen or the post will go on for ever) and how that song isn’t just about boy meets girl and leaving behind small town life.  It suddenly sounded like an anthem for change.  Most of us at any time can choose to do things in a different way. We can hop in our metaphorical cars and escape the place we think we are fated to be in for the rest of our lives. Just start up that engine and drive baby!

Moving on.  Last night I went to a restaurant and then a pub. Screenshot 2019-09-24 at 13.42.45.pngRestaurant was tricky at first.  I always drank in restaurants. Last night it was Chinese food and I went for Jasmine tea.  It wasn’t the same but hey ho that’s conditioning for you.  A couple next to me enjoyed their meal and had one small beer each.  That’s it. I wish I could have been a drinker like that, but I wasn’t and I’ve tried to be but it just isn’t the Jim way.  If one beer is good, ten beers must be better, right? That, in a nutshell was my problem. I got through the restaurant experience and it did feel like a test and I wasn’t enjoying being in the moment. Restaurants may take a little time to adjust to.

On to the pub. Not too bad I have to say.  Noone who I met there was a big drinker and the ocassion was to wish someone a happy birthday. Screenshot 2019-09-24 at 13.40.34.pngI drank a no-alcoholic beer which was great because it looked like a pint and tasted quite good.  I realised by 9 that I’d survived the evening.

All in all I have got through three potentially difficult situations and done so without having to exert massive amounts of will power. The change of mindset has definitely helped; seeing alcohol-free as being a positive choice rather than as being denied something.  Plus all three ocassions were marked by an absence of drink being that big a deal even for the drinkers. Indeed in the pub out of 7 of us 4 were not drinking alcohol.  The drinkers were in the minority.  That helps.

The weekend after next will be my next big challenge.  I’m going to see my son and his girlfriend in their new house. They love a drink and my son is a prodigous drinker (wonder where he got that from).  He has a good job and doesn’t drink during the week but he does drink a lot at other times and I think part of the reason that I wanted to stop was to show him (by my actions, not preaching) that you don’t HAVE to drink alcohol to have a good time or to cover up difficult emotions. He had a tough time when his brother died and that still hangs over him so maybe he needs the sedation of alcohol for a little while longer. I  hope that one day he will decide, as I did, that alcohol doesn’t change tragedy, it just dulls it a little. What one day seems to sort the problem then becomes the problem.

Enough of the problems. I feel emboldened by getting through some challenges in the last few days. This is not a journey of denial, despite some nagging nostalgia/dependency issues instead it feels like a journey of liberation and improved living and a journey I wish I had started years ago.  Still I’m here, essentially intact and ready to liberate myself along my own Thunder Road.

Jim x

 

 

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

Anxious about my Anxiety

Tell me about it Munchy…
When I decided to give up the booze it was mainly about wanting to improve my health. I wasn’t the stereotypical down and out drunk. I was someone who found it difficult, when I did drink, to drink moderately and I was fed up with the constant battle. I’d tried a three month no alcohol challenge, saw the numerous benefits and gradually came to the conclusion that the drink had to go. Not an easy decision; I was going to be giving up a lot but the pros of giving up outweighed the cons. Now, after a week of sobriety some unsettling thoughts and feelings are starting to emerge. It’s getting uncomfortable. I’m getting anxious.

It started on Friday when I started to get what felt like cravings and I wrote about this on my blog. Saturday and Sunday were the same and I realised the cravings were being fed not so much by a physical need for alcohol but by a desire to quieten down some of the uncomftable feelings welling up inside me.

One of the most pervading feelings was one of anxiety, a sense of unease, edginess. I know some will say that’s part of the withdrawal from alcohol but it’s a feeling I used to have even when drinking regularly. This was not addiction speaking, it was dissatisfaction and ennui. Saturday I prepared a meal, but there was no fun or joy in it. I cooked, we ate, watched TV, slept. Great, is that it? At least with a glass of wine I’d get a reprieve from those feelings. It made me relaxed, I could look at life and smile, pretend and believe that life was OK. Take the drink away and it all looks a bit bleak. I even had the fleeting thought that,”if this is what life is going to be like, get back to drinking, at least you’ll enjoy parts of the ride.”

I know, I know, this is all part of the sober journey. Dealing with the difficult stuff. For me though the difficult stuff is facing up to the fact that there is not enough happening in my life. It’s also maybe the recognition that without the booze I have to confront the fact that I find intimacy difficult. Spending time being with someone, anyone, without the mask of alcohol just brings on these waves of anxiety.

I think I said earlier in this blog that I haven’t gone too deeply into the origins of my drinking behaviour, the whys and wherefore of my drinking because that’s the past and I wanted to focus on changing the present but this last weekend in particular highlights that I do need to understand why I maintained my drinking habits. Without understanding that and finding alternatives I know that I may be drawn back to alcohol as a way of just dealing with shitty feelings.

The anxiety I felt this weekend was part craving but for the most part it was borne of seeing my current life in the full white glare of sobriety. Stuck in a village, trying to be a loyal, loving partner, tinkering on the edges of life, somehow strangely lonely and isolated. Boy, no wonder I drank! But I’m not drinking and I don’t intend starting again so something has to give or change. I can’t spend weekends like this last one, feeling anxious and disattisfied. A silent, shuffling presence just wanting to be on my own. On top of that waves of feelings of loss come back. My marriage to the mother of my sons 15 years ago, the death of a best friend last year, losing my brother, son and father in the space of three grim years 10 years ago. This is not self pity, everyone has to deal with loss, but alcohol can sometimes can just take the edge of it. And maybe, just maybe I never gave myself the time and space to grieve fully.

This blog has helped. Externalising the thoughts and feelings by writing. Getting feedback and support and being able to offer it sometimes. There does emerge a real sense of community when you blog, a knowledge that you do not have to deal with things alone. Of course some things do need to be dealt with internally and alone and maybe I have put those off for too long. I am someone with enthusiasm for life, who likes to laugh and that’s the fella I need to rediscover. Yes, without booze I may get a bit anxious, feel that life lacks something, but I should also, without booze, be in a much better position to do something about it.

Jim X