Tag Archives: sober

One Year without booze- now there’s a surprise!

On the 31st August last year I went for a meal to my favourite restaurant. I knew the next day I was starting a new life without booze so this was my no holds barred goodbye to booze feast. It felt like my last supper or maybe more like the last meal for an inmate on Death Row. It had all the hallmarks of some strange self created ritual. Waiters brining me a succession of favourite drinks; Czech lager to start, white wine with the starter, red wine with the main, dessert wine, liquors. It was my last night and nothing was going to stop me. I went home and drank gin and tonic until midnight. I half wanted to make myself sick, to wake up with an horrendous hangover to have that abiding memory, to stir my resolve for future times when I might weaken. But no, a month of constant drinking had increased my tolerance levels. I felt fine the next day. At the time I just wanted to enjoy my last day with drink. Looking back I can see I was indeed making a ritual of it, a rite of passage, an identifiable marker between one phase of my life and another. Having created that day of overindulgence and expense my new life of sobriety had to work. and it did; for today marks a full year without booze. I’m surprised that I have able to do it and I’m also proud as anyone who has done this should be. It was the right thing for me, but it has come at a cost. Crucially, I must add, a cost well worth paying.

Kinder Scout- Fond memories from being there in March and heading back there soon-nothing to do with the post but I love the Peak District!

Sure, pubs and restaurants just have not had the same allure since I gave up and that is a loss as I loved pubs.. I remember doing my counselling course back in 1990 and in one group exercise we had to revisit loss in our lives. It involved visualisation and we were all instructed to start our journey of loss through our lives from a place of warmth, comfort and safety. We started there and we ended up there. After the session we shared our “safe” places. For most it was either a family home or somewhere they had been with their family. My place where I felt most comfortable? – an English country pub with a log fire and beer. Says it all really but it made a few of my fellow students smile. Now I avoid pubs and a sadness for me is the realisation that much of my love of pubs was not the cosy surroundings or friends, it was the beer. Pubs were places I drank and I could drink there with an abandon I never could have at home. Some good times, some wasted times.

Even now I sometimes miss the experience of going for a walk and enjoying a cold beer sitting by a river or village green, so yes, I did enjoy a drink sometimes.

Then I remember how I needed a drink at other times; to overcome some social anxiety, to fit in, to feel normal.

Then there were the times when I hated drinking but I did it anyway- feeling lost, heavy with dysphoria, drinking to block or obliterate, torn in two hating it but watching myself pour another one.

So I happily exchanged the occasional enjoyment of booze for being able to rid myself of the need and hate it often brought me. It became an easy and obvious transaction. In many ways my life was on the line. Probably it was the best deal I ever made; but a deal is a deal and a deal involves parting with something. That’s the thing that needs facing and confronting.

Who needs a drink when you can walk in places like this

If I have a message for anyone who has got to the place where they know in their hearts that moderation will not work for them and alcohol is having too many negative impacts on their life; it’s this. You will be giving up more than a drug, you’ll be giving up lots of associations. We live in societies where alcohol is woven into the fabric of our social, cultural and psychological lives. When the physical craving is gone the other cravings and pressures will still be there. That’s when you need to remind yourself of why you are doing this. Get through that and you start to see the many advantages; health, sleep, relationships, productivity, financial – the list goes on. Never take those for granted. And be prepared for a battle.

So one year, great. I am pleased but it’s tempered by a realisation that I could have done a lot more with my life if I had stopped earlier. As I have said before, this blog has been key to me doing a year successfully. People sharing stories, the positive, the negative, ups and downs, things that have worked, traps to be aware of- all of this has helped me. I’ll also add that I’m quite competitive so there was no way I wanted to come on here and say I’ve had a drink. I like to win, fairly of course and so far in this “game” I feel like I’m 2 sets to love up. Games can change in an instant so as I go into year two, I’ll enjoy the feeling of winning at the moment but I won’t let down my guard.

Again for those in the early stages of going alcohol free; it’s a very individual experience but with many commonalities; you have decided it’s worth it, my advice is to plan for it, make a proper commitment to doing it, prepare for it, get support, always remind yourself why you’re doing it and what benefits you’ll get and strengthen your resolve. There will be times when you’ll want to abandon this challenge but you can get through those tough times and you’ll be stronger each time you do. On these blogs are stories like mine; people who didn’t think they could ever give up booze who are proving they can. Ordinary folk with extraordinary support. If we can do it with support so can anyone, so can you.

I shall celebrate today with AF sparkly wine and an Everleaf and tonic. I’ll also be able to carry on and meet some friends and play table tennis afterwards. No muggy feeling, no wasted day, no hangover. It’s great being sober! Life is fuller, richer.

No brainer really!

Jim X

3 Months AF – YIPPEE!

Unbelievable . Who would have thought it? In two days time it will be three months since I last had a life. I think back to how I was back in early March and it seems a lifetime ago- wasting my life hiking, meeting people, singing in close proximity to others and having, what I thought at the time, was the time of my life. – what a jerk. How deluded can one be. Now after three months being AF (Allthethingsthatmakelifeworthliving Free) I can honestly say I feel a completely different person. My life has genuinely been transformed. Being AF has brought so many advantages, I just wish I had discovered the AF lifestyle years ago. For those looking to take the plunge here I some of the things that I can now “enjoy” in my new AF life:

Ain't life a scream!
Ain’t life a Scream!
  • I now can now relate to other people via a fuzzy computer screen and don’t have to put up with their nasty body odour
  • I’ve saved a fortune not going into restaurants and cinemas
  • Family gatherings where you had to think of an excuse to leave early are a distant memory
  • I finally don’t have to say to people “give me some space”
  • FOMO has completely dissipated. There’s no longer anything to miss out on
  • My hair and beard can grow luxuriously for once
  • Supermarket shopping is a pleasant, ordered experience not crammed to rafters
  • Being jostled at gigs and trying to see bands over the heads of others is a thing of the past
  • I wake up each day and don’t have a clue which day it is or what I should be doing
  • There is absolutely no point planning anything anymore

So with all those benefits, have I any words of advice to others who want to experience the joys of being AF? Well, Yes, try and create your very own pandemic for a start. Maybe destroy large areas of natural habitat and start eating animals that previously were not part of the food chain. Create huge areas of humanity crammed into small places with not much money and you’ll soon get your AF life up and running. Even better, elect an incompetent set of leaders and then you can just settle back and watch your new AF life unfold before your very eyes without you having to do anything. Oh, there will be some tough times ahead, there are some downsides. The AF lifestyle isn’t plain sailing. You may have to witness some nasty scenes on television and watch the disadvantaged suffering disproportionately , but then again, we should all be used to that by now. As for the nasty images on the telly why not switch off the news, do a jigsaw, watch a cartoon or do a family zoom quiz.

Yes sir, 3 months AF. Who would have thought it? That’s a landmark well worth noting.

Anyone seen my mask? Hello, is anyone there?

Jim X