After my last post I received quite a few messages from people I have known in different stages of my life. Every single one of these responses touched me in some way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. It appears that I said something that resonated with a few people and for this reason I am going to follow it up… If I can help just one person then it has to be worth it (even if it’s me… lol).
“One month of no alcohol”
It’s been one month of lockdown and one month of no alcohol. I have passed my original goal of 2nd December with relative ease. Being in lockdown has certainly made it easier, there are very few triggers and also minimal external pressures. I am not sure how I will react when we can socialise again (or when I am back behind a bar) but right now I feel happy and in control.
My approach is one of non-restriction, I could have a drink at any time and I am not going to judge myself for it, no rules, no failures. When I feel the urge I just take a minute and ask a few questions –
“Why do I want to drink?”
The answer to the first question is usually trigger related. For example – I am cooking, I am relaxing, I am happy or I am sad etc. It’s pretty crazy how we believe that alcohol can solve problems of any kind, across the whole spectrum. Truth is, it doesn’t! Everyone has different triggers for their own reasons so why not try and explore them? Go down the rabbit hole, find the root, it is often an interesting journey…
Interestingly, Flora having a glass of wine here and there has not triggered me in any way. She thought it would, and continues to ask if it’s ok but, if anything it has pushed me the other way. Turns out the smell of someone else drinking when I am not, is really unappealing…
“What will I gain?”
The second question is easy to answer. “What will I gain?” A warming of the cockles, the taste of a delicious drink and a lowering of my inhibitions but to name a few. It is important to note that these are the good things, alcohol has a place in this world. I am not anti-alcohol, I am pro-moderation, its just that I am not a very good moderator…
“What will I lose?”
Then the most revealing question, “what will I lose?”. Now I am more than likely to lose control in some way, this depends on the setting but a few things will doubtless occur; I will go to bed late, I will probably wake up with a stinking hangover and I will affect Flora’s sleep by stinking up a storm and snoring! I will also feel guilt about what I might have said or just worry about the black holes in my memory. The list goes on, so it is safe to say that there are sufficient negatives that arise if I do lose control.
“I end up not drinking”
After answering these questions in this way and under these circumstances, I end up not drinking. The answers will not always be the same, the balance will shift depending on the situation. I just plan to be present and make the decision with thought and presence. I don’t know about you but, when I make a decision that I know is wrong, I do it quickly – “before the devil knows you are dead” style.
From these findings I can safely say that in this controlled environment, my preferred state is sobriety. This was a very enlightening discovery, it’s making me smile right now anyway. Why then, should I want to change myself and drink under different circumstances, it must be down to external pressures and to some degree, conditioning.
“Alcohol is literally rammed down our throats”
As long as we are on social media, watching T.V. or even walking down the street, alcohol is literally rammed down our throats. The producers of film and television really know how to make that after-work beer or wine seem completely normal, if not necessary. The popping of the bottle cap, the clink of a wine glass but not the stale alcohol smell and poor quality sleep that proceeds. No, just that perfectly placed, well known product fixing people’s problems.
“Staying sober fills me with anxiety”
We are literally led to drink, as the horse is to water, but it is us who makes the decision to drink. I didn’t question this decision for years, not drinking was never on my radar. I was dependant, as I still am now. The idea of going to a party and staying sober fills me with anxiety. My mind –
“How can I let go and be fun without alcohol?”
“No one trusts the sober one, he knows too much”
The reality is different, when I say I am not drinking right now, most people rather than say “go on have a drink”, open up about their own habits. There is a slight change in the eyes, that subtle difference where you can see that a person is being truly honest and open. They then say “I have been thinking about cutting down my drinking,” suddenly there has been a shift in perspective, something wholesome is occurring and it makes it all worth it.
“Equanimity and mindfulness and no judgement”
All in all, I am enjoying this process right now and feel strong in my conviction, I will probably have a drink at Christmas but maybe, just maybe I won’t. If I do, I will try my very best to do so with equanimity, mindfulness and no judgement.
These have been some of my most recent thoughts, if you have read this, thank you. I hope it can be as helpful for you as it has been for me.
P.S. If you want to talk about anything I am available most of the time, hit me up on Facebook! If you would rather talk to a professional or seek a meeting then click here.
P.P.S. I changed my WhatsApp number a while ago so…. If you know me, contact me and I will update you with my new (temporary) digits….