There have been numerous times that I have come close to losing my job because I had been drinking into the early hours of the morning before work or having a drink or three at lunch! At one point, I did lose my job for being late and still intoxicated! I’ve lost my license because I was over the limit. These are all embarrassing and really should be reason to give up, but hey, I can get another job, I got my license back, it’s not really end-of-the-world stuff!
I’d given up drinking at various times as well! For 3 months here, 6 months there. Take it or leave it!
I don’t have a problem!
The term ‘functioning alcoholic’ comes to mind! I can turn up to work on time and do the work I’m supposed to do for the day with most people not even aware of how hungover I felt (well, I used to, up to the point when I was drinking way too much)!
Many moons ago, had a big night drinking with a mate swearing I was going to have an early night because I was doing a training run in the morning. It wasn’t an early night, I still ran. 15km! In the rain! My time was still pretty good too! Shit, I was a hell of a lot younger then! At that age, we wear these stories with pride and they make us think that we are bulletproof!
So, in my mind, I didn’t have a problem with drinking, I just did stupid things when I was drinking! I could give up any time I liked. I just didn’t choose to! The social aspect of drinking has an appeal to it. You’re one of the crowd! It’s more than that though, I would quite happily sit at home having a couple of drinks on my own. Did I say a couple of drinks, well, maybe a couple of bottles! Who’s that going to hurt? Maybe me, when I almost burnt the house down because I forget that I put something on the stove to cook! Can’t say the owner of the house would have been too impressed either!
Round 1 of giving up!
So, over the years, I had numerous stints of alcohol-free periods and cutting down drastically, particularly after losing my job because of drinking. However, my first attempt at giving up alcohol for good was in 2015 and we were living on a yacht in a marina that has a club/bar right in front of the gate to get to the docks. We also had a social group at the club. My social group was very supportive, and I very quickly got over the issue of how to go out in a drinking environment and have a good time without drinking. It didn’t really take that long for the bar staff to not automatically pour me a wine when I walked in either!
It was approaching Kev’s 60th birthday, I’d gone 6 months without alcohol, so I thought that I’d give moderation a go!
Moderation lasted quite well for the first month or so, but it really was a bad time to reintroduce alcohol as there was the stress of organising his birthday party and we were starting to have some financial issues. So, it didn’t take much longer to slip back into drinking nearly every night!
It was Christmas 2017 and I’d come close to losing my job three months earlier because I’d started drinking too much again. I’d been given another chance with my job but was on a monitoring system, so I had cut down quite drastically, was pondering giving up but hadn’t quite made that decision. We had a family get together at our place and I had a few drinks. I had a conversation with my granddaughter and I suddenly had this flash forward to the future where my grandkids looked at me with disrespect and contempt and their thoughts were of ‘how soon can we leave?’. If I’m drinking or even just hungover Every. Time. I see them. Where is the quality time with them? They may have a memory of ‘this one time, when Gran was pissed’ and I can live with that, but for them to not really know me because all they get to see is some drunk, and to not really like that person either, that’s a different story! What kind of role model am I to them?
The beginning of the end
So, 31 Dec 17 marked the 3rd ‘Day 1’ for me on an alcohol-free life. The difference this time was that I had the mindset that I was giving up for good, not just for a set period! So why not ‘enjoy’ New Year’s Eve before giving up? I didn’t want to start the new year ‘hungover’! It would make for a weaker resolve to start the year sober!
I don’t count days, there’s no point. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been sober for. I have had a few drinks in the last couple of months because I thought it would be nice! All it does is give me a headache in the morning, throw out my sleep patterns and make me want another drink to get rid of the headache! Very easy to slip into the cycle of drinking. I had to really question why I would want to start drinking again.
My reason for drinking
So, why did I drink? What is the ‘trigger’? This has not been easy for me to answer at all. Sometimes, it was because I had a bad day and others because I’d had a great day! What I’ve managed to narrow it down to is that I’m the sort of person that doesn’t ‘switch off’. Alcohol certainly enables the off switch to be activated! Unfortunately, it also activates a shift in personality to someone that I’m not very proud of at all! So, at the end of a few ‘experiments’ as to if being a social drinker was an option, I came to the conclusion that I knew I would. It isn’t an option for me. If I really need a drink in hand, there are so many great non-alcoholic choices!
This doesn’t solve the problem of not switching off. I had actually started a meditation practice prior to giving up and I used that as a focus when I did give up. I’ve also looked to more social activities that don’t involve drinking and started focusing on art. I don’t watch much TV, something I did a lot of when sitting there nursing a drink (or several)! I write a lot more, too!
Do you need to re-think your relationship with alcohol?
On top of the issue of drinking too much, there is the issue of the health effects of just a small amount! Here’s a great article from the ABC about the dangers of rewarding yourself with alcohol!
My Dad has told me that I have great willpower. To an extent, but this is not something that is possible by using willpower. This is a mindset issue. I most certainly have a strong mindset. I’m stubborn, so if I decide that I am going to do something, I will. You can read my article about Willpower vs Mindset if you want more information on the difference.
Interestingly, on New Year’s Eve, 2017, the day that I decided I was going to become a non-drinker, I came across Annie Grace’s website – The Alcohol Experiment. You don’t actually have to give up drinking while you go through the program, if that scares you! I would recommend this site to anyone who is wanting to change their relationship with alcohol. Whether you want to give up or just take a break, there is some really great information about how alcohol affects your brain, why your willpower will weaken drastically after just one drink and some methods and techniques for dealing with giving up.
Whatever your relationship with alcohol is, sometimes it is worth examining it and deciding if it suits you!