monkey off my back

One guy's experiences as he quits drinking


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Sticky thoughts

5.5 weeks and I’m doing well. I haven’t really thought about “it” much for the last couple of weeks – which is why last night caught me by surprise.

My partner wasn’t feeling well and he went to sleep early. I was watching TV and cleaning the kitchen when it just crossed my mind that “I could have a drink and nobody would know”.

It wasn’t a powerful thought and it didn’t give me a feeling of compulsion – but it took a while to shake it off. It was a ’sticky thought’.

I started reading some self-help websites – but that just made it feel stronger. So instead I read the news and a bunch of random political opinion pieces. After being engrossed in some other topics the thoughts went away. Distraction is often helpful.

So anyway, last night wasn’t challenging or scary it was just a bit unexpected. My partner will be home late from work tonight so I’ll be home alone for quite a while. Because I feel a bit wobbly today I’ll immerse myself in Brexit opinion pieces and technology/nerd stuff. Whatever – gets me through.

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Mad Man

I’m approaching 4 weeks sober and I’m traveling well.

Mad Men fell off my TV viewing for the last couple of years so I’ve been catching up on Seasons 5 to 7. Please note: I haven’t finished watching Season 7 yet – so no spoilers please.

don-draper-drinking-mad-men

It’s been odd watching Mad Men while I’m sober again. Don has been slowly descending into an alcoholic haze which is affecting his marriage, relationships, job and self-image.

He’s a train wreck happening in slow motion – his life is spiraling, he’s making stupid and reckless decisions, he’s unable to connect to people around him, he’s either emotionally numb or frustrated and angry at everyone and everything around him.

There have been a few scenes when you think Don is about to turn things around – but an episode later he’s as drunk as ever.

I’m watching it as a detached viewer but completely identifying with him (although I’m probably not as suave). I see Don have an argument, go into someone’s office, secretly tuck a bottle of spirits under his jacket and then swig it in his private room a couple of minutes later. I sit on the couch watching and thinking “No. Stop it. What are you doing?”.

I remember doing much the same thing a few weeks ago. On some days I would arrive home feeling stressed out – and I’d have to find some ways to smuggle bottles from our dining room liquor cabinet to a more private area. Or I’d find a reason to quickly go to the shops “Oh – I’ll just duck up to the shops and buy some alcohol, ummm… I mean cat food”.

I find it amazing how powerless I felt to stop in the midst of the chaos. But now (just like previous sober periods) it feels like a spell has lifted. When I watch Man Men the last thing it makes me want to do is drink.


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Full steam ahead

It’s been quite a while since I last blogged. I was sick of hearing my same repetitive posts: “I’m on the wagon”, “I’m off the wagon”, “I’m on the wagon”. Ain’t nobody got time to read or write that!

I’ve spent several months drinking on and off (well… to be honest it was more on than off). It has been a long, tiring, frustrating, unproductive, headachey and boring period.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t blog until I reached at least 2 weeks sober… So here I am. It’s 2 weeks and 4 days so I’m writing a post.

The very early, acute stage of quitting has settled. On day 3 or 4 of the previous attempts I would have an overwhelming compulsion to drink. I would feel frantic and have a build-up of energetic pressure in my chest – like something important had to happen or I had to run somewhere.

So by 2.5 weeks the sense of compulsion and the strong physical/biological urges have settled. I feel calm and I have the energy to do things other than planning my evening drinks. I don’t feel constantly exhausted and quality sleep is wonderful.

Now that I’ve reached this stage part of me wonders why it took me so long and what was stopping me? At the time it feels impossible but afterwards it feels so simple: just stop.

I’ve had periods of extended sobriety before so I’ve reactivated my sober routines. It’s like I’m a toy train being lifted from one train track to another – life just continues but in a different direction and with new scenery.

I haven’t had any challenging social situations yet. I’ll take my time before I start socialising in environments where there’s alcohol. I want to feel ‘rock solid’ before I go there.

It’s a good place to be at the moment. There will be challenges ahead but I’m not going to focus on them just now… I’ll just enjoy one day at a time. My last drink is far away enough to not dominate my thoughts – but it’s still near enough to remember why I’m quitting.