monkey off my back

One guy's experiences as he quits drinking


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Sobering problems in the bedroom

Ummm… Sex – often doesn’t get spoken about a lot in online sober blogs.

Most of my life is better since quitting alcohol. I feel much more mellow and less volatile. I can concentrate more. I sleep better. I’m less anxious. I don’t feel ashamed anymore. I feel really great… except for one thing.

My libido has disappeared and I just have very little sexual interest. If it was just about me, that wouldn’t be a problem – but I’m in a long-term relationship (over 20 years).

My partner is supportive, he’s very handsome and we enjoy spending time together. We’re also very physically affectionate… but I just don’t feel the sexy mojo at the moment. Without the desire I have problems performing in the ‘downstairs department’ – which puts a dampener on our sex life. I literally can’t get it up if I’m not in the mood.

At first I thought it was just a short term issue and that it would resolve. BUT – it’s been more than half a year now. We still have sex now and then – but it can be very hit and miss.

My partner normally has a slightly higher libido than me – but now we’re really out of synch. I know it’s driving him a bit nuts and I’m worried about the long-term impact on us.

He has said that he was worried that I’m not attracted to him anymore – and that he’s worried that I was looking around at other people. HAAA! I don’t have the libido to think about having an affair!

I’m really hoping that it’s a temporary phase while my body/brain chemistry is normalising. It’s been an enormously difficult year for me (drinking, relationship, family death, work). It’s almost like my whole psyche wants a rest – somedays I think I could quite happily live on a desert island by myself for a month.

It would be great to hear if anyone on the interwebs has useful links or tips about how to ‘restart the fire’. Anyone had a dip in libido after quitting  – how long did it last for?  I’m at the point of just going to my GP and asking for Viagra – it might not restart the desire but it’ll help keep my partner happier and my relationship more solid.

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Thinking of someone

I’ve been getting excited because one of my very best friends is due to fly home and visit in two weeks.  I only see her every few years so I was going to have ‘the talk’ with her after she arrived.

BUT… I got an unexpected call from her today. She was really upset because her Mum (who I’ve known a long time) was admitted to hospital with a broken nose after a fall. She’s had a few falls recently but this was the most serious.

After the fall her partner realised that she was really drunk – more drunk than he expected her to be after 1-2 glasses. While she was in hospital, he found a collection of empty whisky bottles in her closet. My friend was in a state of disbelief and asked me if she should fly back home immediately.

I told my friend that she should check with her Mum but it’s probably OK to wait two weeks (my friend is also not rolling in $$$). I said that if her Mum was secretly drinking at those levels, that’s she’s probably been doing it for quite a long time. I said that her mother is probably mortified about having her secret suddenly exposed to her partner, her family, her friends, hospital staff and her GP.  Her Mum may actually like some time to talk with her partner and adjust.

And then we had ‘the talk’ and I told her that I’ve just come out of a similar situation – except I didn’t have a crisis incident which brought it to a head.

I’m so glad that I (finally) managed to tell my partner and a friend about my drinking last year. It was excruciatingly uncomfortable and awkward – but probably less excruciating than having everything unravel in a day without any control.

I told a friend. I told my partner. I told my GP. I started seeing a psychologist. Then I’ve told another three friends.

It’s given me the opportunity to do things at MY pace. I could adjust between each step and take a breather. I was able to tell people who were the most important to me AND who I could trust.  I’ve had really good reactions so far – which as given me more confidence and probably more resilience and support if other people react badly in the future.

I’m really feeling for my friend’s Mum. When my friend is here I think we’re all going to go on a day trip together. If it feels OK I’ll mention that I’ve just gone through a similar thing.


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It’s all in a name

I don’t like the A word. I’m obviously not talking about swear words – I don’t like the label “Alcoholic”.

Why don’t I like it? I know some of the reason is internalised shame and not wanting to be associated with the label. That will just take time for me to get over.

Another reason is the public stigma and preconceptions that can come with the label. It’s often said with a hushed tone… Oh you know Mary? She’s an… alcoholic. (gasp!)

I also don’t want to be reduced to a label or a single word. It’s not like people stop smoking and we give them a permanent label forever until they die.

You know Mary? She’s a Nicotiniac. (gasp!)

No – you just say that “Mary used to smoke” or “Mary quit smoking a few years ago”.

So what would I use instead? I don’t really know. I really prefer things to be used as descriptions rather than a permanent and fixed state of being. I mean, I may occasionally do idiotic things – but I’m not ‘an idiot’ 😉

I’ve used the following approaches:

With a trusted friend that I haven’t seen for a while I’d probably just tell a story: “I went through a really shitty patch and I was drinking too much. It was getting a hold on me and my moods were really going up and down – so I decided to stop drinking”. And yeah – based on their response I might share more.

In a public conversation with someone I don’t want to share with: “I don’t drink” (with no more information offered – and a slightly firm tone). Or I just tell a white lie and say that I’m driving.

As a medical term: “I developed an alcohol dependence issue” (I don’t even really like Alcohol Dependence ’Disorder’)

As a social situation (usually said with a fun tone): “Nope – I’m a teetotaller now”. It sounds like an archaic word and has the feel of hipster nonsense about it.

I also like using the word ‘had’ or ‘used to’. Smoking/tobacco language locates the issue in the past – it’s not a current issue. You ‘used to smoke’. You don’t have an issue now because you quit.

I had a problem with alcohol and now I don’t because I don’t drink. I find that more empowering than saying I have and will always have an issue.

It’s only an issue if you think that I should be able to drink alcohol (which I can’t). I’ll probably just say I don’t drink anymore. If some stupid stranger pushes me, I’ll just make them uncomfortable and tell them I stopped after my third round of cancer treatment. That usually shuts them up.


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Any excuse for a treat

Yesterday was 200 days and I’m doing quite nicely.

I like milestones and I note them as they pass. I don’t usually do anything significant but I often give myself a little treat.

Round numbers are everywhere if you go looking for them – I can usually find an excuse for a milestone most fortnights:

  • Six months (182 days)
  • 200 days
  • 30 weeks (210 days)

It’s completely arbitrary – but it’s just a way of acknowledging the importance of the change… and I get to eat chocolate or something tasty!

Hope you’re doing well!


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Unwanted travel companion

After 8.5 weeks, being sober has started to feel normal and part of my routine. Over the last few weeks I’ve focused on not drinking, running, and adding new activities to fill the gaps left by alcohol.

It has felt exciting and new. BUT. It’s starting to feel like a routine.

One of the reasons I liked alcohol (before it became a problem) was that it added an element of chaos and excitement to my otherwise ‘routine’ life. It was a reality enhancer and I associated it with fun and excitement.

Soon I’ll be going on a USA road-trip. I’m excited and I expect lots of new experiences, challenges and a bit of chaos. I know there will be lots of sober challenges – camping with friends, casinos in Vegas, bars in San Fran, complimentary champagne during a Grand Canyon helicopter tour.

If I’m honest, my biggest concern is camping. I have fond memories of camping, wine, friends, fireplaces and stars. I know that part of me will miss not being ‘part of the group’.

It’s probably good to worry a bit. It lets me visualise, anticipate and rehearse a few situations. I’d rather not come back from holidays without an unwanted travel companions.


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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.