monkey off my back

One guy's experiences as he quits drinking


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A different hang over

Just passed day 420. All good, no wobbles or desire to drink.

I woke up this morning with a running hang over. I’m halfway through a marathon training program so the distances are getting serious.

Yesterday was my first 30km (18.6miles) run for a few years. It went pretty well and I’m really pleased with it! But yeah, it takes a toll so today was a rest and recovery day.

Bit of a change! Everyday used to be a hang over, and real hang overs are worse than what I felt this morning. I really don’t miss them.

All is good. I’m still struggling with periods of intense anxiety. It flairs up and lasts a week or so, and I just ride it out. As well as a running training program I’ve also started a daily meditation program for my anxiety.

Must admit that I’m a bit sceptical about the meditation program but it also can’t hurt.

And because I’m spending several hours running each week, I’m trying running meditation. I may as well see if I can combine the two things. Hit two birds with one stone.

Running is pretty meditative anyway : focused on breathing, body sensation, your immediate surrounds, the rhythm of your feet, your posture, body tension…

So in summary: I’m doing well on the alcohol side but I’ve got still quite a challenge on the anxiety side… BUT it’s still a hundred times better than 420 days ago!

Hope you’re all well!

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An alcohol-free hangover!

So I just spent the weekend down at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. It’s a huge festival and parade and gets hundreds of thousands of people out to watch.

And afterwards… We went out to an after-party. And I didn’t drink. And I didn’t WANT TO. But most amazingly, I danced for hours and stayed out until 3am!

I must admit that I didn’t want to drink, but I did get a few waves of nostalgia and loss. God I used to love the feeling of dancing and being drunk. You can acknowledge a loss without wanting to do it again.

Like, that’s just nostalgia isn’t it? I might also have nostalgic longings for fun periods of my life. BUT I’m not going to quit my job, live in a run down, crowded share house and go back to uni.

It just means that there were some great positives but the chapter has closed. I got what I needed from a situation and then it stopped being a positive growth experience… So you let it go and look back at it with fondness.

The weekend was a great experience.

Other things I learned were:

*I can still dance sober (albeit a bit more self-consciously). I think I might need more practice!

* I can still wake up feeling hung over after a few hours sleep… Like seriously! How the fuck does that work?!! (although it was just been a mild hang over).

Anyway. I’ve got to sleep now. Fun is exhausting.


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Eleven!

Yay. Eleven months. Just a few weeks until my soberversary.

Going out with friends tonight. I’ll paint the town red!

The night will start with a low calorie vegetarian meal (I’ve been mainly vego for nearly 25 years and I’m currently trying to lose some booze weight)…

Then I’ll skip dessert because I’m doing no sugar during February (for a FebFast fund-raiser and to help me fit in my pants)… Then I’ll chug a few jugs of lime and soda water.

Wow! Time to cut loose!

Actually I don’t mind at all 😁 if people think I’m boring tonight. My friends won’t care and I’ll still be looking fresh at midnight.

Cheers!


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Energy rising

10.5 months.

Energy levels rising. I’ve been running training since mid-Dec. I’m back up to running 18km (11miles) again. I’m slow but that’s why I’m training!

I’ll do a half marathon (21km) again in April… And then maybe keep training for another full marathon later in the year.

Also decided that it’s time to shed my booze weight. I’ve hit the brakes on crap food, cut out snacks and reduced my portion sizes. The weight is finally dropping off – that’ll make the long distance running easier too.

Energy levels rising. Stress settling. Starting to get more emotional range again.


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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.