I wrote this as a FB post at 5am this morning into Lose Da Booze, a 100 day alcohol free experiment. I think it probably belongs here too, so here goes.
Hi, I’m fairly quiet here and have never really introduced myself I don’t think. Grab a cuppa if you want to read.
I moved over here from the ‘Annie Grace Alcohol Experiment’ wanting to extend my 30 days alcohol free. I’m no longer counting, I’m mid 40s and rolling.
Ive always been a binge drinker and at different times in my life, alcohol has featured more or less as years have gone by, at times its been troublesome but mostly Ive accepted my use as part of societal norms. I’m now 61 and am pleased to finally be free from fear.
For many years I’ve kept no alcohol at home, afraid of its power over me. Instead, I have chosen when to go out to drink or to buy a bottle because a friend comes round or a bottle because I’m in the dumps, or two bottles or more. Wine mainly but if out then lager or cider.
Over the years, I’ve mostly had patterns of weekend drinking, Friday and Saturday nights drink until I can’t remember, more latterly just once a week. I called it fun for years. It was fun at the time.
Since I retired, I’ve had no weekend pattern but at times my drinking would pop up midweek, a disappointing evening at bridge or I’d find myself buying a bottle which often led to another, if in a dump. And of course along with all that, the recriminations, the lack of care the next day, the inability to feed myself healthily, ongoing weight issues.
There was a time around 1998 when a new job with a drinking culture led me to self refer to an alcohol counselling service after finding myself blotto at 1am, drinking with a manager, whilst knowing I was due in court to represent young offenders at 9am. I ditched the excessive alcohol, learned to limit the money I took out, leave cards at home and to avoid drinking with colleagues. The job didn’t last long after that.
There was a time around 2003, after a particularly violent incident with a partner from a drunken one night stand, where I actually thought I was going to die. I went to AA for a couple of weeks after that, but didn’t like anything about it. I cleaned my act up myself and came off alcohol for a couple of months. Until the same guy, yes, I was still there, started getting angry, wanting to know why it was such a deal and why I wouldn’t have just one social drink. I caved in and you know the rest. I lost faith in my ability to choose partners and stopped looking.
Why am I telling you this now? Because I am free. Because I am proud. Because I’m not making excuses, not pretending, I just AM, and one thing I am not, is a drinker.
Ive moved 680 miles within the last month. I can’t tell you why or how I stumbled upon the ‘Alcohol Experiment’ but it was around the time when I got the job in Orkney and it seemed to be a good goal to head for, a fresh start without alcohol.
Last year I tried living in Cornwall, many things about it didn’t work out, but of course, there was always my ‘friend’ Alcohol to turn to. And I did. I found an underground late night bar with live music and enjoyed the drunken friendship of strangers. I began to become a local, began to fight the morning after demons, miss out on early sea swims I had planned to join, would rise late and often, inevitably, go out again, just before midnight.
My time in Cornwall came to an abrupt end. Many things seemed to be conspiring against me but it was a one night stand that was the last straw. A guy had been persistent in his attention and I had been holding him at bay, he seemed kind enough but I was not interested. Of course, the inevitable happened. We both happenchance turned up at a folky, sing and play around, evening at a local pub but progressed to the cellar bar after several pints. I remember buying us both wine. I remember him not drinking his and giving it to me. I remember no more. The next day his guitar lay in my flat and his stench was on my body. Ive told few people about that but within two weeks I had left town.
Are you still reading? Phew, I’m about to get to my point! Do you recall, I said I’ve moved? Im living in Orkney, a collection of small islands, off the North coast of Scotland, twenty of which are inhabited. I don’t want to repeat that same alcoholic trip I had in Cornwall. I have a job here one day a week, moved up ten days ago, stayed in a hostel initially and have found myself accommodation to move in to at the end of the month. In the meantime, I’m being hosted on a HelpX placement. The deal is four to five hours work a day in exchange for board and lodging.
I arrived last night, I cooked a meal and set 2 places and 2 glasses of water. I had noticed the opened bottle in the fridge and wasn’t surprised when my host brought it out and I was offered a glass. ‘No thanks,’ I said, ‘do you sometimes’, she asked, ‘I used to drink but I prefer not to now.’ Now think for a moment of social etiquette, power and politeness issues, I am her guest, here for two weeks working for her. She tried to get me to have a drink again and without thinking, these smooth, magic words came from my mouth, ‘No thanks, I’ve a bit of arthritis in my knees and I find them so much easier without alcohol, I’ve more energy and can move so much more easily.’ ‘Just one small glass?’, ‘I’m very easy with you drinking, please carry on, I enjoy drinking water, thank you.’
Wow! Just wow! And it’s true, every word. And so very, very easy. So thank you Annie Grace and thank you Lose Da Booze buddies.
I remember a stray thought I had, round about day 20 I think it was. A teensy thought flew across my mind and I let it whizz by. ‘I think I might never drink again’, it said and I just let the idea fly. Xx