Saturday morning. Last night was supposed to be the third of my no drinking days this week and also my first attempt at not having a drink on Friday since the dawn of time. I cracked and wrote a blog post full of anger and indignation. It was at best insensitive to those bloggers who have taken the abstinence route but there was a truth there that I needed to put down.
I now need to unpick last night. Wednesday and Thursday were two of my designated no drinking days. No real problem. Certainly made me realise that I am not physiologically addicted to alcohol as I had no cravings or shakes etc. In fact I felt really good. I also did some more research and decided that for me, in the future I should aim to drink no more than 40 units a week. That is quite high but it seems the real damage happens when you drink 50 + units and my average has been 55 units a week although this last week, despite 2 non alcohol days I have managed to consume a ridiculous 70+ units.
I knew my girlfriend was coming round, I was cooking and the power of association, not addiction got the better of me. It was Friday night. Friday. The end of the week;release and enjoyment time. The sun was shining. It was a warm evening In England. Friday, warm evening; THAT EQUALS WINE! Looking back I should have realised that I should not have tackled this powerful association so soon in my “trying to moderate”phase. So I opened the wine. I drank three-quarters of the bottle. It felt good. I was at peace with the world. My girlfriend left early as we are off to a wedding tomorrow and she needed to get home and pack etc.
I knew at that point that I should not have any more, but I did. Half a bottle of a nice red, a large vodka and bitter lemon. I was going for it. With the food too. Crackers and cheese.Why was I doing this? I suppose it was that thing of making a promise to yourself, breaking it and then saying,”Fuck it,” if I’ve screwed up I may as well do it big time. But then I wrote last night’s blog post, almost taking out my anger on the sober bloggers. (I can be the most annoying tit sometimes). But there was a truth there for me anyway. That’s all any of us can do. Reflect our reality. My relationship to alcohol is unique, it shares features with others’ journeys but the elements are unique and my way out of it must be mine to figure out. I have to do what’s right for me, and that means stop looking at alcohol as the problem. If I focus on alcohol I’m missing the crucial point – why do I crave/need/abuse/enjoy/celebrate/despise alcohol? What is it about my unique make-up and history that makes me drink far more than most of the people I know?
Going back to last night I think there were a couple of clues. I shall put to one side the “I cracked and then went the whole hog” argument. Of course that came into play but there was something else going on. I felt sad that I lacked the control over not just drinking but also food and relationships. I tend to do everything in excess. There is a voraciousness there; a need to consume. Consuming to feel the void maybe? To make myself feel a little less sad? I know last night that as I was chatting over dinner, the wedding of my former girlfriend came up. She is getting married in two weeks and a family member who maintained her friendship with my former girlfriend is coming over to England for that wedding. Would I be meeting up with this family member? I said that was unlikely as I did not accidentally want to bump into my ex girlfriend. Simple enough but why was I feeling knotted up inside? Did I still have feelings for her. My life has been full of failed relationships; is it me? Do I have what it takes to maintain an intimate relationship? Intimacy. Now we are digging into it. I find true intimacy difficult, drink covers it up; allows the sense of intimacy to emerge or maybe alcohol gives me permission to be intimate. I usually only tell my sons I love them when I have had a few. Why’s that?
This to me is now interesting (probably not to anyone else but then this is my attempt to understand myself), am I getting to some of the real reasons I drink? Intimacy, the lack of it, the fear of it. I could add emotions generally. When I drink, one of the benefits is that it allows emotions to surface. Last night I felt anger and sadness, but at least I felt something. I cry in two situations, firstly if I am watching someone else’s emotions/story from a viewpoint such as television,film or opera and secondly when I have a drink. With a drink I can lament or feel sorry for the losses I have experienced or the things I have never experienced. When I am with people whether with or without a drink I am happy-go-lucky Jim, always a smile on his face, in control and willing to help others. Today when I go to the wedding I shall be the life and soul. I’ll drink,chat,dance, maybe play guitar,sing, tell jokes, drink and be merry. Hopefully I won’t get drunk and fall over (that’s not really my style).
But right now, writing these words, I can almost touch the pain that is lurking under the surface. The pain of losing my son and only brother within a year of each other nearly 9 years ago, the pain of knowing that the anniversary of my son’s death is only a week away, the pain of knowing that someone I did love but we were just too fucked up to ever be able to live together is getting married in two weeks time. The pain of not having the emotional capacity to share these feelings with my current girlfriend. Scary. Setting it out like this. This is the stuff I need to explore I think. No wonder I am clinging onto alcohol. It might be the one thing that has kept me going, that has allowed me to feel and cry on occasion. Alcohol has helped but I have allowed it to move from help to hindrance. I think I do have to confront some issues and maybe in turn that could mean me being less dependent on alcohol.
In typical Jim spirit, I shall now put these uncomfortable thought to one side and get ready for my first camping wedding. I shall forget my problems, have a great day and maybe just have a little cry later on together with telling everyone how much I love them.
To the sober bloggers, particularly the wonderful Wendy, I want to say sorry for being unnecessarily opinionated and insensitive. I do admire those that give up and I completely get that for some people it can be the only way to go. For me, if I give up I may never understand what drove me into drinking unheathily in the first place. I want to be able to drink but drink moderately and at peace with myself.