Happy drinking, sad drinking; a weekend of contrasts.

I just re-read my post of 18th June “Reflections on my out of control drinking,” and what I wrote then could so easily be applied to yesterday when I had a day of sad, bad, mad, eating and drinking. Days like that happen every so often and when they do happen they confuse, frighten and disgust me. I have to understand them and I have to stop them.

I definitely recognise two different styles of drinking; I’ll call them happy and sad. Friday was happy drinking. A friend calls and suggests meeting up for a drink. We meet in a pub and we have something to eat and we drink four pints each. We chat, we laugh, the beer is really good and I go home after a pleasant afternoon. I did not order chasers or go for strong beer. I had a nice time. A successful afternoon of happy, appropriate drinking. Later in the evening I have a couple more drinks but nothing excessive. I then spend the weekend on various jobs around the house. Basically I’m on my own doing repairs and minor decoration prior to putting my house on the market. Saturday night comes round and I “treat” myself to some lovely food and wine. I worry that this is not really happy drinking as I am drinking on my own and I can sense that I am going to drink too much. I do. I have entered the sad drinking zone.

Yesterday I woke early, not having slept well and with a mild hangover. I’m slightly annoyed at myself. Four days without a drink last week, a happy drinking session with my friend on Friday and now a hangover after a sad drinking session on my own. I carry on with my jobs around the house. Around lunchtime I have a break and try practising some songs for an upcoming rehearsal. I lack energy and enthusiasm so I stop. Lack of sleep and a hangover mean I will not have a productive day. I do some decorating and then take a break to watch some football on the TV. I tell myself to have a beer, that might make me feel a bit better, take the edge off the hangover but at the same time I can sense where this will lead. I drink a second beer and realise I should now not carry on with jobs involving power tools and ladders. That’s it, welcome to the land of sad drinking. There is no fun or enjoyment in sad drinking. I know it, I am in the middle of it and yet I continue. And it’s not just drink. I had already had two breakfasts to help combat the hangover and now the floodgates opened. Crisps, toast, pizza, ice cream, strawberries and cream. I’m scouring the house for things to consume. I drink beer, red wine, beer, gin, beer, more red wine and finish with a gin. There is nothing happy about this massive consumption.

It’s now 4 in the morning on the Monday and I feel physically sick from the over indulgence so I sit in bed writing this. I have had days like yesterday before and I know that if days like that were the norm I would have to give up alcohol completely. Why do they happen? I know part of it was eating and drinking too much to combat the hangover from Saturday. If I had followed my moderation advice that would not have happened. But it’s more than that. Yesterday I experienced those feelings of emptiness that I have had before and the food and drink are a counter productive way of dealing with those feelings. I sort of recognised that fact as I was stuffing myself and yet I couldn’t stop and maybe didn’t want to stop. Exactly why I felt like that is hard to say. I had read an article about people who had lost a child and that got me thinking of my son who I lost 9 years ago, but I think about him a lot so that’s not the reason. It’s a host of reasons. Not achieving my goals in life, failed marriages, uncertainty about my current situation, that realisation that life is going by fast and getting old is now my reality. All of this and sitting at home alone nursing a hangover and feeling annoyed that I have not, so far, got a real grip of my drinking. God, what a self pitying shit hole I appear to have dug myself into!

That’s the self pitying done for. How do I avoid this happening again? Well I can’t avoid those feelings coming over me again. They just happen. What I can do is avoid the response. When I poured that first beer yesterday and said to myself that this was my reward for doing some decorating in the morning I should have stopped myself and been honest. I had the beer because I was tired, hungover and fed up. This would be “sad drinking” and that’s the drinking pattern of an alcoholic; the blot it out, escapist drinking I always said I would avoid. I have to have a strategy for avoiding days like yesterday. I could sense what was going to happen which is good but then ignored that and carried on regardless. What should I have done?

I was feeling tired so having a lie down would have been better than reaching for a drink. Reading my previous blog entries may also have helped. I think the main thing is to not to drink alcohol when I am on my own. I have always said to myself that learning to drink in moderation is my alternative to giving up completely and learning to moderate is not an easy option. Sometimes I like to “happy drink” on my own but I clearly cannot delineate between happy and sad drinking when on my own so I need to establish the principle that I do not drink when I am at home by myself. It’s a simple rule not dependent on circumstances. I also know I can be at home alone as I was last week, not drinking and feeling good.

I think I had said about not drinking on my own earlier when starting this blog. I now have to make that a reality. If I want to continue the happy drinking, then the sad drinking has to stop. If I can achieve this then hopefully there will be no more days like yesterday.

Jim x

About dealingwithalcoholdependency

Semi retired professional working in education and social work. Exploring how I became alcohol dependent and hoping I can find a way to moderate rather than abstain. It may be a losing battle but reluctant at this stage to lose this constant companion.
This entry was posted in Alcohol, Alcohol dependency, Influences on drinking, moderation, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Happy drinking, sad drinking; a weekend of contrasts.

  1. Dana Pescrilo says:

    You explained exactly my pattern of drinking. Going out, socializing, being at events, etc., I could manage my drinking, to a degree, most of the time. There would be times where I “over did it”, but no where near the way I could when I was at home, alone, drinking. As you wrote:

    “There is no fun or enjoyment in sad drinking. I know it, I am in the middle of it and yet I continue. And it’s not just drink. I had already had two breakfasts to help combat the hangover and now the floodgates opened. Crisps, toast, pizza, ice cream, strawberries and cream. I’m scouring the house for things to consume. I drink beer, red wine, beer, gin, beer, more red wine and finish with a gin. There is nothing happy about this massive consumption.”

    Me, this is me, me…April 2015 is when I started a personal journal, recording my daily drinking. I thought if I captured when, why, and how I drank, I could figure a way to stop the madness of drinking alone. While I did see improvements in my drinking habits. I could not figure how to moderate. Any momentum I gained, fell away and I was back into patterns of excess more times than I wanted to count (or admit). So I decided to stop drinking all together, until….I don’t know until when, maybe on my ??? I only know I miss drinking. I don’t miss drinking to excess. Thus, I find myself in the middle of the road, wondering where I’ll end up. As you wrote in your reply to me yesterday, “We each have to do it our way.” We will.

    p.s. I like the phrase “bit squiffy”, I’m going to borrow it!

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  2. If you like squiffy you might also like tiddly! Thanks for your comment and I find it strangely comforting that you shared my pattern of excess. What happened yesterday doesn’t happen every time I drink by myself but it happens when there is this existential void, where everything suddenly feels bleak and pointless. It was like that yesterday and yet today that cloud has lifted somewhat but I’m so annoyed at myself for not being able to control either how I felt or by the way I tried to combat those feelings through food and drink. But then that’s the point of this blog, to work through these issues and find solutions. I know much of it is about associations. When I worked full time I always hated Sundays. Ironically I now love Mondays. I never work on a Monday now and I almost never drink on Monday. I definitely think that solo drinking has to go. My task is to find an alternative way of handling those dark, bleak days instead of trying to block out the feelings with food and drink.
    Jim x

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    • Dana Pescrilo says:

      Yes, I agree, there is comfort, but more importantly for me, understanding with others of having this type of excess with drinking (and eating). However, the way you’ve explained it has hit closes to me. I think that is why I write/share to you the most of anyone (in the blog world) I’ve come across in this struggle. I really want to see you succeed, then maybe I can learn from you and succeed to. The third act of life is the best, so my mom’s says, and getting a handle on your issues will make it all the better. Keep trying!

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  3. Ad dy says:

    Drinking alcohol on your own is never a good sign anyway. I keep saying I think you need to talk this through in therapy. There is something deep-seated within you that makes you binge-drink. It sounds like you are looking for something to fill a void and you need to work out what that void is. It could be the death of your son or a thousand other things in your past but a professional would help you identify it. You also seem to use alcohol as a reward for achieving things. I think you need to find alternatives – chocolate, a walk in the park, a visit to the cinema – anything but alcohol.

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  4. Hi Addy, yes there is a void that periodically opens up and I know what some of the elements are. Knowing and dealing with it are two different things but you are right in that drinking is certainly not a good way to overcome that void. Despite some setbacks I am achieving more days without drinking and I want to get to a place where I enjoy a drink for the right reasons. Funnily enough I have said to myself that next time I feel inclined to drink solo I shall watch a film instead as I can really get lost in a good film. Thanks, as always for taking an interest. I will get there.
    Jim

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  5. Hi Jim!
    I understand this, although my pattern wasn’t quite the same.
    Anytime I drank too much became my sad drinking, because I’d get depressed, I think.
    Then I’d cry more, and feel despondent.
    My drinking alone at home was always hidden if hubs was home. So it was harder for me to drink too much, but I still managed that.
    When he went to work, I would sometimes, but not always drink, and later I found even 3 glasses of wine was too much for me.
    Later in my drinking life, going out with friends would almost always be drinking too much, because we’d be having fun and laughing. But on the way home, I’d start to feel the depression and I’d be sad.
    I ALWAYS overate after drinking too much. Ugh. I hated that, too!!!
    xo
    Wendy

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  6. Hi Wendy
    I certainly recognise the drinking, feeling depressed and then drinking more and then overeating! Ugh, nightmare! I think for me it’s also about bad habits around drinking which I have allowed to develop over the years. Yesterday I managed a “moderate” session; a meal out at lunch with friends. I had just a couple of beers (mind you over here that means pints) and went home and didn’t drink any more. Great except it felt so weird because it’s not how I usually drink. But that’s how it’s got to be or it’s no alcohol at all which is not where I want to go.
    Jim

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