22nd Nov 2021
This post is very much about personal accountability. By writing it I hope that it gives me strength to follow through on my promises to myself. It’s for me to look back on when I’m struggling.
I can’t really think of the best way to structure this, so I’m gonna try and answer some questions for myself and see how that goes.
I have a terrible and toxic relationship with alcohol, and it’s time to do something about it. I’ve been building up to this for months, maybe even years, now. The slow realisation that the way I think about and treat alcohol isn’t normal.
Am I an alcoholic? I guess that depends on definitions. I don’t wake up at 6am and have a vodka with breakfast to help me function and get the kid to school, and that seems like the “traditional” definition to me. If being an alcoholic means that I think about when my next “socially acceptable“ drink can be every day, then I would be. I think I will go with heavily alcohol dependent, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. Call me an alcoholic if you like, I won’t disagree.
I think about alcohol a lot. I have spent so long convincing myself that I don’t have a problem that a significant part of a significant number of days goes into deciding that the next time I’m going to drink is justified and normal. That, in itself, is not normal.
The ‘best’ bit of this thought process is that it means I can convince myself that every day has been hard enough, or easy enough, to justify a beer or two. Maybe, maybe, if it was just that then I wouldn’t be writing this, but it isn’t. I do not ever stop at one. I start with what I’ve incorrectly defined as a “normal” time and amount to drink, and then I don’t stop until I either run out or pass out. On a Wednesday. Alone.
In the beginning of thinking about going sober I was focussed on the fact that it could make me a better Dad, or a better husband. I do believe those things will be true, and I owe it most to my kid and wife to be the best version of myself I can be, but this would fail if it was just about them.
One of the biggest triggers for this recently has been the thought of divorce. Whether it’s likely to happen or not doesn’t matter, but picturing myself having moved out of my home and dealing with that as a drinker scared the shit out of me. So yeah, it’s about me and that’s the right way to go in.
I've tried, loads of times over the years. "No drinking during the week" turns to "Just one on a weeknight" turns to "Why am I in a YouTube binge hole at 1am on a Thursday again?" remarkably quickly. I really like the feeling of being inebriated, and as soon as I allow myself that feeling it's like a switch flicks that knows that more is better. I can't trust myself to be logical once alcohol is involved.
I want to avoid AA. Too much religion built into it. I don't need or want to replace alcohol with any god. Having looked at a few options, right now I'm planning on attending the SMART online meetings and see how that goes. I also plan to spend a lot of time in the stopdrinking subreddit.
I've failed at every attempt I've made to control my drinking, so I'm going into this with my eyes open. It is unlikely that I will succeed, which is why I'm going to do things like write this. I feel like enough of a twat writing this out – imagine how it'll feel if I then start drinking again too?
That said, I know that 'failure' is a part of recovery, so while I won't aim at that or use it as an excuse, I already know that blips will be blips and I'll get back on the right track as soon as I can.
There are lots of positives I can focus on to help avoid failure:
A day earlier than 'planned'. I've been trying to work out when to start for a while now, but there's always something: "It's your birthday soon", "Your sister bought you some very tasty looking gin, got to try that before stopping", "It'll be December, which is a great month for drinking", "It's going to be Friday", etc etc
There is always an event coming up that would be better with drink. The problem is that those 'events' include things like Sundays, where I like to sit with some wine and cheese. So I set myself up for this past weekend – drinking as 'normal' and then stop from Monday onwards. Didn't really work out that way, because we all came down with a sickness bug over the weekend, so I ended up not drinking anything on Sunday either. Ah well, would that wine really have been worth it?
So: 21st November 2021. That's the day I quit drinking.
Christmas will be tough, obviously, but would it have been that much easier if I'd quit in January? 🤷