Day 7 – Allen Carr & Socialising

So I haven’t posted for a few days…… why? Because I’ve been out and about living my life.

Rather than bore you with every detail I’ve been up to, I’m going to pick the two most significant developments since my last post.

Allen Carr’s Easyway Class

Last Saturday, I attended Allen Carr’s easy way to quit alcohol course in London. I had mixed feelings about it, having read the book and agreed with the points, but not felt compelled by its content.

I arrived for a 9am start at the treatment centre. There was some form filling to be done in the reception area and it was clear that the other delegates were mostly as uncomfortable and nervous as I was about being there. We were warmly welcomed by the chap leading the course and made our way to the treatment room full of reclining chairs with tea/coffee making facilities next door.

One of the first parts was a bit of Q&A about why people were there and their drinking. For some reason I hadn’t expected this and immediately panicked. In actual fact, I was very quickly reassured by the fact that we all shared similar stories; high pressure jobs, high achievers, not opening vodka for breakfast every day but still very clearly functioning alcoholics in some shape or form. Turns out one attendee had come all the way from the US to take the course.

I won’t say too much about the content of the course itself (take a look at their website and/or get the book) but what I can say as I type this is that it’s changed my outlook. The key is the drinker’s perception of alcohol and drinking, basically I no longer see it as a forbidden fruit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t skip down the road at the end of the day ( I think we finished around 3pm) having had some epiphany. In fact I felt rather confused – convinced on an intellectual level that booze wasn’t attractive but uncertain if this would be enough to convince my subconscious this was the case.

It’s the events of the following days that surprised me.

Dinners. Pubs and Clubs

The advice from the Allen Carr session was to go straight out into the world and get on with things. To say I was nervous about this concept would be an understatement. I was shitting myself. I thought back to times before when I’d been off the drink through willpower and been tortured all night wanting a drink but not letting myself have one. 

In the end I just got out and did it.

Saturday night I met a friend for drinks and dinner. She drank, I didn’t, we had a lovely evening, I got home around 2am and slept like a log. perfect.

Sunday was a little more tricky (or so I had thought). Notting Hill Carnival was taking place in London (for those of you who aren’t familiar, Google it, it’s pretty special!) and I had invites from different gangs of friends to meet up during the day and night for various parties that were going on. In the end I decided I would go out for the evening rather than the daytime event, we were going to a DJ event afterparty. The gang I met were in brilliant spirits and were all in various states of happiness depending on their level of substance intake (mostly booze).

I arrived around 9pm with a friend, she had G+T and I had soda + lime. We met up with the group and started dancing almost instantly (the DJs were awesome). 

I danced for nearly 4.5 hours straight. No one asked/cared or was interested in what I was or wasn’t drinking or taking. It was brilliant. The closest I got to a raised eyebrow was when someone offered me a drink, I told them soda and lime and they simply said “is that all?”. I responded yes.

I arrived home around 2am sober, sweaty, tired and elated. Booze hadn’t crossed my mind all night. I was so happy.

Putting it all together

So I know it’s early days, but taking the Allen Carr course and then putting it straight into practice has been liberating. I feel like my attitude to alcohol has fundamentally changed. I have a load of social events coming up which last week were really worrying me. Now I know I can fully participate without alcohol, I’m looking forward to them.

During the Allen Carr course there were many great metaphors and analogies for alcohol addiction and its hold. Most resonated with me, some didn’t. I was hoping to find a one liner I could hold onto and keep in my mind for difficult times but with only 30 minutes to go there wasn’t anything that really struck me.

Then in the closing part of the course, the therapist quoted some lines from The Shawshank Redemption. These two lines have been going round in my head since Saturday afternoon and make me ripple with excitement and gratitude when I repeat them to myself:

Associated with the struggle we’ve all been through to get to sobriety:

“Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit-smelling foulness I can’t even imagine- or maybe I just don’t want to. Five hundred yards… that’s the length of five football fields; just shy of half a mile. Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.”

Associated with freedom from alcohol and the future (my favourite):

“I find I’m so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.”

 

 

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Day 3 – Thinking about drinking

So day 3 of being off the bottle.

Somehow felt physically worse today than the previous couple of days, which is strange. The anxiety and depressed mood induced by the last binge are starting to edge away and I caught myself today starting along the “you were just being dramatic, you weren’t that messy at the weekend, just forget it all ever happened and carry on as normal” train of thought.

I managed to snap myself out of it pretty quickly and remember all the reasons I’m determined to quit, then got out of the house and made it to work.

White Lies?

I’ve received a few invites to parties/dinners over the next couple of weeks and today my mind turned to white lies i.e. are they an acceptable way to move forward?

For me, the idea of saying “I’m on an intensive gym couple of weeks, no thanks” or “No thanks, it’s been a heavy week (wink wink)” or the classic “I’m on antibiotics” are all far more plausible excuses to use in the near term than telling the truth.

I’ll openly admit that in the past and now, I’m too scared to confide in my friends or family, the main fear being what if I fail?

Having said that, that’s not the reason I want to use white lies in the mean time. The real reason is I can predict the reactions if I told them the truth, all of which would be more likely to encourage me to pick up the bottle:

“It’s not like you’re having a bottle of vodka for breakfast, you can’t be an alcoholic”

“We’ve all felt like that after a big week on the drink, have a beer and you’ll be fine”

“So you’re telling us you’re never drinking again? Yeh right, good luck with that”

So for now, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to use white lies to cope in the near term. The medium/long term strategy needs more thought, but I’ll cross those bridges as I come to them.

Later alligators

Day 2 (Part 1) – The good and the bad

So

Day 2 of being sober. Still strange to be writing on the internet about his, but also pretty cool. I’ve been told in the past to “Take it one day at a time” before but never really got my head around the concept.

Writing each day and reading blogs of others feels like a community almost. I’ve always felt alone when in this situation before so feeling rather optimistic as I type.

So just as a bit of an outlet there are a few things on my mind, categorised as positive or negative:

+ve Was offered a beer at a friend’s house last night and smoothly declined it

+ve Made it to the gym this morning and despite being a bit shaken up from the weekend binge, managed to put in a good session and got some endorphins pumping

+ve Spent some time (while in work) looking at more recovery blogs. Very inspiring.

-ve (and this is a biggie) – My biggest fear at the moment is that this week plays out like every other time I’ve tried to kick the drink, example as follows:

Monday – overwhelmed by fear, super anxious, feel like death, certain this was a fresh start

Tuesday – still got the fear, feeling slightly physically less worse, still resolute that my drinking career is over

Wednesday – Physical symptoms receding pretty well, anxious thoughts change from the weekend before’s behaviour to the next looming social occasion at which I couldn’t possibly not drink (usually wedding/brithday/work night out)

Thursday – Thoughts in my mind “The way you felt on monday was probably just because of [insert lame excuse of people or one particular drink]. There’s no way you can go to [insert future occasion where there will be loads of booze] and not drink. In fact, I wonder if anyone in work or my mates might fancy a drink tonight”

Outcome – find the lowest common denominator colleague/business friend or regular friend and get hammered.

Friday, Saturday – the fear returns with a vengeance Friday morning. I don’t have the time or composure to let my mind and body recover, so only one thing to do – get drinking and forget about it. Same Saturday morning/Saturday night (and often Sunday).

Awake Monday, repeat for 15 years.

I’m pretty sure this pattern of chronic abuse isn’t that unfamiliar to others, and I’m hopeful that it’s something I won’t have to suffer again.

One day at a time 🙂

Day 1 – The first day without booze

So this feels unusual, writing about myself on a Public blog; this time last week I didn’t think this is something I would ever do, but here I am.

Rather than go through a long winded story of how I got to where I am (can save that for later), here are a few facts about me:

  • I’m in my early 30s, male, live in Europe and have been drinking since (I think) the age of 13.
  • I have a high profile job in a large technology company.
  • I lost control of my alcohol intake at the age of 17 and have been abusing booze (and sometimes other things) since.
  • I have never admitted to anyone the problem that I have, to admit it to a real person would mean I would have to face up and deal with it, and I’ve never felt I could do that. So call me a chicken but this is the next best thing.
  • It’s 1921 Europe time, Tuesday 19th August, 2014 at the time of writing.
  • If I don’t stop drinking now, I far for my health and life; through direct or indirect means.
  • Yesterday morning I had my last drink (after a 72 hour binge)
  • I am now booze free. And terrified.