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.”