In my last post I made a big song and dance about a number of topics, but namely, my microbiome, and my current battle to improve it. The end result of that lengthy diatribe, was my committment to eat a high quality diet, and not drink until Christmas. I realise that if I drink alcohol on Christmas day it kinda ruins the catchy hashtag title of this piece, but #BoozelessXmasBuildupPledge just doesn’t quite have the same impact. Who knows, maybe I won’t drink at Christmas. However, my sister has informed me that she would be very disappointed if I didn’t sink some Pinot Noir with her whilst we roadtrip from Auckland to Queenstown over New Year, and I’m inclined to agree. I’d be disappointed too.
So what’s the point? Well it’s a bit of a test, see how I go over these three weeks – will my sleep, energy, mood, etc. improve? Today is day 7. The last alcoholic beverage I consumed was last Saturday night – it was a glass of something red at a Christmas party. Had I have known it was going to be the last one for a few weeks, I would have likely savoured it a bit more.
Last night was Friday night. I was at a poker game that me and some buddies hold every couple of months. The perfect opportunity to break my sobriety pledge, on the very same day I made said pledge. Did I cave? A bottle of red wine was wafted under my nose at the start of the evening, and I was instantly, albeit slightly, tempted to say “fuck it, give me a glass, it’s been a long week”. I held firm. All night. I made it to day 7 unscathed.
This morning I woke up without a hangover. Still had the temple headache, and had only slept for 5 hours, but, and this is important, I was without hangover. At 6.30am I received a text from a friend, lets call him Alan (he’s not called Alan, lol, he’s going to love that I called him Alan. ALAN!). Alan was suggesting a swim and a sauna at the ocean-fed pool at the end of my road. So I hauled myself out of bed and did exactly that.
Five hours of sleep or not, there is nothing like sitting in a Finnish sauna for 10 minutes then jumping into icy, salty water to blow away the cobwebs. It’s a disgrace really, I have this amazing facility at the end of my road, it costs slightly more than a coffee to use it, and yet I’ve used it once in the past year. Pre-Xmas sobriety pledge #2 – go at least twice a week..
So I said I would blog every day for the next 3 weeks, so here’s my stab at gaining some momentum to make that happen. Persistence is the key to success after all, not genius. I will quickly add that writing on a daily basis, when there is a shit load of other stuff going, will mean these posts will likely be shorter than, well, my usual posts.
So how did I find attending a boys’ poker night and not drinking? I didn’t find it did anything particularly positive for my poker skill, but it certainly didn’t infringe on my ability to have fun. I felt relaxed through the evening, and enjoyed it no less than had I been sinking something (or 6 somethings) with an ABV%.
Today has been great, I’ve had good energy, my mind felt pretty clear, no lows, but not any really big highs either. Perhaps this is the way live is meant to be lived. Maybe we have been conditioned to expect really big highs, and accept the really big lows as a matter of consequence. As a result, do we feel discontent when life meanders at a slower, gentler, less hilly pace. Maybe I’m just getting old.
What has struck me today, is that life without alcohol is, at least in the short term, more isolated. I have seen friends today for a couple of hours here or there, but for the most part I’ve been on my own. This hasn’t troubled me, whereas in the past, before I moved to Australia, I would have been climbing the walls. Being single, living in another country on the other side of the world, and not being a total boozehound – it kind of forces you to learn how to be okay in your own company. Let me tell you though, it’s taken some time to get to this place.
I don’t consider myself an alcoholic in the traditional sense of the word, but here I am attempting to cut alcohol out of my life for the purposes of physical and emotional health. If nothing else, I have something in common there with the alcoholics. After reaching this realisation, I decided to do some research on what Alcoholics Anonymous actually is, and whether it was an appropriate group for someone who does not have a fierce dependency on alcohol to join. I found this:
What I need are people. Connection. Community. And, that’s way more important than booze. So what if I’m not an alcoholic. The only requirement for membership is a desire to not drink. That’s it. Nothing more. There’s always a seat for you. Honestly, I wish more people would check it out. It’d be cool not to be the only weirdo who goes to AA meetings for fun.
“A desire to not drink”
I’ve ticked that box, at least temporarily. Except it’s not really temporarily, I’ve had some discomfort with my relationship with alcohol for a good few years now.
“someone who does not have a fierce dependency on alcohol”
Interesting words from me there – does the dependency have to be ‘fierce’ in order for it to be considered a problem?
As I sit here on my own on a Saturday night, typing into WordPress, I wonder if I have used alcohol throughout my life to form friendship bonds. I don’t wonder for long, because I quickly know that the answer is yes. Fortunately, I know that a large part of the bonding with the people whom I would call my close friends, has also been conducted sober. Did alcohol provide the introduction, and lubricate the process? Undoubtedly so in some cases.
If I flip this question around – what other means have I used to create bonds with people?
It is a common held view that the thing that bonds us together more tightly than anything is shared adversity. i.e. the bonds created between servicemen and women fighting a common enemy – think of the Brits and its allies fighting the Nazis. Or the Jews taken from their homes and packed off in trains to unbearably horrific places by those same Nazis. Those people created friendships and support networks in double quick time.
I could be headed down a rabbit hole here, so I’ll pause, and come back to it tomorrow, on day 3. End of Day 2 stream of consciousness. Hope some of you are enjoying wild Saturday nights out there, have one for me.