Yeah, I’ve completed over 4 weeks without alcohol, well at the end of today I have. I actually think that statement sounds really sad. The fact that I’m feeling good about myself that I’ve gone a whole 4 weeks without an alcoholic drink.
I have been thinking a lot about the days before I touched alcohol, and before the days that I started to get pissed.
Like most stuff that isn’t good for us, it takes awhile before we actually start liking it. Who remembers their first ever taste of alcohol? Mine was a sip of my dad’s white wine, I remember running to the sink to spit it out and making some pretty dramatic noises, I think I must of been about 12, it tasted bloody horrible.
Then when my brother first took me out with some of his friends when I was 14 (it was a lot easier to get served then) I had to have cider and black to make the taste better.
I was 15 the first time I got completely drunk on about 5 pints of weak cider and I remember getting home and trying to be as quiet as I could as my parents were in the living room watching TV, I managed to slump on my bed and then heaved up everywhere. The next day I felt like death with the hangover from hell. You would think that would put us off, but no, for some reason we go through this a lot before we start to think that we like the taste.
It just seems crazy that we go to such lengths to become tolerant to the taste and then realise that we are drinking for all the wrong reasons,the most common of reasons is probably to relieve a stressful day. If you do the research, which most people won’t because they don’t particularly want to, it is a poison that our culture allows us to drink, it is ethanol, which given the correct dosage, will kill you. That’s the reason why we hate the taste so much when initially drinking it, it’s our normal body’s reaction to drinking something that we shouldn’t be drinking at all.
Anyway, I did say at the start of this that I will do my best not to get all high and mighty about this not drinking malarkey. I had best get on with how the first 4 weeks have gone.
I have always struggled with getting to sleep at night, which is one reason why I wanted to knock drinking on the head, as I was using it to help me sleep and forget about all the stuff that runs through my head as soon as I hit the pillow. I want to learn better coping mechanisms. I’m not going to lie, the first week of not having a drink, I didn’t sleep very well at all. It always amazes me that after a massive session of probably drinking 3 litres or so, you can fall asleep just like that and not wake up until the next morning. You go to sleep sober without much liquid before bed, and you need to go to the toilet about 3 times before you drop off to sleep! That could be my age but it’s frustrating. What I do notice though is that even on less sleep, I feel better in myself the next day. Still tired, but a different type of tiredness. It’s not a secret that we don’t actually sleep soundly after alcohol, even though we think we are.
My second week went a lot better and I started to fall asleep within the first hour. I have been cautious with making sure that don’t oversleep as from experience, if I have too much sleep, the next day I often struggle falling asleep so I’ve been making sure that I get between 7 to 8 hours sleep a night. If I’m honest, this is the first time that I can remember sleeping this well. Maybe it is just because I have never allowed enough time to go without alcohol to adjust my sleeping pattern. After all, the old thing about me saying I only drink at weekends is not much to brag about when the weekend starts on Friday and ends Sunday morning. That’s only 4 days rest before getting back on it. Apparently it takes 10 days to get out of your system!
I am also going to bed earlier as well as you seem to forget about time when drinking, and I’m not eating so much crap in the evenings. Another bonus is that in 4 weeks, I have noticed that I still have money left in my bank account at the end of the month. The other thing that I have noticed is that I am handling my long working days better and not struggling so much at the end of the shift.
Just writing this brings more awareness for me into what benefits I’ve got from such a short period. Bryony, my wife, has also gone without alcohol for most of the 4 weeks. She hasn’t set herself a target like I have but is doing it more for support, however I am fine if she wants to have a drink. She has had 2 weekends when she has drunk and I’m actually surprised that it hasn’t bothered me. I might think different if she gets really drunk though but I’m going to have to cope with that when she does, and it will at some time 🙂
I do think I need to have a rethink about our social activities though as if I’m not careful I will put my head straight into work, mainly out of not seeing the point of going out if I’m not drinking, which again is a sad thing to say when I think about it. I’ve actually arranged for us to do something tonight which I can enjoy and she can have a glass or 2 if she likes. Can’t say too much about that as its a secret!
I have always been curious about what actually makes someone an alcoholic, the word alcoholic is such a strong word in itself. Not many people would admit they are an alcoholic, In the AA, admitting you are an alcoholic is the first part of recovery.
It’s also funny that just in the 4 weeks of not drinking, I had had quite a few discussions with people who have justified to me why they drink, and I haven’t even questioned them about it!
When I’ve had discussions with people in the past, it often goes something like, I don’t drink on school nights, only weekends etc but they spend the whole working week longing for the day to get on it, or they think that an alcoholic is someone that wakes up and has to have a drink to function. In reality though, if you can not go through an evening without a drink, then surely you must be addicted, especially someone like myself who has tried of numerous occasions to stop drinking the odd glass of wine in the evenings, which very rarely ends up just being one glass, only to get back in the trap of daily drinking again. I know that I don’t function well the next day, I know that I would be so much better off financially if I stopped and yet, alcohol draws me back onto the same pattern every time. I am sure I am not alone with that one.
I saw a great quote a while back that said something along the lines of “ I would rather go through life thinking I may have an alcohol problem and not drink rather than someone in denial that talks shit” Actually I’m sure I’ve just made my own quote up then!
Another thing that I’ve noticed is that when I have done Dry January, it has dragged, it could be just the month though as I’m pretty sure that January drags anyway but the last 4 weeks has flown by, I haven’t really missed it at all, I think Sundays are my hardest day as I’m so accustomed to cracking open a bottle of wine around 3 pm before having dinner but I am still enjoying the fact that I am not drinking on Sundays. I have had one occasion when I felt like picking up a glass of red wine which was just sitting on my friends kitchen table but it was more out of habit, I obviously didn’t as it wasn’t even my glass!
Red wine is another drink that I’m sure I don’t even like the taste of but have drunk gallons of the stuff over the years. It has something in it that automatically makes you think “argh I can relax now” but I am sure that is probably what our minds associate wine with, which is all probably media and television’s fault.
I am still waiting on that feeling I have heard so many people talk about when quitting, which is about how creative they’ve got, how much energy they have or how their lives have changed, one of my mates who has been drink free for over 10 years said that its bullshit. But there again, I’m always telling people to experience things themselves, don’t take other people’s opinions to heart, as much as well meaning they are. 4 weeks isn’t really that long, its probaly going to take me a while to adapt as I have been thinking about cutting a few other bad habits out of my life and creating better rituals to my day so we will see. That’s the main reason why I’m doing a year so I can find out for myself.
That’s it for now, I just thought I’d update everyone so you know I’m still at it.
Hope everyone is enjoying all the sunshine we’re getting.