Life without alcohol

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I ditched alcohol in Sept 2002 and have never drank since. I wasn't a heavy drinker - just got fed up with the hassle of wondering if I was still ok to drive, going back the next morning for the car if I'd left it somewhere. The incident which made me finally throw in the towel so to speak in 2002 was when I sent a stupid email, meant for a friend and complaining about my boss, to my....yes you guessed it, boss...and all because I had had a few glasses of wine and my fairly useless keyboard skills became even more hopeless.

 

I missed alcohol for the first year but now I give it as much thought as I do to paint removal stuff.

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You are still thinking that going away for a few days and getting bladdered sounds fun because you have never learned to go somewhere and have fun without alcohol. This is the psychological addiction, which is more difficult to get past than the physical addiction. You and I have been close for what... 7 years now? (Bloody hell!!) and in that time, every single story you have ever told me about going out, going on holiday, having fun has involved you getting incredibly drunk. It's perfectly understandable that you would then be worried about going to Dublin and not drinking because it's a whole new ball game for you. But try and think of it logically. You love rugby, and you're going to watch a big match. Dublin is a great city, and you'll be with mates you haven't seen for months. Like your colleague said, you'll be able to enjoy things much more without drink, because you will be totally present, all of the time. Plus you'll be able to remember it afterwards, and actually catch the flight home without having lost any of your personal belongings ;)

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Sobriety is just an illusion caused by a deprivation of alcohol. Cheers.

 

Rockfisher your comments are not really very helpful here old chap.

 

Last night I was aware of a brief "trigger" but thankfully there was nothing in the house. I think there are two aspects to giving up - resist the temptation to buy a couple in the offy when you are buying other stuff like Erdinger Alkoholfrei which I have finally got used to, and also being aware of the feeling where you might like a swift one.

 

I loved that craig Freguson Toob. He is a cool bloke.

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and I refrained from commenting on Jeanie's (IMO potentially very harmful) comment btw,

Ah, interesting to notice that you've edited your comment because I have been wondering what you meant. So now I know that you think my comment was harmful but would be interested to know why. Did you feel like I was giving him free rein to head off and get pissed? Because nobody can do that but Schotte and he doesn't strike me at the moment as someone who is looking for any old reason to serve as an excuse for going drinking.

 

My experience of addiction is obviously different than yours but on the other hand, for example, seems to be similar to what Schotte's colleague was getting at. Yes, it would be great to spare anyone a relapse but you can't live someone else's life for them.

 

It is by no means inevitable that a relapse will happen. But it is a possibility and one that anyone with an addiction must be aware of in order to be able to deal with it. And if it does happen, they also need to be aware that that's not the end of the story and doesn't need to be a permanent relapse. Too many get stuck back down a hole because they think "well, that's it, I tried and couldn't and now it's too embarrassing to admit to anyone so I'll just laugh off my sobriety as a phase" or something similar. Perhaps if you had had someone around telling you it's okay to get back on the wagon rather than people who were making light of your drinking, it wouldn't have taken a year to get to that point yourself is kind of what I'm getting at.

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I'm not sure which edit you're referring to?

 

I didn't feel the need to respond to your comment initially because as you say, it is Schotte's life and I don't want to turn this into an argument or worse a contest about who knows what's best and what the right approach is.

 

But as you are curious, I'll try to briefly identify what my problem was with your statement, and then hopefully we can let it lie, because I am really not interested in getting into a huge debate over what two unrelated people think a third party should do with his life.

 

 

By the time you get to the bar you can just leave because the tour is basically over.

I dunno, this to me seems like a statement made by someone who doesn't really have a connection with what it means to be an alcoholic. "You'll only get one glass and then you can leave"--if that were the thing, we compulsive drinkers wouldn't have a problem. I can't speak for Schotte, only for myself. But when I'd have a glass or two of this or that, the only thing on my mind would be where to get more. Sure, I could leave the brewery, and then go, where? Off to get some more booze. If no one else is interested in drinking with me I will get enough to get me drunk and go home with it and drink it alone. Compulsive drinking is not about opportunity or being social. You get a taste of it and are preoccupied with obtaining more.

 

 

It's only when you look at the entire circle that you can really make your decision.

FWIW I liked this.

 

 

You're don't have to feel embarassed or weak or humilated or any of that - you can just start not drinking again. But life is hard enough without letting the guilt get to you.

 

This is, ironically, PRECISELY why it took me another year to quit. Because even those who supported me would say stuff like this. I would go on binges and know that there was someone out there to help me rationalize it, people who were urging me to forgive myself for fucking up rather than urging me to take the harder road and just not start again. But it wasn't their fault, they didn't realize how extremely unhelpful it was.

 

As a result, I don't talk about my not drinking with anybody who hasn't also given up drinking or isn't in a close relationship with someone who has had to give up drinking. I realize your comment wasn't meant to harm, but it is precisely the sort of thing a sick alcoholic needs to work up the courage TO take a drink, even if he also thinks he will be giving it up again. The only cure for true alcoholism is abstinence. I agree with you that nobody should be ashamed of falling off the wagon, but in an alcoholic's wobbly mind and still fairly weak state of resolve, the best form of encouragement is to keep them sober, not to pick them up before they've fallen down.

 

Hope that cleared things up.

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I'm not sure which edit you're referring to?

 

Your initial comment just said you hadn't commented on my comment and the part in brackets about you thinking it was harmful was not there. You might have edited it almost immediately but I remember wondering at the time why you would say that without qualifying what you meant.

 

 

I don't want to turn this into an argument or worse a contest about who knows what's best and what the right approach is

 

I don't think it's turning into an argument, which I agree would be detrimental to the topic at hand. However an acceptance that not everyone deals with things in the same way and that what works for one person may not work for another is appropriate I think. Ten people could offer their differing experiences and only one might click with the person looking for advice. But if only one is offered and it doesn't quite match what the person looking for advice is going through, well, I think that can be potentially detrimental too.

 

 

I dunno, this to me seems like a statement made by someone who doesn't really have a connection with what it means to be an alcoholic. "You'll only get one glass and then you can leave"--if that were the thing, we compulsive drinkers wouldn't have a problem. I can't speak for Schotte, only for myself. But when I'd have a glass or two of this or that, the only thing on my mind would be where to get more. Sure, I could leave the brewery, and then go, where? Off to get some more booze. If no one else is interested in drinking with me I will get enough to get me drunk and go home with it and drink it alone. Compulsive drinking is not about opportunity or being social. You get a taste of it and are preoccupied with obtaining more.

 

Well, I didn't say you'll only drink one glass and leave. I suggested going on the tour and then leaving before getting the one glass. Assuming things haven't changed too much, when you have finished the tour through the brewery you come out to where the exit is and can then go across the hall into the bar or, you can just leave. Life still goes on and one of the things you need to learn to do is to live in a world which does have alcohol in it. I fully understand what compulsive behaviour is and feels like. In my opinion a tour of the Guiness brewery is less likely to lead to someone having a drink than a walk down just about any other road in Dublin city centre and that was what I was trying to say - no point in doing a pub crawl down Dame Street and yet congratulating yourself on not have done the tour at Guinness.

 

 

This is, ironically, PRECISELY why it took me another year to quit. Because even those who supported me would say stuff like this. I would go on binges and know that there was someone out there to help me rationalize it, people who were urging me to forgive myself for fucking up rather than urging me to take the harder road and just not start again. But it wasn't their fault, they didn't realize how extremely unhelpful it was.

 

As a result, I don't talk about my not drinking with anybody who hasn't also given up drinking or isn't in a close relationship with someone who has had to give up drinking. I realize your comment wasn't meant to harm, but it is precisely the sort of thing a sick alcoholic needs to work up the courage TO take a drink, even if he also thinks he will be giving it up again. The only cure for true alcoholism is abstinence. I agree with you that nobody should be ashamed of falling off the wagon, but in an alcoholic's wobbly mind and still fairly weak state of resolve, the best form of encouragement is to keep them sober, not to pick them up before they've fallen down.

 

We'll have to agree to disagree on this point because again, everyone's experiences are different. I see where you're coming from but an alcoholic will find rationalisations wherever they want if they aren't ready to really quit. When someone is prepared to really commit to recovery, they will do it regardless of whoever is around them. You seem to find that urging someone to forgive themselves for fucking up and urging someone to take the hard road and not start again are mutally exclusive. One actually follows the other. Urging you to forgive yourself for fucking up is not the same thing as offering you a carte blanche to continue the same destructive behaviour. And most importantly, no more than I can, you cannot claim that your experience is the only way it will happen. While there are always similarities between addicts and their behaviours, each is still an individual who has had different life experiences and will react in their own way to what happens.

 

You do make an important point about people appearing to support you but not actually doing so. This is very hard to spot but eventually you (in the sense of 'one', not specifically 'you, Dessa') might find yourself coming to the realisation that some relationships are more toxic than you are prepared to put up with. People will talk the talk but may actually be very uncomfortable with you leaving what is essentially their comfort zone for you. Sometimes they aren't even aware of it and a serious discussion will change things for the better. And sometimes you just have to let someone go.

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I definitely haven't found any comments on this thread harmful, I've repeatedly come back to it to reread various posts as well. Jeanie and Dessa you have slightly different approaches and I am trying to use a bit of both. Thanks both for posting, please keep doing so if you don't mind. You're posts are great :)

 

I also want to say a big thanks to the people who have sent me a private message. I'm genuinely touched by this and will reply to all properly when I don't have the boss floating around. I really didn't start this as a look at me and what I'm doing thread I knew there would be others with stories and encouragement but I really didn't expect all this. What a massive help and hopefully others down the line who stumble across it get as much benefit as I do. So thanks for posting publicly or sending a private message for whatever reason you have chosen to do one or other I really appreciate them all.

 

I've decided I'm going to chuck smoking after this last packet I've opened as well. Another month or so ahead before I get back to the UK would be as well getting this out my system now too! Packed the 2 spare cartons in my bag under the bed out of sight out of mind! $20 a carton, there might be more incentives waiting till I was home when it is £7 a packet, but at day 50 or in a few days of no drinking I'm sure the rewards of chucking both will be significant. Last time I failed in this it was after about 4 pints of Guinness anyway! At least I don't have that to contend with. We will see!

 

At least here if I get annoyed at someone it's only coworkers and at least there is absolutely NOTHING positive to be gained from smoking that isn't entirely true (I still think) about having the occasional drink :)

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Hi Schotte,

 

You've mentioned something several times and I'll throw in my two cents worth...the career with extreme travel can be very hard on trying to stabilize your situation. I was consulting for 10 years with the majority of the time spent on the road, the first 5 years around the US and the last 5 years around the world. In addition, the work was extremely stressful - clients (rightfully) expect for you to come in and tackle the things they don't want to or can't in a very short amount of time. I'm not sure what line of work you are in but I found the consulting lifestyle in some ways suited me and was a lot of fun, an incredible learning experience, I loved the travel and many of my colleagues and clients, and when things were going well it was extremely satisfying. On the downside, it wreaked havoc on my personal life - relationships and keeping in touch with friends suffered with all the away time and when I was home time was spent either trying too hard to make up for lost time with long, hard nights out or needing downtime and wanting to spend it just chilling on the couch alone. Deeper friendships and relationships got swapped for party buddies who lived a similar lifestyle and were fine with spontaneous nights out and long absences. Living that way is king of living on the edge and over time you become surrounded with people who live similarly. Life as a traveling party. Eventually you hardly even notice anymore how strange it is to not be phased at waking up and not knowing which city you are in or what it costs per day you actually spend at the place you supposedly live.

 

For me it all came crashing down in 2008. I won't go into all the details but another spectacular relationship breakup with the last thing being shouted at me 'Do you really want to be 55 and living alone in Hong Kong?' Indeed. It took another couple of years of ups and downs to make my exit, but I knew at that moment if something didn't change soon the next time I blinked that would be exactly how my life turned out.

 

I wouldn't have done anything different but I'm happy to be a silly tourist at the airport now, my Senator status expiring this month, taking too long at security, with hubby and baby in tow and the suits glaring at us from behind. You will, however, not catch me clapping when a normal flight lands. Ever.

 

Anyhow, just wanted to let you know I can relate, be careful the job is not taking more than it is giving, and I wish you all the best!

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Fantastic post ChiliRose, thank you for sharing :)

 

I can relate to most of what you say. Especially the new circle of "friends" you find yourself surrounded by and the travelling party. I've been wondering of late why and where I found it so natural to go to a pub on my own - I've friends at home who look at me like I've got 2 heads for doing this. I never did this before I found myself in parts of Europe passing through for a night or 2 but in earshot of music and some good times going on. Suddenly, time off was spent "f**king off" somewhere without even asking anyone if they wanted to come with (maybe knowing they would say no, that I didn't know anyone off at the same time or that to be honest you can have a great time on your own - I don't know). You can always find some like minded people wherever you end up right?

 

A routine and stability would help no end I am sure, but then I still get a buzz telling folk where I've been and what I'm doing, probably entirely because I'm not able to do anything interesting in my free or social time. I still enjoy it being different from the norm (in a better or worse way I don't know) but I think deep down I really want to settle? I bought my first property a year ago, thought that would calm me down but it hasn't. It's perhaps made things worse in fact, have a flatmate is a mate from my old job and pretty much a carbon copy of me! So clearly when he is home it is chaos again.

 

Getting out of this rut would require me quitting this job but to be honest I'm not even sure I can if I want to keep this property. I actually have no idea how to sort that out...

 

You talk about making your exit..., did you just quit and find something without the travelling?? What finally swayed it a few years after that comment was made to you??

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Schrotte, by the way, just to remind you I still have this FANTASTIC Smokenders book and CD programme which will take the misery out of stopping smoking. PM me if you want it.

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Hi Schotte,

 

Although I more or less made up my mind that I needed to get out, I didn't do anything too drastic right away. There were a lot of areas in my life that I thought needed change but after 8+ years on the road, just going through a breakup of a long term relationship, which effectively was my reason for being in Munich/Europe, and also completing a 3 year assignment, I decided to take a month off from work to figure out what I wanted and where I was going to live as a first step (I had shared an apartment with the boyfriend and we had agreed he would keep it so I also had nowhere to go when I returned to Europe).

 

I took a month off of work between assignments and based myself with some friends in Singapore while traveling around Southeast Asia, mainly on my own. It was then that I took up photography as a hobby, which kept me out of trouble and has made me very happy over the years since. At the end of the month, I had decided to give the job a fresh chance rather than look for something new. The economy was kind of dipping again and since I enjoyed my job I discussed with my boss finding assignments with no or less travel to see if I could make it work. A friend of mine offered her apartment in Zurich to stay in while she was on long term assignment in the States and I was offered the option to transfer my work base to Zurich or back to the States if I did not want to return to Munich, although in the end I decided to come back to Munich.

 

I spent the next couple of years on assignments not requiring too much long range travel in Köln, Geneva, London and Amsterdam (did some short stints in the US and Mexico, was offered long term assignments in Singapore and Sao Paolo) but whenever I was requested to make a longer go of it I declined. I decided I needed to set up a real home base, moved back to Munich in early 2009 and found an apartment that I loved and for the first time started to put a real effort into furnishing and decorating the place (still a slowly evolving work in progress!). The balance between living for the career and exciting travel started tipping towards making friends and spending as much time as possible in Munich. I began to hate to leave town on Mondays. I got lucky in 2010 and found an assignment in Munich, where the client ultimately offered me a permanent position. I had gotten offers from my clients over the years but this was the first time I seriously considered and eventually took the offer. I've never looked back, although it was reassuring when I was leaving to be offered an open door to return at any time to my old company.

 

By making those deliberate moves, my personal life stabilized, the partying died down over time on its own, and I met (and more importantly had time for) the man I married and now have a son with. You don't have to worry about too much partying after that ;-) But seriously I am glad I got to do all that I did in my 20s and 30s so I have no regrets or 'what ifs' and can fully appreciate this new chapter in life. It comes with a different set of challenges but family life is very fulfilling.

 

See how it goes and listen to your inner voice - it will tell you what you can handle and when you need to make some changes, as I see you already know.

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Thanks again ChiliRose. Good point about even decorating a place as well, have put it on my list to focus on :)

 

Day 50 for me now :) Had set this as the last day I count the days. Onwards and onwards and onwards :)

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Good man Schotte. I'd be interested to know if our humble twosome action inspired anyone else here.

 

Interesting insights from Chili there. I was about to become a consultant and ón my first assignment met my wife in Ulan Bator mongolia!

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Thanks again ChiliRose. Good point about even decorating a place as well, have put it on my list to focus on

 

Day 50 for me now Had set this as the last day I count the days. Onwards and onwards and onwards

 

Day 50? Great, Schotte! At some stage you´ll forget the days and at some even further stage you´ll forget the months and the years ( smoking comparison in my case ). Proud of you!

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Good man Schotte. I'd be interested to know if our humble twosome action inspired anyone else here.

 

I've had a few more PMs from people saying they are the same. I find this pleasing and glad people have been encouraged by this.

 

How are you doing now? I am on day 67, but only after having to go to the effort of counting and looking it up. Not focussing on it.

 

Sitting in the midst of a major trigger right now and really would quite like to kick back with something. Have sat in other peoples' company a number of times since being away who have been drinking and not bothered. I think it's times I get shafted by other peoples' incompetence (have just had my flight home cancelled and delayed for at least 10 days - I'm already 2 weeks longer than my normal trip away) and can't do anything about it I just fancy a drink more.

 

Just realised this now in fact. Normally when I balls up myself I ain't too bothered about drinking!

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Good observation, Schotte! When you feel frustrated and helpless (ie. other peoples' screw-ups), it is very good to know that this is a trigger. Sucks about your travel plans - I know you've been looking forward to the trip - and are long over-due to get the hell out of dodge for a while. Day 67 - holy crap! Well done!

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Sorry for playing the devil's advocate on your thread, Schotte. In order to make amends, I thought I'd post this from BBC Panorama:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T995O2BAoUU

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I love alcohol-free Caipirinha. They normally use Ginger Ale instead of the alcohol and it tastes just great.

 

Must try that, I love cocktails, but obviously don't drink a lot of them because they are just way to dangerous (taste so good, but blow your mind), very often when I'm lounging in my garden, I feel like sipping a nice cocktail and relaxing, but never do, hot sun and alcoholic cockatails don't go too well for very long, so I'm planning to learn how to make alcohol free versions of my favourite cocktails (which will hopefully taste just as good)

 

Oh and congrats Schotte

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