Well last week’s blog was certainly a tough one to write but on reflection I feel it was a good one for me write and get out of my head. I may have summarised it with a bit of anger so it is something I will revisit at a later date having reflected on it again. I would like to write a piece on that maybe in six to twelve months and see how I look upon that time again.
In this week’s post I want to look at alcohol again. I have been speaking to quite a number of different people about their own experiences. It is really humbling that people are coming to me and sharing their own accounts whether it is personally or with a family member, close friend, or partner. Thank you for doing that, it is incredibly helpful to me as well. Today marks the 90th day of my sober journey. This is always talked about as being a milestone to hit so I am chuffed to get there relatively unscathed. It has been tough in parts but generally I think I have managed the transition well. As I mention in a previous blog, I was not the typical person with alcohol issues. When I say typical, I mean the stereotypical alcoholic that everyone who doesn’t understand this issue thinks you must be. I wasn’t that. I am not that. Thankfully I didn’t progress to that stage, but I think it’s definitely a possibility I could have done. When I have been talking to my alcohol support therapist, she has stated a few times that I got ahead of the curve with this and made the right call to seek help when I did. If you feel like your alcohol consumption is getting out of hand, then I implore you to talk to someone. I am more than happy to point you in the direction of the service I have used, and they have honestly been superb. Claire is supportive, empathetic, and kind but also not afraid to tell me things straight when I need to hear them. She has always got the balance exactly right and I am extremely grateful to have been supported by her.
Over the last ninety days my focus has very much been on myself. I think it’s had to be. I have made positive changes to my life that will firstly benefit me, but then also in time other people around me as well. That is certainly what I hope to achieve. Over the last three months I have made the following changes to my routines and seen the positive effect this is having. By going to the gym at least five times a week I am getting in better shape. This leads to better food choices and not over consuming junk or bad food which you will do more of when you drink. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed nice food and fun experiences. For instance, Chloe and I ate out on Sunday and Monday evening. It is important to have rewards for yourself and I certainly did on those two nights. I highly recommend both places actually. ‘Above’ is a cracking little spot in the centre of Newcastle with amazing views of the city. On Monday night we went to a fabulous Turkish restaurant called Turknaz in Whitley Bay. I have mentioned in a previous blog the changes I have made but I wanted to reinforce the positives I have seen come from this and ultimately the zero consumption of alcohol. My mind is clearer, happier, and more focused. I want to achieve goals that I set at the start of the week whether that is for work or for personal endeavors. My cricket season has started now, which is another good activity which I not only enjoy but it also provides good social interaction from the mates I have within the club. My therapy on Tuesday afternoon is also progressing well. We are exploring many different parts of my past, present and future. At the moment, I can honestly say life is good and I am thrilled to be writing that.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been reflecting on the last three months and how this has been affecting those around me. My partner Chloe has borne the brunt of my worst times prior to giving up drinking and I think that our relationship has also struggled to adapt to me changing my routines over the past three months. I have been keeping myself busy, not standing still to make sure I don’t drift back to the booze. As things are now starting to settle down, I need to focus on my relationship with Chloe ensuring she is getting what she needs from me and vice versa. It has also been a tough time for my family. My dad messages me every morning to check that I am ok and then usually calls in the afternoon for a chat. My mum also messages frequently and calls too, to check on me. She doesn’t do this everyday as to not bombard me with questions, so I appreciate that from her just as much as my dad’s daily check ins. I speak to my brothers regularly who I know have been worried these past few months. Jonny and I talk near enough every day despite him having a busy work and home life. Dave, my stepdad has also been another great pillar of support alongside my mum. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am thankful to all of them for the love and support I have received over the last few months and although things are a lot better now, they have not relented in their level of care. I am very lucky to have them all. My closest friends who I mentioned in a blog a few weeks back have again been amazing. Ross is currently travelling but regularly checks in to see if I am alright as does Mikey too. Jack and his girlfriend/carer Jo have been great inviting me around to their house at least once a week giving me that essential bit of social interaction that I need. Jack and I go to the gym a few times a week as well, so I get to see more of him through that. I have also been fortunate to catch up with other friends from back home in Alnwick. They too have been incredibly supportive along this recovery road I am on. Scott, Stephen, Dom, Dan, Tom, and I share a group chat which is pretty constant for stupid chat and sporting related trivia. We all met up (except Tom sadly) last week and it was great to see them all again. I have a wider support network than I ever realised. I know that I must repay them all for their wonderful support not just in the dark times but also in these better times when it would be easy for them to pull back and let me get on.
One of the key things I have noticed during this transition period is how little I am missing the alcohol. Yes, those early stages were tough, but I think that was more down to how habitual my drinking had got. I really thought that I would miss it more. Not waking up in the last ninety days with a hangover, beer fear or anything to regret I have to say has been liberating. I never want to go back to those days, but I am acutely aware that I can’t have a ‘normal’ relationship with booze. But what I want to ask is, what is normal? What do you consider normal? My own definition would be someone enjoying maybe a few beers at the weekend or a glass of wine or two in the evening. Is that normal? Health professionals tell us now that any drinking of alcohol is damaging to our health. There is no longer a weekly recommended unit allowance anymore so does that mean people should not drink at all? I do not judge anyone for enjoying alcohol whether that is responsibly or irresponsibly. We are all free to make our own choices and I respect that fully. A really powerful and informative documentary to watch on alcohol intake is ‘Drinkers Like Us’ with Adrian Chiles. I mean he isn’t the most dynamic or charismatic fella out there but that is a superb documentary. It highlights the culture of drinking in UK society. This is something I am going to examine more next week in greater detail. I want to look in depth at our relationship with booze as a society.
As I pull this piece to a close, I want to thank everyone for all their wonderful support. Please keep getting in touch about your own experiences or how you feel about any of mine. No matter what you think and your feedback I want to hear from you!
Thanks again for reading.