Saturday, 17 September 2016

A Picture Tells a Thousand Words

The unhappy boozehound.

I was scanning through the photos on my iPad the other day and I happened upon this one. It's a sad, lonely, drunken, selfie I took about two years ago. I've seen it before but not from the perspective I've gained from becoming sober. I was actually a little shocked at my vacant, miserable appearance. It was like I was seeing it properly for the first time, and I didn't like what I saw. This is the old me (well the version of myself after much swilling of liquor). My drinking didn't take me to bad places every time I drank but more frequently than I care to remember. If I ever think it would be a good idea to return to the world of drinkers I'm going to look at this photo to remind me why that's not a great idea. But I feel like I've already left this guy in the past.

It's funny I have a guitar in my hands in this cheery snap. I had just learnt how to play one of my favourite dark and depressing songs; Elliot Smith's A Fond Farewell, and I'm probably utterly frustrated with how shit my guitar playing was despite more than 20 years of trying in vain to improve (or at least play something - anything - in time). How I thought I'd play better with a skin full of beer on board is beyond me now. In the last six months I've been practising every day and my playing is exponentially better, without the distraction of booze to blunt my potential.

I can't explain why on earth I'm cross eyed. I'm not usually. The red, bloated face is not a foible of the photographic process. I've always described it as a family curse inherited from my equally red-face-prone father. It only takes half a dozen beers or a couple of glasses of red before I feel my face starting to burn from the red glow. When I got totally wasted I would catch blurry glimpses of myself in car or shop-window reflections and cringe with embarrassment at my beet-red complexion. I always felt self conscious about my ridiculous red face because I knew people would see how pissed I was.

It's not something I have to worry about these days. I don't ever have to sit alone and drink my way through a bottle (or two) of red wine, sinking deeper and deeper into a drowsy, alcoholic state of discontent. I don't have to lie in bed wide awake as my head spins, knowing the only way to make it stop (and to have any hope of sleep) is to expel the alcohol from my booze laden guts. I don't ever have to worry that my friends and family will see how drunk I am, that I haven't managed to drink like a normal person. Life is far simpler now.

I also wanted to post a photo from my recent overseas holiday to contrast with drunk me photo. In this case a picture tells a thousand words of the change in me since quitting booze, both physical and mental. I'm at ease - truly at ease in my own skin. Confident. Happy. Life was good before, but it's so much better now alcohol is out of my life.

Life is good.

I realise I am revealing myself a little from behind the anonymous nature of this blog, but I don't care. I'm not ashamed. None of us should be. I just want you to know if I can do this, you can do it too. No matter how dark the tunnel is, there is light, happiness, peace and fulfilment at the other end.

Tihei mauri ora! 
(Behold there is life!) 



  1. Hi Sober Man. I'm in the car wash, as good a time as any to catch up on some excellent reading. I love everything you have written here, and the contrast between the two photos says it all. Oh and the cross eyes are a common result of pissed selfies haha. I love the raw and powerful realness that comes across here Sober Man and I feel very proud of you xo

  2. Hi SoberMan,
    That's brave of you to post piccies! I don't even dare look at photos of myself (drinking or sober!) The difference in your photos is obvious, and validation enough for quitting. You also raise the interesting question of blowing your cover. The sober-blogging protocol, the use of pseudonyms is comforting, something to hide behind in case you are identified by people you know InRealLife (if you feel your honesty and confessions could be used against you) but I'm finding it hard to hide behind my sober-alias. Perhaps I should just come out of the sober-closet sometime?

    Cheers, and good work on three months. I've just reached 29 days. The longest time in my adult life of not drinking.

  3. Dear Soberman,
    I have been enjoying your blog very much. Thank you for sharing.
    I've been a heavy drinker for 30 over 100 Days sober and I am discovering what you are saying... and it feels good. This is an absolute miracle. (49 year old female in the States). Never thought I could do is so much better. Please do keep us posted. Thanks again.