Sunday, 23 October 2016

Certainty. Yeah right!

My last post was all about how I didn't need Living Sober because of my iron clad certainty that I never want to drink again. Now less than a week later I miss logging into Living Sober to chat with my sober pals (don't be surprised if I slink back in through the ranch slider door in a day or two as if my dramatic exit never happened). And I'm a whole big fat bunch of uncertain about everything. I've just turned 40, but I feel like such a child. I feel like I've gained a lifetime's worth of insight and clarity during my sober journey, but experienced hand Gerry is right (see the previous post). I'm only a few months in and I realise now how vulnerable I am and how I'm really just a scared boy, more alone than ever, cast adrift from the world of drinkers and not knowing where I fit in with my sober cohorts.

I went on my step-mother-in-law's 60th birthday lunch at a beautiful vineyard restaurant, set overlooking a stunning North Canterbury valley. Our 20-strong family group were taken about an hour north of Christchurch to Black Estate by bus, the perfect scenario for a few sneaky wines (see some photos of Black Estate HERE HERE & HERE). We sat outside at a long table and made stimulating and relaxed conversation over some truly magnificent food. My table neighbour made a few references to the delicious Rose, and how easy it was going down. Every time she or anyone else mentioned the wine I found myself taking a big gulp of water. It was an involuntary action. every time I did it I wondered to myself why I was doing it and if I wanted to draw attention to the fact I wasn't drinking? Was I feeling subconsciously self conscious about it? Eventually she asked after another obvious water gulp from me if I "don't drink or just not today?" to which I replied I had given up four months ago. We chatted about the not drinking thing for a bit and it was no biggie.

Later I found myself catching up with another of my step mother's family members, whom I like a lot. She's a literary person and often asks how the writing is going. I found myself blurting out I was a sobriety blogger. We had a fairly intense discussion about the benefits of not drinking and she told me about some of her experiences of being sober at dinners out with a bunch of big boozers and resenting sharing the bill equally with them. She was supportive and I didn't mind talking about it. But later it hit me how hard it will be to avoid those intense discussions, especially if I can't keep my big mouth shut. Maybe it's dawning on me now how much sober living cuts against the societal norm of drinking at just about every one of life's special occasions. I know I'm happier and healthier and better off without alcohol, but am I happy to be the outcast forever? I already anticipate feeling like a big loser at my family reunion in December, because my cuzzies like a drink or two. How will they react to me? Will they feel criticised by my non drinking?

Later back at my father-in-law's house (he of the nice wines) we prepared an early dinner for the kids and everyone had a few more drinks. I was tired from the day, in a wee grumpy patch about a minor disagreement with my wife that was my fault and for which I swiftly apologised, and another family member I don't know very well appeared from nowhere, said hello and gestured to chink my beer bottle with his. It was an awkward moment mainly because I didn't have anything in my hands let alone a bottle of beer, a total air shot. Like when you go to high five someone and you both miss and end up looking and feeling like total dorks. He asked if I was having one and I said "no not today". I was short with him. Because I was grumpy, but I was also pissed off he assumed I was drinking. I soon realised it wasn't his fault. He didn't know about the sober thing. He didn't mean to make me feel like a freak, and I should have just brushed off his awkward attempt to say g'day and chatted with him.

Is that what it's going to be like? I haven't been all that bothered about navigating the social situations sober till now. But at the vineyard I seemed to feel uncomfortable when little was made of my sobriety, and equally uncomfortable when a big deal was made of it. Am I going to get sick of explaining my non drinking for the rest of my life, or will I just get better at avoiding having to? Why should I have to explain it? Why can't I just live in a world when it's just not that big a deal?

Lately I've been thinking more about when my sober year is up, and if I will go back to drinking -because in some ways it's just easier, less of an effort, just what everyone does. Will apathy be the reason I drink again. The family member I revealed my blog to at the vineyard said she did six months sober, but just really loves to have one or two wines now and again. I would love to be able to do that. Just occasionally have one or two lovely pinot noirs. Relax and take the edge off. Let my mind drift slightly from the stresses of the physical world.

This is becoming harder than I thought.


  1. Dear Soberman,
    Thank you for sharing this post. I too, have had a similar line of thinking recently...and I think we are pretty close in number of days sober.

    When I contemplate having one or two wines to be social or release from the pressure of the day....I remind myself,(that for me), I really don't want one or two...I want more than that, I want to feel good and buzzed! And where will that lead me? Back to where I was. Now some people (lucky bastards) are able to continue to have one or two on occasion. I doubt, after my long history, that I would be able to do that. But some people can.

    The wheel of life, it keeps on turning, and if I may gently suggest, maybe even if you had joined in with the alcohol, you would have still been a little "grumpy" after the minor disagreement with your wife. The wine maybe wouldn't have changed anything in that regard. Do you ever recall feeling a bit of an outcast, even though you were drinking, along with everyone else? Your feelings are natural...inevitable maybe, but they can pass like the weather. I heard something once where someone said, "It may not have come when I wanted it, but it was right on time." I say your feelings are "right on time". And that's okay.

    Soberman, remember the pictures you posted in September of the Unhappy Boozehound? When I saw your before and after pics, I saw myself. I was actually struck breathless. And I often think of that when I am tempted to heed the siren call of alcohol. I know it is a siren call for me--that if I answer it, I will still feel like the odd-man out, the person who is different from everyone else. I tried to change that with booze, and fell in to a very deep abyss. But I know that some people are able to drink moderately. I don't think I can. (but I do still daydream of it sometimes)

    Soberman, I think you experienced a down-day. It happens. It will happen again. But not all the time. If you do choose the one or two wines at some point, please don't make the decision when you are feeling are defeated or different, or a bit down. Remember the "after" pic you posted?

    Please do keep us posted Soberman. The struggle is great, I know.
    Your friend Melissa in the States.

  2. Thank you Melissa for your support and wisdom. I realise now how much you and others are helping me do this thing . You are right. I probably felt like more of an outcast when I drank. And you are right about feelings passing like the weather. I'm getting better at dealing with that. In the past I would have stayed grumpy for longer. Despite my focus on the negative feelings, and how they lingered last night and prompted me to blog at 11pm (which I seldom feel compelled to do - I normally write it in the morning), I had a really lovely time at the vineyard.

    I actually talked to my bro in law about it and he asked if I was going to drink again when the year is up. I said I would see and that maybe I would . He said that if I'm enjoying life without it there's no reason to go back . He said I didn't have to just follow the pack . It was appreciated.

    Thanks again Melissa.

  3. The not drinking becomes less of an issue for everyone as time goes on. Us and them. Trust that... and keep remembering why you wanted to try changing things in the first place. That's what gets me through any little 'left out' feelings I might ever have (like on my holiday recently two of my sisters and their husbands had a couple of late nights drinking together, which I had a wee sad pang about).. just holding onto my truth as only I know it. I can't ever let myself forget all the misery booze caused me xxx