Personal
John Risby

Be honest.

Welcome to my new web site. I have to start somewhere so…

In 2013 my wife and I separated after 20 years. That’s not a topic for here, but I mention it briefly now just to explain how being back on the ‘dating scene’ has made me re-evaluate who I am and what values I hold dear.

In the decades since I was last single, looking for a partner has changed drastically. The basic aim is the same, but internet dating has totally changed how we do it. What was once embarrassing (‘lonely heart columns’ and ‘dating agencies’) is now the norm.

I’ve met some lovely women, had some great dates, even had a relationship (which didn’t work out, totally my fault – but that’s for a different blog post, another time, maybe) – and I’ve made some long-term friends from it.

Of course, I don’t want to be using them any longer than I have to be. I’m not a ‘player’ and I hope to find someone long-term sooner rather than later, but they’re a great way to meet people. And much faster than just waiting and hoping.

I’d have been embarrassed to say all that once.

Why?

Set the truth free, the results may amaze you

I’ve always valued honesty, and where possible, openness. But for nine years, until two years ago, I kept a secret very few people knew. I’m a recovering/recovered alcoholic (pick your preferred word from those two – I can never decide which I prefer).

It took me nine whole years to feel comfortable telling people this.

I didn’t lie before then. If people asked, I always used to say I stopped drinking for ‘medical reasons’, which is true – I was killing myself. But when I did write about it I discovered releasing the truth into the wild can be very freeing personally, and very helpful to others.

By putting aside my fears and doubts about what some people may think or say about me if I was open and honest about why I started The Alcohol-Free Shop, I was able to write a blog post that I know helped many people (although, ironically, a recent survey we did showed most of our customers don’t have a problem with alcohol, they just want to have a healthier lifestyle).

I know from the emails I’ve received, conversations I’ve had, friends I’ve made etc, that the article had a big impact on more than one person’s life (and “just” one, would have made it worth doing).

Has it had any negative effect on me? No, not that I can see.

In my personal life, very rarely someone who doesn’t like me (and there will always be lots of them, that’s fair enough) will try to use it against me – maybe in an online discussion for instance – but that says more about them than me.

When I go out on dates, I’m open about it too (and often before we meet, depending on how much we talk before meeting).

I’m sure our age is part of this – the women I’m dating are in their 30s to 40s – but none of them have expressed a problem with it at all. In fact, the general view is that it’s great I took control and stopped. Of course, if I was – heaven forbid – going out with a 20-year-old who wanted to party ’til 5am, I don’t think she’d quite see it the same way!

And I don’t know of any time in my business when being known as a recovered/recovering alcoholic (I really do need to decide on that…) has harmed anything either. Maybe there are things I don’t know about but, as an example, since 2006 The Alcohol-Free Shop has had a great working relationship with one of the largest brewers in Europe.

Last year they approached us to work more closely with them, and they asked us to set up and manage their retail web site, which we now do. The first, hopefully, of many clients for our upcoming drinks fulfilment business.

You can lie online, but it’s harder in real life…

But being on the dating sites has made me think even more about honesty. Writing my dating profile, reading other people’s, and dating itself, has made me realise how fundamental honesty is to me – both my own honesty and the honesty of others.

I’ve been pretty lucky in the women I’ve met so far. No one has turned out massively different from what they claimed to be. One woman had clearly used photos from a few years ago, but that’s about as bad as I’ve experienced (it’s not the end of the world, but unless you’re bringing a time-machine to the date, can we all agree to stick to using recent pictures please? At least from the 21st century…)

Not everyone is as lucky though. A good friend of mine thought she was talking to a lovely man and, just before meeting him, she asked me to do a Google search on him. Good job I did. I won’t say any more but… wow.

Our parents were right…

The fact is I can’t make anyone else be honest except myself, and neither can you. But the more of us who choose to be honest and open – to each other and to ourselves – the better the world will be.

It’s not complicated, and it’s how most of us were brought up.

But somewhere along the way, in the hustle of trying to make a living and get by, many of us forgot about it.

Let’s try to remember why we were brought up being told “honesty is the best policy” and give it a try.

So, why a blog? And why now?

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog for some time. Twitter is great for general conversation and finding interesting things, but it’s websites and blogs where you go to for real content.

When I finally decided to start this blog, and with honesty very much in my mind at the moment, it seemed fitting to use “Be honest” as the tag-line and the inspiration for the first post.

I plan to post about anything and everything that I feel is worth sharing – from music I like, books I’ve read and learnt from, videos I’ve enjoyed, articles about business or personal experiences (good ones, bad ones…) etc

Don’t worry, they won’t all be as long as this first one.

Over time I’ll build up various categories – because I’ll cover a wide-range of topics it’s unlikely many people will want to read everything I post (except maybe for my Mum).

Sometimes it may be funny. Sometimes it may be painful. Sometimes it may even be a little uncomfortable (at least for me). But I’ll always try to be honest.

And I’ll try to be informative too. Most of us find great content on the web – it’ll be good to have somewhere to share it, with a few words about why I think it’s great, rather than just a tweet.

So, that’s what I intend to do here. It won’t be a “tell-all” – other people’s privacy and feelings always have to be taken in to account – but I do promise I’ll be as open and honest as I possibly can be.

Now what?

You can follow this blog using the ‘Subscribe To Blog By Email’ box on the right and be notified of new posts by email, but I also have a newsletter which will be used much less frequently. You can subscribe to the newsletter using the form below.

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