Another year of not drinking flies past – but this was the most challenging so far….

I’ve really struggled to write this post.

My first draft was long. Even for me.

Thankfully I only inflicted it on one person. And, as he’s a true friend, he was brutally honest about it (possibly redefining the word ‘brutal’…) but he was right.

The upshot is it’s 11 years since I stopped drinking. Another year come and gone. Another year of not drinking. Another year of real life’s ups and downs without the crutch of alcohol.

I’m really lucky, I don’t crave alcohol like many recovering alcoholics. It’s just something I’ve switched off in my mind. I can’t drink, so I don’t even think about it normally.

But I did have one close call with drink last year.

Very briefly… Last year I was on some (non-addictive, thankfully) tablets that had a very strong withdrawal effect on me. My Spanish doctor then totally, and incompetently, messed up the dose, and I also messed up that messed up dose… which lead to a really bad experience that caused the very premature end of a very promising relationship. And on that day I came close to drinking. Very close.

The only consolation out of all that happened is the knowledge it was the effect of the prescription drug that caused the problem (although I didn’t realise it until a week or so later). I simply wasn’t ‘myself’. Of course, try telling that to someone you’ve not known that long… Trust me, it doesn’t work!

Anyway, the good news I guess is that even at that low-point I managed not to drink, and if I can manage not to do it in that state, I can manage not to drink all the time.

“One day at a time” and all that, although personally I don’t subscribe to that saying. I don’t drink. I can’t drink. I never will drink. That’s how I cope with it.

For me that’s easier mentally than saying I won’t drink today because that opens up the mental option that I might drink tomorrow – and I won’t.

I don’t want to live constantly thinking I might drink tomorrow.

And I think that mentality can lead you to define yourself as a recovering alcoholic first and foremost. I don’t do that. I’m more than that. It’s just a part of me. I just don’t drink. Sometimes I sort of forget and then remember ‘oh yes, I don’t drink because…’ and I’m much happier living like that than constantly being reminded about it.

But whatever works for people is fine of course.

The only problem is this year my usual ‘celebration’ of another year ‘sober’ feels a bit less genuine. It’s all personal I guess, but I define sober as not drinking, but also not being out of control by any drug leading to problems that otherwise wouldn’t happen. And because of that terrible experience, I was out of control and it did lead to a problem that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

Half of me says the fact I didn’t drink means I’ve still been sober for 11 years, the other half isn’t sure that’s a fair statement to make. But I haven’t drunk for 11 years, that’s the key thing.

At least those tablets weren’t addictive and, despite very severe withdrawals, I stopped taking them after that incident and I’m back to ‘my normal’. It’s just a shame it left such a mess behind. But we live and learn.

So, here’s to another year of living and learning. Cheers!

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