Clouds Clearing

Today, our guest blog is by Harry who we met at the start of 2015. Harry documents his journey with moderation and sobriety in his blog Speakingeasy – a frank and honest portrayal of reassessing a relationship with alcohol.


Booze-free days

Today marks day 83 booze free for me. I’m not counting, but I am, it helps to track how time rumbles on – it moves forward, as I move forward, irrespective of the world.

Having done various spells sober over the last year – Dry January, 3 weeks in July, and again in August, when training for half marathons (and quite frankly unable to financially fund my drinking beyond pay weekend each month) – I found the first six weeks of this ‘indefinite’ sobriety flew by. I was confused, it hadn’t been this easy before, certainly not in January, and I found myself wondering if maybe I was just getting better at it? Maybe I now just had more going on in my life besides booze? I went out for sober Saturday nights, pubbing or clubbing until 4am with friends, and then up at the gym at 10. I made the bed, did my ironing, pursued personal projects – a carousel of self-congratulations and eyes-wide-open-thanks at my own efficiency and complicity at performing such tasks with any real consistency for the first time in years.

I started turning up for life, and didn’t find it hard that this didn’t involve a drink. Make mine a Becks Blue please, or just a soda and fresh lime.

I didn’t stop drinking after a ‘night out gone wrong’, no epiphany delivered on waking up on another pavement, in a stranger’s bed, or in my own fully dressed not knowing how I got home. Having done all those things, and then some, I  simply found myself exhausted by my frustration at how everything that I was unhappy with in my life being anchored in, or driven by my drinking.

Remove the alcohol

So I removed the alcohol, to explore who I was, and what I could be capable of, without the company of my greatest ally and enemy – one who made me feel able to demand whatever I wanted from the world, but who also kept my under the bed covers, hesitant to engage for fear of the answers I may receive to my questions.

I’ve read on other blogs, forums, in books, about the idea of the ‘pink cloud’ – the rather grandiose sense of magnified happiness at the ‘novel experience’ that faces people in their early sobriety from alcohol, drugs, both. A honeymoon period, the excitement you feel on arriving in a new city with all new things to do, see, and people to meet.

For me, it was like going for a long road run with an empowering playlist, pounding pavements with f*ck yous and fist pumps. A cathartic cleanse, stripped naked and unashamed, that made me want to run to the top of a hill, plant a flag and proclaim myself king, but also to go and find a storm cloud to sit down it and bawl my eyes out.

The last six weeks weeks have been hard, I can’t remember a time when I’ve felt so stable but concurrently so unpredictable, so unsure of what I will do next, how I will feel in five minutes. A structure has evolved between work, the gym, my personal and social life, personal projects – a 3D framework that is nothing like its distinctly 2D predecessor – a ‘work and drinks’ existence that I propagated so successfully for so long. Now I found myself fulfilled, exhausted, sometimes empty – this structure, whilst progress, does make me all too aware when I don’t feel my feet touching the ground.

Up, down, and around – like a tumble dryer. I feel myself kicking out at people to get a reaction – I think and therefore I am, you react and therefore we are, etc… – stumbling restlessly around through a cycle of action and reaction to find my place in the world.

Toni Morrison once said “I want to feel what I feel, even if its not happiness’ so yes – lets try that one on for size for a little bit, time to explore, and remember the things that I started drinking to forget all those years ago, however painful that may be.

My main struggle now, is that, like a child in a sweetshop, I want it all, and I want it now, all the things that I withdraw myself from competition for whilst drinking – the body, the job, the money, the relationship, the fastest time. I want you to want to be me, because all I have ever wanted was to want to be me.

I’m laughing now – I can hear myself, my ridiculous childlike impatience and anxiety that brings to mind the times when it has been three deep at the bar, and I’ve had an empty glass in my hand for 7 minutes.

Year of change

2015 has, so far, been everything I had wanted and planned it to be – a desperately needed year of transition, change, and reawakening as, for all intents and purposes, I was in the process of physically and mentally killing myself through my relationship with alcohol, I just couldn’t see it.

That however, is not to say that the process hasn’t been without its difficulties, and with ‘Dry January’ on the horizon, and with groups such as Club Soda, and Rough As demonstrating the wide-reaching demand for the evolution of the conversation about drinking, there is also no better time to do what you want to do, to make that change, to enter the party on your own terms, to help you, and me, with the difficulties we face every day. There is no correct answer, and no set questions, but there is a very rich, diversified and embracing discourse to get stuck into.

So pull up a chair – let’s make it a collaboration.

Harry is a self proclaimed hard work, hard partier – it’s all great until you realise its not and writes a popular blog stemming from that moment.

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