I’ll have a diet coke

I’ve never had diet coke before, certainly not in a restaurant with a bunch of friends celebrating a birthday.  This is exactly what I did a couple of days ago and man, does it feel good and more importantly reassuring.

Good because I had diet coke instead of an alcoholic beverage (funny how they use this fancy description for booze on airplanes.  Why cant they say “Hey, the booze cart’s coming out, do you want a beer?”) while the six gents around me were getting into beers and shots.  I didn’t succumb to the temptation of having “one” and that felt good.  In fact, I also for the first time enjoyed an awesome arugula salad.  Maybe arugula salads are always awesome and I was simply focussing on alcohol before. Who knows.

Reassured since I was worried about how this thing will play out.  Will I succumb to my brain’s need for alcohol, will I get “persuaded” to have that one drink?  In typical fashion, I didn’t even have a game plan for what I would do if such a situation arose and so by the time we reached the restaurant, I was feeling out of sorts.  In the end it worked out well and I actually didn’t feel the urge to drink and funny enough I didn’t ‘miss’ having a drink.

Which brings me to the minefield that is society and friends, when it comes to a recovering alcoholic.  In this context, friends fall into three categories.

  • First, the ones that think you should be drinking.  These are the ones you used to hang out with.  Often late into the night, driving them back to safety (since you could hold your drink better etc. etc.) .  They miss those times and they care about spending time with you.  These are the folks who will say “How long do you plan to not drink” or “It’s good, you should give it a break for a couple of months”.
  • Second, the ones that think you should not be drinking.  These are the ones that are very clear about why you should not drink.  They might have seen you go out of control, are generally alarmed at what you are doing etc.  They care about you, are more mature than the first group and they protect your decision to not drink.  These are the folks who’ll say “Good dont drink”.  They’ll also tell the first group to stop persuading you to drink.
  • Third, and these are the worst of the lot.  They don’t or can’t understand what this is all about or they simply don’t care.  These are the ones that say “what’s wrong with having a drink.  Why, I have a drink every day and nothing’s wrong with me”.  This crowd is basically saying  “I’am better than you” and that sucks.  It sucks since you are trying not to think about a beer but deep down, you still miss the beer.  It also sucks since they are a living testament that somethings wrong with you and that you cannot control your drinking.

And what about the society?  I just had a manager tell me something on the lines of : “You should connect with those guys from the other department.  Take them to the bar and buy them a couple of drinks”.  Damn, if I get started on that path, I will soon lose my job.  Roll into safeway and I’ll see a bunch of booze stocked at the entrance, next to the BBQ supplies.  Now, I like BBQ but…

The other day, I saw a couple of teenage girls pour a hearty amount of rum into their water bottles, hide the 1.5 litre captain morgan in the bushes.  In broad daylight.  In a busy shopping area.  Hoping to come back for a refill later.  I sometimes think it’s better to be diabetic than an alcoholic.  People get it if you say “Cant do cakes, I’am diabetic”.  What we need is better awareness about alcohol.    Till this happens, I’ll have a diet coke.



Patience and faith

It’s been over five weeks since I haven’t had any alcohol.  I was expecting this to be pretty easy, since common sense says “Do not poison yourself and you’ll be just fine”.  The effects of not drinking should have been good right?  My experience has been the exact opposite.

  • The body is more tired since it is not getting enough calories – seems changing eating habits takes a while.  Most of my calories came from alcohol and a quick search on google will tell you that these alcohol calories are simply sugar.  To make up for the lack of nutrients in a beer diet, the brain apparently makes adjustments by reducing some hormones and increasing others.  Take out the beer and whatever’s left in the diet, the brain goes crazy.   Over the last few weeks, I’ve been on a sugar binge like never in my life.  Think tubs of ice-cream and anything with sugar in it.  As the body craves for nutrients, my lack of a proper diet, eating at the right times etc., leads to tiring out and feeling depressed.
  • Sleep.  It’s common knowledge that alcoholics drink themselves to sleep.  It was no different for me and alcohol was the sleeping pill on any given night.  Now take that away and I cannot sleep.  It looks like I’ve “lost” the skill to sleep by myself.  I have been up till 3AM or 4AM most days, wasting my time watching netflix.  One general advice is to read instead of watching TV and this helps sometimes.
  • Exercise or the lack of it.  Again, the problem here is the lack of a routine before quitting.  All of a sudden, exercise becomes an issue.  First, the body cannot do much (it’s sorta wasted out) and there is no energy to exercise (general fatigue and depression compounds this).  Secondly, I dont know where to start and how I can add this to my routine.  When one needs to start with figuring out a 24hr gym membership it soon becomes a lost cause.
  • They say that the root cause of alcoholism has to do with the soul.  Something’s not correct in the thinking, being able to handle stress etc., and it leads to drinking.  This root cause does not go away with quitting alcohol.  You hit the grand realization that there’s a shit load of work remaining to be done and that it’ll take a better part of your remaining life to do so.

In fact, the biggest downer is the fact that you started at -100 when you were drinking.  When you stop, you get to, say, -10.  You think that something big was accomplished, and true, it’s something big for you.  But the rest of the world carries on and in their eyes nothing has been accomplished.  You were stupid to have gotten to -100 to start with and now that you’re still not ‘normal’ do not expect a pat on the back!

Which brings me to patience and faith.  Without faith that it’s all worth it and that things are pointing in the right direction, it’s easy to give up( especially when you have a society and a bunch of people goading you to drink, but more on that later).  I have to believe (without any evidence) that it’s for the good.  That things will take care of themselves, if I stay the path.  And loads of patience.  I would love to have the effect and outcome I desire (which is be energetic, less depressed or moody, etc. etc.) fast, but things take their own time.  It’ll take some time (and I dont know how much) to heal the body and mind that was subject to copious amounts of alcohol for the last 3-4 years.

My engine used to run on alcohol, now I need to tune it to run on faith and patience.  It’s a work in progress and I can only believe that it’ll all be fine in the end.