Dry Jan, Dry Quarter, Dry Year…

So I’m doing dry Jan. I do this every year so it’s not a bit deal. I can handle it. 30 days. I know what to expect, I’ve cleared the diary, told my friends, Katharine is behind me and I buy lots of interesting soft drinks from Tesco to divert my attention, con my brain into thinking that an Elderflower and Blackberry presse is somehow interesting. Not a big goldfish bowl of red.

But here’s the thing I’ve not told anyone: this time I’m going to try to push through to 3 months without it. And from there I’m going to see if I can do 12. And from there, who knows.

The reasons are numerous.

My drinking falls into two categories. There’s the quiet sinking a whole bottle of red in front of the telly. This isn’t fun drinking. This is comfort drinking. It doesn’t generate any laughs, it relaxes me a little and then gives me a thick head the following day. This drinking adds to my waistline, depletes my cash, removes motivation, wastes time watching pointless Netflix productions and generally adds no value to my life whatsoever. The second category is the big night out, like the recent New Years Eve, which starts with some preloading, Vodka or Gin, enough to relax me in the company of lots of people. I’m usually half cut when I arrive. Then, along with everyone else I know, I drink to a dangerous level. Two maybe three bottles, some spirits later on, some shots. I never really know because a recent phenomenon since my early 40’s (I’m 48 now) has been memory loss. I can remember the event up until about 10 and then nothing apart from a few flashbacks. I wake rancid. Foul taste in my mouth, still drunk. An overwhelming sense of dread fills me because I can’t remember anything. Did I upset anyone? Say something stupid. Upset Katharine? This dread heightens throughout the day as the drunkeness wears off, the nausea starts, the brain is confused, its synapses and connections battered by alcohol, dopamine, adrenaline, all falsely firing and frazzled. The brain wants you to go to sleep but it’s 2pm and you know you can’t do that because sleep come evening will be impossible. So you do the one thing you’ve learned that really works, you crack open a bottle which restores some sort of equilibrium and enables you to shuffle on to the end of the day. I eat badly too. Pizza, junk, sugary stuff, anything with fat and salt that can give the numbed tastebuds a kickstart. That’s day one of the hangover. It goes on for a further three days, lowering in intensity until by mid week we’re back to normal. Fortunately these benders aren’t that frequent. Monthly usually. But the havoc they wreak on my system, my confidence, my work, my health is significant. If I were to record then and write then down I probably lose a month of productivity in any given year due to benders.

This drinking doesn’t outwardly effect my life. I know I’m not even alone in adopting these drinking habits. Some of the people I was out with on NYE have expressed the same feelings, we drink massively then carry on with our lives, inwardly dealing with the anxiety and feelings of depression which we know will be gone in a few days and we’ll be back to our old self. An old friend recently said “I’m just sick to death of Alcohol’ on her Instagram page, this is the prelude to her dry January (which I think she’d like to make a dry 2018). It’s not alcoholism, my life isn’t torn apart, I don’t crave wine in the morning, I just happen to do sometimes do this thing that seems like fun but that doesn’t benefit my life in a particularly positive way.

Then there’s the 48 thing. Forty Eight. 48 is a strange age. 50 is round the corner. I’ve enlisted some external help of late and I’m aware that 50 is a pinch point. It can be glorious. 50 can be the best decade for many people. You’re less concerned about what people think of you. You know yourself better. Your finances may have stabilised. But you need to have your shit sorted. You need to know what you’re doing. You have to have the framework in place for the next 20 years. I know that the only thing that really brings me any meaningful sense of achievement is writing stuff. Yet I avoid it. I let other things I have no passion for get in the way. I’ll cover that in a separate post because that itself is interesting. So I’m thinking that not drinking will give me the space and mental wherewith-all to get myself in position with my shit by the time 50 comes round. Drinking seems to waste life. I associate it with fun, yet as I look back I can see that it’s not so much fun as a crutch to navigate life. A crutch that generates serious side effects. Giving up booze will give me more time, it will enable me to work more on my fitness, in short I’m working towards getting ready for 50.

I’ve a friend who gave up booze last year and he doesn’t do pubs at all. He doesn’t put his head in the lions jaws. It worries me that my entire social circle is built around booze and it’s likely that if there is something that prevents my abandonment of booze from happening it will be this. I think I have the will power to kick it as I’ve done it before, but long-term I don’t have the stomach for losing friendships. We’ll see I guess.

This is as much a message to myself that anyone else. I don’t promote this blog, analytics tell me that nobody really visits it (apart from the Abu Hamza Coat Hook page for which I rank top of Google) so let’s see if by putting this in writing it makes it more real. My plan for 2018 is to write more fiction, develop the novel, finish the book on Sidelines, and make the marketing company sellable. It’s going to be interesting. Wish me luck. And happy new year.