Day 77! Eleven weeks.
Having posted yesterday on books, I've been thinking about (and re-reading bits of) Jason Vale's 'Kick the Drink.'
When I first read this book it was a revelation. I began to realise, for the first time, that life without alcohol might just be, not only bearable, but actually enjoyable. Throughout the book I was nodding away. It all made sense. Well nearly all of it.
There was one bit of Jason's logic that just didn't ring quite true. Jason writes that alcohol has zero benefits. He asserts that your problems are actually caused by the drink, not solved by them.
Now I had many 'triggers' that made me reach for the bottle - feeling miserable, feeling happy, feeling stressed, feeling anxious etc etc. And alcohol really did help.
But Jason says that your negative emotions are, at least in part, caused by the drink. Heavy drinkers are, he argues, constantly experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking, and these exacerbate the feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. If you quit, he argues, you will feel as good as you used to after a few drinks all of the time.
Nice logic, I thought, but you're pushing it a bit. Alcohol may be evil in many ways, but it does have some positive effects.
But now, after 77 days (count 'em - yay!), I am starting to get what he means. Here's why:
I found, in the last few years, that I was getting increasingly anxious. About stupid little things. I'd have mini panic attacks about nothing.
If I had some (slightly) bad or annoying news via 'phone or e-mail I would get a knot of anxiety in my stomach. It would wriggle away there like a tapeworm. And the best way to kill it, or at least to numb it for a while, was to drown it in Sauvignon Blanc.
This bothered me. I'd run huge global ad campaigns with multi million pound budgets. I'd managed a group of around sixty employees. And here I was getting totally stressed out about a patch of damp in a bedroom, a tax return or a less than perfect school report.
I thought maybe I was just out of practice, getting old or peri-menopausal. I didn't blame the drink. In fact I thought the drink was the solution, not the problem.
But I realised last week that I hadn't felt that noxious knot in the stomach for ages. I'd had a number of issues crop up - don't we all - and I'd just dealt with them.
When you drown your problems they don't go away, they just get forgotten for a bit, fester and get worse. Then your inability to deal with them effectively destroys your confidence even more. It's like you're Superman and someone's stuffed kryptonite down your pants.
When you deal with your problems sober, straight away, your confidence grows. You find the kryptonite hiding it plain sight, chuck it away and feel your power returning.
Going to my college reunion the other night reminded me of how brave and fearless I used to be. Nothing fazed me.
And it's coming back. Oh yeah, baby.
Take that kryptonite out of your underwear and have a great weekend all!