In my drinking days life was a series of massive highs and massive lows. The highs were my turbo-mental weekends – the parties, nights out, ace music, dancing like a twat, camaraderie, laughing till the early hours – all held together by the booze. The lows were the working week, made much worse, excruciatingly so, by the hangovers, paranoia, and lack of sleep.
When you quit drinking then the lows evaporate, and life just becomes… easy.
I think a good analogy, to help explain this, is the way that competitive runners will always train above and beyond the requirements for an upcoming race. If you’re training for a 10k then you’re going to piss-it when it comes to a 5k race. By the same token, as a weekend warrior you get accustomed to living life through the fog. When you quit the drink and the fog lifts, it’s like you’ve leveled-up.
Monday morning feelings of dread became the norm for me. I used to get the nasty cold sweats on the train to Manchester Piccadilly, and just the constant feeling that life wasn’t what I hoped it would be. I honestly sometimes tried willing that train to derail, just so that I might get a few minutes rest laying in the twisted wreckage, and an excuse for a month off. If you’re tired and hungover then you don’t perform at work, so you start to feel devalued, and you bring your frustrations home, and blot them out with booze, and you wake up the next day feeling shit, and the circle goes on, and on, and on…
Once you stop drinking then you break the cycle. It took me probably 6 months for things to start feeling normal, but once they did then I began to feel like I could drift through life without much effort. I’m used to dragging myself through shit-flavoured mud, and now I’m gliding through lovely chilled Strawberry Ribena.
This is where I struggle though. Without the low-lows of hangovers, and the high-highs of drinking, you end up with a much narrower bandwidth of emotions. Nothing feels REALLY bad anymore, but nothing feels AMAZING either. Things just go a bit… beige.
To put it yet another way: It feels like you’ve spent the last 20 years driving a fucked old Ford Fiesta in the slow lane on weekdays, and a Bugatti Veyron in the fast lane on weekends. Suddenly you’re driving everywhere in the middle lane in a grey Ford Mondeo.
Last week I got the chance to see one of my favourite bands, a band that sell out huge venues, at a special birthday gig in a tiny 200 capacity club up in Manchester. It was an amazingly intimate show, attended by a few minor celebrities (I stood next to Maxine Peake for a bit – pretty cool), and the band played a blinder. I was stood there with my fiancee – the most wonderful person in my world – and in theory I should have been standing on top of a metaphorical mountain. I should have been at the peak of peaks (whilst also stood next to Maxine Peake). BUT… the only thing I kept thinking?
This would be more fun with a beer…
Today’s blog post is a bit rambly, but I think I can summarise what I’m trying to convey in a couple of clear points:
1. I do still miss drinking, but I’m in no danger. I’m following the right advice, and life is too good to ever go back to those days. Certain places and situations will romanticise the notion of drinking, but it’s a fleeting thought that holds no threat. Plus, this blog would be fundamentally flawed if I was always pissed. I’m alcohol free for good.
2. Life after giving up drinking can seem beige and uneventful, like driving everywhere in a grey Ford Mondeo, but slowly the colour will bleed back in. Hold steady, keep the faith, and make sure you get out there and do the fun things that life has to offer.
Dear reader, this whole experience is as new to me as it is to you. We’re going through this journey together, and there’s bound to be a few bumps along the way.
Stay strong, bitches