That’s a dangerous statement for anyone to make – let alone someone with a history of alcohol issues. It’s the type of line that the phrase FAMOUS LAST WORDS was designed for; an incantation guaranteed to bring almost certain tragedy upon the utterer. Or in this case, mega-pissedness, vom, and the loss of ones trousers and phone.
But my intention with these words is different. This isn’t me saying YOU KNOW WOT GUYS? I THINK I’M OKAY TO DRINK AGAIN. Nope. This is just me trying to verbalise that thing that I’ve been feeling for a while – deep down in my bones, and in that bit behind my balls: the feeling that I’ve beaten the booze, and that my continued obsession with sobriety has moved on from being a required support tool, to just a mild annoyance, stealing my time away from the wonderful things that sobriety has afforded me (and let’s be straight here – I owe EVERYTHING to my sobriety, so none of this is said lightly), such as a loving wife, and a set of good honest hobbies and interests. Sobriety has been good to me, but we’re just mates these days. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m just getting a bit bored of seeing you pop up on my news feed.
I’m in my fifth year of soberdom now, and in the early days I suffered the standard wild-eyed manic obsession with everything ANTI-BOOZE that all ex-boozers seem to experience. This is normal, and you’ll see a lot of it going on. People stop drinking, they ascend to the lovely warm pink clouds of Sobergeddon, and then they become a self-styled guru, a king of not-drinking, a spouter of advice. I’ve been there, I’ve blogged the blogs, I’ve flooded the Instagrams, I’ve even written half a book on the subject – wilfully abandoned after a bit of introspection (but mainly laziness), and I’ve generally done my bit to support the sober community. It’s all good positive stuff, and I wouldn’t change any of it, but it all takes time and effort; time and effort that could be spent enjoying the RESULT rather than worrying about the PROBLEM.
Allow me to elaborate with the use of a good old-fashioned wanking analogy:
Imagine you’re a horny young lad, tugging yourself off daily, hidden away in your bedroom with a copy of Readers Wives that you found in a bush (which is where they come from, right?). After a few weeks of this you start to get a sore nob. It’s tough going but you persevere, and then one day disaster strikes. Your mum walks in whilst you’re mid-gurn, eyes closed, about to go off like a spunky firework. You ignored the warning signs, pushed on through the aching wrist and the raw acorn, and here you now are – at your rock bottom… with your mum watching you spurt into a sock.
So what next? Give up wanking entirely? Don’t talk crazy! *slap*. No, what you do is set about an incredible plan. A masterplan! A plan so ingenious that there’s no way on earth it couldn’t succeed! You get straight to work in your dad’s shed, hammering away as you give birth to one of the greatest inventions of our time: The Wank Tinkle Honk Warning System (patent pending). A series of pulleys, bells, and air horns that, when rigged correctly, will trigger an almighty commotion the moment your mum steps onto the landing outside your bedroom – giving you an estimated 15 seconds to get your todger back into your Tesco Y-fronts before your mother bursts through the door screaming WHAT IS THIS NOISE JONATHAN!? WHAT. IS. THIS. NOOOOOISE!!!?
But the obsession doesn’t stop there. There’s an issue with v1.0 of the WTHWS (Wank Tinkle Honk Warning System). Mum is asking too many questions – not just about the noise, but also about the trip wires which lattice the upstairs landing. You need a rethink. You need to embrace technology, introduce infrared sensors, swap the noise-makers out for something more subtle like maybe a feather that jangles about and tickles your sweaty, heaving face. Or integrate somehow with your mobile phone, making use of the vibration setting. You move onto version 1.1, then 1.2, then a major overhaul takes you to 2.0, then 3.0. You’re like a man possessed. Wanking warning systems have taken over your life, and for what?? You’ve turned into a crazed scientist! You don’t sleep anymore, you don’t eat anymore, but here’s the real kicker… you’re so obsessed with the PROBLEM that you don’t WANK anymore! The very thing that motivated you has been eclipsed by your own ego-driven search for a solution. You have created brand new problems for yourself, and entirely overlooked the very essence of what you were trying to achieve! And so what do you do now? Where do you go?
Well, it’s simple. You go to the bathroom. You lock the door. And you mash that fist like it’s going out of fashion. No pulleys, no sirens, just good old fashioned spaffing. Day, after day, after day. No noise, no worry, no confusion and paranoia and hammers and nails. Just good old fashioned ‘slapping the granny.’
And that, my dear friends, is exactly what I’m doing here. Actually no, that’s not true. I’m not in the bathroom wanking. But what I am doing is taking my focus away from the pulleys and the wanking sirens, and instead just sitting back with a smile on my face and enjoying sobriety for what it is. Simple freedom, without worrying about my mum walking in.
Does that make sense? I assume not, because I’ve just read it back and I don’t understand it (and I wrote the fucking thing).
So! To get slightly back on track… what I’ve done is removed myself somewhat from the world of sobriety groups and relentless shouts of HELP I’M BACK ON DAY ONE! It’s not that I don’t want to help. God knows I DO want to help! But I’m doing it in my own little ways, which are as follows:
- This here soberpunks blog, full of hints, tips, stories and other guff, will be maintained as an always-available source of (questionable) info about getting sober. Forever floating around cyberspace, and occasionally bumping into it’s closest peers (such as pornhub and ratemypoo) on the information superhighway.
- The one sobriety group that I’ll always be an active participant of is SoberPunks Gang on Facebook. I love those guys – and if you’re serious about getting sober then I HIGHLY recommend that you join up. It’s free, it’s supportive, and it’s full of hilarious bastards.
…and with that, my own little contribution to helping others achieve sobriety, I feel that I can comfortably turn my attentions away from constant thoughts of DRINKING and HOW NOT TO DRINK, and instead focus on reaping the benefits that my sobriety has brought. I can lock the bathroom door, and think of England (well, tits).
It’s important to point out that this is all a healthy part of the journey. Supporting others, I mean. In fact, it’s the twelfth step of the AA programme. The new bit though, which I’m tagging onto the end, is the bit where you put the whole thing to bed – and look towards your new sober life as something that can be enjoyed. Don’t waste that time sat around moping over the booze that you can’t have!
Get out there and live life like a mad cunt!
And please, if you’re at the start of your journey, know that you’ll get here too, to where I am. Use the groups, read the books and blogs, and CONNECT with the others around you.
And so finally, before I sign off and wrap this whole thing up, I wanted to tell you a quick story. It’s a true story, and a story which, for me, encapsulates EXACTLY what your lost years of drinking will look like to you once you reach the point where sober life becomes, just… life. It’s about hindsight and reflection.
Around ten years ago, in the midst of my binge-drinking years, I was on a night out in Leeds with a few mates. As these drinking sessions always go, the booze had made me feel untouchable. I had that familiar warmth in my stomach, altering my brain chemistry and escalating me from ‘boring normo’ to ‘maverick hellraiser’. The beer made me think I was something special. My jokes got funnier, my conversation got more engaging, my dancing got AWESOME, and my thoughts and views were suddenly THE ONLY OPINIONS THAT MATTERED. I was a king, riding a wave of strong blue cocktails and shots of Aftershock (red – the best one).
We headed into Leeds train station, chatting and laughing like a group of hilarious geniuses, and darted for the platform that would take us back to Huddersfield, where an epic house party was awaiting our drunk asses.
As we floated through the train station foyer, high on the booze, I spotted a single orange cone – placed on the floor to warn the public of a small slippery puddle on the ground. The cone was staring at me, taunting me. It was going COME ON YOU FUCKER. CALL YOURSELF A BADBOY? PFFFT YOU’RE JUST A RULE-FOLLOWER LIKE THE REST OF THEM. And with that I staggered over and booted the little cunt in the top of it’s stupid orange head. Of course, my drunkenness had affected my ability to muster up much directional power, and so the cone just sort of… fainted onto it’s side. I flicked the Vs at the orange bastard, like the radical nonconformist that I was, and sidled away to find my train.
“Excuse me sir! Can you please pick that up!”
Oh shit. I’d been spotted by one of the station staff; an elderly woman wearing a blue tabard. And did I stand my ground? Did I rise above her, both physically and mentally, and destroy her from above with lazer guided verbal missiles of hilarity and wit? Did I chuff. I sheepishly sauntered back to the injured cone, and resurrected it whilst bleating my apologies to the old dear. Because I wasn’t a lawbreaker, or a rockstar, or a trailblazer, or any of these things. I was just a sad little fat, drunk bloke with illusions of grandeur caused by the booze. And when I look back on this crap little story I realise something: It wasn’t just that night in Leeds that had revealed me for what I really was. No. It was the whole of my drinking career that had been exposed. The entire thing was a sham. Twenty years of getting drunk and thinking I was someone marvellous, only to be cut down by a little old woman with a big wobbly mole on her face.
You see, this is what booze does. If you have a problem with it, and rely too heavily on it, then it fucks with your brain. It gives you high-highs that aren’t real, and even worse – it gives you low-lows which will leave you crying in the toilets at your job in Manchester. It takes away who you really are, and only by stepping away from that shit can you find the real you again. Trust me – I know! Did I ever, EVER think I’d be happily married, enjoying keeping fit, enjoying normal things like a normal person, like rock climbing and ice hockey and hiking? Never in a million years. I thought I was too good for all of that shit. But it turns out it was just the alcohol messing with my brain. Now, here’s the cool bit…
Once you kick that fucker into touch, once you’ve got rid of the booze from your life, then you get to start again. You get to build yourself up from scratch – but not a twisted version of you, not a spurious, fabricated somebody that you created in a drunken haze, and started to somehow believe in. Heck no. You get to become the REAL you. You get to discover all over again the things that you enjoyed before you let that shit ruin you. Find new hobbies, travel, work hard towards a goal. Find that thing that drives you. Be the spoon.
You can have it all, dear friends! But it takes time, and the first step is getting dry. One day at a time. You’ll get there.
And with that, my wonderful friends and readers, I’m signing off. This may be my last blog, or it may not. I feel like I’ve written everything there is to write about my own journey into getting off the pop, but who knows what the future brings?
For me, I’m thinking big business is my next step. When those cunts on Dragons Den see my idea, The Wank Tinkle Honk Warning System, there’ll be a bidding war that will go down in history. Lord Alan Sugar has found his new apprentice, and his name is JON FUCKING TURNER.
Fuck cones. Stay strong. Have a wonderful 2020.
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