It’s funny how your mind decides to lie to you from time to time.
Mine is currently telling me half truths and outright fallacies surrounding daytime drinking in the sunshine – and serving up half baked romantic memories about how nice it used to be.
It’s at times like this that I have to metaphorically give myself a slap and remember what things really used to be like – because when you feel both fit and healthy it’s easy to forget the reality of it all.
It’s once again an absolutely smashing day in the UK and I’m sitting outside a pub with a coffee at midday. I’m wearing a cool pair of shorts, a short sleeved shirt, and I’m enjoying the sunshine.
This is more than enough to make me happy these days – but even though it’s been almost two and a half years since I stopped drinking there are fleeting moments when I genuinely miss it.
However – it took a lot of time and effort to become the person who today walked two miles into town for a coffee instead of a beer and it never hurts to be reminded of that.
I’ve been following a relatively new blogger’s posts lately (link) which – although far removed from the way I feel these days about drinking – have actually been really cathartic to read and served to remind me that my current state of mind didn’t happen by accident.
This blogger is coping very admirably with what (for the moment) is a very new phase of life – and that’s being completely alcohol free.
For the most part I’m thankfully past all of the mental noise associated with being locked into needing this particular drug to manage everything about my life – but very occasionally I’m drawn back to thinking about it being part of my day to day exstence.
There are lots of people sitting in the sun with cold beers nearby and the warm air is filled with an easy going lunchtime chatter. Lots of smartly dressed people with ID badges have nipped out for a break from the heat of their offices to indulge in a quick glass of wine and a plate of chips.
One could be forgiven for looking at them as the sole reality of drinking – and for many people it is. Their relationship with alcohol is casual, probably well managed and its consumption infrequent.
Others interspersed amongst them are in considerably more relaxed attire – and seem to be easing into what will probably be a lengthy day of drinking.
These people too are probably handling their relationship with alcohol quite well and for the most part they look fit and happy. They’re almost certainly just enjoying a day off work like I am – but you never have to look far to find someone for who that’s not the case.
Nearby there are other examples of what can become the reality of life for far too many people who can’t find the strength to say no any more.
If you’re not inclined to pay attention to the impact of alcohol on those sitting on street corners asking for spare change very nearby then it’s hard to miss the thousand yard stares and poignantly lonely expressions of men and women sitting deeper inside the pub in total silence.
They look tired, on the wrong side of too many hangovers to count and are probably here regardless of whether the sun is out or it’s pouring with rain.
I sometimes wonder if others see the same things that an ex drinker does in the people around him because I can’t help but look for the signs I used to see when I looked at my own face in the mirror.
Mostly it’s the eyes and hair I pay attention to. Both seem to show the most telling indications that things aren’t well inside or out.
One yellows and becomes progressively more bloodshot whilst the other just becomes more unkempt and begins to silently document the mood of someone who has begun to care less and less about themselves.
Thankfully my particular moment of fleeting weakness has passed.
Whilst I wasn’t anywhere near to choosing a pint over an Americano it’s always good for me to write my way through the impact of potential life choices and not ignore the reality of what they can mean.
Although I’ve come a very long way in the last two years I would be foolish to not remember occasionally that I’ve climbed out from under various rocks in the past and shown a rather unnerving capacity for eventually crawling right back under them.
Whilst I feel like the self destructive side of me is very much under control these days I’m also of the opinion that it’s that way because (unlike before) I choose not to forget the past and instead regularly confront it.
Sometimes I could probably be accused of torturing myself needlessly – but honestly if re-living the painful parts of it every so often means that I don’t repeat the same pointless mistakes over and over again then I’ll continue to do it whenever I feel the need.
When I leave my coffee mug on the table internet I do so walking in a straight line, in control of my senses and have a clear head.
I put yet another tick against yet another day that’s yet another victory for sobriety and progress.