View Full Version : What comes next?

August 13th, 2007, 02:49 PM
A valuable lesson for me that I was taught a long time ago by a psych prof was "You are not unique". It's been learned and stated in many different ways, but ultimately means to me that I can at any point take stalk in the idea that what I'm going through now, many have gone through before, many are currently going through, and many will later go through. I've always found this idea both humbling and comforting.

This said, I know that right now what I'm writing others will be able to relate to. In fact I've read it already in some posts made by others. I'm hoping others can give me some guidance towards the next steps.

This forum is full of so many insiteful people I already feel a great gratitude towards you that I know a simple :thanks: does not express enough.

I've just now gone AF again. I did it successfully for ~2 months cold turkey but then thinking I'd conquered "the problem", started drinking in moderation and 6 months later found myself almost full circle back to where I started. I say almost full circle because going AF this time I'm better armed than I was last time.

Last time AF:
I went AF because I came to realize that alcohol was killing me. Very slowly, not over night, but stealing days off of the end of my life. As thanks, it gave me that temporary numbness and escape that felt so damn good.

This time AF:
This time, I realize alcohol is killing me. Very slowly, not over night, but stealing days off the end of my life. In return it's giving me that temporary numbness and escape that feels so damn good.

Yes I just wrote the same thing twice... What's different this time is I'm approaching things much more humbly with the understanding that I'm an alcoholic because I want to escape. I also realize that I may well be an alcoholic for the rest of my life and come to grips that maybe I'll never drink again (NOT EASY!!!). I hate admitting something is out of my control or that I have a problem.

Something, somewhere along the lines, became part of my life where finding that numbness felt great. Enough that I'd function through the day then escape into the night, rinse, and repeat. What am I escaping from... I don't yet know. Can I figure it out? I don't know...

I sit here now not entirely knowing what will come next and that's both really scary and a tiny bit exhilarating. In the evenings it's hard to imagine life without any form of narcotic escape.

I find myself now full of uninebriated time on my hands and I don't know what to do with it. In the evening my mind often "chatters" and keep me from sleeping.

I've got too much time on my hands.
I've bought some new books.. I'm trying to get healthy through exercise & yoga. I'm trying to exhaust myself during the day so I can fall asleep at night.I'm watching movies..I'm creating new challenges: (Golf pro certification w/in 2 years, Retirement w/in 5-10 years).
More than anything else, I want to learn to know myself! I don't know who I am or even how to start. I don't know who I am or even who I want to be... The best formula I have is a rudimentary one:

Sigh's Success = healthy body + good love/sex + wealth + healthy mind.

The last one is the sticker as the others are tangible. I can set goals and work towards them. The latter is a mystery to me.

August 13th, 2007, 04:20 PM
Hi TK,

Of course feel free to borrow away & keep as long as you like. It's great if some piece of me can help you out as well. I think if you're also doing some soul searching, it's a worthwhile exercise for you to try to find your own pursuits also. With some luck maybe you'll find some passion in some of them.

I can't answer you on why I say it's an escape. It just feels that way to me, like I've been using alcohol to fill a gap in my life rather than trying to understand it. I've felt that for a while.

My goal in AF is this time to face the boredom, stress, anxiety, depression, and all those other negative things that are part of our lives, rather than trying to numb them. Alcohol works great in this way for me but it also numbs my other emotions such as happiness, excitement, passion, spontenaity, & ultimately living and loving life.

For me the journey started with going AF, and the next challenge involves getting to know myself better. It's a concept that goes back as far as greek philosophy and beyond, which again leads me to believe I won't be without help along the way even though it's a personal journey.

August 13th, 2007, 04:41 PM
Sigh, thank you so much for this post. You have articulated everything I've been trying to say about my own journey back into the world, sober.

This is exactly how I have felt/been/done/said/wanted for the past 8 months - my second (and final attempt) at life long sobriety.

You are surely going to achieve your goals with that mind set.

PS: Have to disagree with the 'unique' comment - I'm an individual, just like everyone else ! lol

August 13th, 2007, 07:31 PM
Hi Sigh, Welcome! That was a great post. I'm gonna read it again tho. I was fast and I don't want to have missed anything. Glad to have you join us and I will be back. I do have some definite thoughts.

August 13th, 2007, 08:26 PM

Your post hit a chord with me as well.

I was doing alcohol, AND painkillers pretty regular right there before I stopped. Sometimes 30 to 40 mg. of hydrocodone or oxycodone. Talk about narcotic numbness! I knew all the words by heart to Pink Floyds "Comfortably Numb" for sure.

I was numbing physical pain, as much as emotional and mental pain. I often said I drank to obliterate the power of reason, which took quite a bit. Days of binging were my greatest joy and hope back then, because sobriety meant nothing to me, except excruciating pain.

I guess the thing, I had to find, was why certain things were causing me pain, and as you know, booze is only a short term destructive fix, but it does make you think things are OK for just a little while. Then the price paying comes, as first a little hangover here and there. Later, after decades of abuse, stark horrifying hopelessness, and suicidal depression lasting far longer than the temporary booze fix.

Systematically attacking the core reasons for the pain, in the beginning, causes even more pain. Any person with a few days or weeks of sobriety knows this for sure. Wave, after wave of price paying comes in ways that give deep regret for those short periods of numbness.

You are on the right track to doing this thing for the long-term I believe. There is pain of life that really cannot be escaped, but only integrated into our existence. Becoming mentally healthy, is finding the way to accept it, and let it flow through us with some degree of philosophy. Many turn to mainstream religious faiths, and others turn to exhausting self-explorations in search of hard truths. Either way, we are alive for a reason I guess, and I don't think we were ever meant to obliterate our sense of reason with any sort of chemical salve. Pain sucks, but it is indeed proof that we are alive.

Best of luck to you on your journey.


Sue Can Do
August 13th, 2007, 09:22 PM
Hi Sigh,

Maybe a writer too, that was very well written, a great post.


August 14th, 2007, 03:10 PM
Some great responses. Neil I couldn't agree more, in a way I think giving up alcohol is easy, learning to live and enjoy being sober is the difficult part and why so many times we fail. Flip, everyone thinks the same thing that they are unique, doesn't that by definition mean they aren't unique? :P Sue you flatter, I'm an internet geek through and through, couldn't write my way out of a wet paper bag but :thanks: . It's just a topic that's close to all of our hearts here I think and it feels good for me to write about it.

I've been having continued trouble sleeping at night. One of my first reactions to giving up alcohol is I want some other sort of intoxication as already mentioned. Got me thinking, is this necessarily a bad thing? In fact, I think it isn't but alcoholism has stolen and bastardize the term intoxication..

Intoxication: Excitement and elation beyond the bounds of sobriety
Sobriety: Sobriety may refer to the state of demonstrating solemn or dignified personal behaviour...

Note: of course there are other definitions for both these terms, these are the ones I found that do not mention alcohol or narcotics.

Like, I love women. The emotional high of a new relationship, the anxiety of whether she likes me the way I like her, the goosebumps of seeing her and the longing when she's not around. The little messages and the uncontrollable feeling of joy/lust when we see each other again. And love making that drives her to the point of uncontrolled pleasure where she's ephoric, she's intoxicated.. I'm intoxicated.. it's intoxicating..

With golf, when I hit that perfect shot where everything went right, absolutely perfect, so very rare. Or I'm in that emotional state where everything is going right & I feel like I'm invincible. Spinning my club after a shot just because it feels good to do it. Walking with more of a spring in my step than normal. It's intoxicating.. I can't do wrong.. I'm bigger than life.. I'm someplace else..

With kids, one of my colleagues cannot stop talking about his sons yesterday. His youngest just turned 3 and the day before his father taught him to ride a bicycle. He was so proud of the accomplishment of riding a bicycle unaided at 2 years old. I can picture his beaming face seeing Valentine shooting off on his own. His son glowing both with his father's pride and riding a bike for the first time..I'm sure it was an intoxicating moment..

With alcohol, when I drink I feel numb.. My mind slows.. I forget my worries and anxieties.. I relax.. My mind doesn't chatter anymore and I can sleep soundly.. I'm protected from my problems.. However, I'm far from intoxicated..

When I was young, we drank tonnes and it often served as an introduction to intoxication. Doing absolutely crazy stuff, having a blast doing it, waking up feeling like shit and nursing ourselves back to health.. But drunkeness does not beget intoxication.. Intoxication is something mutually exclusive..

Gonna finish with a quote I absolutely love that I think is in line with this thread.
People don?t necessarily get what they want. People don?t
necessarily get what they need. Instead, people get what they
honestly and truly believe that they deserve. In other words, people
get what they expect to get.

The key to having what you want is not getting what you want, but
being the person for whom getting what you want is a mere byproduct
of the reality you create simply by the way you live life.
-David Shade

Finding My Self
August 15th, 2007, 04:05 PM
Xtexan - hello. What wonderful posts here, thanks! Your, "Pain sucks but it is indeed proof that we are alive" is just great. Whole 'story' (meaning ramble/dump - don't go there!) on booze busters 8/13 where I've had such great support and hence got through today...
Also though, the news that a near neighbour, a mum of a school friend of my 14yr old son, died last week - apparently she was given one month to live and that's all she got...pancreatic cancer... and I though I was in pain this morning...

With gratitude I think of your words and know that this morning, painful as it was, proved I am alive and I 'welcome' (well, working on it!) the pain as proof of the chance to live life to the full if I choose to - which I now do. A different mind set in lots of ways with the added bonus of AF = twice as much time in 24 hours...

Neil - I haven't read anything from you before and it's great! Thanks and I'll be back - you say so much soooh well as tkeene says... the intoxication bit is amazing - beautifully put and, yes, what's wrong with that sort of intoxication? Beautiful and life-enriching. It is actually a wonderful word and not one to be afraid of after all! The other type, yes, not a good place - so heavy and dark.

I am delighted to just read your 'intoxication paragraphs' in the light of my last two day's posts....how wonderful to read words written by a chap which are so tender and open, excited and exciting....! You've taken me on a little journey of fancy!!! Thanks.... obviously all is not lost in the world after all!

See you again all and good luck with the journey.... I am certainly 'coming into focus' more and more - sometimes I like what I see and sometimes I need to find a vast sense of humour or.... But, I have the chance to let things change now and I am grateful! (You know, in the first month it was actually as if I could actually see my feet as if they weren't mine... and feel myself vividly as if I was 'on something' when I wasn't... I've worked for years with sensory awareness but this was a new type of observation to me....?! Has anyone else felt things like this? (They've faded now a bit... 81 days.)

Love to all
Feet x

August 24th, 2007, 05:53 AM
I love this thread. What a great introduction to the "Long Term Abs" forum.
Think I'll be sticking around.

August 25th, 2007, 03:30 PM
It's worth sticking around beatle. This journey is both petals and thorns, today is a good day for me. I see things more clearly than I have in a while and there's almost a smile on my face. I can remember the things that cause an involuntary smile and more importantly remind me again of the man I want to be.

Not all days are like this and I feel bipolar sometimes. Lots of highs and lows as I work out the things stressing me but it's forward progress and I feel good on the whole about that.


August 25th, 2007, 05:02 PM
Have you considered that you might actually BE bi-polar? Not all of us are complete nutters! I have bi-polar 2, which is much 'milder' than the type 1 that you usually hear about. Do some reading and research and see if it sounds like you. I had no idea what 'normal' was until I got diagnosed last year - no more rollercoaster rides!

August 25th, 2007, 11:39 PM
Great thread!

August 26th, 2007, 09:08 AM
Sigh: I'm only 47 days AF & don't feel totally qualified to be sharing on this forum, but your thread really inspired me. What comes next for me? I think that for me, I have to live in the moment regardless of how uncomfortable or threatening that may be. I have to push through fears & do what needs to be done, whether that's speaking up when I need to, doing something for myself when I need to, or whatever. I have to tell people the truth about what I want, need, & think. That isn't easy for me, as I was taught to keep quiet. I learned that my feelings & thoughts were not welcomed. Whether that's true or not, I'm in charge of my life & have to live it openly & honestly.

I used alcohol to numb out & not face what I needed to face. I let a lot of issues slide during the drinking years. I'm just learning to come out of hiding & find my voice. I'm reconnecting w/the people I let go of.

Thank you for your words of wisdom. This is my first time on this forum. Mary

August 31st, 2007, 08:46 PM
I just found this thread and it is great. I have been pretty much AF - only about 6 or 7 drinks total in the last two years. never drunk in that time.

But being AF was not the land of milk and honey for me. It was hell for the longest time. I gave up drinking not because I ever wanted to, but because I absolutely HAD to - was forced to by health, legal and other issues. So I did. I could not sleep at all for such a long time. I did not know what to do with all those demons I used to use drink to chase away. The anxiety and depression that I suffered from that I just medicated with alcohol. It was a very tough time. Sometimes people think it's easy - all you have to do is just stop drinking. Boy, are they wrong. You sometimes have to confront a whole new reality and for the first time look yourself in the mirror through sober eyes. That can be scary. It was for me.

Luckily I got in to psychotherapy at the same time and have the world's greatest therapist. She guided me through the entire process slowly and gently. I still go to her every week and could not live without our sessions. It has been so tough. And I am still learning.

I didn't mean to make this all about me. Sorry
What I am trying to say is that we drink for many reasons besides just a physical addiction. It is often a psychological need, a self-medication, etc. And just because we are sober doesn't necessarily mean all our problems will just disappear magically. Yes, our lives will be so much better and our futures will be much much brighter. But often our pasts will need some work and healing - pasts that we have never dealt with - that we ony drank away.

Going AF for 30 days is great. Being sober for life is really learning to live life in a much different and more healthy way. But it is a process that takes time and patience and as Neil says, can be painful at times. But it is much better in the long run.

September 1st, 2007, 06:02 AM
Thanks mags ... you are an inspiration, for sure. Congratualtions on your resolution and success.

Finding My Self
September 3rd, 2007, 07:47 AM
Mags - never apologise for a post like that!! It was wonderful and thank you.... Clear and concise descriptive words just leaping off the page at me...

F xx

September 7th, 2007, 01:05 PM
Mary I've felt the same way sometimes about being qualified to post here. Tomorrow will be my first month now AF but it's the hardest days that are most important. It seems to come and go but some days, we I think all know them, it is like torture. There's a lot of good reason for people to say "take it one day at a time". It's also a very great reason to never once append "only" to how long you've been AF. It's the hardest days I remember most and where I'm most proud of myself, but they are starting to blur for me as even after 1 month they are not happening as often. I know they will come again and maybe for the rest of my life.

The reason I post here is because Long Term Abstaining is my goal. I have made up my mind this is where I belong and I want to surround myself with people I can look to for guidance. Those who have arrived, those who are starting, and those who are struggling. I don't want narcotics to have a place in my life anymore, and if you feel the same way, or think you might feel the same way, then I think this is also the right place for you too.

But being AF was not the land of milk and honey for me. It was hell for the longest time. I gave up drinking not because I ever wanted to, but because I absolutely HAD to - was forced to by health, legal and other issues.Mags, that is so absolutely on the mark. I also didn't want to stop drinking but I knew I had to. Maybe not for reasons as extreme as yours, but AF while being a choice, was not one that I was enthusiastic about. I guess from the outside people assume that going AF is like crawling out of this terrible place, at the bottom of a dark well, so you can see the sunlight again. I think a better analogy is a butterfly in a soft, comfortable, and warm cocoon. I think those of us here know we need to get out, but it's so hard to really do so. It's even harder not to crawl right back in, or at least leave a few feet inside, or stand on top of it, instead of taking off and leaving it behind.

I wish I could share how great my life has become since going AF. It's not like I've opened my eyes to this great new world that I didn't see in my cocoon, instead I've found other problems. They are the catch 22 because it's those problems that push me back towards wanting to drink. They aren't major problems on the greater scope, but it's ironic that for me it's the little ones that are the hardest to conquer.

This said, things are changing. I won't say each day, or any period really, but I can feel some changes. I don't know what they are yet and it's not always a conscious effort on my part to change something. Just some days, life somehow feels a bit different.. I also think it's important to say it does feel like a change for the better, consistently! Small changes maybe but good ones.

I guess the last thing and the reason I wanted to post today, is lately I feel a lot like the next step is learning discipline. Do you feel this also?

I want to get up earlier in the mornings, but I can't. I read Neil's thread about early mornings for him and I aspire for the same thing. However, each morning I sleep in and just cannot tolerate getting out of bed. I'm still exhausted and don't feel rested. I want to change this and that requires discipline. First step is that I need to go and see the MD to make sure there's not a medical reason such as apnea as some of the symptoms fit, but that takes discipline.

I want to start working out consistently again, but I'm not doing that yet. It takes discipline. I started but had 2 heavy weeks at work and missed most of the days, lost my routine and my enthusiasm. It takes discipline.

I feel great that I've made big strides to conquer AF, now I want to do the same for a variety of other things. Does this sound similar to others?

We have lots of free time now... I have found other things in my life I want to change... What are teh next steps?

September 7th, 2007, 01:09 PM
PS. Flip, I probably am a bit bipolar. We've all got a little in us I think.

September 7th, 2007, 02:50 PM

It may sound a bit overhashed, but I know where you are at. Those first difficult days, weeks, months are not a bed of roses. A bed of sharp nails more like it.

It took months for me to get anywhere near a feeling that it was worth it. I guess one just has to take it on faith, that the hard work will pay off in real dividends in time. That's one reason I stay on the boards. Many yearlings move on, and I see why they do. We need some sort of re-assurance day to day that the benefits of the sober life are real, and not imagined.

Please let me tell you, that it took a long time for me to "get in the groove" of the sober life. I was like a stumbling, awkward, drunk man for a long time, even though I had not had a drop of booze in months. My brain was rewiring itself, and now I see why. Some things just don't heal up in few days or weeks. I often say I still have a long ways to go, but now I know for certain that it is totally worth it.

Discipline amazingly enough, comes almost automatically with practice. Practice being sober is all I can say. Day after day, you have to practice being sober. Most of my life, after 35 years of boozing, revolved around maximizing the benefits of alcohol, and minimizing the payback. Now I see, I was almost insane for the longest time. There was no benefit. The perceived stress relief, and all the rest was always just an illusion. A temporary one.

I took some photos of myself in just gym shorts when I started out my program. I had not looked at them in months. I peeked at them yesterday, and then looked in the mirror. HOLY SMOKE! I have re-structured a dead man. It is amazing the difference, after almost 21 months of hard work. It is those moments, when you say to yourself, "YES!!!!", and you know you can go further.

The drive to become alive again gains momentum. It will be like climbing a steep mountain on a bike in the beginning. The climb will cause you focus on your own misery for the longest time. Then at some point, you reach the peak, and then suddenly the pedaling gets easier, and you sort of coast. Then you have to put the brakes on a bit to keep from crashing. That is hard to do, because it feels so good to rush downhill without effort. The crash is relapse. Sometimes, you just have to stop for a bit, and inspect things, like I'm kind of doing right now.

You'll get there, but it ain't easy. No one here will tell you that it is.


Finding My Self
September 7th, 2007, 03:15 PM
Neil - thank you....thank you lots. That was a lovely post.

All the congratulations on 'restructuring a dead man' in the world.... I am so pleased for you (and I love those words!!)

Finding xx

September 30th, 2007, 12:24 PM
I'm really happy for you having a month AF, I enjoy reading your posts and was worried about you when you had not posted in a while...keep up the good work and good WILL come out of it, I'm forever hopeful.Don't worry I'm still around, I just don't post a great deal.

I've had some very rough periods where I was inches away from drinking. Ironically the hardest day was after we'd finished a big project and everyone was excited and congratulatory. I felt more like "hmm... this is it?". Anyway, I didn't drink and continue the self exploration.

I broke up with my girlfriend as well about a week ago. It was a tough time, maybe not the right choice, but then maybe the right choice. :)

I've also been reading a little bit about Taoist philosophy. It's quite fun because it's written from the perspective of "Winnie the Pooh". It's about finding happiness in the simplicity of just living. There's a story about 3 chinese wise men who dip their finger into a barrel of vinegar and taste it. The first two have negative reactions the last one smiles. I'm not sure of the painters meaning but to me it struck me of finding pleasure in new experience.

Growing up and into my mid-twenties I used to find true enjoyment whenever I encountered something new, which was pretty much always. New experiences and how we react to them is what defines us and is so much to be excited about. That's not to say I enjoyed the taste of vinegar, but rather the fun of doing something so wholey and entirely new. After which I think what a great place to be to smile and be thankful for a unique experience.

At some point along the line, and I don't know exactly when, things changed. I lost that and I think that's when I really fell to alcohol. We all know the feeling but i filled that void of where my happiness departed with the easiest thing I could.

I've reflected a lot since I stopped drinking about who I am and where I want to be. I don't know the answers yet, but knowing who I don't want to be has been enough.

Day by day, life can be a glorious journey or it can be just another day. More and more I feel a little like we here are the gifted ones. There's nothing worse IMO than going through life numb. Those of us who can really take the extreme rides to live and love the highs and lows. There's a lot in life and the world to be depressed about, but so too are there things to simultaneously be ecstatic about.

I don't have regrets and that includes my previous life with alcohol. It helped define who I am and put me in the position to reflective on who I am today.

I still don't know what ultimately comes next, but for me I know the next step that I haven't found the courage for. For me that's discipline. I haven't taken the full plunge yet but I'm slowly approaching unhealthy foods the same way as alcohol.

The disciplines I hope to find and ultimately let me live to be 150 are:
Diet. Learning to eat the things that will make me feel great 30 minutes after eating rather than during eating. Exercise. Building the body that will stand the test of time, make me walk taller, and if it happens to draw the odd cute girl into my life then so be it :PWork. Finding ways to sharpen my axe rather than chopping continuously.

September 30th, 2007, 01:34 PM
Hi Sigh,
I could have written the post myself - so much I identify with it. I feel stronger now because I have tacled my problem from all sides.
1. Spiritual - being a Christian I have started to really study the Bible and I'm sometimes mystified as to why I was so " blind' to the truths it contain for so long.
2. Excercise. Try to walk 30 min every day, no matter what the weather.
3.Diet. Making an effort to give my poor abused brain and body good nutrients to make up and hopefully reverse some of the damage.
Time management. Boredom is a major problem - I have started mosaic art and am really enjoying it. I hope you find something you will realy enjoy doing. Jessie

October 5th, 2007, 11:46 AM
I didn't see this thread when it started....maybe I hadn't arrived here then?? But it just sums things up so well.......thanks.

Suze XX

February 19th, 2008, 12:15 PM
Ulcerative Colitis came next for me. In a rather ironic twist of fate but I'm not physically able to drink alcohol anymore (among a whole huge number of other things). It's a bit of chicken and egg here, there's no direct evidence that alcohol can cause UC, however there's definite empirical evidence that it exacerbates the problem once you've got it. In my gut, no pun intended, I know that my long-term abuse of alcohol is a definite reason for where I am today. But it's ok, such is life and we move on :) Hopefully this post will add another little grain of sand towards tipping that monkey off your back.

On the upside, on the whole I'm doing well. I drank a few times socially since september but there were warning signs when I had a few drinks that I knew to watch carefully. In particular when I drank a few days in a row and I felt some cravings, I went back to cold turkey.

That said, I did only do this after I'd near completely killed the cravings/longings and replaced them with other pursuits (for me that involved self improvement, chasing girls, golf, and fine foods). For those of you newer to this and wondering, yes you definitely can get used to life without alcohol. IT WILL NOT BE EASY but ultimately is worth it. There are lots of addictions out there for us to find, many of them good ones. More and more I believe that addictive personalities are a great thing, they just require a little more conscious effort and direction. It's about finding your passion, which alcohol can in a lot of ways mimic but ultimately distracts you great and wonderful things.

Hope this post finds all of you well.


February 19th, 2008, 05:02 PM
Great to hear that you`re doing so well, Sigh and really revelling in your voyage of self discovery........that`s when the fun begins after quitting drinking, eh?

I think you have made a very valid point, that an addictive personality doesn`t have to be to our detriment, provided we channel that passion into doing something worthwhile with our lives.

Look forward to hearing more as you continue to grow in sobriety.

Starlight Impress x

February 19th, 2008, 08:24 PM
Great to hear from you again Sigh. This was always one of my favorite threads and I have been wondering about you. I'm sorry to hear about the colitis, but I am glad you are happy with the AF life and are doing so well with it. We all still have a long way to go on this crazy journey. Don't be a stranger, buddy.