Pool Fulla Liquor Pt 2

Last year i started writing an account of my decision to give up drinking. I described it as one of the most confusing things i'd ever done. The reason it left me so confused was because i didn't learn anything from it. Well i kind of did and i kind of didn't. But strangely the lessons i did learn seemed to vanish into the ether pretty quickly. The whole exercise had some point to it, whilst simultaneously proving in the end somehow pointless.

Like the punchline of a joke you get, but just don't find funny. 

You can read the first part here.

Having said this, it was one of the most important things i've done in recent memory. Me saying i didn't learn anything springs from the fact that now, five months later, i've resumed a pattern of drinking none too dissimilar from the one i was in before i stopped. But the aim was never to stop drinking completely. The aim was to take a peek behind the curtain. And to mull over whatever it was that peek might reveal to me, over an ice-cold pint of pilsner

To say i didn't learn much isn't true.

We always learn. Even when we don't, we somehow do.


I'd say my experience could be split up into 3 key states of being, appearing to me one after the other.

1. S M U G

The most immediate and obvious effect of stopping drinking is clear. 

With not a milligram of hangover, the magic of the wake-up lies in beginning the day on the right side of normal. From here a smooth transition into Total Geedom is by no means out of the question. Have a big night however and you don't get out of normal until most probably late afternoon - the state in which you begin when you don't drink. On a big night with the wrong type of hangover, you might not even by the day's end reach the oasis from which your teetotal self has been calmly sipping all day.

Another option is to go nitro and have an absolute blinder. At least you wake up feeling marvellous, because you're still drunk. But from then it's a headlong freefall into the abyss. Which depending on how philosophical your mindset is, or more importantly how much work you have on, can be quite funny but more often than not an absolute living death. 

In this new hungover-less state, the greatest difference i found from the off was that i woke up winning. I didn't have any hazy memories of candle-lit heart to hearts or Campo Viejo-fuelled rants, but what i did have was no headache. The rocky road from fuzzy-headedness had had an upgrade, and now more resembled an Autobahn to world domination

This mental clarity also served to dampen the voice of my self-doubt. With no hangover gnawing at me, everything had hope, everything had potential, things were worth trying. There was less fear, less non-engagement. The glass wasn't just half-full, it was over-flowing with San Pellegrino. 

The decision to stop drinking took on a force all of its own. As i said a 28-stone bouncer manning the door of my willpower had moved into permanent residency in my brain. The expression on his face of unflinching brutishness could be seen mirrored in my own, whenever the possibility of a drink presented itself. It was self-perpetuating. The greater i felt, the smugger i was, the more i wanted to sustain it, the less i wanted to drink. 

The first couple of weeks were characterised by an unbearable smugness. I felt fucking great, and just as any state of prolonged smugness should rightly bring with it, i soon became unbearable to myself. I'd see groups staggering out of pubs at 10pm on a Sunday and think how they were throwing their lives away. I'd see baskets in supermarkets loaded with tinnies and feel my eyes roll to the back of my perfectly sober head. My U-turn was shocking. I was turning into a sanctimonious dick. 

And i was loving it.

But all good things must come to an end. 

Towards the end of my fourth week sober, i friend of mine suggested a pub visit on a Thursday afternoon. My smugness had been gradually waning, the novelty of my new lifestyle was becoming no longer novel. I'd had a shitty day, and i wanted nothing more than a release. The kind of release not many things in the world can give you quite like the first few sips of an ice cold lager. I went up top, and there was my 28-stone bouncer friend, looking especially lairy this time, gravely shaking his bald head. So i went to the pub and sat there monosyllabically for half an hour with a soda and lime. I got to the bottom of the glass, made my excuses, went home, and fell into a deep depression. 

That’s why i insist that my psychic deterioration was down to a lack of drink and drugs, rather than anything else. As bad as those things might be for your longterm health, they’re still down-time. Which for someone who gets as caught up in his own head as i do, desperately needs.

Mike Skinner 1978-present rap bard


After my depression came something else, almost more worrying than its predecessor. Part three will cover my teetotal-induced rock bottom and my attempt to claw my way back out of it with the help of some aggressive self-questioning and a motherfucking SodaStream

1 comment:

  1. love reading this!
    what if there was a way to achieve the much needed "down-time" without the external help of drink & drugs, but just through the power of the mind. after all, that's where all the torment/chatter is coming from...