Every incremental decrease

Each Monday morning, I adjust a small matrix in the corner of the whiteboard in my office with the accumulated totals of weeks since Wine (233), Spirits (109) and Beer (20). I do so with a sense of elation, relief and cold realism, for I know I was, and may remain until I snuff it, an alcoholic or, to guild a lily, a reformed alcoholic …

I was born in 1960 and grew up in north-east England, where breweries produce beer on a mass scale to quench the thirst of the industrial grafters. At home, during festive times and family gatherings there was ‘drink’ to go with meals. Aged four, I was given my first taste of beer in a small whisky glass bearing the name of the ‘Scottish & Newcastle Breweries’, its Blue ‘Star’ logo emblazoned on the shell. The beer was from a yellow party can. A little lime cordial was mixed with my beer. I loved it, and over the years I was given this treat at special times and in doing so, became aware of alcohol, yet I can’t recall ever being seduced by the buzz nor being, addicted to the taste.

From what my late mother has stated many times, I never walked. I ran everywhere and that included around our spacious home and regularly into obstacles too. I ran as a teen and played a lot of soccer, yet running was, and remains, a safety valve. Solitude and the pursuit of challenging myself have always allowed me to feel a sense of freedom and self-effacement. 

Being fit and ambivalent about alcohol because I had never been shielded from its taste or availability at home, I eschewed the drinking culture of my school friends, and again at university. I didn’t need alcohol as fuel or stimulation. Academically, I was bright enough to gain an education in the medical field as a technologist and, aged 23, I left home to take up a very lucrative two-year contract with an American healthcare company in Saudi Arabia a country with a strict ban on alcohol. I mixed with other expats and enjoyed playing a lot of soccer to fill in the spaces between shifts and R&R. One evening after a long game, I joined some of the people with whom I had played soccer, for dinner, and returned to their digs, which were close to my own. I was given a replenishing glass of lemonade ‘7-Up’ laced with Siddique homemade and rated at 90-100 % proof. I drank it gratefully down and was drunk in a very short while. I was quite terrified. I made it home and avoided the guards at the military base where my digs were located, for fear my breath would give away the odour of the grog. Thereafter, I didn’t drink for the remaining 21 months of my contract and left the desert with a good deposit and an Australian wife.

Settling in Sydney, I quickly found work and over the next 10 years built a solid reputation, gained more qualifications and promotions. I also began to drink wine, beer & spirits.

After a significant promotion, which led to a highly paid posting in the capital away from family, I began to drink on my own in the evening, and formed a habit which became a need rather than a want.

In 2008, I returned to Sydney to care for my ailing wife perhaps the darkest period of my life up to that point. And  whilst I had hardly drunk any grog in the eight months of her long and painful demise, after her passing, with time on my hands and being again alone in Canberra, I began to drink again.

In early 2021, a terrible rift with my in-laws over property saw me almost lose everything and after restoring order by mid-year, in what I can recall was a purging of the demons of the past six terrible months, I consumed over the long weekend what would normally have been a month’s supply of beer. Having stopped drinking wine in 2017 after seeing my mentor destroy his career by consuming an average 3-4 bottles per night, I had also relinquished spirits two years later after consuming a bottle of good Cognac, received for Father’s Day, inside two weekends. Beer had thence become my tipple and some…

Giving up beer, which as mentioned I had first tasted 56 years earlier, was and remains tough, and after that long weekend, I was utterly horrified to see the fridge empty and knew it was time to stop, which on reflection, I initially did with relative ease … though with time the desire for beer remains like a shadow tapping my skull softly yet provocatively. My thirst after hard work in the garden and after a long run or cycle was, for so long, satiated with beer that now, even after five months, I still crave it, which scares as well spurs me to maintain my abstinence, though it can be suffocating.

I have as I write not consumed any alcohol for 20 weeks and my mental health has improved. My physical health too, as I have lost 7 kilos and I’m within 5 kilos of what should be my ideal weight for my age and height.

I miss the taste of beer and possibly always will. I want to maintain sobriety and want to not even give alcohol a second’s thought and look forward to the day when I’ll forget to mark-up my whiteboard counting the time since my last drink. But that is quite probably a long way off.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Timcsky

44 Comments

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  • I’m trying to get it under control.
    I’m 63.live alone,and have drunk sinc being 18.

    By Ian
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Good morning Ian
      Thanks for responding to my post. I am not nor do I intend to be an evangelist for going AF, as I don’t have the ego. Nor do I have pearls of wisdom to offer other than to say that after what is now almost 24 weeks alcohol free the benefits are quite astounding. It’s worth going through the pain barrier.
      “Go you good thing!”- Courtesy of the Dream

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • Timcsky
    Thanks for sharing this moving account. I’m your age so I find it inspiring.

    By Juali
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi Juali. Thanks for your response. I am relieved that my story has had resonance.
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • Thanks for sharing this. I really appreciated the history behind where you find yourself today. Also – “…like a shadow tapping my skull softly yet provocatively…” – is such a brilliant way of expressing the nagging urge, that can overwhelm good intentions.

    By Bev
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Good morning Bev. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. Your phrase, “the nagging urge”, is apt in describing where one can find one’s self and just how easy it is to lapse.
      Take care.
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • I am grateful for your honesty and effort to stay alcohol free. I am a little older than you are and the lifelong struggle remains too real. Your blog keeps hope alive for me. Thanks

    By Marianne
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Good afternoon Marianne
      Thanks for responding. The struggle is real and the benefits sometimes seem elusive when you’ve had a bad day or week. I have had a few rough weeks since giving up and the temptation has been like a black magnet drawing me to the negative pole to have a drink. I resisted, but only just, yet after each of the three near misses, in the hours and days after, I felt a little less in need and more positive about having come through the ordeal of an almost irresistible urge.
      Take care
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • I first thankyou for sharing your relationship with alcohol like all relationships they take their unique journey. I believe reading I will take away some useful tools.

    By Donnella Nicholls
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Good afternoon Donnella
      Thanks for responding to my post. If I have helped in any way, then I’m chuffed.
      Take care
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • my answer was to switch to non alcoholic beer. the German one is the best

    By May
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi May. Tried most of them and immediate thought was Alkaseltzer and into the compost.
      I think I’d rather have a cup of cold tea with 4 Yourshiremen- without milk, or sugar…or tea.
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • Thanks for sharing Timsky and talking about your life and your relationship with alcohol over time.
    Very inspiring. I wish you well on your AF journey.

    By Russell
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi Russell
      Thanks for your message. Its good to hear from others for I realise my plight is not unlike that of many others.
      Best of luck with your AF journey too.
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      December 1, 2021
  • Thank you for telling your story bravely. It tells of our dependence on alcohol to numb the pain, which I did for so many years. I was alcohol dependent for 27 years. Started drinking at 12. I’ve been sober for over two years now, and those years have been the best of my life. My mental and physical health is so much better. Life is full of good and my relationships are better too. Keep going. You’ve got this x

    By Jemima
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • I have been alcohol dependent for roughly 20 years and it really does feel impossible to quit and remain abstinent. I want it so bad but continue to fail. I hope I can quit asap. It’s all I want for Christmas, to be sober.

      By Kelly
      |
      November 27, 2021
      • Hi Kelly
        Thanks for your courageous response. As I have said in other responses, I am no evangelist or new-born zealot for going AF, but after almost six months, the benefits are truly worth enduring the graft of abstention. My own personal challenge has had and will no doubt continue to have ripples and potholes, but they pass and today, I know I am better for stopping.
        Take care. You had the courage to write a response which suggests you have the same courage to stop.
        Regards
        Timcsky

        By Timcsky
        |
        December 1, 2021
    • Well done. I’m jealous

      By Peter
      |
      November 27, 2021
      • Hi Peter
        Please don’t be green at me, I am no pin-up in the giving up caper. I just had to stop before it stopped me…for good.
        Regards
        Timcsky

        By Timcsky
        |
        December 1, 2021
    • Hi Jemima
      Thanks for your response and candour. It is rough road at times and finding this site was pure chance and that its Australian made me nearly faint as so much scribble on giving up grog seems to hook into clinics for the desperate and few seem to take a pragmatic approach to supporting people in what is a very hard human challenge.
      Go well
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • Being born in 1960, I really enjoyed reading your story with so much insight into how we weave alcohol into our life journey. The drinking culture of our childhood, teenage years and adulthood is so embedded. My sober life is still only new to me so I am inspired by your words.

    By Geelove
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi Geelove
      Thanks for your response. Yes, those early years are so formative and resonant. My adopting Father died young (56), in a Pub drinking a Whisky-chaser four months after having most of his bowel removed and a colostomy bag fitted to deal with what was left of his digestive system. He offered me drink because he had been offered drink as a youngster. My children are polar opposites: one does and one doesn’t drink.
      I can’t offer any recipe for dealing with the cravings, other than to say its worth the effort.
      Stay well
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • Hope for us all then.

    By Maggie
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi Maggie
      If what I have written helps than more power to you.
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • You are a beautiful person with a great deal of love, care and respect for yourself.

    I am so grateful to be able to have this glimpse into your life through these precious words.

    Yes, you may always need to write those accumulating weeks up on your whiteboard, and that’s perfectly awesome. I look at the accumulated number of days I write in my diary and on my weekly planner every single day, and they remind me that I am one step further away from being done by, and in the grips of alcohol, and another step towards not being so.

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful and amazing journey here. You are helping me to keep adding to those numbers too.

    By Elizabeth
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Yes, this was an inspiring, honest and courageous story indeed.. ❤💙❤

      By Alison
      |
      November 27, 2021
    • Hi Elizabeth
      Thanks for your lovely message. Just before I was notified of the pending publication of my post, I turned to look at the matrix and decided to scrub it clean. So I have now ditched the Monday tally-up and put a picture in its place of Wallace & Gromit- my early-adult (Still?)hero’s- in respect of their Tea-drinking as I have consumed more Tea since I gave up the grog than in my first 20 years of living. As for noting the increments, I’m a shade off 6 months AF, and feel I am moving into a less hazy space. Hope this message finds you in good fettle.
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • Thanks so much for sharing – an inspiring story

    By Kerryn
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi Kerryn
      Thanks for your response.
      Take care
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • Dear Tim Sky, big Congrats to you as after so long, it’s hard. Discomfort during withdrawal, but yes, the pain is real, the fight is real dealing with the emotions that we never knew how to cope with… I was born in 1959, inner city, working class Melbourne. Surrounded by factories, industry and, of course, a pub on every corner. You’d probably remember the 6 o’clock swill… my first beer was outside a pub, where the children and wives waited.. before the “Ladies Lounge” was introduced. A man in overalls gave me a “pony” of Foster’s Larger which I disliked the taste of immensely, but consumed out of politeness.. I was around 7 years old. I enjoyed the feeling, the buzz it produced. Although I didn’t continue to crave or consume until 15yo, I would be fascinated watching people drink and their “apparent” enjoyment, fun, talkative outgoing behaviour. They would change completely from shy to abusive, tough to teary, controlled to falling over. From 16 ish to one year ago my life revolved around alcohol.. during my “drinking career”, I’d
    binged, was a black out drunk, grey area drinker, abstained during 3 children, functioned well, functioned not too well, rehab x 3… ok, I will cut this short, as it’s your story !! My son, at 27 yo, told me I’m toxic, showed videos of me pissed, black eyes and extreme bruising from falls. This is why I stopped. I’d upset them so many times but continued to drink. The more f**k ups, shame, remorse alcohol created, the more I’d drink.. the merry go round, a vicious cycle. Then I found Hello Sunday Morning, of course, on a Sunday hungover Sunday morning 😅and my life changed !!!! Thanks for reading, if anyone has.

    By Alison
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hello Alison, yes I’ve read your brave account of the drinking life and yes, all of your boozy descriptors ring a bell. And it’s hard to imagine how alcohol promotion can be so normalised and acceptable when the devastating effects of the stuff are just SO apparent ! I wonder when the promotion of alcohol will be viewed like the early days of the implementation of plain cigarette packaging and withdrawal of advertising ? In other words when will the Governmental Health Authorities show leadership to clamp down on this destructive and socially destructive poison ? I’ve never seen a public health initiative promoting sobriety…more the pity. I’m 10 months alcohol free..never felt better…keep up the good work all you who are brave and courageous to hop on the wagon , joyfully for good !

      By Jen
      |
      November 27, 2021
    • Hi Alison
      Thanks for sharing your chronology with the “Satan’s Sauce”, as one of the Nuns at my primary school told us. I was 6 years old. She was fierce, sadistic and a sly Gin-drinker!
      My Father was Musician and played all sorts of venues and that the had lost his licence for drink-driving, my Mum would have to pick him and his drum kit up from gigs- all hours. He often got back into the car after a gig with a bottle of beer and often passed it back to my sister and I for a swig, which we did and giggled all the way home. I was by then 8, my sister 11. Both well used to the taste and almost expectant of the bottle being passed back. The early origins embedded.
      That you’re 10 months AF is incredible and I hope I can reach that milestone. When I do, you will be well past a year with your AF time line. Best wishes
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      December 1, 2021
  • Thankyou for your share. I found it to be a beautiful read & strength providing.

    By Michelle
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi Michelle
      Thanks for your response. I am delighted that so many people have responded and in a surprising way, I feel less as if I am on my own in striving to stay AF, though when I am on my own, the temptation remains.
      Stay well
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      December 1, 2021
  • A Huge “Shandy” made with non-alchaholic bear and loads of ice helps

    By Sheridan
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi Sheridan
      Thanks for your recipe. I might well give it a try.
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      December 1, 2021
  • Hi Timcsky, thank you for sharing this. Grief can kick you hard, I am sorry that you had to deal with your wife’s loss. Your story touched me and inspired me. All the best to you on your journey. Donna

    By Donna
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi Donna
      Thanks for your response and kind thoughts. Losing my Girl was possibly one of the darkest experiences of my life and it nearly brought me completely undone. I know grog eased the deep sadness but only for a while, and then subtly, turned the table on me. I was as near to reckless as can be. To look back as I have often done of late and recall the loss of self respect is sobering in itself. I look at myself now and think “just in time.”- no smugness or conceit attached, just a shiver from the concept of what I was becoming.
      I hope if I inspired you, it sustains you during the rough spots.
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • Thanks for sharing your story. I really enjoyed really it & can fully relate!

    By Maureen
    |
    November 27, 2021
    • Hi Maureen
      I somehow thought I was not alone in assembling my story to post. So many have had a rough ride, which has led to drinking- not always self induced either- circumstances and other people affect us in ways we cannot predict and the consequences of such can only really be managed by our own desire to change what we can no longer sustain. I simply do not want to go the way of others I have known nor do I want to have to feel as if I am tagged, shunned or mocked because of propensity to enjoy a drop too much.
      Stay well
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • Great article thank you

    By Virginia
    |
    November 28, 2021
    • Good evening Virginia
      Thanks for your response. I am grateful for the feedback.
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      November 30, 2021
  • I loved your post Timcsky and i enjoyed eveyones responses too. Thank you. I am a fraction younger, 1964 but could relate to a lot of what you said. Greif is a big trigger for shifting alcohol from an occasional relaxing time to a cruel master and I am happy for you that you have found a way to crawl out. I enjoy the odd drink but spend a lot of energy trying to make sure it doesnt get out of control – i wonder if it is worth it, might be better just to give it up before it turns on me…

    By Katie
    |
    November 30, 2021
    • Hi Katie
      Thanks for your message. It appears from yours and others’ responses that quite a few people have been drawn into drinking through circumstances and events out of their control. That the habit becomes a need is shocking to the system if and when you realise. I have no illusions about the draw to have a drink after a heavy week at work, or after exercise, but after almost 24 weeks alcohol-free, the way I feel mentally and physically, is becoming almost addictive and this in itself, helps to steer me away from the temptation. That said, some situations of the past 2 weeks have had me waiver so close to stopping off to fill the fridge with my once close liquid companion, Pale-Ale, that I feel I still have a long way to go be well and truly over my addiction.
      Take care and write back if you wish.
      Regards
      Timcsky

      By Timcsky
      |
      December 1, 2021
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