A couple years ago, I was sent on a course for alcoholics by my employer, to learn about alcoholism and to be scared straight… that old chestnut that definitely works.
During recess, a guy was smoking and another dude asked him when he was going to quit, and the psychologist who’d organized the course interjected and told him he shouldn’t try. At least not now. He said, “En ting om gangen,” which directly translates to “You can’t fuck your aunt and your mom at the same time, so why try to put your dick in both wholes holes at the same time?”
Only joking. It translates to “one thing at a time.”
That’s been my mantra the last four or so months. If I wanted to stuff a pizza in my face, I’d shrug, think about my alcoholism, utter that phrase, and then get to thinking whether I wanted pineapple on there or not. If I wanted to justify my drinking two big-ass-size Red Bulls, the sugary kinds, it was the same deal: I was concentrating on booze, and every other addiction and bad habit could be allowed to go wild, not left in check, like a grandmother’s bikini line.
It’s sound advice, the psychologist’s, and you definitely should concentrate on one addiction at a time, but I’m getting to the point where I want to rein that shit in too. And for one pretty good reason: I real really shitty.
I’m grouchy in the morning, I don’t have the same zest for life as I did when I wasn’t a Red Bull junkie, and I have to quit at sometime, right, so why not straightaway?
Anyway, it’s day two of quitting, and I can barely see the words I’m typing from the blinding headache I’m experiencing. I’m going to make this a short one. I’ll finish by asking you a question: Do you want to make sobriety about just distracting yourself with other addictions? Or do you want it to be a journey of self-discovery where you peel away most if not all addictions and see what lies underneath?
Thanks for reading! My apologies that this was a shitty post. My brain should be functioning way better next week. If you enjoyed this post, despite its shittiness, don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober by filling out the form in the top-right corner of the webpage. And if it made you laugh out loud three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.
Dan recounts the time he was super pissed about not being able to drink.
Like anybody with an iPhone and a lack of assertiveness, when I need to make a decision, I head over to Google to find advice. Before AA, the World Wide Web, or the internet as it’s become incorrectly known, was my sole source of information for sobriety and alcoholism. That, and podcasts.
One common piece of advice for sobriety the internet provides in regard to alcoholism is to avoid seeing, hearing about, or being exposed to alcohol at all costs. Stay away from the bars you patronized, avoid friends who are heavy drinkers, switch to an alcohol-free mouthwash, and if you get a cut on your big toe, acquire a gangrene infection before you put any rubbing alcohol on it. It’s better to stay sober and lose your big toe, than tempt the devil.
This advice is often punctuated by this cliché, which I’ve seen touted on sobriety forums: If you keep hanging around in barber shops, it’s only a matter of time before you end up getting a haircut.
I’ve heeded this advice as gospel; on the surface, it makes sense. But I read something in the Big Book this week that contradicted this advice. I don’t want to locate the passage, so I can quote it verbatim, but it goes something like this: “If you have to avoid the deadbeats you hung around with because they drink too much, or it crosses your mind that swallowing Listerine while rinsing after brushing sounds like a good idea, then you aren’t sober. Not properly. And in the case of the latter, you’re probably an idiot.” (Okay, so I made up that last sentence.)
This shit was music to my ears.
I’ll still buy the brand of alcohol-free mouthwash I’ve gotten used to, but it’s refreshing to know that I shouldn’t avoid situations where people are consuming alcohol. Next week’s my birthday. I’ll be celebrating surviving thirty-three years after the umbilical cord was cut, and I think it’s just great that I can now encourage, no, demand, that the people with whom I celebrate do what they do best: drink until they think everything they say is funny and or clever.
Here’s a little story. Around eight years ago, I went to a daytime party to celebrate the marriage of Prince William to his lady friend. I was a heavy drinker at the time, and was known as such, and one of the guests who invited me forbade me from drinking alcohol, as there was a dude there who was an alcoholic.
They wanted to keep the crazy drunk away from the guy who had a problem with raiding grandpa’s medicine cabinet when he should’ve just been pissing. I resented that guy the whole party, but I never let my feelings known.
I didn’t care about the wedding, or the royals, and I definitely didn’t care about what dress the bride was wearing, but I was super pissed about not being able to celebrate those things I didn’t care about in the way I knew best.
This story isn’t about me. I was behaving and thinking the way any active alcoholic would. The story’s about the dry alcoholic, and about that as alcoholics, we shouldn’t be trying to change the world around us, but trying to change ourselves.
It’s only this way we can stay sober. Alcohol is ingrained into the fabric of our culture. It’s the cart-wheeling clown at the circus, the wart on the end of a witch’s nose.
That party shouldn’t have accommodated him, and definitely not because this idiot wanted to get shitfaced to make watching a marriage ceremony entertaining. It’s for the other people. The regular drinkers, who’s afternoon would’ve been so enriched by a few glasses of wine. It’s also for his benefit, as sitting there white-knuckling isn’t the best way to be a guest at someone’s party. What’s the point of being sober, if that is what’s now ruining the relationships you have with people?
I agree with the Big Book. If the only way you can stay sober is to design life to fit your mold, then that’s a really shitty way of staying sober, and a miserable way to live your life.
Sure, you can lock yourself up in your apartment and watch movies with your wife, who’s graciously started this journey of sobriety with you, and it’ll work. And in the case of the story told in this blog post, you can be that douchebag who’s ruining everyone’s fun because you ruined drinking for yourself. But that’s not the type of sober alcoholic I want to be.
This doesn’t mean I’ll be hanging out at bars all Friday night, because it doesn’t hold the same appeal without a drink in my hand. But when someone’s birthday comes up, or my work buddies are meeting up after work on a Friday to toast the end of the week, whereas before I’d heed the advice that I should stay away, I’ll now take those opportunities to socialize.
I’ll be the sober ninja standing among the group, totally cool with everyone getting shitfaced. In some ways, they won’t even remember my being there. And that’s a great thing.
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober for more insightful posts and witch metaphors. And if this post made you laugh out loud three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post with your friends on social media.
This week, Dan tells you your summers are probably way shittier than you remember. And that it’s a good thing.
Last summer was probably the best summer I’ll ever have. But they all feel that way, when you look back.
The day I finished at work before four summery weeks off, I was almost a month sober. The first evening of the summer was traditionally a shit storm of Belgian beers, summer-themed movies like Dazed and Confused, and, weather permitting, drunken conversations on the balcony about what we were going to do that summer.
I’d probably smoke, too, during those conversations, even though I’d gotten the memo that smoking causes cancer a shitload of times.
None of that happened the first evening last summer. I sat and watched Jaws with a couple energy drinks, ate way too much pizza, and slunk off to bed as sober as the moment I woke up that morning.
I’d like to write that I was content being sober that summer, and that I did all the fun shit I planned to do—and that I didn’t experience one hangover and I took regular rides on a unicorn to a land where blowjobs are handed out like popcorn at a movie theater.
But I fell off the wagon. I wanted to experience being shitfaced one summer’s day for the last time. Or whatever excuse.
I don’t have time to write about the whole summer. Even if I did, I can’t remember it, which is kinda the point. But I’ll write about one day.
We got shitfaced as we watched a couple movies, and then rode out to a lake and went swimming to the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd. When we were freezing our asses off, we sat by the lake and smoked a couple cigarettes. It was probably a little overcast, but let’s imagine there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
It was the type of evening you hope the end of your life will be like, not the shit show in some hospitable bed it’s likely to be.
I’m reminding myself of this evening for a couple reasons: 1) Winter started in November and shows now sigh of letting up, and 2) every time I look at Facebook I want to blow my brains out with a shotgun.
You probably have the same experience I do. You scroll through the Facebook posts on your timeline, or feed, or whatever the fuck it’s called, and realize something: Everyone you grew up with is having a way better time than you are.
Their lives appear to be fulfilled to point of bursting. If you’re to be believe your Facebook feed, everyone else’s lives are a constant stream of good times with family and friends.
Their lives are filled with the perfect summer’s day I shittily described above.
What they don’t tell you, because people rarely do on Facebook, is all the boring, monotonous shit that’s in between those occasions they’ve documented.
The point I’m trying to make, and I do have one, is that it’s easy to look back on your time drinking as being this constant stream of good times. Of weddings that are a blast, of summer’s evenings where you don’t think for a even second the guitar solo to ‘Free Bird’ is way too long, because you’re young and the sun is shining and it doesn’t matter if you eventually get lung cancer from the cigarette from you’re smoking.
You didn’t take a photo of when you were hungover, riddled with anxiety, and you didn’t take a mental picture of it, either. Your memory from when you were shitfaced is just like your Facebook feed. It’s a lie, of sorts.
The good times remembered, documented. The bad times forgotten.
Last summer was the best summer I’ll probably ever have. But when you look back, they all are.
Thanks for reading! I know what you’re thinking: I was a real ray of sunshine this week. For more feelgood posts, don’t forget to follow Hilariously Sober. And if this post made you laugh out loud at least three times, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this post on social media.
My works of fiction about an alcoholic P.I. can be checked out here.
This week, Dan suspects he’s suffering from SAD, and is going to rely on The Shining for answers.
I’ve been feeling a little blue lately. The type of blues you get when you’re hungover. Problem is, I haven’t touched a drop in almost four months. I’ve been a good little boy, and still the thought of sitting arched over a small dining table in a dimly lit room and playing Russian roulette with myself as I wear an underwear vest seems like a good idea.
I eat right, eating my broccoli like a boy scout, and exercise regularly. I also have two enjoyable and rewarding gigs: the first one, entertaining young kiddies in a kindergarten during the day by completing puzzles with them and listening to heavy metal music as we play air guitar solos, the second, writing comedic mysteries and thrillers for which I’m receiving modest but increasing compensation for the hours I put in before kiddie time.
I should be happy, but I’m not.
It’s been a mystery I’ve been unable to solve, even with the help of Jake Hancock. I’ve been unbearable to live with, snapping at my girlfriend for infinitesimal shit, and not enjoying my usual hobbies of long walks, listening to podcasts, and binge watching shitty horror movies.
For the sake of the drama of this blog post, let’s pretend I was at the end of my tether yesterday evening, which isn’t far from the truth. It was the highest point of conflict in this character arc, and I’d creepily, half-jokingly mentioned blowing my brains out to my girlfriend, and in my desperation had even searched on eBay for pistols and underwear vests.
It was at this point my girlfriend, fingers crossed, suggested something that’s hopefully a breakthrough: “You felt like this this time last year. Maybe it’s got something to do with that seasonable something or other?”
I can’t remember how I responded, but let’s assume I made a noise similar to what a hot-air balloon makes five minutes before it crashes down to earth. I was ridiculing her suggestion, but she’d gotten me thinking.
Maybe she was onto something.
I picked up my tablet and started googling and learned about a disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is often shortened to super-easy-to-remember acronym SAD. In a nutshell, it’s probably what Jack’s suffering from in The Shining, minus the hallucinations of two creepy twins who look too old to enjoy tricycles and the shining itself, whatever the fuck that is.
SAD stems from lack of sunlight during the winter and autumn months, and is no Joke. Just ask Olive Oil, who was forced to lock Popeye in a walk-in refrigerator because of how BAD his SAD had gotten. And it makes sense that I’d suffer from it. I’m the first to wear shorts at work in the spring, and I’ve always found Christmas to be a depressing affair. I’ve also got the emotional control of a starving eleventh-month-old with diaper rash.
Could my girlfriend be right? Am I one of those frail little birds who spits his pacifier out just because I’m not getting enough sun? Am I one lonely hotel and extreme winter away from forcing a loved one to lock me in a walk-in refrigerator to cool off?
Time will tell, as I’m sitting in front of hopefully the solution right now. It’s not my computer screen, as that’s more often than not the primary source of my frustration and anxiety—when I don’t know what the fuck to write for the next chapter in my novel or when Windows 10 decides to update itself. The solution’s shining into my eyes right now, hopefully messing with my serotonin levels as I type. It’s a bright light.
Make me happy, you son of a bitch.
Thanks for reading, even if this blog post has little to do with trials and tribulations of sobriety, and even less to do with comedy.
Don’t forget to follow this blog by filling out the form in the top-right corner of the webpage. And if you know a Jekyll that becomes a Hyde during the snowy months, don’t forget to feel mildly obligated to share this blog post with them by generally posting it on social media and hoping they come across it.
Swapping addictions is great and everything, but your ultimate goal should be to become content with addiction-free life. That and world peace.
Last time I got sober, I wrote a blog post about how I did it, analogizing the method to prepping for a nuclear-event-style doomsday disaster, riding out the worst of it in a bunker, and emerging from said bunker prepared to survive the nuclear fallout. It’s one of my favorite blog posts, and sometimes I go back and read it and pat myself on the back for having been so witty and pithy.
In a nutshell, I advocated hiding away in your home, cutting yourself off from your drinking buddies (represented in the post by scab-ridden radiation zombies), and emerging yourself in a load of in-home pastimes until you’re over the worst of the cravings. Only then can you safely tackle getting back to normal life… or what’s left of it.
Getting sober this time has been a little different. Sure, I haven’t exactly been a socialite, but then again, when I got shitfaced all the time, I wasn’t either. Early-early sobriety this time has meant shifting my addiction from booze to something else: big-ass energy drinks, which I’d consumed last sobriety run, but to which I’ve exhibited religious-level dedication this time around, just like alcohol.
I’ve been so successful at this, that I have no idea why, when life got tough, I turned to paint-stripping-strength gin and tonics instead of chronic-jaw-pain-inducing levels of caffeine and something guarana. Whatever the hell that is.
The buzz of alcohol, and why I enjoyed it so much, is a mere ghost of a memory, and when I have a shitty day at work or when someone gets the seat on the train I’d had my eye on for four or five stops, I don’t immediately think of how many beers I’ll drink that evening, but how far I can make my eyes bulge out of my head from getting high as a motherfucker on caffeine.
Clearly, this is only a temporary solution for my recovery from alcoholism, as my dentist will get shit-angry with me if she has to extract my sole wisdom tooth, and I hear sleep’s a good thing to experience. When I googled it, sleep had quite a few cheerleaders.
But so far? I can’t recommend this method of getting sober enough. I’m five weeks in and getting this far has never been easier. And, boy, have I gotten familiar with advanced-strategy Worms game play.
Before I started writing this post I thought of compiling a five-point list of my favorite oversized energy drinks, but decided against it, in part because I wouldn’t be able to make it humorous, and in part because I figured there probably aren’t that many other countries other than Norway that consume one of my favorites: Super Fart!
(In Norwegian, fart means speed. And super? Yeah… that means the same thing.)
The result is I’m sitting here, sipping on a can of Super Fart!, wondering what the hell I’m writing about, which is a typical symptom experienced while consuming the stuff. Let me just glance at the title again. Yep, I’m back on track.
This is a dangerous way to quit boozing. Sure, energy drinks are way less destructive to my life than booze ever was, but here at Hilariously Sober, we like to get serious and think about the long term. Honest. So what’s the next step in my sobriety?
Obviously, it has to be not living the life of a depressed, overweight fifteen-year-old whose only escape from his oppressive middle-class family is his Xbox 360 and attention-spam-shortening beverages. I have to move on from this, make another addiction switch to something even less harmful, eventually ending up addicted to something healthy, like exercise or helping old people across the road, or combining them into a crazy new fitness trend I could definitely make a viral video about.
But I’ll leave that for another blog post. This thing’s getting as long as I like them to be, and I have tickets to the cinema I don’t want to eat the price of.
Tune in next week for ‘Five Healthy Addictions to Swap with Boozing Your Tits Off’.
Until then, feel free to put your newfound addictions in the comments section.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to recommend it to between two- and three-hundred members of your friends and family.
Starting on day one again is shitty. How can you avoid it?
Last week I blogged about the hurdles I have to get over to achieve sobriety each year. One the day of writing it, I’d just gotten over the first-day-of-summer hurdle, and was feeling really good about staying sober all summer. I’d go around like a bad ass in the leather jacket I don’t own and which would be weather inappropriate, break into song too often, and never raise a can to my lips, like Danny Zuko.
Well, that was as much fantasy as when the car in Grease and/or Grease 2 flies into the sky. I fucked up. I opened up the sobriety app on my iPhone, pressed the clock reset button—a day before achieving a month sober—and got drunk one night. And then the next day. And the day after that. You see where this is going.
What I’m trying to say is over the course of a week, I’ve been pressing the clock reset button like I’m playing one of those games the douchebag next to you on the train plays, where they have to press the shit out of their iPhone screen to shoot blocks or some shit.
I’m back to day one, and I haven’t decided whether today is day zero or day one. Day zero meaning I’ll get shitfaced one last time, day one meaning this is my new sobriety date.
I don’t want to blog about my thoughts and feelings leading up to the decision to get off the wagon. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my ability to express myself emotionally is indirectly proportional to how often I write “some shit.” All I’ll say is I can’t drink for shit now, and that Belgian beer for me meant making it through a fiver-hour-long Inland Empire-style nightmare before crawling into bed.
What I will blog about is five tip on how to stay sober. I’m proving to be shitty at this, so forgive the irony. Anyway, the advice I write on this blog is more for me than you.
Obsess over hobbies
Drinking takes time, shitloads of it. You have to go and buy the stuff, and the time you spend drinking it takes a lot of time. You can pretty much do whatever you want and you don’t get bored while drunk. Take it out of your life, and you have a shitload of time to fill. And the years of drinking means you’re shit at filling it. You’re going to need a hobby that you can obsess over like you obsessed over the sauce. Writing silly mystery books is mine.
2. Be proud of your days sober
One of the shitty things about sobriety is it’s never absolutely achieved. But it is on a day-by-day basis. Be proud as fuck of the days you’ve made it to bed without toothpaste paste on your face and a weird smell coming from your pants.
3. Get sober buddies
You might think the T-birds in Grease look silly. And you’d be right. But they don’t give a fuck what you think. They’re proud to be part of a clan, and it strengthens they’re feeling that the lifestyle they’re leading isn’t a complete waste of time.
Other sober buddies are now your clan, and they probably won’t try to fuck your girlfriend or race some other asshole on the motorbike you inexplicably bought by solely working a summer job. Find them, get their numbers or their Snapchat or whatever, and spend time around them. I’ve always been put off by AA, because of the religious aspect, but I now have the humility to realize I need those guys in my life.
4. Never, ever think you can go back to drinking like a normal person
Once you’ve become an alcoholic, the chances are you’ve definitely ruined alcohol for yourself. You can’t go back to sipping wine like a wine snob, stop at a reasonable blood-alcohol level, and relax after without obsessing over that extra drink you didn’t buy for yourself. After a month of two on the wagon, you’ll start to feel cured. Don’t. That’s the booze fucking with you.
5. Make sobriety your thing
It would be great if you could just forget about booze and live a life like a Shoalin Monk. But it’s not realistic. You’re going to have to work at sobriety every day. That finish line never comes, but that doesn’t mean you can stop running towards it. Sure, filling your time with cool shit to do helps, but immersing yourself in sobriety culture is the key to making this into a lifestyle and not just something you do for a little while after deciding drinking booze makes you feel too shitty to continue.
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Some days being sober is like enjoying a relaxing ride on a merry-go-round. Other days it’s like surviving the sharp twists and turns of a Japanese roller coaster without shitting yourself.
Today’s the first day of my summer holiday from my kindergarten gig. This usually means the start of four weeks of drinking, pretending I like The Beach Boys way more than I do, and traveling to places that, when I get there, I wander around aimlessly and have no idea what I should be doing to justify the money spent on the trip. (I’m looking at you, Rome.)
But this year’s different. For the first time in five years, I’m sober for the first morning of the summer holiday, and all it took was getting through the first two or three white-knuckle hours after I’d finished work without buying a shitload of beer to achieve it. I don’t know about what your drinking career was like, but the first day of the summer holiday was my drinking equivalent of the Super bowl, the Rumble in the Jungle, or whatever race Formula 1 nerds orgasm over.
I played a summertime playlist with some nerdy title on whatever music streaming service I was subscribing to at the time, I had a schedule of movies I’d watch (including Dazed and Confused), and the only food that past my lips was from a smorgasbord of golden-colored, greasy junk food. And, of course, I had a schedule of craft beers I’d work my way through. I’d cough up the cash for a packet of cigarettes and smoke on my balcony, too, because, well, it’s the summer holiday, so who needs lungs when they’re older?
Last night, I broke that routine, choosing to watch Jaws instead of Dazed…, and choosing to drink shitloads of caffeine and exclusively vape. I didn’t go out on my balcony, not because I thought it’d be a trigger, but because it rained like a motherfucker and the view from my balcony isn’t nearly as good when I’m not shitfaced and can barely see it from smoke stinging my eyes.
Now that I’m sober, this day will be my biggest test every year. People like to drink during the summer. It’s something to do with sunshine and having friends and whatnot. Fuck if I know. But what other testing days lie ahead of me? What other days will I have to apply a rear-naked chokehold for a few hours to the alcoholic squatting in my brain so I wake up the next day feeling alive?
Of course, there’s:
Nothing celebrates the birth of Christ quite like starting on mimosas before breakfast, getting progressively drunker throughout the day without your family members batting an eyelid, and arm wrestling your dad during a Christmas special of Doctor Who. This is the one day of the year when alcoholics feel most comfortable being around their family, because they’re riding the same crazy train you are for at least one day, and it’s also a day when talking to your granddad has never been so much fun. We’re all in it together, like one big stinking, steaming mess, and by good we’re having a good time. Except this year I won’t be. My orange juice will just have pulp in it. I’ll be sure to blog about my experience when I get there, but for now, I can only wonder whether my dad, well into his fifties, will be easier to overcome when I’ve been drinking carbonated water all day.
Birthdays of significance
I’ve already got a regular one of these under my belt. This year’s. And I have to admit, I felt a little silly opening presents and celebrating the fact I’d made it to thirty-one years of age while I wasn’t shitfaced. It felt like running in a super-short kiddy marathon, getting my ass kicked by hordes of six-foot-five, one-hundred-and-twenty-pound thirteen-year-olds, and receiving a medal for just participating. I’m not too worried about these being a trigger until I reach a significant age like forty. Or if Bill Burr turned up to my apartment wanting to celebrate my birthday with me, and asked, “Why are you not having a drink on your birthday, you cunt?” before going on a non-rant about my generation vaping and not eating animal products.
Those days in Easter
There are a number of days during the Easter period that have various names. I can’t be bothered googling them, but I know one is called Good Friday. I’m a little hazy on the religious significance of them. All I know is that I’m not at work those days, as I get a break from work for Easter. I was pretty good at finding an excuse to get a little shitfaced every Monday evening, so give me the death of Jesus or some other guy to, uh, celebrate…? and I didn’t have to think too hard before I was riding the metro to the wine monopoly to buy a bottle of gin. Next year, I’ll be celebrating those days by raising a glass of lemonade and eating shitloads of chocolate like all the rest of the children.
Anyone else’s birthdays
If I’m the overweight goofball running the super-short kiddy marathon on my birthdays, I’m the douchebag who’s grinning like an idiot and putting a medal around your neck for participating on yours. Reached the age of twenty-nine? Fuck yeah I’ll raise a glass to that.
“But isn’t it silly? Shouldn’t I wait until next year to have a big one?” you ask.
I reply, “Dude, you might never make it to thirty. People get hit by buses every day. Failing that, their girlfriend or wife is definitely plotting to kill them at some point. Besides, look at how shiny this medal you and every other person too lazy to run a proper marathon is getting.”
That’s the blog post for this week. Number five, as promised in the title, is the first day of the summer holiday, just in case you’re a bit of an idiot and feel a little shortchanged. I’ve already jumped that hurdle and am running towards the finish line that we alcoholics never reach. That of having achieved sobriety. In the race of alcoholism recovery, the fat creepy guy never gasses.
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