All or nothing

I am a Libran, although have never held much faith in astrology as I am one of the least balanced people I know. I do not do moderation; everything is full throttle, all or nothing, Spartan or full blown luxury, pouring with rain or dry as a desert.

In some respects, that has helped me stay sober, but it also helped lead me to the place where I ended up, prior to quitting drinking; at least a bottle of wine a night, and virtually every social occasion ending up with me drunk and passing out. I remember going skiing with a friend a few years ago, and getting up at 7 am each day to spend eight hours on the slopes, before getting stuck into the après ski at 7 pm and boozing until 2 or 3 am. We maintained that pace of life for the entire week; healthy, fit and active in the daylight hours, completely out of it and chain smoking for most of the night. That was a microcosm of how I used to live.bright_sunrise_breakwater_beach

Being a person who has routinely entered into everything in a full-blown, give-it-all-I’ve-got kind of way, or who hasn’t bothered entering into it at all, has made this whole sober living business reasonably simple for me. Over Christmas, there was never a point where I thought I could just have one glass of Champagne, because I knew that it wouldn’t have ended there; one glass for me would inevitably have led to the entire bottle, my brain whirring away at a hundred miles an hour as it attempted to plan how I could manage to get hammered without anyone noticing. Foolish thoughts, the thoughts of an addict, but very real and most definitely guaranteed to take place as soon as a few drops made their way into my bloodstream.

And so, in that respect it’s easy; it’s a case of have a glass, drink the bottle, fall over, pass out, hate yourself, argue with someone/everyone, say stupid things, act like an idiot. Or, alternatively, drink something with no alcohol in it and do none of that stuff – a clean, straightforward, simple decision and one that I always take these days.

In other ways, it isn’t easy at all – there are occasions when those around you are getting drunk and letting their hair down and you feel as though you are a little too straight-laced, too conscious. There are times when it seems as though it is the correct way to behave; having a drink and acting all tipsy – Christmas and weddings being the two that instantly spring to mind – and being a non-drinker has the effect of making one stick out like a sore thumb, sobriety becoming a defining characteristic that you would rather people didn’t notice about you. But then it once again boils down to the above choice, and I am left with no choices at all – being the sober and straight one is infinitely more appealing than being the passed out inebriated one.

When I drank, my life tended to undulate in an entertaining (lively and slightly wild, not usually in a positive way) and often destructive pattern of highs and lows, peaks and troughs; swinging wildly from this situation to that, always some drama to contend with and some fallout to tidy away. Living without alcohol means that there is none of that – life is simple and rhythmic and controlled. And I prefer it that way. It also occurs to me that I could harness that very un-Libran quality of mine and use it to achieve some pretty impressive personal goals; if I throw myself into (for instance) running, with the same level of gusto that I once applied to drinking alcohol, then I could become better than I ever imagined that I could be, at that and boundless other ventures.

Food for thought for 2013…