I’ve just been on holiday for a week and you know what, the start, without alcohol, was tough. It caught me a bit unexpected if I’m honest as I’ve already done one holiday without the anxiety juice and it was easy. However, that holiday was in a medieval town in France in winter. This was a capital city, with an amazing atmosphere in the sun.
I’m changing the saying “Suns out. Guns out” (not that it ever applied to me mind) to “Suns out. Be fucking careful non drinkers as your triggers will be out too and you may be tempted to believe that it’s a good idea to have a drink”. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s tres catchy and is probs gonna be on all tee shirts and mugs for Ibiza’s next season.
So the first night we went for food and by coincidence they didn’t serve alcohol. It was a vegan place…amazing food, dirty floor, weird shit on the walls, you get the vibe. So that was easy. But walking back to the apartment, guess who turned up? Frenemy Frank (see The Beer Bully post if you don’t have a scooby doo what I’m on about).
So what did I do? First I got pissed off and could feel myself going into a mood (great holiday partner) so checked myself then spoke to my partner about the feelings. That helped loads. Then I went to buy some AF lager (amazing options in Berlin). And that helped evenmore. I did notice I was drinking it fast but who cares, it helped.
But it was the next day that the triggers really kicked in. We went to a massive outdoor market that also had an amphitheatre next to it where hundreds of people congregate and do karaoke! Brilliant. In Berlin you’re allowed to walk anywhere with alcohol and people do. So on the way there I was clocking people on the lagers and feeling strange.
And it just got worse. I was genuinely surrounded by people of all ages, all backgrounds, all different levels of personal hygiene (!) drinking and having fun. It was making me feel tight in my chest. Not anxious but I could see the joy in drinking again and that scared me. So again I spoke about it then sat on a bench and played the tape forward.
If I was drinking then yes, we would have got beers and sat on the grass with everyone else. Yes those first couple would have made me feel good and like I was joining in. BUT, then I would have got more and more beer, I’d have started to feel tired in the sun but kept on drinking. We’d have then just gone to the closest bar to drink even more.
I’d have got cigarettes, smoked loads, talked shit, had false fun, not been careful in a new city, possibly not been respectful, then got back to the apartment pissed and hungry but would have had a nightcap (at least one more). Then the next day would have felt as rough as a hedgehogs ball sack and not enjoyed the tour we went on.
And that’s when the relief came, I got to the end of the tape in my head and realised I would have ruined the rest of the day/holiday if I’d been drinking. Not improved it. So I turned that trigger into a trigger of joy. A joy that I’m free from the poison and the vicious circle of the alcohol trap. For me, this technique is an absolute lifesaver.