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Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

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wystan
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Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by wystan » 07 Jul 2011 13:41

I find I often end up drinking alone as do a lot of people here. Perhaps our loved ones think that means drinking like they do alone but just ... alone. But of course it doesn't. It means dispensing with the glass and drinking from the bottle. It often means drinking faster and faster till we get drunk and pass out, possible pissing ourselves.

So why do we do it alone? So we can drink as we "like." We would feel ashamed of the way we drink if anyone (apart from another boozer of course). And certainly if a stranger saw us drink like that they might (possibly) look at us with disgust. Think of how we look at tramps, most of which are just alcoholics who don't have an internet connection for Bright Eyes (black humour.)

BUT what if our loved ones could see us doing this! Having the first drink, eventually drinking from the bottle! Chugging down gin! They wouldn't be disgusted. They'd be terrified. They'd be furious. You can bet their heart rate would soar. They would grab the bottle and smash it to the floor. They might hug us. They might strike us. At any length, their reaction to something we consider a "treat" would be explosive.

The next time I consider picking up a drink, I will imagine seeing my husband there ...I think he would shout at me. Might (finally) leave the house, go to a friend or parent of his which he hasn't yet. Or he might cry and see what help we could get, which would be humiliating.

If you've got someone you care about and who cares about you (or perhaps someone on the board that's been through it) what would you do.

What would happen if you could never drink alone?
Michael

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." — Dr. Seuss

Last drink, 10 August.

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Gobsmacked » 07 Jul 2011 16:41

I think in my case it's pretty cut and dry.

I have only two modes. Either I don't start or I don't stop. There's no middle ground at all anymore and that means I can't drink socially..... I can *act* like I'm drinking socially, which means watching people around me and only drinking as much as they do ..... but after the party is over I will obsess about it until I can find a way to be home alone and then I will "release" once other people have gone on to do other things..... even if the release has to be delayed for days until I get the opportunity.

I'm writing this in present tense even though I haven't had a drink socially for this reason since January.

At home, the drinking alone serves only one function..... to avoid getting in a fight (or more correctly to delay the fight until after the drinking is done). At this point even if I were to drink one beer (LOL..... like I could do that... :roll: ) my wife would--and rightly so--go into "do whatever it takes to make him stop" mode... and of course when you're drinking you need to focus on the task and the last thing you need is someone breathing down your neck and telling you that you've had enough..... or worse yet... tyring to take it away! :shock:

The fights are the worst. They always include the incessent repetition of the word "WHY" to which I have no answer.

Drinking alone allows one to avoid the "WHY"

-G-

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Jjjj of Old » 07 Jul 2011 18:10

Great question, Wystan!

In recent months, not drinking has become much easier for me, purely because I have so little opportunity to drink alone without my wife either being present or finding out about it. And I've also realised that I don't/didn't like drinking in her presence because she doesn't drink. Drinking alone was fun (although the consequences weren't always fun) and drinking socially was fun (although, again, the consequences weren't always fun), but drinking with someone who isn't doing the same is no fun at all: as Gobsmacked says, even if my wife doesn't say anything about it, a huge and depressing question "Why?" still floats above me in the room. Getting drunk is never fun if you try doing it whilst being forced to ask yourself why you're doing it. For me, it spoils the whole point of getting drunk, which is, I guess, to forget about life, myself and my motives for a while.*

So, I find it easier not to drink at all now: drinking at home's no fun, and if I were to sneak off to the pub during the day my wife would quickly realise that's what I'd done, so that's not a fun option for drinking "alone" either. Furthermore, we don't socialise apart much, either, so, really, there's not a lot of "fun" drinking available to me, even if I desired it.

It strikes me that drinking alone was the biggest mistake I made - however much fun it seemed at the time. I remember being about 20 and a friend telling me excitedly that the previous night he'd become "quite drunk" on his own and it had been "quite an interesting experience". I recall being baffled by what the fuss was - where was the novelty in that? It hadn't really dawned on me until then that getting drunk on one's own was anything out of the ordinary. I was doing it all the time.

Drinking alone could be massively pleasurable. But it could also become monumentally unpleasant - something that became more usual as time went on and the amount of booze I needed to get as drunk as I desired increased.

I had good times: a long summer night spent sitting on the lawn, drinking lots and lots of white wine and reading a silly book about London gangsters when I was about 19: a silly memory, but something I really remember enjoying. And I also had horribly stupid times: a cold March morning, 2 or 3am, locking myself out of the house after I'd stepped outside for a drunken smoke, and having to wander around town until the morning when my housemate returned with his key. Like I say, the longer time went on, the more the stupid times began to outnumber the pleasurable times: waking up like death to see all the empty bottles and cans tipped around my bed: bottles and cans I couldn't even remember emptying down my throat. Stupid messages left on Facebook and the like, and vague memories of 'phone calls I'd made but couldn't remember the details of. Nothing massively horrendous, but it all became very depressing and inconvenient. Unhappy: so why did I continue to do it for so long?

I guess I drank alone because I could. It seemed a pleasant luxury, a way of passing the time. But it was also just a consequence of having a problem with drink. I just loved getting totally smashed. I hated the mornings after, but I loved drinking until I passed out. I liked getting drunk with my friends too, but I suspect - looking back - that I could probably have had the same amount of fun with them if I'd stayed sober. I had/have a friend who always managed it. But I never had the guts to try it.

And, like Gobsmacked says, if I drank socially, I'd often find that I couldn't drink as much as I actually wanted to, so I'd still have one eye on the next opportunity I could grab for drinking alone. I'd go out with friends, but make sure I arrived early enough to get a few drinks inside me before anyone else arrived. Or I'd make sure I had booze to drink when I got home. There have been so many fantastically "social" evenings with friends that have ended sourly for me because last orders were called before I'd got drunk enough and I didn't have any way of buying more when we left the pub. And there have been so many nights I've enjoyed socialising with my family, only to then wait for them to go to bed so I could help myself to their drinks cabinet and carry on drinking without them: drinking alone and in secret on the patio because, unlike them, I was never happy until I was well and truly blotto. (And what did they think when they realised I'd been doing this? They were horrified! And it made me feel like a complete sh*thead! So why did I continue to do it...?)

I used to think that I liked drinking. But I think what I genuinely liked was drinking alone. In no other situation was I able to drink quite as much as I actually wanted. So to now find myself in a position where I can almost never drink alone without being found out has been a huge help to me, and I'm grateful for it. Not being able to drink alone has made not drinking at all a huge amount easier. Kick out the drinking alone, and you're well on the way, I think. From my own experience, at least, drinking alone is almost certainly where all the trouble started.

So: what if I could never drink alone again? Well, I'd raise my arms to heaven and thank the Lord! That situation doesn't scare me. But... What if I could drink alone - maybe even tonight? Now that's the question that positively terrifies me!

Thanks Wystan - you've really made me think. But you've also tempted me to ramble quite a bit, which I apologise for!

I think you're right: next time you think of drinking alone, do imagine how your husband would feel if he could see you. I think cutting out the drinking alone is one of the most critical choices we make when we know we have a problem knowing where to stop.

Best wishes,
Mark

* I guess we all need to forget about life, ourselves and our motives every now and then. I think a problem arises when we do that too much and don't face up to what makes us want to do that so much. Besides, there are better ways to "switch off" for a while than getting plastered - me, I like to do a crossword, but there are plenty of other ways to while away a lonely hour!
"Addiction doesn’t go away when we stop drinking." ~ Tai

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Samnearly » 07 Jul 2011 22:09

Hi
This is the second thread today thats really made me think.The first was Digga on the 7 day when he was talking about drinking, not drinking, drinking, not drinking - which epitomises me exactly. And this one? If I was never left alone I would not have half the problem that I do. I learned to drink alone while OH was building his career, and having an affair.It blotted out all the pain and lonliness without anyone having to know. 7 years of spending every evening on my own.
Over the last couple of years its become a naughty treat to get completely shitfaced on my own as there is no-one to tell me off (or thats what by then my now addictive mind thinks)
I have recently looked forward to the time when I can drink as much as I want alone and not get chastised for it.But then I am at the stage when I can't control it socially either, and now I'm afraid of being left alone. complicated eh?
one day at a time....

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Ladysnoops » 07 Jul 2011 22:32

Wow, what powerful thoughts!! They SO hit home with me. I am the epitome of the "drinking alone" person. I drink very little when out and about, not because I'm afraid of getting drunk, but more because I don't have that much desire to drink a lot when I am out with others. But get me back home where my hubby often pays very little attention to what is going on in the house (he is downstairs watching TV and I am upstairs), and I'm very much in the "getting plastered" mode :o :roll: . That certainly tells me that one of my strong triggers was being "alone" at home and wanting to forget that hubby has very little time for me. Lots and lots of complicated background on my marriage that I won't bore you with. Well lo and behold, I did not realize for the longest time that hubby figured out that I was drinking until I passed out BECAUSE HE NEVER PAID ANY ATTENTION TO WHAT I WAS DOING :( . But I was so wrong! When he started to confront me with it, I denied it. Denied for many years as I only did the drinking until passing out thing on occasion. Had a binge about 3 weeks ago and was given an ultimatum, give up the booze or we are done. Well, the marriage is not great (as you have figured out by now :? ), but having been divorced once already and not interested in being single again...I decided to give another go at the marriage. Things have been so much better since deciding that the booze had to go and go 100% for GOOD! Hubby is paying more attention to me (partly to see if I am sneaking drinks :oops: which I am not), but partly because he realizes that his behaviour may have contributed to my drinking. Still a long way to go for us, but things are tons better.

Thanks Wystan for putting this thread out there. Helps to write some of our experiences down and read them back.

Best to all for a sober day/night <:)>

Linda
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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by wystan » 07 Jul 2011 23:36

Hey thanks for all the enthusiasm and words, guys! I will have another read through tomorrow and perhaps post something.
Michael

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." — Dr. Seuss

Last drink, 10 August.

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Beverley » 08 Jul 2011 07:57

This all so close to my heart. How sad I became. Quaffing away totally on my own. I really believed he did not notice but of course he did as I would have been totally off my face! It all seems too ridiculous.

All that money spent on ruining my health and happiness. And his.
Every moment is a gift - that's why it's called the present

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by wystan » 08 Jul 2011 09:33

Mark - one of my worst memories was passing out in a park Tompkin Square Park, NYC and having my bag and keys nicked, going back to my awful flat in Brooklyn where I was already late for the rent (and roommate was nearly always out) and puzzling and puzzling how to get back in, let alone going to landlord for new keys. I remember grabbing a beer (thankfully had some cash for that saviour, alcohol - phew!) and hunkering down on what must have been, quite literally, some drug addict's (not me, another one) mattress in an alley and getting it down me. Eventually, I summoned up the courage to go back to the house, knock on the next door (never spoken to neighbours) go through their house and somehow get in through my back patio doors. Ugh. Shudder. Of course I learnt never to get myself in a situation like that again. Not. That was almost exactly 10 years ago. Sigh.

I'm realising it's a really interesting question this drinking alone one, because on the face of it, the people we love are the people closest to us. The people that most worry about our health or at least most affected by our drinking, hence the rows and the extreme reaction. But it seems that BY DEFINITION they are also the people that we are escaping from for a while. In fact, it has been "useful" for me that my husband doesn't drink as much as me because I can stay on in London, drink more with friends, then go on a jaunt on my own, find a gay sauna or pick up some random bloke. (Or get all my money stolen. Or lose my iPhone. Something fun like that.) Anyway, so, getting away for a while. The "flight" response, in other words.

Now, he and I have a pretty honest relationship (and it's to my shame that I have copped off with various people without him knowing it but everything else pretty much is in the open) so I am not so worried (with him anyway) about the "fight" response. But I sense that some of you drink instead of "fighting" or instead of the confrontation you fear with your partners. About how they ignore you, about their affairs, about something else ...

This is all coming up because I'm reading a book about being more assertive. It's a great book - can share title if anyone's interested - but the main point it seems to me is how much stress we cause ourselves by not saying what we mean, what we need, what we want. By not being upfront and honest. Certainly trying to tackle this as often as possible is a really good co-project while not drinking. I do sense to be quite honest that if i don't try and take control of my interactions a bit more, the stress will gradually build. And then I'll be grabbing a drink all of a sudden before I know it.

ciao

x
Michael

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." — Dr. Seuss

Last drink, 10 August.

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Jjjj of Old » 08 Jul 2011 19:21

Thanks Michael - I understand that, too. Drinking alone is sometimes a flight response to the very people we're supposed to enjoy being with the most.

I think I've always secretly known that, but I've felt guilty about wanting to take "flight" too much. And yet it's a perfectly natural and normal response.

I think that, however much you love someone, you do need regular time out from them. If you spend too much time together, you can run out of things to say to one another. I know this only too well, having not had a full-time job for over two years. Sometimes, my wife (whom I love dearly) arrives home and tells me all about her day, but I have absolutely nothing more exciting to tell her about than the housework I've done. There's really not a great deal that I do in life that she doesn't already know about, or participate in.

And that's frustrating. I need to get out a wee bit more so that I have stuff to tell her. Otherwise, I'll just end up boring the pair of us.

And I also need to do that because the frustration can - as you say - tempt us to drink alone, can't it? Or to kick out and "relax" in other ways. The only solution really is to be honest with our nearest and dearest: to say that we sometimes need to do certain things on our own, and then we must go ahead and do those things. Because if we're not upfront and honest (albeit in a tactful way), how can we expect our partners to understand or help? And if we're not honest with our partners, it really does lead to a vicious circle of frustration, stress, and a foolish, deluded desire to drink in order to break free into "flight".

Thanks Michael - again, you're really making me think!

That's a terrible tale of NYC, by the way! Awful how we can find ourselves in such scrapes, and yet still take such a long time to do anything about it.

Best wishes,
Mark
"Addiction doesn’t go away when we stop drinking." ~ Tai

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Libelula » 09 Jul 2011 23:04

Hello Wystan / Michael, that is an excellent question!

Hi everyone else <:)> all of your posts in response have been so very interesting and resonant to read...

Like Mark, I do have some pleasant memories of drinking alone. Sometime when dining alone; a few times in the garden in the sunshine, squinting at a book that gets harder and harder to read; or in bed with a good book and a glass of Highland Park. Very occasionally a kind of pathetic one-woman party, lights off, music playing, dancing slightly desperately in the dark (mostly this belongs to the paragraph below though!)

But the bad memories far outweigh these. That bleak, numb, despairing feeling that I've only really seen since becoming sober... and which I could barely distinguish whether it was the cause or effect of my drinking. Alone in my cluttered mess-strewn flat, feeling lonely, defeated by a 12" inanimate piece of glass with some liquid in it. Sitting on the floor with my legs splayed out in front of me, part of me outside myself kind of aware, dismayed and disgusted, of my lolling head, unfocussed eyes and slumped body. Feeling kind of ravished / ravaged by alcohol.

I did it probably because:

learned reaction - my parents never went to pubs, always sat at home, drinking alone, just together.
safer
cheaper
better wine
no stigma of being a pathetic drunken slattern stumbling home amid ridicule and revulsion - society is more condemnatory of drunken women than drunken men, tho' I don't particularly intend to take up feminist arms on that one. :?
I can do it in my pyjamas, even in the bath.

I've been seeing a therapist lately and have begun to realise that some of the deep underlying reasons for my drinking and sense of failure / self-loathing / hopelessness / carefully masked futility / procrastinations / indecisions are still beyond the reach of my full understanding just now. (I do like the line: therapy is when you start off slightly cracked and end up completely broke. :roll: )

I'm a fairly moderate social drinker (ok, by alcoholic standards only :oops: ) except when out with colleagues - these are binge, heavy drinking men and even those senior to me feel compelled to do that thing where you ask for a glass of coke and they think its fun / nice / generous / god only knows to bring you back a large glass of wine when you're already completely pie-eyed. But like Mark I have suffered from that anxiety when I'm on a night out with friends, and I know that I haven't had enough to 'hit the spot' and have to shamefacedly admit to myself the logistical challenge of finding more alcohol to drink at home (social stigma stops me from going into bars alone) when the offies are about to close or have closed.

However, your question, caller, was what would I do if I could never drink alone? When ever I have tried to set myself a "no home drinking" rule, I have just found my 'social' life ramping up considerably. Now, I am a card-carrying user ( addict ? ) of BE and so I now that is precisely my aim: never to drink alone.... and so far this has been good. Unexpectedly brilliant. \:)/

I slipped in my AF-ness this week and unfortunately this has been home-alone-drinking, in a state of lowness. :cry: I don't use the word sobriety because - like several of us here, I think - I see sobriety as more than a state of AF-ness, it's a state of non-alcoholicness, and I'm a long there from there still....

What a long and waffly post!

Lib xx
Last edited by Libelula on 15 Jan 2014 11:52, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Jjjj of Old » 09 Jul 2011 23:23

What a long, absorbing, thought-provoking and painfully-recognisable post, Lib! Waffle away as much as you want...! (::)

Sorry to hear about your slip, this week - but I think it's encouraging/positive to regard it as just that: a slip. So just pick yourself up (sounds like you've already done this), dust yourself down and move on ahead again into the unexpectedly brilliant AF future.

Best wishes,
Mark

PS. Another great post, SB! I totally agree, and I think those words of Jos's are excellent, aren't they?
"Addiction doesn’t go away when we stop drinking." ~ Tai

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Libelula » 10 Jul 2011 09:07

Jarvis Jones wrote: So just pick yourself up (sounds like you've already done this), dust yourself down and move on ahead again into the unexpectedly brilliant AF future.?
<:)> Thanks Mark. <:)>
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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Aaron.A » 18 Jul 2011 14:11

Tough question. I can go out to a pub and happily sit there drinking my mineral water with friends now as I do not associate pubs with getting drunk any more. Getting drunk for me is something to do away from prying eyes by myself at home. If however I was forced to drink socially I can imagine I would end up having a few ciders with family and friends at the table , whilst having a sneaky double vodka at the bar every time I ordered a drink.
I gave up social drinking a while back after getting drunk and making a fool of myself virtually everytime I went out. Falling asleep on the toilets waking up in a hedge covered in vomit, you name it I probably did it. Then there was the next morning dreading to turn my phone on for fear of what text messages I would receive or what I had sent :oops: .
It's been a while since i could stand on my own two feet again

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by roledog33 » 18 Jul 2011 15:16

Interesting topic. Now, to answer the question: I would never drink. I gave up drinking out in public a long time ago. Not because I was making a fool of myself; but because I didn't want others (especially coworkers) to see how drunk I was getting. I was always a mild drunk when out. Mainly because I had my wife with me to keep me from getting into trouble. I was never a violent person when drinking because I had the sense to realize my reflexes would be way too slow to defend myself so all that would happen is I would get beat up.

Very good topic. I'm anxiously awaiting to read other responses. The responses so far have been very good.

All the best,
roledog33
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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by wystan » 21 Jul 2011 10:31

Interesting RoleDog. I was in a meeting last night and the guy said that he used to go to the pub and drink Perrier in front of other people so they thought he wasn't drinking, wouldn't call him on it, but of course he would have a gin and tonic behind the menu on the bar.
"I was hiding drinks in a pub," he said. "That's madness."
And of course would then drink half a bottle of voddie on the way home ...
Michael

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." — Dr. Seuss

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by roledog33 » 21 Jul 2011 11:05

wystan,
In my alcohol groups on base here, we talk about people who sneak and drink; especially the ones who are a part of the group. But hiding drinks while in a club/pub like what you described is madness.

roledog33
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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Enfin » 21 Jul 2011 15:03

Hi Wystan, and all,

Just saw this thread now, but haven't read back on everyone's replies yet.

Why ? - is it because I still have that impatience within me ?, like when you're sitting in a restaurant waiting for the waiter to pour the wine, or when with a bunch of friends no one notices that the bottle is empty ?

I remember how my ex used to love reading the labels, swirl around a little gout and all the time I was thinking just pour the damn thing !

Drinking alone means I have control over how much/how often my glass is filled and I don't have to worry about any sideward glances how quickly it's devoured.

I actually hated drinking in the company of others. When entertaining I'd have one respectable glass on the table, one hidden in the kitchen and another in my bedroom. It was such a chore having to maintain them all without being caught out.

When I poured myself a glass I didn't want anyone else near me. I wanted to be alone with my lover. Other people are a distraction and a hindrance to my affair.

So if I couldn't drink alone (which is exactly what I've decided) then for me it's torture. There is no way in this world I can drink "socially acceptably" so why tease myself by trying.

No-one really witnessed my self-destruction, but if so I would have been very resentful of any comments and divorced them sooner than the bottle for sure.

Breaking our love story with alcohol has to be done alone, painful as it is, but so necessary.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. ( Nelson Mandela )

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wystan
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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by wystan » 22 Jul 2011 13:48

Yes, it is a love affair, that's for certain.
Michael

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." — Dr. Seuss

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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by diamondoll » 23 Jul 2011 20:18

It is indeed.
I also smoke, which is unacceptable socially, but when there is/was drink, the two go together, so .... rather than agree to a potentially really good girl's night/weekend I would duck out ... don't wamt people knowing etc ... how bloody silly is that??? Anyone else feel the same? cos I feel like a real loser for doing it :(
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Caroline xxxx
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Re: Thought exercise: What if you could never drink alone?

Post by Enfin » 24 Jul 2011 11:44

Hi diamonddoll,

Totally understand - I'm a smoker too, it's on the list to give up, but one thing at a time.

I really tire of the condescending looks when I light up. I always make sure I'm far away from others so it doesn't bother anyone, still they're bothered and feel they have the right to lecture me. I reckon soon there'll be smoking police cameras in our very homes !

I'm fully aware of the health risks and I will most definately stop soon. But hey I've just given up a 30yr habit of daily drinking and dope smoking, so give me a break !
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. ( Nelson Mandela )

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