A quick update on abstinence from Alcohol...

A quick recap. Back on March 1 2016 I made a decision to quit drinking alcohol. There are various blog posts on here about why that happened (at the start, and in April 2017). As you will see it started off as a permanent decision but then at Christmas (although still not drinking) I did change my mind and decided not to be a victim of my own dogma.

So during my last trip to Budapest I did have a few cans of beer. Not strong... not over the top... actually it came about because the wrong beer (not alcohol free) had been purchased... a huge long walk across the north of Hungary and into Slovakia... 20 miles or so... a very late night... a bath... aches and pains... possibly fractured rib and a decision to just enjoy a cold one in the bath.

No fanfare... no guilt... no beating myself up... just an enjoyable (and it was) glass of Hungarian beer. That was a total of 465 days... although to be honest I had to compute that as I had long since lost interest in keeping track.

So... broken the fast... where does that leave me? ... disappointed? ... nope... regretting the drink? ... nope... ready for a different kind of challenge? ... yes of course! ... however before I leave this topic I want to add some additional commentary.

Clearly abstinence for an extended period has given me insights not only into myself and the relationship I had with alcohol, but also the role it played in my life, lives of others, and its effect on those around me. It's been an interesting and revealing exercise.

On Saturday I stayed with my mother. My mum is a little infirm at the moment and consequently she is requiring more intensive support. Recently I have taken to staying over most of the week to support her. Interestingly my decision to abstain although not actually part of the decision has coincided almost exactly with the period of my mothers increased care and the need for me to be able to respond at the drop of a hat... not possible had I been under the influence... I'm not going to elaborate on this point any further just an interesting observation in a moment of reflection.

So... back to Saturday... I reasoned, as I was already at my mothers... and already at the place I would have needed to go in an emergency... that I could safely enjoy a drink as driving wouldn't be as much of an issue, I was already at my mums and could handle any situation that arose.

The wine was fine... the evening went without mishap... but what of the implications? 

The following day a familiar slight dullness that I recognised instantly and a bit of lethargy... but nothing too serious to report really. 465 days I am guessing the liver and kidney are performing in tip top condition and all was well...

However...

Monday morning comes around. My regular Hungarian lesson... followed by an innovation coaching session... and then later in the day another innovation coaching session over a bite to eat.

Significant degradation

Saturday evening some wine... Monday morning a 'noticeable' lack of what I can describe as "electricity supply" to my imagination, creativity and innovation. I felt I was underperforming... something definitely was amiss. As a bit of an ideas factory and a brain that is constantly picking up information and turning it into ideas for others this was a very important discovery for me. The usual spark had deserted me... 

Of course I know that alcohol affects our brains, however this was far more obvious in the light of the fact that for 465 days I 'got used to' this increased brain function. The disparity between my 'new normal' and my state 'after drinking' was far more pronounced.

What now?

I remember from years ago when I worked in London as a programmer that 1/2 pint of any beer at lunchtime rendered my ability to program code almost to zero which is why I never got into that 'liquid lunch' culture. This I guess is an appreciation of how it effects me personally. Of course everyone is different. For some alcohol or other stimulants appear to awaken their artistic creativity... but that's the other side of the brain... the old left / right side argument.

I'm not so artistic but I create all the time... innovate constantly... and look to take what I observe is happening around me and experiences to see trends and evaluate probable outcomes. This requires an imagination but it also has a huge chunk of logic in there (my programming days). Without both sides of the brain working harmoniously together I just can't do what I want to do...

Conclusions

Severely restricting my logic side of the brain isn't going to be helpful going forward. So although I will from time to time enjoy a glass of wine or beer... It will not become the 'norm' for me... the price is too high. If I have learned one thing from this period of abstinence this would be it.

I am here to serve those that I meet, talk, work, care for and love to the optimum of my ability and being the "best I can be" is an integral part of that... it's not up for discussion... To give the best that I am able means taking care of this vessel I have the pleasure to be inside... it's a good one, and I love it... 

Proceeding with care...  

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