This week’s Sober Story comes from Quint, a 61-year-old living in London, England. The awesome animation exploring alcohol addiction, created by his company Synima, is at the bottom of this post.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Quint: Nine Years.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Quint: It was such a cliche. The carousel of crap I was on. Bargaining with myself, honest resolve to DO something about booze, promises to others all broken. Increased early morning drinking, drink driving, drinking at work.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Quint: There were a few ‘rock bottoms’ and I bounced in and out of several therapists and AA. Because I thought I knew best. It was a Spring walk in Richmond Park with friends my wife and kids. Beautiful and I was so hungover craving for the walk to end. The thought occurred that so long as I was trying to get sober, or moderate my intake, I was failing. That the only way to ‘win’ at sobriety was not to play the game. That pubs would probably still exist 3 months from now so I could always revert back to type. Been sober ever since.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Quint: Lots of ‘firsts’ being sober. Social occasions, weddings, client lunches … work in general. Spotting the triggers e.g. stress that led to the default thought of ‘I deserve a drink’. Then after the ‘pink cloud’ had passed, after LIFE didn’t hand me a lottery win for being a good boy, I was left with a malaise and lots of time to fill. That’s when the personal recriminations kicked in, the guilt and remorse. I had to address that … what was justified what was a pity party. That led to more studying about addiction, helping others by doing service, going on an epistemological quest about God and spirituality. And of course promoting others aspects of my health diet, exercise sleep.
Mrs D: What tool or tools did you use to help you?
Quint: The AA group I attended was very small and humanistic in tone. I scouted out other groups and enjoyed the shares. Quit Lit was good but often dreadfully preachy or saccharine sweet. There are some great science books (e.g. The ‘Biology of Desire’) that go into the mechanics of addiction. And some Buddhist ideas around desire and self deception that I still find interesting.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Quint: Disbelief at first for the first few months. Then a sort of acquiescence. My family have never thrown a party for me, boo hoo. But by showing up and being present I know I’m doing the best I can so I don’t need their support.
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Quint: A couple of times I’ve picked up just to see. The couple of times were very educational. The band started playing straight away. Don’t do it. If you don’t scratch the mosquito bite it won’t itch.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Quint: About a month before I felt my mood wasn’t being dictated by withdrawals. Now life bounces around ‘normal’ which can still be a rollercoaster.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Quint: Tricky at first. Felt I had to make excuses. That I would be judged. But it was interesting to see how many others don’t drink. Once my identity was a non drinker it was accepted and very many people have asked me for advice.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Quint: It was a metamorphosis. Drink was so embedded in every aspect of my life that stopping revealed a whole new me. And lots of time to explore.
Mrs D: How did your life change? What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Quint: Every aspect of my life improved – social, personal, professional. My identity changed as I came to be regarded as a safe pair of hands. Professionally I had a small epiphany to take my company into animation production and that has been a huge success.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Quint: No … it’s an interesting question. I do consider that I only just made it. Tweaking any of the variables might not have had the result I enjoy today.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Quint: Start the damn journey now. A new life awaits. Whatever reservations you have, park them. Seek out a group of people and meet them. Physically meet them. Addiction is incredibly common pretty much any reservations you may have will dissolve when you talk to likeminded people. The best of those people will probably have a great sense of humility and humour.
Mrs D: Anything else you’d like to share?
Quint: My mission is to use animation to address addiction. I feel animation can communicate complex ideas in creative and relatable ways. It can meet people who suffer where they are via mobile phones. It can address stigma, shame and solitude. And animation is incredibly cost effective to produce. Our world is changing so fast right now. I think more and more people self soothe through booze which by some metrics is regarded as the most dangerous drug in the world. The opposite of addiction is connection. If awareness can be raised so many people’s lives can be changed for the better. Perhaps a bit ‘worthy’ but as I write from my hotel bedroom in Amsterdam at 7am that’s how I feel. 10 years ago in the same hotel, I ordered 10 miniature vodkas from room service to see me through the morning.
I’m happier today 😊