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On Need and Want
Because of the time limit, doing a Sober September, a 100 day alcohol-free challenge or a year without drinking is a double edged sword, that towards the end prompts us to ask certain questions of ourselves.
At the start, we are full of doubt and trepidation…many hesitate to commit because, it simply seems to big to a person who has developed the habit of daily drinking. As time goes on, and we begin to feel the benefit, the energy, the undisturbed sleep, the new pursuits, the improved relationships…
For some, it is pretty plain sailing from that point in, until the month commitment nears it’s end and then, because we are human, we start to ask ourself the question. Will I drink again?
This of course is a very natural, very human response to coming to the end of a restriction. We’ve done it, we’ve proved that we can go without alcohol in our lives, so maybe, we don’t have such a big a problem after all. With luck, and lots of discipline, we might be able to return to normal drinking.
I will return to this in a bit.
For some though, things are not so straightforward. Some of you fight the constant battle of needing to stop, but wanting to drink and spend a considerable amount of time falling and getting up again. You are the people who I truly admire and this bit is just for you.
One of the big turning points for me was understanding the difference between need and want. Want is about those things that are non essential to human existence. When I want something, I have a picture in my mind of my inner toddle trantrumming. And, as I say to my kids on a daily basis,
I want don’t get.
Need, on the other hand is about those things that are essential to maintain human life: food, shelter and security- everything else is the cherry on the top.
So, from there arises the question: Do I need to drink..and the answer is no, I don’t, but I have trained my brain into thinking that I do, and if I don’t get it, it will revert into fight or fight mode to ensure that I get what I ‘need’: the safety of oblivion.
When you stop drinking alcohol, self care becomes paramount. Keeping yourself safe by eating properly, staying hydrated, warm and stress free are essential tools for success. You have to be ‘selfish’ and put yourself first, until you feel strong enough to give yourself to others in a way that you couldn’t when you were drinking. It’s OK to keep falling, if you keep on standing up. The one think that will kill you eventually is if you stop hoping, if you stop following the dream.
Now back to the thorny problem of the end of the “detox” … what to do?
Feelings of success are strong. Self esteem improved. You’re fit. You’re sleeping. You’re doing things that you could never do pissed. Life is becoming interesting. The colour is returning. So you’ve got this thing..right?
With a it of hard work, and some good surveillance, you can surely share a few drinks with your friends..not the way you used to of course, but not drinking for 4 weeks or 100 days is proof that the problem wasn’t as bad as you thought it was.
Looking back, and I’m only talking for myself, but the first 13 weeks was a walk in the park once the poison had exited the scared space.
What came next was…well tough, and the tough keeps coming back for a visit when it feels that I need a reality check.
So, my point is simply this. You need to be very clear in your mind about what you want and what you need…remembering at all times that the need keeps you safe.
And alcohol drunk to excess, does not keep you safe.
Have a very happy weekend all.
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